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Members' Handbook and related publications

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Dear House of Commons,

I would like to request copies of the following documents

1) the Members' Handbook
2) the "guidance on taking the oath and the courtesies and conventions of the House" enclosed, as far as I know, in the New Members Pack.
3) the house of lords members' Handbook

Yours faithfully,

dennis daley

FOI Commons, House of Commons

Dear Mr Daley,

 

Freedom of Information request F20-576

 

Thank you for your request for information dated 1 November 2020, received
by us on the 2 November 2020, which is copied below.

 

We will endeavour to respond to your request promptly but in any case
within 20 working days i.e. on or before 1 December 2020.

 

If you have any queries about your request, please use the request number
quoted above and in the subject line of this email.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

We will work hard to answer your information rights requests during the
current COVID 19 situation in line with statutory requirements, however
some requests may be affected by access to collections and availability of
staff. We will keep you informed of any identified delays in answering
your request.

 

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Sarah Price

IRIS Support Officer
Information Rights and Information Security (IRIS) Service | House of
Commons

 

[1]www.parliament.uk | [2]@ukparliament | [3]@houseofcommons

[4]House of Commons Privacy Notice for the Public

[5]Supporting a thriving parliamentary democracy

 

 

 

From: dennis daley <[FOI #703094 email]>
Sent: 01 November 2020 14:05
To: FOI Commons <[email address]>
Subject: Freedom of Information request - Members' Handbook and related
publications

 

Dear House of Commons,

I would like to request copies of the following documents

1) the Members' Handbook
2) the "guidance on taking the oath and the courtesies and conventions of
the House" enclosed, as far as I know, in the New Members Pack.
3) the house of lords members' Handbook

Yours faithfully,

dennis daley

-------------------------------------------------------------------

Please use this email address for all replies to this request:
[6][FOI #703094 email]

Is [7][House of Commons request email] the wrong address for Freedom of
Information requests to House of Commons? If so, please contact us using
this form:
[8]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/change_re...

Disclaimer: This message and any reply that you make will be published on
the internet. Our privacy and copyright policies:
[9]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/offi...

For more detailed guidance on safely disclosing information, read the
latest advice from the ICO:
[10]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/ico-...

Please note that in some cases publication of requests and responses will
be delayed.

If you find this service useful as an FOI officer, please ask your web
manager to link to us from your organisation's FOI page.

show quoted sections

FOI Commons, House of Commons

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Daley,

 

Freedom of Information Request F20-576

 

Thank you for your request for information as copied below. You have asked
the House of Commons three questions concerning handbooks and guidance for
Members of Parliament. Please find our responses to each of your questions
below.

 

 1. Please provide the Members' Handbook

 

This information is held by the House of Commons. A copy of the Members’
Handbook published in 2019 is attached. Please note that due to the file
size limit for sending emails, I will send this document in parts, over
several emails.

 

Some information from this document has been redacted, as it is exempt
from disclosure. These exemptions have been made in accordance with
sections 31, 24, 38, 40 and 43 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000
(FOIA). These are qualified exemptions and each require a public interest
test to be performed. These are included at the bottom of this response.

 

Section 31 – Law enforcement

 

Parts of the Members’ Handbook provide measures to protect the physical
security of both Members and their staff as well as the parliamentary
estate itself, including how access to the estate is protected and
procedures to deter and respond to threats. The House considers that the
disclosure of this information would be likely to prejudice the prevention
or detection of crime and the apprehension of offenders. Therefore, this
information is exempt by virtue of Section 31(1)(a) and (b) FOIA. This is
a qualified exemption and the public interest test applies.

In favour of disclosure is the argument of transparency in the spending of
public money and the public’s right to be assured of the robustness of
measures being employed in preventing criminal activity. However, this is
outweighed by the risks of criminal activity being undertaken if the
information was disclosed. Details of these measures would represent
valuable information to anyone with malicious or criminal intent. This is
because it could be used to subvert those measures, circumventing the
normal process for obtaining access to the Estate or taking advantage of a
perceived weakness. This would make it easier for would-be offenders to
commit criminal acts against Members or gain unauthorised access to
restricted areas. In turn, we would be failing in our duty to assist those
service providing us with law enforcement, hindering their work in
preventing and detecting crime. For these reasons, the House has concluded
that the public interest in withholding this information outweighs the
public interest in disclosing it.

