Jonathan Djanogly expense claims

Ganesh Sittampalam made this Freedom of Information request to House of Commons

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Ganesh Sittampalam

Dear Sir or Madam,

I request a copy of all expense claims, including supporting
documentation and other communications with the Fees Office connected with such claims, for Jonathan Djanogly MP, for all years for which records are held.

I am aware that some information has been published at http://mpsallowances.parliament.uk/mpslo..., but substantial parts have been blacked out and in many cases I can see no justification for this in terms of a FOI exemption or derogation. As a simple example of such a case, the address of the website claimed for under the Communications Allowance seems to have been removed.

Please release the full information or supply a proper refusal notice or explanation of why a derogation applies for each redaction.

Yours faithfully,

Ganesh Sittampalam

FOICOMMONS, House of Commons

Dear Mr Sittampalam

Thank you for your request for information dated 18 June 2009, received by
us the same day, which is copied below.

We will respond to your request promptly within 20 working days, i.e. on
or before 16 July 2009.

Yours sincerely,

______________________________________________________________________

Brenda Brevitt

Project Officer

FOI, Department of Resources

House of Commons

P Please consider the environment before printing

Dear Sir or Madam,

I request a copy of all expense claims, including supporting
documentation and other communications with the Fees Office connected with
such claims, for Jonathan Djanogly MP, for all years for which records are
held.

I am aware that some information has been published at

[1]http://mpsallowances.parliament.uk/mpslo...,

but substantial parts have been blacked out and in many cases I can
see no justification for this in terms of a FOI exemption or derogation.
As a simple example of such a case, the address of the website claimed for
under the Communications Allowance seems to have been removed.

Please release the full information or supply a proper refusal notice
or explanation of why a derogation applies for each redaction.

Yours faithfully,

Ganesh Sittampalam

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References

Visible links
1. http://mpsallowances.parliament.uk/mpslo...
2. http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/about...
3. http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/contact

Vernon Turner left an annotation ()

I too am attempting to get more clarification of Mr Djanogly's claims under FOI. I have been given bland replies and am trying to escalate this to a higher level. Thank you. Vernon Turner

FOICOMMONS, House of Commons

Dear Mr Sittampalam,

Thank you for your request for information which is copied below. You
asked for explanation of why a derogation applies for each redaction of
expense claims for Jonathan Djanogly MP in our publication.

Members' claims have been redacted to remove information which could
cause serious security issues and breach the privacy of the MP, their
staff and other third parties.

In order to be able to provide annotation for each redaction applied to
expense claims for Mr Djanogly, we would need to review circa 850 pages
of the published claims containing a number of redactions each. We have
estimated that the time required to extract the relevant information
would exceed the appropriate limit as described in section 12 of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 and associated Fees Regulations. As the
appropriate limit would be exceeded the House of Commons is not obliged
to provide the information requested and your request is refused. Should
you wish to narrow down your request so that the time limit would not be
exceeded, it may assist to reduce it to a particular year/month,
specific allowance or a claim.

You may, if dissatisfied with the treatment of your request, ask the
House of Commons to conduct an internal review of this decision.
Requests for internal review should be addressed to: Freedom of
Information Officer, Department of Resources, House of Commons London
SW1 OAA or [House of Commons request email]. Please ensure that you specify the
nature of your complaint and any arguments or points that you wish to
make.

If you remain dissatisfied, you may appeal to the Information
Commissioner at Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.

Yours sincerely

Bob Castle
Head of Information Rights and Information Security

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Ganesh Sittampalam

Dear Sir or Madam,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of House of Commons's handling of my FOI request 'Jonathan Djanogly expense claims'.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/jo...

My request was for the full, unredacted text of the expense claims. This information is not already reasonably available to me as you have only published a redacted version. If you choose not to release it unredacted, then you must provide a proper refusal notice explaining what exemptions you are relying on for the redactions, with enough detail so that your reasoning can be challenged. This would not necessarily be for each redaction individually, but the redactions as a whole would have to be covered by the exemptions and explanations. It is well settled precedent for the FOI act that the time spent on redaction or writing a refusal notice can not be considered when applying the cost limit.

