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Pest control (2016)

Request

  1. The total amount of money spent on controlling pests in the parliamentary estate per year beginning 2005 (by pests I mean rodents, insects etc)
  2. The total number of reported cases of pest sightings on the parliamentary estate per year beginning 2005

 

 

Response

Please note that, whilst the House of Commons and House of Lords are separate public authorities for the purpose of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), pest control is a bicameral service and our response covers both Houses.

Owing to the repeated interest in pest control and to reduce the work taken to answer individual requests and resulting cost to the taxpayer, the House of Commons now proactively publishes this information on our Transparency pages on the parliamentary website. Details of the cost of pest control since 2011 and sightings since 2008 can be viewed and the information is updated on an annual basis in July.

  1. The total amount of money spent on controlling pests in the parliamentary estate per year beginning 2005
    Information about the cost of pest control for 2015/16 is held by the House of Commons, but intended for publication in summer 2016. This information is therefore exempt from release under Section 22 of the FOIA, which is the exemption for information intended for future publication. Details of the exemption are provided below.
    The cost of pest control for the financial years 2011/12, 2012/13, 2013/14 and 2014/15 is held by the House of Commons and is already publicly available on our Transparency webpages.
    The cost of pest control for the financial years 2008/09 to 2010/11 is also already publicly available.
    This published information is exempt from release under section 21 of the FOIA, which is the exemption for information already publicly available. Details of the exemption are provided below.
    Information about pest control costs for the period prior to 1 April 2008 is not held by the House of Commons.
  2. The total number of reported cases of pest sightings on the parliamentary estate per year beginning 2005
    Information about the number of reported cases of pest sightings for 2015/16 is held by the House of Commons, but intended for publication in summer 2016. This information is therefore exempt from release under Section 22 of the FOIA, which is the exemption for information intended for future publication. Details of the exemption are provided below.
    Information about sightings of pests from 2008 to 2015 is held by the House of Commons and is already publicly available on our Transparency webpages on the link given in question 1. This published information is exempt from release under section 21 of the FOIA, which is the exemption for information already publicly available. Details of the exemption are provided below.
    The House of Commons holds some information about sightings of pests from 2005 to 2007, and this information is provided.

 

Section 21
As the information you request is reasonably accessible to you otherwise than under the (FOIA), your request is refused. In refusing your request the House is applying the exemption set out in section 21 (1) and (2) (a) of the FOIA. This is an absolute exemption and the public interest test does not apply.

Section 22
The published information on our Transparency pages is due to be updated in summer 2016 therefore this information is being withheld under section 22 (intended for future publication) of the FOIA. Section 22 is a qualified exemption, and accordingly we have to consider whether the public interest is in withholding the information or in disclosing it. The arguments for and against disclosure are detailed below.
The general argument in favour of releasing information is that there is a public interest in being able to scrutinise aspects of the House of Commons where that information might be easy to access and will not prejudice the House. Against disclosure the argument is the public interest in permitting public authorities to publish information in a manner and form and at a time of their own choosing. It is a part of the effective conduct of public affairs that the general publication of information is a conveniently planned and managed activity within the reasonable control of public authorities. Where the decision has been made in principle to publish, there is a reasonable entitlement to make arrangements to do so.