Parliamentary Standards Commissioners Inquiry into Keith Vaz

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Dear House of Commons,

On the inquiry into Keith Vaz--
Please could you state when the inquiry began
Please could you state why the inquiry could not carry on during dissolution and what rules, guidelines and protocol covers this.
Please could you state when the parliamentary standards commissioner is to report, as for such a simple matter it seems to have taken an extremely long time.
Please tell me when the commissioner actually works? Does she work when parliament is not sitting in the summer for instance?
Please give me details of the commissioners job description and salary and hours worked
How many hours has the review of Vaz taken?

"The Commissioner had started but not completed the first two inquiries listed above on 3 May 2017. The Commissioner could not make any decisions about those inquiries during Dissolution. She resumed her work on the first inquiry after the General Election"
http://archive.is/XVMpN
http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-o...

Yours faithfully,

Cathy Fox

FOI Commons, House of Commons

1 Attachment

Dear Ms Fox,

 

Freedom of Information request F17-423

 

Thank you for your request for information dated 21 October 2017, received
by us on the 23 October 2016, 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 20 November 2017.

 

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

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Sarah Price

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

 

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Click [2]here for details about Freedom of Information

in the House of Commons and to see what we publish.

 

 

 

 

FOI Commons, House of Commons

1 Attachment

Dear Ms Fox,

 

 

Freedom of Information Request F17-423

 

Thank you for your request for information as copied below.  You asked a
number of questions about the investigation by the Parliamentary
Commissioner for Standards into Keith Vaz MP, which we have sought to
answer below.

 

1)  Please could you state when the inquiry began.

 

This information is held by the House of Commons.  The Parliamentary
Commissioner for Standards opened an inquiry into the allegations against
Mr Vaz on 12 September 2016, and then suspended it while the police
considered possible action. She was able to begin investigative work on 19
December 2016, after the police had confirmed that they were no longer
considering action.

 

2)  Please could you state why the inquiry could not carry on during
dissolution and what rules, guidelines and protocol covers this.

 

Some information is held by the House of Commons.  The Parliamentary
Commissioner for Standards could not continue her inquiries during
Dissolution because once Parliament has ceased there are no MPs and she
has no authority to conduct investigations.

 

No specific rules, guidelines or protocol explicitly cover this because
the facts are self-evident and available publicly from many sources, such
as the parliamentary website here: 
[1]https://www.parliament.uk/about/how/elec...
You may be interested to see the guidance given to MPs about dissolution:
 [2]https://www.parliament.uk/documents/comm....

 

3)  Please could you state when the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner
is to report, as for such a simple matter it seems to have taken an
extremely long time.

 

This information is not held by the House of Commons.  The Parliamentary
Commissioner for Standards does not say when she will finish her
investigation. She does not comment on the progress of her investigations,
or predict outcomes.

 

4)  Please tell me when the Commissioner actually works? Does she work
when Parliament is not sitting in the summer for instance?

And

5)  Please give me details of the commissioners job description and salary
and hours worked

 

This information is held by the House of Commons.  The House of Commons
Commission’s report on her appointment, which you can find at
 [3]http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commo...,
explains her work arrangements, except that the Commissioner has increased
her commitment (with a commensurate salary increase) from 2.5 to 3 days a
week and she has received small inflationary uplifts to her salary. Like
most staff of the House of Commons, the Commissioner does not cease
working during the recess other than to take annual leave.

 

6)  How many hours has the review of Vaz taken?

 

This information is not held by the House of Commons.  It is not possible
to say how many hours the Commissioner has spent on this inquiry so far,
as this data is not collected.

 

 

 

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 [4][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,
[5]www.ico.gov.uk.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

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

 

[6]cid:image002.jpg@01D02B64.34D76640

Click [7]here for information about FOI in the House of Commons,

or to see what we publish.

