Feedback (2017)

Request

A copy of any log/comments book or similar which allow staff/visitors to register comments about any aspect of the Parliament, for the period January 1 2016 to the present day.

 

Response

Please note, whilst the House of Commons and the House of Lords are separate public authorities in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), the Parliamentary Digital Service (PDS) is a joint service providing information and communications technology services for both Houses of Parliament, and our response covers both the House of Commons and PDS.

Information relating to your request is held by the House of Commons. 

You have asked for a copy of any log or comment book, or similar, which allows staff and visitors to register comments about any aspect of Parliament. Due to the breadth of your request, and the extensive size of our organisation, we have identified the teams most likely to hold information relevant to your request, which are the Parliamentary Digital Service (PDS, for feedback on IT services), Visitor Services (for feedback on tours and visits), in-House Services (for feedback on maintenance services), and the Governance Office (for general feedback for the House Administration) and the following information has been identified in scope of your request:

  • The House of Commons Governance Office has informed us that they have a new feedback system, in which customers can provide compliments, complaints and comments in relation to the House of Commons service. This information will be collated and published annually and details of feedback for the last year is due to be published in October 2017. Therefore the information you have requested is being withheld under section 22 (intended for future publication) of the Act. 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.
    Further information on the Governance Office Complaints, Compliments and Comments procedure can be found on the parliamentary website here.
  • The Visitor Services team of the House of Commons holds comments books which are placed in Westminster Hall to allow visitors to the parliamentary estate to provide comments or feedback about their visit.
    Copies of feedback made from 1 January 2016 to the date of your request.
    Feedback 1 (PDF PDF 2.54 MB)Feedback 2 (PDF PDF 2.66 MB)
    Feedback 3 (PDF PDF 3.47 MB)However, we are unable to provide copies of feedback for 6 months of this period. This is because one of the visitor books is unable to be located. We apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.
    Please note, the personal data of these visitors and any operational House staff mentioned has been redacted from this 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.
  • PDS keep a record of complaints and compliments relating to their services
    Copies of feedback logs:
    Compliments (CSV CSV 23 KB)
    Complaints (CSV CSV 8 KB)
    Please note, some personal data relating to operational House staff has been redacted from this 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.
    Additionally, we have redacted details relating to our suppliers due to the security sensitive nature of the information, and this is withheld under section 24(1), section 31(1) and section 38(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA). Please find details below.
    Section 24 (Safeguarding national security)
    The attached spreadsheets contain specific details of suppliers and the House considers this information exempt under section 24 (1) for the purposes of safeguarding national security. This is a qualified or non-absolute exemption and the public interest test applies.
    The public interest in favour of disclosure is the argument of transparency in the way the House of Commons ensures its IT systems and processes are adequately robust, secure and in the spending of public money on effective systems. We recognise there is a public interest in details relating to the way the House of Commons manages its IT systems and processes, and help to enhance public knowledge of how the House of Commons operates.
    However, whilst there may be a public interest in access to this information, the disclosure of specific supplier details relating to our networks and systems may assist the design of attacks against the network, jeopardising the security of information which is likely to impact on national security. Groups planning attacks are known to conduct extensive research into the opposition they might face, and to disclose this information could potentially provide an indication of where to focus their efforts when targeting our systems and potentially highlight vulnerabilities in our networks. Whilst there may be a public interest in access to this information, it is considered that in this case it is not in the wider public interest to disclose as there is a risk of national security being compromised.
    Section 31 (Law enforcement)
    Information relating to our suppliers has also been withheld under section 31(1) (a) of the FOIA as the House considers the release of this information would be likely to prejudice the prevention or detection of crime. This is a qualified or non-absolute exemption and the public interest test applies.
    The public interest in favour of disclosure is the argument of transparency in the way the House of Commons ensures its IT systems and processes are adequately robust, secure and in the spending of public money on effective systems. We recognise there is a public interest in details relating to the way the House of Commons manages its IT systems and processes, and help to enhance public knowledge of how the House of Commons operates.
    However, this is outweighed by the risks of criminal activity being undertaken if the information was disclosed. Whilst there may be a public interest in access to this information, the disclosure of the requested information would assist those parties planning to launch a criminal attack on Parliament to more accurately target our cyber systems (in the ways detailed above). This means that by disclosing this information, we would fail in our duty to help prevent criminal attacks on our IT network, which in turn would fail in our duty to assist those services providing us with law enforcement.