In addition I would like you to review why it took almost the full 20 days to produce an essentially trivial refusal notice. I believe you are in breach of the requirement in the act to respond "promptly".

Yours faithfully,

Ganesh Sittampalam

FOICOMMONS, House of Commons

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Sittampalam

Thank you for your email dated 15 July requesting an internal review of
Freedom of Information request ref: F09-343 TDR090716, which was
received on 18 June 2009.

Our internal target for dealing with internal reviews is thirty working
days. We will deal with your request promptly and endeavour to provide
a response by 26 August 2009.

If you have any queries about the review, please contact the FOI team,
quoting the reference number in the subject line.

Brenda Brevitt
FOI Project officer
Department of Resources
House of Commons
P Please consider the environment before printing

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Ganesh Sittampalam

Dear FOICOMMONS,

In view of the ICO guidance on internal review timescales, I expect you to provide within 20 days either your full response or an update explaining why exceptional circumstances apply.

Yours sincerely,

Ganesh Sittampalam

GRAY, Katharine, House of Commons

F09-343

Dear Mr Sittampalam,

Thank you for your email dated 15 July 2009 requesting an internal review
of Freedom of Information request ref: F09-343.

Our internal target for dealing with internal reviews is thirty working
days. We will deal with your request promptly and endeavour to provide a
response by 26 August 2009.

If you have any queries about the review, please contact me.

Yours sincerely,

Bob Castle

Head of Information Rights and Information Security

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FOICOMMONS, House of Commons

F09-343

Dear Mr Sittampalam,

Thank you for your request for information. I am sorry for the delay but
we have been unable to complete a response to your request by the intended
deadline of 24 August 2009. It is being considered as a matter of
priority and will be responded to as soon as possible. Details of how to
make a complaint about the handling of your request will follow with the
response.

Yours sincerely,

Bob Castle

Head of Information Rights and Information Security

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F09-343

Dear Mr Sittampalam,

Thank you for your email dated 15 July 2009 requesting an internal review
of Freedom of Information request ref: F09-343.

Our internal target for dealing with internal reviews is thirty working
days. We will deal with your request promptly and endeavour to provide a
response by 26 August 2009.

If you have any queries about the review, please contact me.

Yours sincerely,

Bob Castle

Head of Information Rights and Information Security

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Ganesh Sittampalam

Dear FOICOMMONS,

Is there a new target date?

Yours sincerely,

Ganesh Sittampalam

Vernon Turner left an annotation ()

I am amazed at the negative and delaying responses you are receiving from your rightful and lawful questions for further information and requests for reviews. The only way forward is to continue to pressurise these 'officials' until we get satisfactory answers. Thank you for your dedication to this indecent issue of Djanogly and his expenses.

Ganesh Sittampalam left an annotation ()

Now reported to the ICO: FS50264384

Ganesh Sittampalam

Dear Sir or Madam,

40 working days have now elapsed and there has been no reply to this internal review request. What is happening?

Yours faithfully,

Ganesh Sittampalam

FOICOMMONS, House of Commons

F09-343

Dear Mr Sittampalam,

I am writing regarding your request for an internal review of your request
F09-343. I am sorry for the delay there has been to the handling of this
review. It is being considered as a matter of priority and will be
responded to as soon as possible. Please expect correspondence from us
before the end of next week which either updates you on the status of our
review or contains our response.

Yours sincerely,

Bob Castle

Head of Information Rights and Information Security

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Ganesh Sittampalam

Dear FOICOMMONS,

Thank you, though this really is far too little, far too late. Quite apart from your ongoing evasiveness in providing a substantial response to my request for unredacted expenses, the HoC's handling of internal reviews has been inadequate for many years and if anything it is getting worse, not better.

Yours sincerely,

Ganesh Sittampalam

Ganesh Sittampalam

Dear FOICOMMONS,

I note that you have once more failed to follow through even on your own inadequate commitments.

