Public Personal conflicts of Interest by Vaz and Bercow

The request was successful.

Dear House of Commons,

Further to the useful replies my requests
VAZ, standards of behaviour, Home Affairs Select Committee, Security Committee https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/v...
and Keith Vaz nominators to the Justice Committee https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/k...
Can I ask the following

Q. Has any investigation by House of Commons or any disciplinary action been started, stopped or is ongoing into
Vaz's potentially criminal activities,
Vaz's conflict of interest in joining the Justice committee and remaining on it?

Q. Has Keith Vaz declared any interests or conflicts of interest in joining the Justice committee? If so what are they? He appears to have a public / personal conflict against rule 10 of the Code of Conduct

Q. Has John Bercow registered any conflict of interest in signing a certificate refusing a FOI request using the parliamentary privilege exemption, on issues that he has already taken decisions on and also about his friend Keith Vaz? This also appears to be a public and personal interest conflict.

Q. Which are the authorities which supervise Section 10 if the Code of Conduct?

Q. Please send me the written information as to whether or not proceedings against Vaz and Bercow have taken place and what was the result?

Q Who is the appropriate individuals and titles to which public complaints should be made to register a public private conflict of interest of Vaz and Bercow.

Yours faithfully,

Cathy Fox

Dear House of Commons,

Apologies I forgot to add
How many times in this Parliament by which I mean the last general election has a certificate been signed by the speaker to use Parliamentary Privilege as exemption for a FOI request?
How many times in the previous Parliament has a certificate been signed by the speaker to use Parliamentary Privilege as exemption for a FOI request? ( ie between the last two general elections.)

Yours faithfully,

Cathy Fox

FOI Commons, House of Commons

1 Attachment

Dear Ms Fox,

 

Freedom of Information request F17-022

 

Thank you for your requests for information dated 9 January 2017, received
by us on the same date, which are copied below.

 

We will endeavour to respond to your request promptly but in any case
within 20 working days i.e. on or before 6 February 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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FOI Commons, House of Commons

1 Attachment

Dear Ms Fox,

 

 

Freedom of Information Request F16-022

 

Thank you for your two requests for information as copied below. You asked
a number of questions relating to the Code of Conduct and the exemption
for parliamentary privilege, which we have sought to answer below.

 

1)  Has any investigation by House of Commons or any disciplinary action
been started, stopped or is ongoing into Vaz's potentially criminal
activities, Vaz's conflict of interest in joining the Justice committee
and remaining on it?

 

Some information is held by the House of Commons.

 

The Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards deals with the
application of the Code of Conduct and related Rules that apply to Members
of Parliament. The Commissioner can investigate allegations that a named
Member has breached the rules of conduct set out in paragraph 10-16 of the
Code of Conduct for Members. The Commissioner cannot decide whether a
Member of Parliament has broken the law and therefore any investigation
relating to criminal activity would be a matter for the police.

 

The Commissioner has begun an inquiry into an alleged breach of paragraphs
10 and 16 of the Code of Conduct for Members by Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP. This
information can be found on the Parliament website here:
[1]http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-o...

The Commissioner began her inquiry in September 2016 and immediately
suspended this, pending the outcome of an assessment by the police. The
Commissioner resumed her inquiry on 19 December 2016, after the police
announced that they had completed their inquiries.

 

Please note, the Commissioner publicly states on the parliamentary
webpages that she is investigating the conduct of a named Member and the
area of the rules on which her inquiry is focused. However, the
Commissioner does not provide any further details than this and therefore
we are unable to provide details of how her inquiry does or does not
relate to the media stories about Mr Vaz, nor can we comment on whether
the inquiry concerns alleged conflicts of interest relevant to the Justice
Committee. The outcome of her inquiry and all the evidence relevant to it
will be published on the Parliament website at the end of the process.

 

2)  Has Keith Vaz declared any interests or conflicts of interest in
joining the Justice committee? If so what are they?

 

This information is held by the House of Commons.

 

On 8 November 2016, at the first Justice Committee meeting which he
attended after being appointed to the Committee by the House, Mr Vaz
declared his interests as recorded in the Register of Members’ Financial
Interests. Also, Mr Vaz declared that he was a non-practising barrister
and that his wife was a practising solicitor and a part-time judge. The
record of his declaration is published in the Justice Committee’s formal
minutes here:

[2]http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commo...

 

3)  Has John Bercow registered any conflict of interest in signing a
certificate refusing a FOI request using the parliamentary privilege
exemption, on issues that he has already taken decisions on and also about
his friend Keith Vaz? This also appears to be a public and personal
interest conflict.

 

This information is not held by the House of Commons.

 

The Speaker of the House of Commons is not required to register any
conflict of interest in signing a certificate which exempt the release of
information requested under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

 

4)  Which are the authorities which supervise Section 10 if the Code of
Conduct?

