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Palace of Westminster maintenance (2015)

Request

Further to the request on complaints made about the Parliamentary estate, I would like to ask the following: For the Palace of Westminster, Would you be able to provide non-project repairs and maintenance issues that were logged from January 2014 to February 2015, along with their date.

 

Response

Non-project repairs and maintenance issues in the Palace of Westminster, logged from January 2014 to February 2015. Please note the following information regarding this material:

  • Most non-project repair and maintenance requests are logged on a searchable database. As we confirmed previously, it is possible that numerous staff in the Department of Facilities may receive emails, letters or verbal complaints or notification of issues which were not sent directly to the Facilities helpdesk (although a high proportion these cases would then be logged on the system as previously described).  This data does not include those emails, letters, etc. for the cost limit reasons we previously described.
  • The details supplied are for non-project repairs and maintenance issues in the House of Commons and in some cases, for bicameral issues.  The House of Lords is a separate public authorities under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), therefore requests for information relating to the House of Lords should be directed to them.
  • Any logged requests for work out of scope of your query (e.g. porterage or cleaning requests) have been removed.


Some names and direct contact details have been redacted from the document.  This information is exempt by virtue of section 40 (2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the exemption for personal information), 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.

We have also redacted details related to security equipment as well as office locations of staff and Members from this spreadsheets.  The House considers that releasing the information would be likely to prejudice the prevention or detection of crime and the apprehension or prosecution of offenders. The information is therefore exempt by virtue of s.31(1)(a) and (b) of the FOIA. This is a qualified or non-absolute exemption and the public interest test applies.
We have considered our obligation to assist the public in understanding how we conduct our business and the legitimate interest in the use of resources funded by the taxpayer including how money is spent on maintenance and the interest in understanding how maintenance issues could affect the business of the Estate.  We have also considered the interest in the allocation of office space within the Parliamentary Estate.
These obligations and legitimate interests are outweighed by the risk of the prejudice that would arise in relation to the prevention of crime and apprehension and prosecution of offenders.  The disclosure of locations of and faults with security equipment presents a risk to Estate wide security.  Using such data would make it possible to identify fault patterns and areas of weakness and vulnerability.  This would assist anyone with malicious or criminal intent to access Parliament.  Disclosure of office locations of specific individuals would assist anyone seeking to locate those individuals, making particular areas of the Estate greater targets for would-be offenders. Disclosure of this information would fail in our duty to assist those services providing us with law enforcement as it would hinder their work in preventing and detecting crime and apprehending offenders. In these circumstances it is our view that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.

Lastly, the information relating to office locations is being withheld under section 38 (1) (a) and (b) (health and safety) of the FOIA, as to disclose this information would be likely to endanger the safety of individuals. This is not an absolute exemption and requires a public test to be performed. 
We have considered our obligation to assist the public in understanding how we conduct our business by operating in an open and accountable manner and in understanding the extent of maintenance issues on the Parliamentary Estate.  These legitimate interests are outweighed by the risk of prejudice that might arise in relation to the health and safety of the individuals in the specific offices named, those providing security to and anyone on the Estate. By disclosing the office locations of these individuals we would make it easier for them to be located by anyone planning to cause harm to their health and safety. Disclosure of specific locations of security weaknesses or faults would make anyone responsible for physical protection of the Estate more vulnerable to attack at those points as offenders attempt to gain unauthorised access.  It would also increase the safety risk to anyone on the Estate as the information would enable vulnerabilities to be exploited, putting the safety of those on the Estate at risk from individuals with malicious intent. The public interest therefore rests in protecting the health and safety of those individuals and anyone on the Parliamentary Estate.  It is our view that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.