Yours sincerely,

Ganesh Sittampalam

FOICOMMONS, House of Commons

Dear Mr Sittampalam,

Please accept our apologies for the time it is taking us to handle your
internal review F09-343.  Developments are being made, and we will
provide you with a response to the internal review of F09-343 and to the
internal review of F09-562 as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely,

Katy Gray

Freedom of Information Coordinator

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Ganesh Sittampalam

Dear FOICOMMONS,

Thank you for your email, but I do not accept your apologies as the only adequate response to the situation you have placed yourselves in is to provide a full and proper response immediately.

Yours sincerely,

Ganesh Sittampalam

FOICOMMONS, House of Commons

1 Attachment

F09-343

Dear Mr Sittampalam

Please find attached response to your request for an internal review of
your Freedom of Information request F09-343.

Yours sincerely,

Katy Gray

Freedom of Information Coordinator

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FOICOMMONS, House of Commons

Dear Mr Sittampalam,

Further to our correspondence regarding your request F09-343, I am sending
you a copy of the 2004/05, 2005/06 and 2006/07 Additional Costs Allowance
papers for Jonathan Djanogly MP. The House now has the facilities to
redact papers electronically, and I am therefore able to provide this
information to you in electronic format. This information will be sent to
you in separate emails due to the size of the attachments.

As requested, the documents have been marked up to indicate which
exemption applies to each redaction. The following markings have been
used:

Section 40

This marking indicates that information has been removed where it
constitutes the personal data of Members of Parliament, staff and other
third parties. Personal data is exempt from disclosure under section
40(2) and 40(3)(a)(i) of the FOI Act if it cannot be disclosed without
contravening the data protection principles. This is an absolute
exemption so consideration of the public interest is not required.

Section 38

This marking indicates that information has been removed where disclosure
to the public would pose an unacceptable risk to the health and safety of
Members, staff and third parties. Information is exempt from disclosure
under section 38(1)(b) of the Freedom of Information Act if it cannot be
disclosed without endangering the safety of any individual. This is a
qualified exemption. We consider that the risk and implications posed by
disclosure are such that the public interest in withholding the
information outweighs arguments in favour of greater public scrutiny.
Therefore the exemption is maintained.

Section 7 Order

This marking indicates that information has been removed which relates to
any residential address of a Member of the House of Commons. The House of
Commons is not a public authority in respect of such information by virtue
of the Freedom of Information (Parliament and National Assembly for Wales)
Order 2008 (made under Section 7 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000).
Therefore the right of access to information under section 1 of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 does not apply. A small number of pages
have been removed in full where the right of access under Section 1 of the
Freedom of Information Act does not apply.

If you remain dissatisfied with our response, you may appeal to the
Information Commissioner at Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

Yours sincerely,

Bob Castle

Head of Information Rights and Security

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FOICOMMONS, House of Commons

Dear Mr Sittampalam,

Unfortunately, we are having difficulty emailing you the ACA information
for your request F09-343. It has been sent to you on a CD, by post.

Yours sincerely,

Bob Castle

Head of Information Rights and Information Security

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Ganesh Sittampalam

Dear Mr Castle,

Thanks, I received the CD today.

Yours sincerely,

Ganesh Sittampalam

CULLEN, Tara, House of Commons

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Sittampalam

Please find attached a letter from Mr Walker. I have attached two
documents which each represent a page.

Regards.

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Ganesh Sittampalam

Dear Mr Walker,

Thank you for your letter of 9th September.

Firstly, I am afraid that you seem to have misunderstood the issues I have with your redactions. Your letter focuses on my demand when requesting an internal review for an explanation of your redactions. The point of that demand was to ensure that you would only redact information where this could be justified by the Act. In my original request, I specifically referred to the information in your publication scheme, stating "substantial parts have been blacked out and in many cases I can see no justification for this in terms of a FOI exemption or derogation. As a simple example of such a case, the address of the website claimed for under the Communications Allowance seems to have been removed."

The view that the information in your publication scheme contains more redactions than can be justified is borne out by the desk instructions at http://www.parliament.uk/deposits/deposi..., which state:

"In relation to the claims based allowances, the revised publication scheme will make the following information available (subject to redactions described below and the particular circumstances of individual Members), all other information will be removed:"

In contrast to these instructions, the starting point for FOI is that all information is disclosed unless withholding it can be justified.

