Edinburgh / Lothian Pension Fund Investments

Edward Jones made this Freedom of Information request to City of Edinburgh Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence. Contact us if you think it should be reopened.

The request was refused by City of Edinburgh Council.

Dear City of Edinburgh Council,

I would like to request the following information:

1) The full details of what the Lothian Pension Fund currently invests in, including the name and amounts of each asset class or investment being held.

2) The investments broken down into different categories/types of holding, including: Index Linked Securities, Unit trust Property, Cash Instruments, Unit Trust Equities, Infrastructure, Fixed Interest Securities, Equities Segregated Unlisted, Equities Segregated UK, Equities Segregated Foreign as well as any other investments that the Pension Fund holds.

3) The industrial sector of each investment e.g. Aerospace & Defense, Oil & Gas Producers, Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology, Media, Banks, Mining, Government, Automobiles, Financial Services, Housing and any other sectors that the Pension Fund holds investments in. Examples of Pension Funds which have previously included this data in their publicly released investments include Buckinghamshire and Derbyshire. (i)

4) A full list of all the companies which the Pension Fund currently invests in (this should be covered in the above requests). This list should include the names of each company and the amount invested in each company.

5) Can you clearly specify the total value of all investments that the Pension Fund holds in sterling.

6) I would like to receive this information in an unlocked excel sheet without protected cells (.xls). If you have to password protect the excel sheet, can you also provide the password to the excel sheet. When considering the request for this data in excel format, please refer to Innes v Information Commissioner [2014] EWCA Civ 1086 (ii), which allows a requestor to express a preference for communication by a particular means, specifically: "an applicant's right to choose to have information provided to him in electronic form extends to a right to choose the software format in which it is embodied." (iii)

I would like to receive the information in electronic format. If one part of the request can be answered sooner than others, please send that information first followed by any subsequent data. If you need further clarification, please contact me by email.

Many public authorities release their contracts, minutes and other information of interactions with private vendors in line with the Freedom of Information Act. The exemption for commercial interest under the Act (section 43) is a qualified exemption, which means information can only be withheld if it is in the public's interest. The public have an interest in knowing what the Pension Fund is investing in, the terms of contracts and the minutes of meeting with public authorities, whether or not public money changes hands immediately.

If you are relying on section 41 (the exemption for legal breach of confidence) then I would like to know the following:

* When these confidentiality agreements were agreed
* All correspondence and email in which these confidentiality agreements were discussed
* The precise wording of the confidentiality agreements.

I ask these questions because guidance issued by both the Lord Chancellor (draft guidance on FOI implementation) and the Office of Government Commerce (Model terms and conditions for goods and services) specifically state that public authorities should not enter into these types of agreements; they go directly against the spirit of the laws of disclosure. I would also point to the Information Commissioner's guidance on accepting blanket commercial confidentiality agreements: 'Unless confidentiality clauses are necessary or reasonable, there is a real risk that, in the event of a complaint, the Commissioner would order disclosure in any case.' (iv)

Finally, within the law of confidence there is also a public interest test. Therefore, the information should be disclosed in full. If any parts are redacted they must be for information that can be proven to be a legal breach of confidence in court, and only then where secrecy can be shown to be in the public interest. These are difficult positions to argue when public money is at stake or where a public authority is offering a private company a monopoly to charge its stakeholders.

I reserve the right to appeal your decision to withhold any information or to charge excessive fees, and understand that under the act, I am entitled to a response within 20 working days. I would be grateful if you could confirm in writing that you have received this request.

Yours faithfully,

Edward Jones

(i) Buckinghamshire https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/2... Derbyshire https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/2...

(ii) Innes v Information Commissioner [2014] EWCA Civ 1086 http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/...

(iii) Section 11 FOIA and the Form of a Request https://panopticonblog.com/2014/08/01/se...

(iv) 'Freedom of Information Awareness Guidance 5: Commercial Interests' Office of the Information Commissioner, Page 10, https://www.humanrightsinitiative.org/pr...

City of Edinburgh Council

Mr Edward Jones

Our ref: 28336

Dear Mr Jones

Acknowledgement of Request

Subject: Edinburgh / Lothian Pension Fund Investments

Thank you for your request for information which was received on 24/06/2020. In your request you asked for the following;

1) The full details of what the Lothian Pension Fund currently invests in, including the name and amounts of each asset class or investment being held.

