Details on all connected parties and checks undertaken by IPSA regarding their employment
IPSA holds the information that you request.
For background reference, under the MPs’ Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses (‘the Scheme’), Staffing Expenditure may only be claimed for the salary of one employee who is a connected party, unless an MP employed more than one connected party on 7 May 2010. You can find a full copy of the Scheme on our website, by following this link.
For the purposes of the Scheme, a connected party is defined as:
a spouse, civil partner or cohabiting partner of the member;
parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece of the member or of a spouse, civil partner or cohabiting partner of the member; or
a body corporate, a firm or a trust with which the MP is connected as defined in section 252 of the Companies Act 2006.
I will address your requests for information in turn.
Which MPs employed one or more declared Connected Parties in each of the following financial years: 2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15, and the current year 2015-16.
In relation to each declared Connected Party, please supply the following information:
Which MP they were / are employed by.
Their job title(s).
Whether their job was / is full-time or part-time.
The salary received / being received during each of the years in question.
On what basis were / are they declared as a Connected Party. Was / is it as:
a spouse, civil partner or cohabiting partner of the member;
parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece of the member, or of a spouse, civil partner or cohabiting partner of the member; or
an individual or organisation where there exists a relationship as set out in the Companies Act 2006.
If, at any point during any of these years the staff member ceased to be declared as a Connected Party, when did that cessation occur, and was it because:
they ceased to be employed by the MP;
they ceased to be defined as Connected Party but continued to be employed by the MP; or
they ceased to be defined as a Connected Party AND ceased to be employed by the MP.
If (g) above does not apply, do they (as per the date of this FOI request) continue to be employed by the MP as a Connected Party?
As you will be aware, we publish the names of all connected parties, the MP they are employed by during that financial year, their job title and salary band on our publication website at the following address: http://www.parliamentary-standards.org.uk/AnnualisedData.aspx. This is in line with our stated publication policy, which was put in place following a public consultation.
To access this information, select a financial year and then click the link for ‘other data’ for that financial year. 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).
This information is published on an annual basis, following the end of the financial year. As such, information relating to the current financial year will be published as part of next year’s annual publication. 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 relating to a whole financial year, in line with our stated publication policy, rather than on an ad hoc basis. In this way a clear, complete and comparable 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.
The exact salary paid to each connected party, their exact relationship to the MP, and further terms of their employment is each connected party’s personal data as defined by the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA). Further, information about staff members employed by MPs who are not (or no longer) defined as ‘connected parties’ is personal information. Section 40(2) of the FOIA provides that personal information about third parties is exempt information if disclosure of this information would breach the fair processing principle (Principle 1) of the DPA, where it would be unfair to those persons or is confidential. The personal information we already actively publish on connected parties’ employment strikes a balance between the rights and freedoms of the connected parties with the legitimate interests of the public. We believe the disclosure of more specific details relating to the personal lives of connected parties would be both unfair and unlawful to the individuals concerned.
What verification (if any) IPSA takes in relation to the accuracy of information supplied by MPs when completing the Connected Party Declaration form?
It is the responsibility of each MP to declare to IPSA if an individual they are employing is a connected party. This form is completed as part of each new staff member’s contract, and must be signed by the MP when submitting a contract to IPSA. This information is then processed and logged by our payroll team, and published on our publication website at the end of each financial year.
In relation to (3) above, does IPSA cross-reference its records with individual MPs’ declarations under section 9 of Part 1 of the Register of Members’ Financial Interests?
Although there is a Connected Party Declaration form, what is the procedure for an MP notifying IPSA that a staff member has ceased to be declared as such (in line with (g) above), and does IPSA undertake any verification of such information received?
IPSA does not cross-reference records with records held and published by the House of Commons as and when they are submitted to us. However, IPSA carries out regular assurance projects on all aspects of MPs’ expenditure, including that related to the employment of connected parties, which has previously included cross-referencing with other publicly available information – including the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.
As noted above, the names of all employees defined as a ‘connected party’ under the Scheme are published on IPSA’s website annually.
If a connected party employed by an MP ceases to be a connected party, it is the responsibility of the MP to notify IPSA in writing.
Please provide me with a copy of any correspondence with (from and to) Andrew Turner MP or Carole Dennett between November 2014 and March 2015 in relation to the declaration of the latter as a Connected Party, or any request / notification that her status as such ceases.
Correspondence between IPSA, Mr Turner and Ms Dennett is their personal information, as defined by the Data Protection Act. As such, it is therefore exempt from disclosure under section 40(2) of the FOIA, as it would be unfair to those persons. We believe disclosure of correspondence relating to an individual’s employment (which contains elements of sensitive personal data) goes beyond the reasonable expectations of any individual and would therefore be unfair and unlawful.
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- 29 October 2015
- MPs' CONNECTED PARTIES
- Exemptions Applied:
- Section 21