The instructions also explicitly list the following categories of information to be removed:

"correspondence or advice letters to or from Department of Resources DFA"

"all manuscript additions to forms, receipts etc where these have been made by HoC staff"

In my view, neither of these categories can be justified by any exemption under the FOI act, and the same may apply to some or all information removed under other categories. I am also unable to reconcile them with the Tribunal judgement you refer to.

Comparing the properly redacted information you have released so far with the equivalents from your publication scheme, the differences are apparent. For example:

http://mpsallowances.parliament.uk/mpslo...

and

http://files.whatdotheyknow.com/request/...

Many of the differences in fact relate to trivial notes, but there are also significant extra details such as the letter on page 30 from the Fees Office.

So the issue here is not that you annotate every redaction, but that you provide the information that is liable to release under FOI and not in your publication scheme, and that it be reasonably apparent that you have actually done so.

Secondly, I believe you have mis-stated the amount of outstanding information. My original request, dated 18th June 2009, requested "a copy of all expense claims, including supporting documentation and other communications with the Fees Office connected with such claims, for Jonathan Djanogly MP, for all years for which records are held". I understand that the earliest year for which records were held was 2004/05, so my request would cover all years from then to the initial months of 2009/10.

So far you have provided ACA for 2004/05, 2005/06, and 2006/07, and IEP for 2004/05 and 2005/06, and some communications with the Fees Office.

Looking at the information in your publication scheme for 2008/09 and 2009/10, the redactions seem much less extensive than for earlier years. However, I was unable to find the instructions by which the redaction was carried out for those years, so am still unsure as to whether any releasable material has been omitted or not. Please could you tell me where I can find those instructions? One important question is whether these publications contain all communication with the Fees Office (in either direction).

Also as far as communications to and from the Fees Office goes, you have so far provided some of these along with the other information you have released. Please could you confirm that all such communications have been provided where they relate to the bundles already released?

Apart from the above, the remaining information is ACA for 2007/08, IEP for 2006/07 and 2007/08 and CA for 2007/08. If you believe it would be a substantial burden on public resources to provide these, I would suggest that this is something you should have considered before issuing the flawed redaction instructions above. Why did you choose to issue the instructions in that form? The idea that they were part of a "voluntary" exercise to release the information is laughable given the fact that the publication plans were necessary to forestall numerous requests under s22.

From the already released information, it seems likely that much of the remaining withheld information under this category - with the exception of communications to and from the Fees Office - is also of a trivial nature. I would therefore be willing to discuss ways in which the burden on you can be reduced, but I think the first step should be for you to acknowledge that the material in your publication scheme has indeed been excessively redacted.

I would also take this opportunity to point out that, were it not for the Telegraph's scrutiny of the unredacted expenses, that much of the information now in the public domain about MPs' behaviour would have been hidden by your release, and it is likely that the redactions for all MPs would have been subject to much more scrutiny by journalists and the public, exposing you to a substantially greater burden than my requests.

Yours sincerely,

Ganesh Sittampalam

CULLEN, Tara, House of Commons

Thank you for your email. I am away from the office until Monday 6 September and my emails will be not be read until then. If you require urgent assistance please call 020 7219 5306 and one of my colleagues will assist you.

Thank you.

Regards.

Tara Cullen

Department of Resources

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FOICOMMONS, House of Commons

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Sittampalam

Please find attached a response from Andrew Walker, Director General of
Resources, House of Commons.

Yours sincerely

Bob Castle

Head of Information Rights and Information Security

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FOICOMMONS, House of Commons

5 Attachments

Dear Mr Sittampalam

Please find attached a response from Andrew Walker.

Your sincerely

Katarina Ndrepepaj | Freedom of Information Coordinator
Information Rights and Information Security (IRIS) Service | Department of
Resources

From: FOICOMMONS
Sent: 15 October 2009 13:39
To: '[FOI #13459 email]'
Subject: F09-343 Internal review response

F09-343

Dear Mr Sittampalam

Please find attached response to your request for an internal review of
your Freedom of Information request F09-343.