 

The House also considers that disclosing information about measures in
place to protect the cyber security of the House of Commons, including how
IT equipment is maintained and the requirements for Members in limiting
access to their devices, would be likely to prejudice the prevention or
detection of crime. Therefore, this information is also exempt by virtue
of Section 31(1)(a) FOIA. This is a qualified exemption and the public
interest test applies.

 

Again, we accept the legitimate public interest in our being open and
transparent in these matters so that the public can have confidence that
the House’s computer systems and the parliamentary network are protected
against cyber-attack. However, this is outweighed by the risks of criminal
activity being undertaken if the information was disclosed. The release of
this material could provide valuable information to those wishing to
circumvent our security systems, exposing potential weaknesses that
hackers, terrorists and other criminal groups could exploit. Another
factor that favours withholding the information is the possibility of a
“mosaic effect”, whereby this information could be combined with other
information already in the public domain or obtained from elsewhere, in
order to build a more complete picture of our security arrangements. This
is particularly concerning in the field of cyber security, where small
details may appear harmless but are capable of being combined with other
information to breach or bypass security measures. In these circumstances
it is our view that the public interest in maintaining the exemption
outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information. 

 

Section 24 – National security

 

The Members’ Handbook also applies to Government Ministers whilst working
on the parliamentary estate.  We have withheld information related to
measures to protect the physical security of Ministers, for the purpose of
safeguarding national security. This information is therefore exempt by
virtue of Section 24 (1) FOIA. This is a qualified exemption and the
public interest test applies.

 

There is a public interest in the robustness of the measures in place for
deterring security threats to the workings of the Government on the
parliamentary estate. However, whilst there may be a public interest in
access to this information, it is considered that in this case it is not
in the wider public interest to disclose. This is because the disclosure
of this information would publicise the measures we have in place to deter
security threats to the Parliamentary Estate and the people on it,
including Government ministers and officials. If these measures we
publicised, there is a risk that this information would assist criminals,
terrorists or fixated individuals with the aim of targeting these
individuals or disrupting the proper workings of government. Groups
planning attacks are known to conduct extensive research, building up a
picture of security measures from various sources, which this information
could become part. In these circumstances, it is our view that the public
interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in
disclosing the information.

 

The House also considers that withholding information about measures is
necessary to protect the cyber security of the House of Commons, including
how IT equipment is maintained and the requirements for Members in
limiting access to their devices, is necessary for the purpose of
safeguarding national security. This information is therefore also exempt
by virtue of Section 24 FOIA. This is a qualified exemption and the public
interest test applies.

 

We have considered, once again, the legitimate public interest in the
provision of robust and secure defenses against cyber-criminals who may
seek to undermine national security. However, we consider that it is not
in the wider public interest to disclose this information because, as well
as the risk posed to the security of Parliament’s IT network, there is
also a risk of national security being compromised. Parliament is an
essential part of the UK’s system of government and constitutes part of
the critical national infrastructure. The disclosure of this information
is extremely likely to assist the design of attacks against the network,
jeopardising the security of information necessary for the proper
functioning of the Government in Parliament. Providing details of specific
cybersecurity advice to Members, who may also be Government ministers,
would expose potential weaknesses that hackers, terrorists and other
criminal groups could exploit. Groups planning attacks are known to
conduct extensive research and to disclose this information could
potentially provide those groups or individuals with an indication of
where to focus their efforts when targeting our systems. The wider public
interest is therefore considered to favour non-disclosure.

 

Section 38 – Health and safety

 

Where information describes threats to physical security, we also consider
the threat to the health and safety of individuals. The House considers
that disclosing information about measures in place to protect the
physical security of individuals would be likely to endanger the physical
safety and/or mental health of individuals. Therefore, this information is
exempt by virtue of Section 38(1)(a) and (b) FOIA. This is a qualified
exemption and the public interest test applies.

 

We have considered the need to reassure the public that people visiting or
working on the parliamentary estate are safe and that we have appropriate
measures in force to deter threats to this safety. However, there is a
countervailing public interest in protecting information about the means
by which people on the premises, including Members, are kept safe. As
explained above, providing detail about the measures by which the physical
security of Members is secured would increase the likelihood of criminal
activity or an attack on Parliament. In this event, the health and safety
of anyone on the Estate would be in serious danger. Indeed, a successful
attack enabled by the circumvention of security measures would present a
risk to the lives of many. In these circumstances it is our view that the
public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest
in disclosing the information.