    In these circumstances it is our view that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
  • The House of Commons In-House Services team record feedback made to the Maintenance help desk, where customers can make comments about the work they have requested. This is mainly feedback made from staff after reporting works to the maintenance team.
    Copies of all feedback made in the time period requested: Feedback 1 (CSV CSV 31 KB), Feedback 2 (CSV CSV 10 KB)
    Please note, some personal data has been redacted from this 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.
    Additionally, some information has also been redacted due to the security sensitive nature of the information included in the feedback, and is withheld under section 24(1), section 31(1) and section 38(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA). Please find details below.
    Section 24(1) exemption (National security)
    The maintenance feedback logs contained detailed information about the parliamentary estate which includes specific locations of rooms, descriptions of buildings, and details of CCTV cameras.  The House considers that disclosing these details a risk to national security. Section 24 (1) provides an exemption from disclosure where provision of the information would make the UK, its system of government or its people more vulnerable to a national security threat. Therefore, this information is exempt by virtue of section 24(1) of the FOIA. This is a qualified or non-absolute exemption and the public interest test applies.
    Whilst there may be a public interest in the workings of the parliamentary estate, and the maintenance of buildings and equipment, it is considered that in this case it is not in the wider public interest to disclose any information which discloses detailed information about security measures on the parliamentary estate as there is a risk of national security being compromised.
    The Information Commissioner’s Office guidance on this exemption states that “It is not necessary to show that disclosing the information would lead to a direct or immediate threat to the UK. In a time of global terrorism our national security can depend on cooperating with others.” Groups planning attacks are known to conduct extensive research into the layout and access of the intended site/building. The feedback also includes descriptions of the locations of security keys and CCTV cameras, as well as specific locations of Members’ offices. The disclosure of this information would assist criminals, terrorists or fixated individuals with malicious intent to target the parliamentary estate or with the aim of disrupting the proper workings of government. It would also compromise the tactics of those responsible for operational security on the parliamentary estate. For these reasons it is our view that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
    Section 31 exemption (Law enforcement)
    The House considers that releasing detailed information about the parliamentary estate which includes specific locations of rooms, descriptions of buildings, and details of CCTV cameras 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 recognise there is a public interest in the day to day running of the parliamentary estate, including maintenance works that are undertaken.  There is also a public interest in how well we maintain the heritage buildings and contents within the estate.  We have considered our obligation to assist the public in understanding how we conduct our business by operating in an open and transparent manner. However, this is outweighed by the possible risk of criminal activity being undertaken if the information was disclosed.  In providing this detail we would be making publicly available details of rooms and the specific work locations of staff on the estate, as well as access details and security measures which might assist criminals seeking to target these areas and individuals and undermine the House’s security arrangements.
    The disclosure of room descriptions would provide information on specific room locations, CCTV camera details, and descriptions of where security keys are held, to anyone with malicious or criminal intent, making parliamentary buildings and those visiting and working in them easier targets for would-be offenders.  In disclosing this information, we 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.
    Section 38(1) exemption (Health & Safety)
    Lastly, the information requested relates to the specific locations of rooms and details of the locations of teams and staff on the parliamentary estate. This being withheld under section 38 (1) (a) and (b) (Health and Safety) of the FOIA, as to disclose this information to the public generally would be likely to endanger the safety of individuals. This is not an absolute exemption and requires a public test to be performed.
    We recognise there is a public interest in the parliamentary estate, including the maintenance works that are undertaken, and we have considered our obligation to assist the public in understanding how we conduct our business by operating in an open and transparent manner. However, it is not in the wider public interest to disclose any information relating to the specific locations of staff and detailed descriptions of the parliamentary estate, as this might pose a risk to the health and safety of any individuals who are employed on the parliamentary estate. If we disclosed information which enabled harm to be done to the parliamentary estate and/or any individuals working there (such as information which would make them an easier for terrorists or fixated individuals with malicious intent), this would risk the health and safety of those individuals, by disclosing the exact locations in which they may be. It is our view that the greater public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the minor public interest in disclosing the information.