2) The investments broken down into different categories/types of holding, including: Index Linked Securities, Unit trust Property, Cash Instruments, Unit Trust Equities, Infrastructure, Fixed Interest Securities, Equities Segregated Unlisted, Equities Segregated UK, Equities Segregated Foreign as well as any other investments that the Pension Fund holds.

3) The industrial sector of each investment e.g. Aerospace & Defense, Oil & Gas Producers, Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology, Media, Banks, Mining, Government, Automobiles, Financial Services, Housing and any other sectors that the Pension Fund holds investments in. Examples of Pension Funds which have previously included this data in their publicly released investments include Buckinghamshire and Derbyshire. (i)

4) A full list of all the companies which the Pension Fund currently invests in (this should be covered in the above requests). This list should include the names of each company and the amount invested in each company.

5) Can you clearly specify the total value of all investments that the Pension Fund holds in sterling.

6) I would like to receive this information in an unlocked excel sheet without protected cells (.xls). If you have to password protect the excel sheet, can you also provide the password to the excel sheet. When considering the request for this data in excel format, please refer to Innes v Information Commissioner [2014] EWCA Civ 1086 (ii), which allows a requestor to express a preference for communication by a particular means, specifically: "an applicant's right to choose to have information provided to him in electronic form extends to a right to choose the software format in which it is embodied." (iii)

I would like to receive the information in electronic format. If one part of the request can be answered sooner than others, please send that information first followed by any subsequent data. If you need further clarification, please contact me by email.

Many public authorities release their contracts, minutes and other information of interactions with private vendors in line with the Freedom of Information Act. The exemption for commercial interest under the Act (section 43) is a qualified exemption, which means information can only be withheld if it is in the public's interest. The public have an interest in knowing what the Pension Fund is investing in, the terms of contracts and the minutes of meeting with public authorities, whether or not public money changes hands immediately.

If you are relying on section 41 (the exemption for legal breach of confidence) then I would like to know the following:

* When these confidentiality agreements were agreed
* All correspondence and email in which these confidentiality agreements were discussed
* The precise wording of the confidentiality agreements.

I ask these questions because guidance issued by both the Lord Chancellor (draft guidance on FOI implementation) and the Office of Government Commerce (Model terms and conditions for goods and services) specifically state that public authorities should not enter into these types of agreements; they go directly against the spirit of the laws of disclosure. I would also point to the Information Commissioner's guidance on accepting blanket commercial confidentiality agreements: 'Unless confidentiality clauses are necessary or reasonable, there is a real risk that, in the event of a complaint, the Commissioner would order disclosure in any case.' (iv)

Finally, within the law of confidence there is also a public interest test. Therefore, the information should be disclosed in full. If any parts are redacted they must be for information that can be proven to be a legal breach of confidence in court, and only then where secrecy can be shown to be in the public interest. These are difficult positions to argue when public money is at stake or where a public authority is offering a private company a monopoly to charge its stakeholders.

I can confirm that your request will be processed under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, Environmental Information Regulations (Scotland) 2004, or the INSPIRE (Scotland) Regulations 2009.

You will receive the information requested within 20 working days unless the Council does not hold the information, or there is a reason for it to be withheld. We will write to you in any event. This means we have until 22/07/2020 to respond to your request.

In some circumstances a fee may be payable and if that is the case we will let you know.

If you have any requirements regarding the format any information should be supplied in, e.g. the language to be used, audio, large print and so on, then please let me know.

If you have any queries or concerns, do not hesitate to get in touch. Please quote the reference number above in any future communications.

To promote transparency and accountability, please note it is the Council’s policy to publish all request details and responses made under the freedom of information legislation. This information will be made available through the Council’s website and will not include your personal details. The disclosure log is available at the following link: http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/homepage/175....

Further information about your rights and accessing information is available on our website at: www.edinburgh.gov.uk

Yours sincerely,

Information Governance Unit
Level 2:1, Waverley Court, Edinburgh EH8 8BG Tel 0131 200 2340
[Edinburgh City Council request email] www.edinburgh.gov.uk

Information Rights Officer 2, City of Edinburgh Council

Link: [1]File-List

Mr Edward Jones

 

[2][FOI #672528 email]

 

Our ref: 28336

 

Dear Mr Jones

 

Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 - Partial Release of
Information

 

Subject: Edinburgh / Lothian Pension Fund Investments

 

Thank you for your request for information of 24/06/2020, which has been
processed under the terms of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act
2002 (FOISA). Unfortunately, the Council is only able to meet part of your
request; this information is released to you now in the format requested.