 

 

 

show quoted sections

Dear FOI Commons,

Thank you for your answer

Yours sincerely,

Cathy Fox

Dear FOI Commons,
Further to the information on the following website that the investigation into Keith Vaz suspended for medical reasons, https://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-...,
please could give me further details on
1. the reasons for this suspension, including any notes given to the Commission to excuse Vaz
2. whether this type of suspension has ever happened before in inquiries into other people, and if so give names and dates
3. What type of information is requested by the commissioner in this sort of circumstance
4. When the inquiry is due to resume and what date it was suspended
5. How much the inquiry has cost taxpayers
6. How many hours have been spent actually investigating vaz
7. What date the commissoner starts work again on her investigations in 2018?
It should be noted that Vaz has used medical reasons for avoiding investigation previously.
If you cannot give details to any questions, please could you tell me who could supply further detail , by FOI route and other routes.
It would seem that over a year after the investigation into Vaz started, public desire to bring MPs to account is being thwarted by obscure process, for which there is little or no public accountability. Is there any information to allay any public fears that this is the case?
Vaz apparently voted recently and took a trip to the middle east, yet apparently he is not well enough to be investigated. If he is not fit to be investigated, what rules govern that he can still be an MP whilst "ill"
Parliament and their processes are being brought into disrepute by the lack of transparency. The public have a right to know about their mps, especially when one is on the Justice Committee. Is there any information you hold that may dispute this?
https://order-order.com/2017/12/21/vaz-i...
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/201...

Yours sincerely,

Cathy Fox

FOI Commons, House of Commons

1 Attachment

Dear Ms Fox,

 

Freedom of Information request F17-559

 

Thank you for your request for information dated 21 December 2017,
received by us on the same date, 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 23 January 2018.

 

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

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Sarah Price

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

 

[1]cid:image002.jpg@01D02B64.34D76640

Click [2]here for details about Freedom of Information

in the House of Commons and to see what we publish.

 

 

 

 

From: Cathy Fox [mailto:[FOI #440056 email]]
Sent: 21 December 2017 19:25
To: FOI Commons <[email address]>
Subject: Re: F17-423 Response

 

Dear FOI Commons,
Further to the information on the following website that the investigation
into Keith Vaz suspended for medical reasons,
[3]https://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-...,
please could give me further details on
1. the reasons for this suspension, including any notes given to the
Commission to excuse Vaz
2. whether this type of suspension has ever happened before in inquiries
into other people, and if so give names and dates
3. What type of information is requested by the commissioner in this sort
of circumstance
4. When the inquiry is due to resume and what date it was suspended
5. How much the inquiry has cost taxpayers
6. How many hours have been spent actually investigating vaz
7. What date the commissoner starts work again on her investigations in
2018?
It should be noted that Vaz has used medical reasons for avoiding
investigation previously.
If you cannot give details to any questions, please could you tell me who
could supply further detail , by FOI route and other routes.
It would seem that over a year after the investigation into Vaz started,
public desire to bring MPs to account is being thwarted by obscure
process, for which there is little or no public accountability. Is there
any information to allay any public fears that this is the case?
Vaz apparently voted recently and took a trip to the middle east, yet
apparently he is not well enough to be investigated. If he is not fit to
be investigated, what rules govern that he can still be an MP whilst "ill"
Parliament and their processes are being brought into disrepute by the
lack of transparency. The public have a right to know about their mps,
especially when one is on the Justice Committee. Is there any information
you hold that may dispute this?
[4]https://order-order.com/2017/12/21/vaz-i...
[5]https://www.theguardian.com/politics/201...

Yours sincerely,

Cathy Fox

show quoted sections

FOI Commons, House of Commons

1 Attachment

Dear Ms Fox,

 

 

Freedom of Information Request F17-559

 

Thank you for your request for information as copied below.  You asked a
number of further questions about the Parliamentary Commissioner for
Standard’s (PCS) investigation of Keith Vaz MP, which we have sought to
answer below.

 

1)  The reasons for this suspension, including any notes given to the
Commissioner to excuse Mr Vaz

 

This information is held by the House of Commons.  

 

This inquiry has been suspended for medical reasons.  This information is
already in the public domain, on Parliament’s website here:
[1]http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-o....

 

Other details obtained by the Commissioner as part of her work under
Standing Order No 150 are subject to parliamentary privilege and therefore
exempt from disclosure under section 34(1) of the Freedom of Information
Act 2000 (FOIA). Section 34 exempts information from disclosure so far as
it is required to avoid any infringement of the privileges of the House,
which includes the work of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.
 This is an absolute exemption and the public interest test does not
apply.

