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Members catering debts (2015)

Request

I would like to request a list of the unpaid bar and catering bills accumulated by MPs who left the Commons in the 2015 general election.

 

 

Response

Thank you for your request for information as copied below. You asked for a list of the unpaid bar and catering bills accumulated by MPs who left the Commons in the 2015 general election.
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.

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 30 March 2015, or the date of the Dissolution of Parliament. 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.

Members who left the Commons in the 2015 General Election with outstanding catering debts for over 90 days as at 30 March 2015:

 

MEMBER NAME VENUE AMOUNT OUTSTANDING SUBSEQUENTLY CLEARED
MR AUSTIN MITCHELL MP Pugin Room 67.60 08/04/2015
MR MICHAEL WEATHERLEY MP BANQUETING EVENT 1,000.00

The amount that was subsequently cleared was paid in accordance with Dissolution guidance issued to all Members.