 

Under the terms of FOISA, a request for information can be refused where
one or more of the exemptions listed in the Act apply. Where I have
provided a link to the information requested, the Council is claiming an
exemption under section 25 of the Act because the information is
‘otherwise accessible’.

 

1) The full details of what the Lothian Pension Fund currently invests in,
including the name and amounts of each asset class or investment being
held.

 

Please see List of Fund investments published on our website
[3]https://www.lpf.org.uk/downloads/file/79...

 

2) The investments broken down into different categories/types of holding,
including: Index Linked Securities, Unit trust Property, Cash Instruments,
Unit Trust Equities, Infrastructure, Fixed Interest Securities, Equities
Segregated Unlisted, Equities Segregated UK, Equities Segregated Foreign
as well as any other investments that the Pension Fund holds.

 

Our systems do not allocate investments to these categories.  Please see
our annual report for the relevant categories and mandates on pages 97 and
98.
[4]https://www.lpf.org.uk/downloads/file/13...

 

3) The industrial sector of each investment e.g. Aerospace & Defense, Oil
& Gas Producers, Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology, Media, Banks, Mining,
Government, Automobiles, Financial Services, Housing and any other sectors
that the Pension Fund holds investments in. Examples of Pension Funds
which have previously included this data in their publicly released
investments include Buckinghamshire and Derbyshire.

 

Section 33(1)(b) of FOISA exempts information from the statutory
obligation to be disclosed, if its disclosure would, or would be likely
to, prejudice substantially the commercial interests of any
person (including, without prejudice to that generality, a Scottish public
authority). Lothian Pension Fund (acting through its administering
authority, City of Edinburgh Council) (“Lothian”) considers that
disclosure of this information would substantially prejudice its
commercial interests.

 

We do not hold the information in the categories requested and our
detailed sector categorisation information is obtained from an external
provider. Our terms with that provider contain contractual restrictions on
the use of the information which will prevent us from disclosing our
existing industry categorisations to you, notwithstanding that these may
not directly align to your request in any event. We are therefore unable
to provide you with the information in the form you have requested and nor
can we disclose our existing industry categorisations for investments
beyond that which is already disclosed on our website.

 

I have applied the public interest test to your request and although there
is a clear public interest in the Council promoting transparency and
accountability through the disclosure of information relating to our
investments, in this instance I consider the public interest is best
served by withholding the information. The Council finds that the public
interest in disclosing the information is outweighed by that in
maintaining the exemption in section 33(1)(b) of FOISA.

 

Please note that this constitutes a formal refusal notice under section 16
of FOISA.

 

4) A full list of all the companies which the Pension Fund currently
invests in (this should be covered in the above requests). This list
should include the names of each company and the amount invested in each
company.

 

See response to Q1 above

 

5) Can you clearly specify the total value of all investments that the
Pension Fund holds in sterling.

 

Please see pages 97 and 98 of our annual report.

 

As is our usual approach, we have provided the information in PDF format.
We will consider a request to provide this information in Excel format as
part of any request to re-use the information. Details of our policy on
the Re-Use of public sector information can be found on our website at the
following link:
[5]https://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/directory-r...

 

Your right to seek a review

 

I appreciate that our decision may disappoint you and I am sorry that we
have not been able to release all the information you requested on this
occasion. If you are unhappy with the way we have dealt with your request,
you can ask us to review our actions and decisions by writing to:

 

Head of Strategy & Communications

The City of Edinburgh Council

Waverley Court Business Centre 2:1

4, East Market Street

Edinburgh

EH8 8BG or,

Email: [6][email address]

 

Please note that your request must be in a recordable format (email,
letter, audio tape etc.), and that you have 40 working days upon receipt
of this letter to ask for a review. You will receive a full response to
your review request within 20 working days of its receipt. Please quote
the reference number above in any future communications.

