VAZ, standards of behaviour, Home Affairs Select Committee, Security Committee

The request was partially successful.

Dear House of Commons,

It is reported that Keith Vaz was known to be under investigation for child sexual abuse allegations, at latest by 18 July 2015, the sources for which are provided here https://cathyfox.wordpress.com/2016/09/0...

As general points -
What are the standards of behaviour that an MP is bound by and expected to keep?
What are the normal guidelines / rules/ procedures for an MP continuing in a role such as head of a select committee or on a Security Strategy Joint Committee, when there is clear conflict of interest? eg the MP is being investigated by Police for child sexual abuse and his select committee duties cover accountability of the Police and overseeing IICSA, or the individual is a obvious blackmail risk on a security committee?
What are the guidelines/ rules/ procedures for declaring conflicts of interest on HASC and the Security Strategy Joint Committee and where are they published?
What vetting occurs of MPs and officials for the HASC and Security Strategy Joint Committee?

Specifically
When was it known by the speaker and officials of HASC, House of Commons and the Security Stragety Joint Committee that Police were investigating Keith Vaz over child sexual abuse allegations?
Please send me any representations by anyone in 2015 or 2016 regarding the fact that Keith Vaz should not continue as chair of HASC or the Security Strategy Joint Committee?

Is MI5 kept informed by the House of Commons, when police investigate an MP or on any other occasions? If so what type of occasions?

Yours faithfully,

Cathy Fox

FOI Commons, House of Commons

1 Attachment

Dear Ms Fox,

 

 

Thank you for your request for information dated 5 September 2016,
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 3 October 2016.

 

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

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

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

 

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FOI Commons, House of Commons

1 Attachment

Dear Ms Fox,

 

 

Freedom of Information Request F16-396

 

Thank you for your request for information as copied below. You asked a
number of questions about standards for MPs which we have sought to answer
below.

 

1)  What are the standards of behaviour that a MP is bound by and expected
to keep?

 

This information is held by the House of Commons.

 

The Code of Conduct sets out the responsibilities that MPs have as Members
of the House and applies to MPs in all aspects of their public life. It
does not seek to regulate what MPs do in their purely private and personal
lives. It is supported by the Guide to the Rules relating to the Conduct
of Members. Details are available here:
[1]http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-o....

 

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.

 

2)  What are the normal guidelines/rules/procedures for a MP continuing in
a role such as head of a select committee or on a Security Strategy Joint
Committee, when there is clear conflict of interest, e.g. the MP is being
investigated by the police for child sexual abuse and his select committee
duties cover accountability of the police and overseeing IICSA, or the
individual is an obvious blackmail risk on a security committee?

 

This information is not held by the House of Commons.

 

3)  What are the guidelines/rules/procedures for declaring conflicts of
interest on HASC and the Security Strategy Joint Committee and where are
they published?

 

This information is not held by the House of Commons. There are no
guidelines, rules or procedures relating to these matters specifically for
the Home Affairs Committee or the Security Strategy Joint Committee.

 

However, paragraph 10 of the Code of Conduct sets out the general rule on
dealing with conflicts of interest. Further guidance is contained in
chapter 2 of the Guide to the Rules. The link to these documents is
supplied above in our answer to question 1.

 

4)  What vetting occurs of MPs and officials for the HASC and Security
Strategy Joint Committee?

 

This information is not held by the House of Commons. No vetting is
undertaken for Members or officials serving on Committees.

 

5)  When was it known by the speaker and officials of HASC, House of
Commons and the Security Strategy Joint Committee that Police were
investigating Keith Vaz over child sexual abuse allegations?

 

This information is not held by the House of Commons. The police are not
required to inform the House if they are conducting a criminal
investigation into a Member, unless that Member is subsequently arrested.

 

The arrangements for investigating potentially criminal allegations
against MPs are helpfully described in a protocol between the Chair of the
Standards Committee and the Metropolitan Police, which is published as the
Seventh Report of that Committee in 2013-14. You can find it via this
link:
[2]http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa....

 

6)  Please send me any representations by anyone in 2015 or 2016 regarding
the fact that Keith Vaz should not continue as chair of HASC or the
Security Strategy Joint Committee?

 

Some information is held by the House of Commons. The House holds
correspondence relevant to your request but this information is withheld
under the following sections of the FOIA:

 

Section 34 (1) (parliamentary privilege)

Some of the information you requested is subject to parliamentary
privilege and therefore exempt from disclosure under section 34(1) of the
FOIA. 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.

 

Section 40 (2) (personal data)

Some information is exempt by virtue of section 40 (2) of the FOIA (the
exemption for personal data), as disclosure of this information to the
public generally, in the House’s view, would not be consistent with data
protection principles in the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA). This is an
absolute exemption and the public interest test does not apply.

 

Section 41(1) (information provided in confidence)

Section 41(1) provides that information is exempt if it was obtained by a
public authority from any other person and that disclosure to the public
by the public authority holding it would constitute a breach of confidence
actionable by that or any other person.

We consider that unauthorised disclosure of some of the information which
is held would amount to an actionable breach of confidence. Section 41 is
an absolute exemption and therefore not subject to the public interest
balancing test. However a court would be unlikely to uphold a claim for
breach of confidence if the public interest in disclosure outweighed the
public interest in maintaining the confidential status of that
information. Therefore, in practice, an assessment of the public interest
test will still take place.

 

We have therefore considered the public interest in favour of disclosing
or withholding this information. Where a duty of confidence exists, there
is a strong public interest in favour of maintaining that confidence. We
consider that it is most important for Members of Parliament to be able to
raise issues such as the personal circumstances of themselves or others or
the way in which the House conducts its proceedings with Mr Speaker and
for those issues to be explained and discussed in confidence. We therefore
consider that the public interest in favour of maintaining the confidence
outweighs the general interest in public scrutiny of information held by
the House of Commons.

 

7)  Is MI5 kept informed by the House of Commons, when police investigate
an MP or on any other occasions? If so what type of occasions?

 

The House neither confirms nor denies whether or not this information is
held. In refusing to confirm or deny this, the House relies on section 23
(5) of the FOIA which covers information relating to bodies dealing with
security matters, and specifically the Security Service (section 23 (3)
(a)). This is an absolute exemption and the public interest test does not
apply.

 

 

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 [3][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,
[4]www.ico.gov.uk.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

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

 

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

Click [6]here for information about FOI in the House of Commons,

or to see what we publish.

 

 

 

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