MPs catering debts - July (2014)

Request

How much money is outstanding from MPs in unpaid restaurant and bar bills covering all the catering facilities across the Parliamentary estate as at the date of this request?
I would also like to know the names of those MPs whose debt still stands after 90 days?

 

Response

Please note that the information below pertains only to catering facilities run by the House of Commons.  The House of Lords are a separate public authority for the purposes of the Freedom of Information Act.  You may wish to consider forwarding your request to FOI Lords.

Members are required to make cash payments at catering and retail outlets unless they hold a personal account.  Such an account provides for the House Service to make automatic deductions of any balances owing at the monthly statement date using their preferred payment card.  Payment delays can arise where charging card details or personal accounts themselves have lapsed, or questions have been raised on individual transactions.  Only cash transactions are permitted at bars in the House of Commons.  As such, there are no outstanding bar bills. 
 
Outstanding catering bills for over 90 days which the House Service has been unable to secure a payment at the due date. (CSV version).

The House considers that information concerning the amount owed by each Member is the personal data of that Member and that any processing of that information must therefore be fair, lawful and in accordance with one of the conditions in Schedule 2 to the Data Protection Act 1998.  In order to meet the conditions of paragraph 6 of Schedule 2 there must be a legitimate public interest in disclosure, the disclosure must be necessary to meet that interest and the disclosure must not cause unwarranted harm to the interests of the individual.
In weighing these issues, the House has decided that disclosure of individual indebtedness would be likely to breach the 1998 Act where Members are operating within the letter and spirit of the system of personal accounts.  However, it has been concluded that this balance changes at the end of the 90 day period following on from the recording of the debt. 

It has been decided, therefore, that the disclosure of information should be limited to sums owed for more than 90 days as at 16 June 2014.  We have concluded that disclosure of information about money owing for less than the 90 day period, while held, would constitute a breach of the data protection principles and is therefore exempt information by virtue of the exemption set out in Section 40(2) and Section 40(3) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.  This is an absolute exemption and the public interest test does not apply.  

Other debts over 90 days owed by Members which are outside the personal account arrangements (CSV version)