Orkney Islands Council Pension Fund Investments

Edward Jones made this Freedom of Information request to Orkney Islands Council

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 successful.

Dear Orkney Islands Council,

I would like to request the following information:

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

Ideally this information would be broken down into the different categories, 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.

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

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

4) 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 (i), 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." (ii)

I would like to receive the information in electronic format if possible. 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 confidentially 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.'(ii)

Finally, within the law of confidence these 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) Innes v Information Commissioner [2014] EWCA Civ 1086 http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/...
(ii) Section 11 FOIA and the Form of a Request https://panopticonblog.com/2014/08/01/se...
(ii) 'Freedom of Information Awareness Guidance 5: Commercial Interests' Office of the Information Commissioner, Page 10, https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisatio...

foi, Orkney Islands Council

Dear Sir

Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 – Request for Information

Thank you for your information request dated 19 May 2017 and received on 19 May 2017. Our reference is FOI 2017-0504. This is being dealt with under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

We are considering your request. We may be in touch soon to ask for further clarification or to offer advice and assistance if we are not able to fulfil your request in its present form.

The legislation allows us up to 20 working days from the date that we receive a valid request, including any clarification we need to make a final response. We will be in touch within 20 working days of receipt of your initial request to provide our response or to seek clarification where necessary. We hope to give you the information you are looking for at an earlier date if possible.

Kind regards

Katy Russell-Duff
Administrative Officer
Corporate Services
Orkney Islands Council, Council Offices, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1NY
Telephone 01856 873535 Extension 2210

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foi, Orkney Islands Council

1 Attachment

Dear Sir

Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 – Request for Information

I refer to your email dated 19 May 2017 and received on 19 May 2017, our reference is FOI 2017-0504.

I am pleased to give the information you requested, as attached, and hope that it meets your requirements.

You have the right to request a review of the decision if you are not satisfied with the way we have handled your request. Please write to: Head of Legal Services, Council Offices, School Place, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1NY or email to [Orkney Islands Council request email] to make this request. The law gives you up to 60 working days from when we received your enquiry or 40 working days from when you receive this correspondence, whichever is the later date.

Where the outcome of the review fails to resolve the matter to your complete satisfaction you have the right to apply to the Scottish Information Commissioner for a decision, within six months of the date of the decision to a request for a review, or within six months from when we should have responded to your request for a review, whichever is the later date.

Kind regards

George Vickers
Information Governance Officer
Corporate Services
Orkney Islands Council, Council Offices, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1NY
Telephone: 01856 873535 Extension: 2162

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