 

If you are not content with the outcome of the review, you can ask the
Scottish Information Commissioner to review our decision. You must submit
your complaint to the Commissioner within 6 months of receiving our review
response. The Commissioner can be contacted at:

 

The Office of the Scottish Information Commissioner

Kinburn Castle

Doubledykes Road

St Andrews

Fife

KY16 9DS

Telephone: 01334 464610

Fax: 01334 464611

Website: [7]www.itspublicknowledge.info/Appeal

Email: [8][email address]

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Sue Brown

Information Rights Officer

 

 

Information Governance Unit

Level 2:1, Waverley Court, Edinburgh EH8 8BG Tel 0131 200 2340

[9][Edinburgh City Council request email]  [10]www.edinburgh.gov.uk

 

 

show quoted sections

References

Visible links
1. file:///tmp/cid:filelist.xml@01D65A02.B99013F0
2. mailto:[FOI #672528 email]
3. https://www.lpf.org.uk/downloads/file/79...
4. https://www.lpf.org.uk/downloads/file/13...
5. https://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/directory-r...
6. mailto:[email address]
7. http://www.itspublicknowledge.info/Appeal
8. mailto:[email address]
9. mailto:[Edinburgh City Council request email]
10. http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/

Dear Information Rights Officer 2,

Please can you suply this information in Excel as requested.

The ICO has judged it to be a valid requirement with recorded precedents.

Yours sincerely,

Edward Jones

Dear Information Rights Officer 2/ Sue Brown

As we requested please can you send in an Excel format.

The ICO (Information Commissioner's Office) has a precedent that when a council request asks for Excel it is granted.

We can't use pdfs and we need this data as a matter of urgency now by Thursday Nov 5.

Thanks. really appreciated.

Yours sincerely,

Edward Jones

Dear Information Rights Officer 2,

Please can you send the data in Excel.

It is urgently rquired ror a report tomorrow Fr Nov 6.

Yours sincerely,

Edward Jones

Review, City of Edinburgh Council

Dear Mr Jones

I acknowledge receipt of your e-mail, however have noted that your request for a review was not made within the statutory time limit, as it should have been made by 8 August 2020. As such, I can confirm that a full internal review of your request will not be done.

However, I should advise that, in line with guidance from the Scottish Information Commissioner, and a previous Court of Session decision, where information is exempt under section 25, the requester does not have the rights to request the information in a different format. I note from the below that, in response to your request, the response advised that the information is otherwise accessible, and therefore the Council would not be obliged to meet your request that the information be provided in the format you specified.

Kind regards

Victoria

Victoria Robertson| Information Compliance Officer | Information Governance Unit| Strategy & Communications Division| Chief Executive | The City of Edinburgh Council | Business Centre 2:1, Waverley Court, 4, East Market Street, Edinburgh, EH8 8BG | Tel: 0131 529 7011 [int x37011]| Email: [email address] | Website: www.edinburgh.gov.uk

From: Edward Jones <[FOI #672528 email]>
Sent: 05 November 2020 14:21
To: Information Rights Officer 2 <[email address]>
Subject: Re: FOI Request Response (EDIR:28336)

Dear Information Rights Officer 2,

Please can you send the data in Excel.

It is urgently rquired ror a report tomorrow Fr Nov 6.

Yours sincerely,

Edward Jones

show quoted sections

Dear Review,

This is simply asking for you to provide the data in Excel.

We need the data today please. So far all of the 100 LGPS have supplied that information.

In our intital request we spcifically asked for Excel back in June.

You are required to do this under ICO ordinance/precedent.

Please can we get that Excel file today without any further delay.

Many thanks.

Yours sincerely,

Edward Jones

Review, City of Edinburgh Council

Dear Mr Jones

Unfortunately we will not be able to provide you with this information today. As outlined in our response, as this information is otherwise accessible, we would not provide it in excel format, and the fact remains that your request for review has not been made within the permitted timescales.

As outlined in our response to your request dated 14 July 2020, in accordance with the Council’s procedure, we have provided the information in PDF format and we will consider a request to provide this information in Excel format as part of any request to re-use the information. Details of our policy on the Re-Use of public sector information can be found on our website at the following link: https://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/directory-r....

Given the applicability of section 25 in this case, we would suggest that this may be a better legislative route to request the information you require, and apologise that I cannot be of further assistance.

Kind regards

Victoria

Victoria Robertson| Information Compliance Officer | Information Governance Unit| Strategy & Communications Division| Chief Executive | The City of Edinburgh Council | Business Centre 2:1, Waverley Court, 4, East Market Street, Edinburgh, EH8 8BG | Tel: 0131 529 7011 [int x37011]| Email: [email address] | Website: www.edinburgh.gov.uk

show quoted sections