Yours sincerely,

Katy Gray

Freedom of Information Coordinator

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CASTLE, Bob, House of Commons

Dear Mr Sittampalam

I understand from the Information Commissioner's Office that your
complaint concerning case number FS50264384 has been resolved. I
appreciate your co-operation in this regard.

In the meantime, we have reviewed your other outstanding complaint
(FS50305390) with the intention of also resolving this case. It is
regrettable that your three requests on these matters have become somewhat
entwined during their processing by the House and by the ICO. I hope that
it may be helpful for me to summarise the position as follows:

On 18 June 2009, you submitted request F09-343 :

"I am aware that some information has been published at
[1]http://mpsallowances.parliament.uk/mpslo...,
but substantial parts have been blacked out and in many cases I can see no
justification for this in terms of a FOI exemption or derogation. As a
simple example of such a case, the address of the website claimed for
under the Communications Allowance seems to have been removed.

Please release the full information or supply a proper refusal notice or
explanation of why a derogation applies for each redaction."

This request was the subject of ICO case number FS50264384.

Following your helpful confirmation that you would be prepared to restrict
your concerns over each redaction in the published material, we have
resolved this matter by providing an acknowledgment of your concerns over
redaction and disclosing copies of correspondence with the Department of
Resources Operations Directorate.

On 20 July 2009, you submitted request F09-481 in similar terms :

"I request a full copy of all expense claims, including supporting
documentation and other communications to or from the Department of
Resources connected with such claims, for Andrew Lansley MP for all years
for which records are held. This should include any annotations made by
HoC staff, as well as any rejected and adjusted claims.

This information is not already available to me as you have only published
a version with substantial redactions and much of this information
missing."

You did not request an internal review of the House's response to this
request and a complaint has not been submitted to the Information
Commissioner.

On 12 August 2009, you submitted request F09-562 :

"I request an unedited copy - i.e. without any information "blacked out" -
of the documents relating to expense claims for Jonathan Djanogly and
Andrew Lansley that are partially published at
[2]http://mpsallowances.parliament.uk/mpslo...

and
[3]http://mpsallowances.parliament.uk/mpslo....

This comprises the ACA, IEP and communication allowances for the two MPs
for the accounting years 2004-2008.

This information is not already available to me as only an edited version
has been published.

If this is too much information to provide within the cost limit, please
omit the following items in sequence (cumulatively) until the cost limit
is reached.

If the cost limit is breached for my full request, then as advice and
assistance for any possible future requests, please also provide full
details of your estimates in numeric terms that allow me to predict what
they would be for any requests of a similar nature and thus make requests
that fall under the costs limit.

1) Andrew Lansley's expenses

2) All expenses for your accounting year 2007-8

3) All expenses for your accounting year 2006-7

4) All expenses for your accounting year 2005-6

5) IEP claims

6) Communication allowance claims

For example, after removing items 1-5, all that would be left of my
request would be Jonathan Djanogly's ACA and communication allowance
claims for 2004-2005."

This request is the subject of ICO case number FS50305390.

This request is different to the other two, as you have simply requested
an unedited copy of published material. As set out in the Information
Tribunal decision concerning the Additional Costs Allowance (Corporate
Officer of the House of Commons -v- ICO -v- Leapman, Brooke and Thomas),
full detailed disclosure without any restriction at all would be
unwarranted. It therefore appears that no further action is required for
us to resolve this case.

I trust that all outstanding matters are now clearly explained and
resolved. However, if you have any further concerns please contact me as
soon as possible.

Yours sincerely

Bob Castle

Head of Information Rights and Information Security

House of Commons

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Ganesh Sittampalam

Dear Mr Castle,

Thanks for your email. Reviewing the history of the requests, I agree with your characterisation of the request I complained about, and I accept that there is nothing further to do with regards this request. I will let the ICO know that I also consider this case resolved.

Yours sincerely,

Ganesh Sittampalam

CASTLE, Bob, House of Commons

I am out of the office until 4 January If you are submitting a FOI request please resend to [email address] For advice on data protection, FOI or information security please call the IRIS team on 8805

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