 

2)  Whether this type of suspension has ever happened before in inquiries
into other people, and if so give names and dates

 

This information is held by the House of Commons.  Inquiries by the
Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards have been suspended for medical
reasons in the past.  For example, the inquiry concerning the conduct of
Mr David Wilshire MP was suspended for medical reasons in September 2011.

 

3)  What type of information is requested by the Commissioner in this sort
of circumstance

 

A record of the type of information the Commissioner may request is not
held by the House of Commons, because this varies depending on the nature
of the allegation.

 

4)  When the inquiry is due to resume and what date it was suspended

 

Some information is held by the House of Commons.  The decision to suspend
the inquiry into Mr Vaz’s conduct was made on 19 December 2017. 

 

The date the inquiry is due to resume is not held by the House of Commons
because it is not yet known.  Decisions to suspend an inquiry for medical
reasons are routinely reviewed in light of fresh independent medical
advice. 

 

5)  How much the inquiry has cost taxpayers

 

This information is not held by the House of Commons.  The Commissioner
and her Office deal with a number of matters and costs are not broken down
to record the cost of individual inquiries.

 

6)  How many hours have been spent actually investigating Mr Vaz

 

This information is not held by the House of Commons.  The Commissioner
and her Office deal with a number of matters and schedules are not broken
down to record the number of hours taken on individual inquiries.

 

7)  What date the Commissioner starts work again on her investigations in
2018?

 

This information is held by the House of Commons.  The term of office of
the outgoing Commissioner, Kathryn Hudson, came to an end on 31 December
2017.  Her successor, Kathryn Stone, took up post on 1 January 2018, and
her first day in the office was 2 January 2018.

 

8)  Is there any information to allay any public fears [about public
accountability of Members of Parliament]?

And

10)               Is there any information you hold that may dispute [that
Parliament and their processes are being brought into disrepute by the
lack of transparency]?

 

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 provides a requester with the right to
recorded information held by a public authority.  However, these two
questions are extremely subjective because one person’s fears about the
accountability of their Member, or their views about the transparency of
Parliament, may be different from another’s.  The provision of a full
response to your queries would first require sophisticated analysis and
research which we are not obliged to carry out before answering a request.

 

If you would like to provide further clarification about the sort of
information you require, we will attempt to assist you further.  The
following information may be helpful for you to understand the sort of
information we hold on the subject of accountability and transparency.

 

As you are no doubt aware, Members of Parliament are not employees of the
House of Commons but rather elected representatives of their constituents
who carry out their daily work and run their offices as they see fit, in a
similar way to self-employed people.  To help them, the House of Commons
provides guidance and information when they enter the House, which covers
a wide range of topics including standards of behaviour.  This information
can be viewed here: 
[2]https://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-....

 

In addition, the Members’ Code of Conduct and Guide to the Rules lays down
the standards of behaviour with which Members are expected to comply.  The
Commissioner’s web pages on the parliamentary website provides information
about this, as well as details of how the Commissioner has dealt with
allegations of breaches of the Code, which are regularly published and
updated.  This may be viewed here:
[3]https://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-....

 

The web pages of the Standards Committee, to which the Commissioner
reports on these matters, also contains information about the work they do
to maintain the reputation of the House of Commons and its Members.  This
is available to view here:
[4]https://www.parliament.uk/business/commi....

 

Lastly, you may also be interested in the accountability and transparency
of the administration of the House of Commons.  One of our key strategic
goals – “Involving and inspiring the public” – is concerned with making
the House relevant and accessible as well as exploring ways of enhancing
the reputation of the House.  The Annual Report of the House of Commons
Commission (the body responsible for governance of the administration)
provides details of how this has been achieved in the previous year. 
These publications are available to view on the Commission’s web pages
here: 
[5]https://www.parliament.uk/business/commi....

 

9)  If he is not fit to be investigated, what rules govern that he can
still be an MP whilst "ill"

 

This information is not held by the House of Commons.  There are no rules
about the management of MPs’ absences for sickness.  This is normally
managed by the Member’s political party and not the House of Commons.

You may wish to redirect this part of your request to the Labour Party,
who’s contact details can be found here: 
[6]https://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-...
Please note that political parties are not public authorities in
accordance with the FOIA, so are not obliged to answer requests for
information made under the Act.

