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Division bells (2017)

Request

List the location of all currently working division bells/annunciators used by the House NOT on the Parliamentary Estate, please list the name and postcode of its location.

 

Response

We understand your request to be for the location of the division bells situated outside the parliamentary estate. Whilst the House of Commons and the House of Lords are separate public authorities in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000, our response provides information about division bells for both Houses.

Some information relating to the external locations of division bells/annunciators is held by the House of Commons. The division bells located outside the parliamentary estate are mainly situated in various Government Departments and other commercial locations within a small radius of Parliament. Please note that this list represents the information the House holds, but is dated 2012 so we cannot guarantee how accurate the list is. In addition, we do not hold the post codes of these locations, which are:

BIS, Victoria St
Cabinet Office, Whitehall
City Hall
Conservative Central Office, Mathew Parker St
DEFRA, Smith Square
Dept for Transport, Marsham St
Dept for Work & Pensions, Tothill Street
Dept of Education, Great Smith St
Dept of Energy and Climate Change, Whitehall
Dept of Health, Whitehall
Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Whitehall
HM Treasury, Great George St
Home Office
Ministry of Defence, Whitehall
Ministry of Justice, Victoria St
Scottish Office, Whitehall
Thames House, Millbank
Water Board Auth. Fund, Queen Anne’s Gate
Welsh Office, Whitehall
Storeys Gate
Morgan Grenfell, Whitehall Court
Hispaniola Restaurant
Lamico Restaurant
Kundan Restaurant
Shepard's Restaurant
St. Germaine Restaurant
Quillon Restaurant
Quirinale Restaurant
Red Lion Public House
Marquis of Granby
Marriott County Hall Hotel
Inter-Continental Hotel, St James
Thistle Hotel, Whitehall Court
National Liberal Club, Whitehall Place
The Cinnamon Club, 30 Great Smith St.
1 Great George St

Please also note that division bells are situated in 8 other locations in the Westminster area. These locations are private residential addresses and the exact details are withheld under the following sections of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

Section 40 – Personal data
Private addresses of individuals are exempt by virtue of section 40 (2) of the FOIA, 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 31 – Law enforcement
In addition, the House considers that releasing these private addresses would be likely to prejudice the prevention or detection of crime and the information is therefore exempt by virtue of s.31(1)(a) FOIA. This is a qualified or non-absolute exemption and the public interest test applies.
In favour of disclosure is the argument of transparency in the utilisation of resources funded by public money, and whether those resources are being used effectively and providing value for money. However, the disclosure of this information would incur a real risk of criminal activity being undertaken if the information was disclosed. These residences are mainly occupied by public figures and this information would significantly increase the risk and ease of them being directly targeted. In providing these details we would fail in our duty to protect the security of these individuals and their personal property, which in turn would fail in our duty to assist those services providing us with law enforcement.

Section 38 – Health and Safety
Details of the locations of private residences are also being withheld under section 38 (health and safety) of the FOIA, as to disclose this information would be likely to endanger the safety of the occupants. This is not an absolute exemption and requires a public test to be performed.
In favour of disclosure is our obligation to assist the public in understanding how we conduct our business by operating in an open and accountable manner. These legitimate interests are outweighed by the risk of prejudice that might arise in relation to the health and safety of the occupants of private residences served by division bells, if their private addresses were disclosed. The release of this information would make it easier for anyone planning to cause harm to the occupants of those residences, and also prejudice our security arrangements making it more difficult for assistance to be provided to anyone involved. In all the circumstances of the case it is our view that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.