 

This information is held by the House of Commons.

 

The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards may investigate alleged
breaches of the rules of conduct, found in paragraphs 10-16 of the Code of
Conduct for Members. The Code is available on the Parliament website:
[3]http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa...

 

Further information on the work of the Commissioners can be found on the
parliamentary webpages here:
[4]http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-o...

 

Additionally, the following Commissioners Information Note may be of
interest to you. This contains information to assist those involved in an
inquiry conducted by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and is
available here:
[5]http://www.parliament.uk/documents/pcfs/...

 

Lastly, chapter 4 of the “Guide to the Rules relating to the conduct of
Members” also provides details on the work of the Commissioner which can
be found here:
[6]http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa...

 

5)  Please send me the written information as to whether or not
proceedings against Vaz and Bercow have taken place and what was the
result?

 

Some information is held by the House of Commons.

 

The Commissioner’s inquiry into the allegations against Mr Vaz is ongoing,
as described in our answer to question 1 of your request. The
Commissioner’s work is carried out under a Standing Order of the House (No
150) and is protected by parliamentary privilege until her work is
completed and Parliament has had the opportunity to consider any report
which may be published. Therefore the information you have requested is
exempt from disclosure under section 34(1) of the FOIA (parliamentary
privilege). The exemption applies in order to avoid an infringement of the
privileges of the House of Commons. This is an absolute exemption and the
public interest test does not apply.

 

It may help you to know that, whilst the Commissioner’s inquiries are
conducted in private, the outcome of her inquiry and all of the evidence
relevant to any findings she makes will be published in due course. Please
note, we do not know when her inquiry will be completed and therefore
cannot provide an expected date for publication.

 

The Commissioner is not currently investigating any allegations concerning
the conduct of Rt Hon John Bercow MP.

 

6)  Who are the appropriate individuals and titles to which public
complaints should be made to register a public private conflict of
interest of Vaz and Bercow.

 

This information is held by the House of Commons.

 

As detailed in our answer to question 4 of your request, the Parliamentary
Commissioner for Standards may investigate alleged breaches of the rules
of conduct, found in paragraphs 10-16 of the Code of Conduct for Members.
Further details of how to make a complaint are available on the
Commissioner’s web pages here:
[7]http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-o....

 

7)  How many times in this Parliament by which I mean the last general
election has a certificate been signed by the Speaker to use parliamentary
privilege as exemption for a FOI request?

and

8)  How many times in the previous Parliament has a certificate been
signed by the speaker to use parliamentary privilege as exemption for a
FOI request? (ie between the last two general elections.)

 

This information is held by the House of Commons.

 

In accordance with the FOIA a signed certificate provides conclusive
evidence for exemptions under sections 34 and 36. For section 36, the
exemption applies in the reasonable opinion of the ‘qualified person’ who,
for the House of Commons, is the Speaker. In accordance with guidance from
the Information Commissioner’s Office, a formal paper is submitted to Mr
Speaker who then confirms his reasonable opinion on this exemption before
a response is issued to the requester. For section 34, we apply the
exemption when it is required for the purposes of avoiding an infringement
of the privileges of the House of Commons and conclusive evidence of this
is also a certificate signed by Mr Speaker.

 

Full lists of all section 34 and section 36 exemptions are provided in our
disclosures logs, available on the parliamentary web pages here:
[8]http://www.parliament.uk/site-informatio....
However please note that, in the cases of both exemptions, certificates
are usually only issued when it is necessary to provide conclusive
evidence, for example as the result of a complaint. Therefore the House of
Commons does not hold certificates for all the times these two exemptions
have been applied.

 

As the information you request is reasonably accessible to you otherwise
than under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), your request is
refused. In refusing your request the House is applying the exemption set
out in section 21 (1) and (2) (a) of the FOIA. This is an absolute
exemption and the public interest test does not apply.

 

Further information and detailed guidance on these exemptions can be found
in the ICO ‘Guide to Freedom of Information’ at:
[9]https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/gui...

 

 

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 [10][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.

 

Following an internal review, if the decision to apply section 34
(parliamentary privilege) of the FOIA is upheld, a certificate signed by
the Speaker may be issued. This certificate provides conclusive evidence
that the exemption was required for the purpose described in our response.

 

If you remain dissatisfied, you may appeal to the Information Commissioner
at Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF,
[11]www.ico.gov.uk.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Lauren

 

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

Tel: 0207 219 4025 | Text Relay: 18001 219 4025 | Fifth Floor, 14 Tothill
St, London SW1H 9NB

 

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Click [13]here for information about FOI in the House of Commons,

or to see what we publish.

 

 

 

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Dear FOI Commons,
Thank you for the prompt and full response

Yours sincerely,

Cathy Fox

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