 

 

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 [7][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,
[8]www.ico.gov.uk.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

         
Abigail Richmond | Information Rights Manager
Information Rights and Information Security (IRIS) Service | House of
Commons

Tel: 0207 219 2559 | Text Relay: 18001 219 2559 | Sixth Floor, 14 Tothill
St, London SW1H 9NB

 

[9]cid:image002.jpg@01D02B64.34D76640

Click [10]here for information about FOI in the House of Commons,

or to see what we publish.

 

 

 

 

From: Cathy Fox [mailto:[FOI #440056 email]]
Sent: 21 December 2017 19:25
To: FOI Commons <[email address]>
Subject: Re: F17-423 Response

 

Dear FOI Commons,
Further to the information on the following website that the investigation
into Keith Vaz suspended for medical reasons,
[11]https://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-...,
please could give me further details on
1. the reasons for this suspension, including any notes given to the
Commission to excuse Vaz
2. whether this type of suspension has ever happened before in inquiries
into other people, and if so give names and dates
3. What type of information is requested by the commissioner in this sort
of circumstance
4. When the inquiry is due to resume and what date it was suspended
5. How much the inquiry has cost taxpayers
6. How many hours have been spent actually investigating vaz
7. What date the commissoner starts work again on her investigations in
2018?
It should be noted that Vaz has used medical reasons for avoiding
investigation previously.
If you cannot give details to any questions, please could you tell me who
could supply further detail , by FOI route and other routes.
It would seem that over a year after the investigation into Vaz started,
public desire to bring MPs to account is being thwarted by obscure
process, for which there is little or no public accountability. Is there
any information to allay any public fears that this is the case?
Vaz apparently voted recently and took a trip to the middle east, yet
apparently he is not well enough to be investigated. If he is not fit to
be investigated, what rules govern that he can still be an MP whilst "ill"
Parliament and their processes are being brought into disrepute by the
lack of transparency. The public have a right to know about their mps,
especially when one is on the Justice Committee. Is there any information
you hold that may dispute this?
[12]https://order-order.com/2017/12/21/vaz-i...
[13]https://www.theguardian.com/politics/201...

Yours sincerely,

Cathy Fox

show quoted sections

Dear FOI Commons,

Thank you for your reply. When you say that cases are routinely reexamined, then how often- weekly ? monthly?
It is reported that Keith Vaz is appearing in public and yet is supposed to be medically not fit to be investigated as to whether he has broken the rules. In light of this some timescale appears appropriate to be given to the public.
A couple of follow up questions, do you have information, perhaps a spreadsheet as to how long inquiries have taken in the past eg since 2010?
Does the Commissioner take medical evidence from an independent doctor in cases such as this or just the MPs own doctor or perhaps even a sicknote from an MPs mother?

Yours sincerely,

Cathy Fox

FOI Commons, House of Commons

1 Attachment

Dear Ms Fox,

 

Thank you for your request for information dated 1 February 2018, received
by us on the same date, 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 March 2018.

 

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

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Sarah Price

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

 

[1]cid:image002.jpg@01D02B64.34D76640

Click [2]here for details about Freedom of Information

in the House of Commons and to see what we publish.

 

 

 

 

 

From: Cathy Fox [mailto:[FOI #440056 email]]
Sent: 01 February 2018 22:23
To: FOI Commons <[email address]>
Subject: Re: F17-559 Response

 

Dear FOI Commons,

Thank you for your reply. When you say that cases are routinely
reexamined, then how often- weekly ? monthly?
It is reported that Keith Vaz is appearing in public and yet is supposed
to be medically not fit to be investigated as to whether he has broken the
rules. In light of this some timescale appears appropriate to be given to
the public.
A couple of follow up questions, do you have information, perhaps a
spreadsheet as to how long inquiries have taken in the past eg since 2010?
Does the Commissioner take medical evidence from an independent doctor in
cases such as this or just the MPs own doctor or perhaps even a sicknote
from an MPs mother?

Yours sincerely,

Cathy Fox

show quoted sections

Cathy Fox left an annotation ()

Cathy Fox left an annotation ()

Labour-grandee-Keith-Vaz-faces-possible-probe http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-...

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