Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

Please provide the names of all MPs who made referrals during the year 2016/17 together with the number of referrals each made.

Yours faithfully,

J Roberts

informationrights@ombudsman.org.uk, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman


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Dear J Roberts

 

Your information request – our case reference: FDN-274668

 

Thank you for your email dated 14 June 2017 in which you asked:

 

“Please provide the names of all MPs who made referrals during the year
2016/17 together with the number of referrals each made.”

 

I can confirm the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman does hold the
information you have requested, however it is exempt from disclosure under
sections 40(2) and 44(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

 

I am aware, that we have in the past released data for previous years,
this was because we considered that complainants and details of
individuals complaints could not be identified from the information.
However the data for the business year 2016/17, aggregated with
information already in the public domain, does identify complaints
referred to the Ombudsman. As a result, disclosure would breach the
privacy rights of complainants under the Data Protection Act 1998, and the
information disclosure restriction at section 11(2) of the Parliamentary
Commissioner Act 1967. Information obtained during the course or for the
purposes of an investigation is exempt from disclosure unless one of the
purposes under section 11(2) PCA is met. As your request does not meet any
of the purposes, I am prevented by law from releasing the information.

 

You may be interested to know in the business year 2016/17, a total of
2396 referrals were made to the Ombudsman by 602 MPs.

 

Further details about how to submit a complaint through your MP can be
found on our website at: [1]https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/making-comp...
and information for MPs can be found at:
[2]https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/making-comp....

 

I hope my email is helpful. If you believe I have made an error in the way
I have processed your information request, it is open to you to request an
internal review. You can do this by writing to us by post or by email to
[3][Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman request email]. You will need to specify what the
nature of the issue is and we can consider the matter further. Beyond
that, it is open to you to complain to the Information Commissioner’s
Office ([4]www.ico.org.uk).

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

 

 

Freedom of Information / Data Protection Officer

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

E:[5][Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman request email]

W: [6]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

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From: J Roberts [mailto:[FOI #412273 email]]
Sent: 14 June 2017 14:31
To: InformationRights
Subject: Freedom of Information request - MP referrals for the year
2016/17

 

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

Please provide the names of all MPs who made referrals during the year
2016/17 together with the number of referrals each made.

Yours faithfully,

J Roberts

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Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman's handling of my FOI request 'MP referrals for the year 2016/17'.

I do not think the exemptions you have stated are applicable. It is in the public interest for people to know the number of referrals eachMP makes to the PHSO. You wrote:

"However the data for the business year 2016/17, aggregated with information already in the public domain, does identify complaints referred to the Ombudsman."

Can you provide me with more details. How many complaints exactly to the Ombudsman would be identified as a consequence of providing the information I requested? What information in the public domain are you referring to? How exactly does the information I requested expose complainants to the glare of publicity?

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

Yours faithfully,

J Roberts

informationrights@ombudsman.org.uk, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman


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1 Attachment

Dear J Roberts

 

Your internal review (FDN-274668)

 

Further to your email of 13 July 2017, I am writing with a response to
your request for an internal review.  This review will look at whether
your information request was dealt with in compliance with the
requirements of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA). 

 

Was the request responded to in time?

 

We received the request on 14 June 2017 and responded to it on 13 July
2017.  This was one day outside the time limit of twenty working days
stipulated by section 10(1) FOIA and you should have received a response
by 12 July 2017.

 

Were the exemptions applied correctly?

I will now move on to consider whether the exemptions at section 40(2) and
44 were applied correctly to the information you requested.

 

Section 40(2) FOIA applies to third party personal data.  Personal data is
information which relates to a living individual or individuals who can be
identified from those data.  I have concluded that the arguments made in
support of this exemption are not convincing in this case and that none of
the Data Protection Principles would be breached in disclosing the
information requested.  I have therefore concluded that section 40(2) does
not apply to the information requested.  I have also concluded that the
release of high level statistics about PHSO casework would not contravene
the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967 and so nor does section 44(1)(a)
apply.  Taking into account the wider public interest in disclosure, I
have determined that the information requested should be provided to you.

 

Outcome of review

 

For the reasons set out above, I have concluded that the exemptions
applied were not properly engaged and that we should have provided you
with the information requested within twenty working days.  I fully uphold
your complaint and have attached the information originally requested.

 

I hope that this response is helpful.  If you remain dissatisfied with our
handling of your request, it is open to you to complain to the Information
Commissioner’s Office ([1]www.ico.org.uk).

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Aimee Gasston

Freedom of Information and Data Protection Officer

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

W: [2]www.ombudsman.org.uk

 

Please email the FOI/DP team at: [3][Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman request email]

 

From: J Roberts [mailto:[FOI #412273 email]]
Sent: 13 July 2017 23:30
To: InformationRights
Subject: Internal review of Freedom of Information request - MP referrals
for the year 2016/17

 

Dear Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Parliamentary and Health
Service Ombudsman's handling of my FOI request 'MP referrals for the year
2016/17'.

I do not think the exemptions you have stated are applicable.  It is in
the public interest for people to know the number of referrals eachMP
makes to the PHSO.  You wrote:

"However the data for the business year 2016/17, aggregated with
information already in the public domain, does identify complaints
referred to the Ombudsman."

Can you provide me with more details.  How many complaints exactly to the
Ombudsman would be identified as a consequence of providing the
information I requested?  What information in the public domain are you
referring to?   How exactly does the information I requested expose
complainants to the glare of publicity?

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on
the Internet at this address:
[4]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/m...

Yours faithfully,

J Roberts

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[5][FOI #412273 email]

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[6]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/offi...

For more detailed guidance on safely disclosing information, read the
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J Roberts left an annotation ()

I'm please they changed their mind. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that Bernard Jenkin (45 referrals) did the work of ten! But did he make referrals on behalf of complainants who were not his constituents, and if so, did the complainants' own MPs refuse to forward the complaints to the Ombudsman?

"There is no requirement, statutory or otherwise, however, for a Member of Parliament to refer a case to the Ombudsman. Bradley and Ewing’s Constitutional and Administration Law states that:

…the citizen has no right to present a complaint to the Parliamentary Ombudsman. In the first instance, a complaint must be address by the person who claims to have suffered injustice to an MP.... It is for the MP to decide whether to refer the complaint to the Ombudsman.

Therefore, a Member of Parliament may refer a case to the Parliamentary Ombudsman without supporting it as such, or else decide not to forward it at all. It is also worth noting that a constituent may approach another Member, if the first decides not to forward the complaint. There is no requirement in the legislation that it is the constituency MP who makes the referral. "

http://researchbriefings.files.parliamen...

A complainant concerned that their complaint has not been forwarded to the PHSO could ask for a list of monthly referrals. If their MP's name does not appear on the list they would know something was amiss. An MP's name could of course appear in connection with another referral.

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