Emails between board members regard MP pay rise, and expenses of board members
IPSA holds the information that you request.
Taking your requests in turn:
Please supply the contents of all emails between members of your board concerning the proposed increase in pay of MPs between the period of 1st November 2013 and 11th December 2013.
We have considered the application of the exemptions at s.36(2)(b) (inhibit the free and frank provision of advice and exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation) and (2)(c) (prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs) of the FOI Act. The application of these qualified exemptions requires a public interest balancing test.
IPSA’s qualified person, as designated by the Lord Chancellor under s.36(5)(o)(iii) of the FOI Act, Sir Neil Butterfield, has conducted a public interest test. He has considered that IPSA, as a publicly-funded body, is accountable for the decisions it makes and that there is a public interest in understanding how decisions are reached within the organisation. However, it is also in the public interest that IPSA is able to continue to function in an effective and efficient manner. In order to achieve this, IPSA’s Board must feel confident that they are able to engage in open and candid discussions. It is the opinion of the Qualified Person that release of this information would have an adverse impact on future discussions and advice. Consequently there is a real likelihood that the ability of IPSA to continue to operate in an effective manner would be jeopardised.
In balancing the arguments, Sir Neil has commented as follows:
“I have read copies of all the emails to which the request refers. The emails between members of the Board relate to the Final Report on MPs’ Pay and Pensions, then in draft, and represent part of the Board’s deliberations on the final content and wording of the document.
In determining whether in my reasonable opinion those emails should be exempt from disclosure as being likely to inhibit the free and frank provision of advice or the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation or would otherwise prejudice, or would be likely otherwise to prejudice, the effective conduct of public affairs I have given full weight to the presumption in the FOIA that information should be released on request. I have further reminded myself that there is a legitimate interest in the public knowing how IPSA as a publicly funded body conducts its business and in understanding how decisions are reached within a public authority.
However, I have also given weight to the consideration that releasing this exchange of emails might significantly prejudice the future confidence of IPSA Board Members in engaging in free and frank exchanges of view for the purpose of deliberation on matters of policy. In my judgment there is a strong likelihood that releasing the exchange of emails would adversely affect the ability of IPSA to carry out its functions in a professional, competent and efficient manner and to engage in a robust decision-making process.
It is important and in the public interest that there is an effective and trusted working relationship between the members of the Board. In particular the members of the Board must have the freedom to engage in free and frank exchanges of views outside the forum of Board meetings. The release of the emails would, in my judgment, have a significant and detrimental impact on that freedom and on the working relationship within the Board.
I am firmly of the view that these considerations are of fundamental importance and outweigh the public interest. If members of the Board felt that they were unable to communicate with each other without their email correspondence being put into the public domain that would unquestionably be detrimental to the operation of the IPSA Board.
For the reasons set out above it is my reasonable opinion that the release of the requested information would be likely to be prejudicial to the effective conduct of public affairs.
In the light of this conclusion I, as the Qualified Person, apply Section 36(2) of the Act to exempt the requested information from being released.”
For these reasons, Sir Neil has, in his capacity as the Qualified Person, concluded that the public interest in disclosure of the information is outweighed by the application of the exemption and has, therefore, applied s.36(2)(b) and s.36(2)(c) of the Act to exempt the requested information from being released.
Please supply the details of the expense claims of all board members for the period April 2013-October 2013. If these data are not available then please supply the last 6 months' data.
Expenses incurred by IPSA’s Board are routinely published on IPSA’s website. The data for the first and second quarters of the 2013/14 financial year may be viewed via this link. The data for the third quarter will be published on our website by the end of February 2014.
The FOIA states that information that is accessible by other means is not subject to release. Therefore, as the information you have requested is already available on our website, it is exempt from disclosure under section 21 of the FOIA (information accessible to applicant by other means).
Section 22(1) of the FOIA states that information intended for future publication is exempt from release. We have considered whether the public interest in releasing the information outweighs the application of the exemption. It is our opinion that the public interest is best served by publishing a full list rather than on an ad hoc basis, as in this way a clear and complete set of information is published, avoiding any potential confusion. It is for this reason that the application of the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosure at this stage.
Is this page helpful?
- 3 February 2014
- IPSA - BOARD
- Exemptions Applied:
- Section 22