Corporate procurement cards (2016)
- The number of Commons corporate procurement cards currently in use.
- Details of spending on them in the last financial year.
- Details of what the money went on broken down to individual transactions.
The House of Commons holds this information. There are currently 200 Government Procurement Cards (GPC) in issue as at the date of your request. GPC cards are intended to be used by House of Commons & Parliamentary Digital Service (PDS) staff to make quick, simple and cost effective purchases when they are either away from their workplace on business (e.g. on a committee visit in the UK or overseas) or when raising a purchase order would not provide value-for-money, e.g. very low value items.
The list is broken down by individual transactions, showing the date of the transaction, amount, department and type of expenditure. Please note that where some codes were operational in the financial year 2014/15 but are now no longer in use the field will display ‘Do Not Use’ or ‘Not to be used’ before the appropriate code.
Some information on the spreadsheet has been redacted. This material is exempt under the following sections of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA):
Section 40 (personal data)
Some personal information, for example names of operational staff have been redacted from these receipts. This information is exempt by virtue of section 40 (2) of the FOIA (the exemption for personal information), as disclosure of this information to the public generally, in the House’s view, would not be consistent with the 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, we have redacted the details of hotels regularly used by the Members of Parliament for some delegations. This has been withheld in accordance with section 31 (1) (a) of the FOIA, as to disclose this information would be likely to prejudice the prevention and detection of crime. 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 and the legitimate interest in the use of resources funded by the taxpayer. However, the disclosure of this information may assist people of malicious or criminal intent to predict the whereabouts of Members at future visits, exposing them to an unacceptable risk of criminal harm. Disclosure of such information would fail in our duty to assist those services providing us with law enforcement services as it would hinder their work in preventing and detecting crime and apprehending offenders.
Section 24(1) National security
Information relating to the details of hotels regularly used by Members on delegations is also withheld under section 24 (1) of the FOIA, which provides an exemption from disclosure where provision of the information would make the UK or its citizens more vulnerable to a national security threat. This is a qualified or non-absolute exemption and the public interest test applies.
There is a public interest in understanding that Members representing the UK abroad are securely accommodated in hotels and that the measures in place to safeguard national security are effective. The countervailing risk is national security being compromised if the names and locations of these hotels was disclosed, allowing Members to be specifically targeted. Groups planning attacks are known to conduct extensive research into how best to gain access to their targets. Releasing details of regularly used locations of Members into the public domain would allow them to be directly targeted by criminals, terrorists or fixated individuals. In these circumstances it is our view that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
Section 38 (Health and safety)
Some of the information you require is being withheld on the basis that its disclosure to the public generally would be likely to endanger the physical health and safety of individuals while attending events. We have therefore concluded that some details of hotels used regularly by delegates is exempt from disclosure as provided by section 38(1) (a) and (b) of the FOIA. This is not an absolute exemption and requires a public test to be performed.
We have considered the public interest in understanding how taxpayer money is spent by Members of Parliament when attending events. However, there is a countervailing public interest that the health and safety of those individuals, and those of other guests and staff, may be harmed by the release of details of some hotels regularly used by delegates. The disclosure of the information you seek would actively prejudice the security, health and safety of delegates and others by identifying locations and making them more vulnerable to attack, thereby increasing the risk of harm. It is our view that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.