 

Section 40 – Personal information

 

We have redacted some names of staff members working for the House of
Commons because this is their personal data. This information is exempt by
virtue of section 40 (2) FOIA, as disclosure of this information to the
public generally, in the House’s view, would not be consistent with data
protection principles in Article 5 of the General Data Protection
Regulation. This is an absolute exemption and the public interest test
does not apply.

 

Section 43 – Commercial interests

 

The log-in username and password for the Employee Assistance Programme
used by the House of Commons has been redacted. We have concluded that
this information is exempt under section 43(2) FOIA because the disclosure
of this information would be prejudicial to the House’s commercial
interests. This is a qualified or non-absolute exemption and the public
interest test applies.

 

We have considered the public interest the disclosure of this information.
It is important to be transparent in which services are being provided to
Members of the House of Commons and staff of the House Administration.
However, if disclosed, these services will be accessible to anyone,
reducing its effectiveness and accessibility. In these circumstances, the
public money spent on this service will be wasted.

 

For this reason, we consider that the public interest in withholding the
information outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

 

 2. Please provide the "guidance on taking the oath and the courtesies and
conventions of the House" enclosed, as far as I know, in the New
Members Pack

 

Whilst the House of Commons holds this information, it is also already
publicly available. This information is exempt from disclosure in
accordance with section 21(1) and (2)(a) FOIA, which removes a public
authority from the obligation to provide access to information which is
already in the public domain. This is an absolute exemption and the public
interest test does not apply.

However, it may help you to know that information relevant to your request
can be found on pages 8 & 10 of the published New Member’s Guidebook here:
[1]https://www.parliament.uk/globalassets/d....

 

Please note that this Guidebook was produced in 2010 but the guidance is
still used. The most up-to-date Guidebook for New Members contains the
following guidance:

 

“The first Parliamentary event you need to attend will be when the House
meets to elect a Speaker. Initial induction and training will be held
during your first week at Westminster, dates and times will be agreed with
the parties and confirmed ready for your arrival. Your buddy will have all
the information you need.

You will also have the opportunity to take the oath or affirmation during
that first week before the State Opening of Parliament. Family and friends
can sit in the Public Gallery when you swear in – your buddy will be able
to provide more information on how to arrange this.”

 

 3. Please provide the house of lords members' Handbook

 

The information you require is not held by the House of Commons.

 

The House of Lords are a separate public authority for the purposes of the
Freedom of Information Act. You may wish to consider forwarding your
request to them. Requests for information relating to the House of Lords
should be directed to [2][email address].

 

You may, if dissatisfied with the handling of your request, complain to
the House of Commons. Alternatively, if you are dissatisfied with the
outcome of your request you may ask the House of Commons to conduct an
internal review of any decision regarding your request.  Complaints or
requests for internal review should be addressed to: Information Rights
and Information Security Service, Research & Information Team, House of
Commons, London SW1A 0AA or [3][House of Commons request email].  Please ensure
that you specify the full reasons for your complaint or internal review
along with 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,
[4]www.ico.gov.uk.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Joe Ryan
IRIS Officer 
Information Rights and Information Security (IRIS) | Research and
Information
+44 (0)20 7219 4264 

Text relay: 18001 020 7219 4264
House of Commons, Palace of Westminster, London SW1A 0AA 
[5]parliament.uk
[6][IMG]

The House of Commons welcomes feedback. If you have any compliments,
complaints or comments,
about the service that you have received please send an email
to [7][email address]

 

From: dennis daley <[8][FOI #703094 email]>
Sent: 01 November 2020 14:05
To: FOI Commons <[9][email address]>
Subject: Freedom of Information request - Members' Handbook and related
publications

 

Dear House of Commons,

I would like to request copies of the following documents

1) the Members' Handbook
2) the "guidance on taking the oath and the courtesies and conventions of
the House" enclosed, as far as I know, in the New Members Pack.
3) the house of lords members' Handbook

Yours faithfully,

dennis daley

-------------------------------------------------------------------

Please use this email address for all replies to this request:
[10][FOI #703094 email]

Is [11][House of Commons request email] the wrong address for Freedom of
Information requests to House of Commons? If so, please contact us using
this form:
[12]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/change_re...

Disclaimer: This message and any reply that you make will be published on
the internet. Our privacy and copyright policies:
[13]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/offi...

