Staffordshire County Council/Staffordshire Pension Fund investments

Edward Jones made this Freedom of Information request to Staffordshire County 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 Staffordshire County Council,

I would like to request the following information:

1) The full details of what the Staffordshire 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.

As examples of the kind of information I would like, please see the information released in excel format by East Sussex County Council and West Sussex County Council:

East Sussex County Council:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/e...

West Sussex County Council:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/w...

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...

Freedom Of Information (IRU), Staffordshire County Council

Dear Edward

Thank you for your request for information.

Your request is being dealt with under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and will be answered within twenty working days.

If you have any queries about this request please do not hesitate to contact me. Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

Kind regards,

Liam

Freedom of Information
Information Governance Unit, Access Team

Postal Address:
Information Governance Unit,
Strategy, Governance & Change
Staffordshire Place 2,
Tipping Street,
Stafford,
ST16 2DH

Email: [Staffordshire County Council request email]
Website: www.staffordshire.gov.uk

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Allen, Gemma (S,G&C), Staffordshire County Council

1 Attachment

Dear Edward,

Thank you for your request for information.

Please find a copy of the information you requested attached.

If you have any queries or require any further information please do not
hesitate to contact me.

 

In the first instance if you have any comments relating to how your
request has been handled by our authority, please write to Lian Stibbs,
Access Manager, Information Governance, Information Governance Unit,
Staffordshire County Council, 3rd Floor, Staffordshire Place 2, Stafford,
ST16 2LP.

 

If you have any further comments relating to how your request has been
handled by our authority, please contact the Information Commissioner,
Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

 

Many Thanks

Gemma Allen

Access to Information Officer

Information Governance Unit

Staffordshire County Council

Staffordshire Place 2

Tipping Street, Stafford

ST16 2LP

Tel: 01785 278568

[1][email address]

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