FOI request relating to the Speaker

FOI request on Speaker's residence, travel and events

Response to Requester

Thank you for your request dated 28 September which asked for information related to John Bercow MP concerning: his use of petty cash, refurbishment of the Speaker’s official residence and his travel and entertainment arrangements.

Petty Cash

Petty cash to the sum of £45 was used to pay for one Taxi journey on 7 October 2009 during a visit to Northern Ireland.

Definitions of petty cash can be seen attached and at paragraph 2.2.4.7 of the Green Book (PDF PDF 1.1 MB).

Speaker’s Residence

No costs relate to claims made by Mr Bercow. The official residence is part of the Palace of Westminster and all works are undertaken on the authority of the House administration and paid for from central budgets. (There is no garden.)

An extensive list of works undertaken between 22 June 2009 and end October 2009 together with related correspondence was published last year and is available online.

The only information held which post-dates that publication is the installation of a satellite TV system in January 2010 at a cost of £1390.64 including VAT. The system is the property of the House and not the Speaker personally and will be retained for future Speakers.

All works were undertaken by in-house teams apart from the redecoration works completed in Aug 2009 which were undertaken by a contractor (Scaftec ltd). It is not possible to identify separately all materials used.

No other information is held.

Travel

Please see attached for details of official travel undertaken as Speaker of the House of Commons.

Each of the journeys listed relates to an official engagement undertaken by the Speaker of the House representing the House of Commons, accompanied staff of his office and/or Mrs Bercow. These engagements include outreach events in several regions of the UK and short conferences in Rome, Nairobi and Ottawa.

The names of staff travelling with Mr Speaker have been removed as we are unable to disclose this personal data to you without contravening the first data protection principle. Therefore, the information you have requested is exempt from disclosure under section 40(2) and 40(3)(a)(i) of the Freedom of Information Act and this part of your request is refused. This is an absolute exemption and the public interest test does not apply.

Members Travel allowance

The Members Travel allowance is used by Mr Bercow when travelling on constituency business. Details of MPs’ travel expenses for 2009/10 will be published due course and, while held by the House of Commons, are therefore exempt under section 22(1) of the FOI Act. This section provides an exemption if information is held with a view to its publication applies and therefore, at this stage, your request for this information is refused.

While there is a public interest in providing access to information relating to Members such as that covered by your request, this interest is being met by the planned publication of information about all Members. In our view, it is in the public interest for information about all Members to be published simultaneously. Therefore, the balance of the public interest rests with maintaining the exemption while this information is being prepared and finalised for publication.

Travel information from 2010/11

No information is held about travel as an MP during 2010/11. This information is now processed by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority which can be contacted at the following address: FOI@parliamentarystandards.org.uk

No information is held about the travel arrangements of Mr Bercow’s family and no claims have been submitted for expenditure of this nature.

The House of Commons is not a public authority for the purpose of the FOI Act in relation to information relating to travel arrangements of a Member of either House of Parliament, where the arrangements relate to travel that has not yet been undertaken or is regular in nature. Information of this nature has been summarised on the attached table.

Mr Bercow’s travel arrangements do not accrue air miles, either as Speaker or as the Member of Parliament for Buckingham.

Events

No claims have been made for food allowance or entertainment expenses by or on behalf of Mr or Mrs Bercow or his family.

A list of official events hosted by the Speaker at the House of Commons is available online. An updated list is attached. The costs given include staff costs.

You may, if dissatisfied with the treatment of your request, ask the House of Commons to conduct an internal review of this decision. Requests for internal review should be addressed to: Freedom of Information Officer, Department of Resources, House of Commons London SW1 OAA or foicommons@parliament.uk. Please ensure that you specify the nature of your complaint and any arguments or points that you wish to make. If you remain dissatisfied, you may appeal to the Information Commissioner at Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.

Yours sincerely

Bob Castle, Head of Information Rights and Information Security

House of Commons

Requests

Petty Cash

  1. Please provide full details of petty cash claimed by/on behalf of John Bercow , Sally Bercow and the Bercow family since 22 June 2009. Please provide data in an excel spreadsheet in the following format: date - amount claimed (£) - purpose (if given) - details of spending (if known)
  2. Please provide the full definition of 'petty cash' and what it is allowed to be used for.

Speaker's Residence

  1. Please provide full details of any refurbishment/redecoration of the Speaker's House and its garden since the appointment of John Bercow (on 22 June 2009) which has been paid by the state, or subsequently claimed back on his expenses.Provide details (in as much detail as you can) in the following format:
     
    FOR WORK DONE
    Date (from, to) - - description of work carried out, including location (room in house) - -  contractor (company name, address) - -materials cost (£) - - work cost (£) - - total cost (£)
     
    AND
     
    FOR PURCHASES MADE
    Date of purchase - - description of item(s) purchased - - shop purchased from - - location of item (room in house) - - cost of item(s) (£) - - cost of delivery/construction (£) - - total cost (£)
     
    AND
     
    FOR RELOCATION COSTS
    Date - - contractor (company name, address) - - total cost (£)
  2. Please provide a copy of all correspondence (between John Bercow/ Sally Bercow /staff acting on behalf of the Bercow family and Commons officials) relating to renovation/redecoration of the Speakers House (and garden). 

Travel

  1. Please provide full details of all transport expenses for John Bercow, Sally Bercow, the Bercow family and the Bercow's family staff (or staff temporarily working for the Bercow family) since 22 June 2009, provide a full breakdown as follows: date - type of transport (taxi, train, etc) - names of those transported - purpose and start/end point - cost.
  2. Please provide a total spent on taxis for John Bercow, Sally Bercow, the Bercow family and the Bercow family staff from 22/6/2010 to present.
  3. Provide details of any air miles that have been accumulated by John Bercow, Sally Bercow, the Bercow family and their staff during these journeys.
    Have these air miles been spent? If so, in what way? Please provide full breakdown of number of air miles, date used, use.

Events

  1. Please provide full details of the food allowance claimed by/on behalf of John Bercow, Sally Bercow and the Bercow family since 22 June 2009
    Please provide data in an excel spreadsheet in the following format: date - amount claimed (£) - details of spending (if known).
  2. Please provide detail of John and Sally Bercow's entertainment expenses since 22 June 2009, in the following format: date - amount claimed (£) - purpose (meeting/party/dinner) - location - number of attendees and names - breakdown of spending (food/drinks/staff/other)