For more detailed guidance on safely disclosing information, read the
latest advice from the ICO:
[14]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/ico-...

Please note that in some cases publication of requests and responses will
be delayed.

If you find this service useful as an FOI officer, please ask your web
manager to link to us from your organisation's FOI page.

show quoted sections

FOI Commons, House of Commons

2 Attachments

 

 

Joe Ryan
IRIS Officer 
Information Rights and Information Security (IRIS) | Research and
Information
+44 (0)20 7219 4264 

Text relay: 18001 020 7219 4264
House of Commons, Palace of Westminster, London SW1A 0AA 
[1]parliament.uk
[2][IMG]

The House of Commons welcomes feedback. If you have any compliments,
complaints or comments,
about the service that you have received please send an email
to [3][email address]

 

UK Parliament Disclaimer: this e-mail is confidential to the intended
recipient. If you have received it in error, please notify the sender and
delete it from your system. Any unauthorised use, disclosure, or copying
is not permitted. This e-mail has been checked for viruses, but no
liability is accepted for any damage caused by any virus transmitted by
this e-mail. This e-mail address is not secure, is not encrypted and
should not be used for sensitive data.

References

Visible links
1. http://parliament.uk/
2. https://www.parliament.uk/business/commo...
3. mailto:[email address]

FOI Commons, House of Commons

2 Attachments

 

 

Joe Ryan
IRIS Officer 
Information Rights and Information Security (IRIS) | Research and
Information
+44 (0)20 7219 4264 

Text relay: 18001 020 7219 4264
House of Commons, Palace of Westminster, London SW1A 0AA 
[1]parliament.uk
[2][IMG]

The House of Commons welcomes feedback. If you have any compliments,
complaints or comments,
about the service that you have received please send an email
to [3][email address]

 

UK Parliament Disclaimer: this e-mail is confidential to the intended
recipient. If you have received it in error, please notify the sender and
delete it from your system. Any unauthorised use, disclosure, or copying
is not permitted. This e-mail has been checked for viruses, but no
liability is accepted for any damage caused by any virus transmitted by
this e-mail. This e-mail address is not secure, is not encrypted and
should not be used for sensitive data.

References

Visible links
1. http://parliament.uk/
2. https://www.parliament.uk/business/commo...
3. mailto:[email address]

FOI Commons, House of Commons

2 Attachments

 

 

Joe Ryan
IRIS Officer 
Information Rights and Information Security (IRIS) | Research and
Information
+44 (0)20 7219 4264 

Text relay: 18001 020 7219 4264
House of Commons, Palace of Westminster, London SW1A 0AA 
[1]parliament.uk
[2][IMG]

The House of Commons welcomes feedback. If you have any compliments,
complaints or comments,
about the service that you have received please send an email
to [3][email address]

 

UK Parliament Disclaimer: this e-mail is confidential to the intended
recipient. If you have received it in error, please notify the sender and
delete it from your system. Any unauthorised use, disclosure, or copying
is not permitted. This e-mail has been checked for viruses, but no
liability is accepted for any damage caused by any virus transmitted by
this e-mail. This e-mail address is not secure, is not encrypted and
should not be used for sensitive data.

References

Visible links
1. http://parliament.uk/
2. https://www.parliament.uk/business/commo...
3. mailto:[email address]

FOI Commons, House of Commons

2 Attachments

 

 

Joe Ryan
IRIS Officer 
Information Rights and Information Security (IRIS) | Research and
Information
+44 (0)20 7219 4264 

Text relay: 18001 020 7219 4264
House of Commons, Palace of Westminster, London SW1A 0AA 
[1]parliament.uk
[2][IMG]

The House of Commons welcomes feedback. If you have any compliments,
complaints or comments,
about the service that you have received please send an email
to [3][email address]

 

UK Parliament Disclaimer: this e-mail is confidential to the intended
recipient. If you have received it in error, please notify the sender and
delete it from your system. Any unauthorised use, disclosure, or copying
is not permitted. This e-mail has been checked for viruses, but no
liability is accepted for any damage caused by any virus transmitted by
this e-mail. This e-mail address is not secure, is not encrypted and
should not be used for sensitive data.

References

Visible links
1. http://parliament.uk/
2. https://www.parliament.uk/business/commo...
3. mailto:[email address]

We don't know whether the most recent response to this request contains information or not – if you are dennis daley please sign in and let everyone know.