Filming requests (2015)

Request

Requests to film inside the Parliamentary estate since this policy was approved, including the film company, the name/subject of the film, the genre (e.g. feature film, documentary, factual programme, advertisement) and, if known, who would be commissioning or making the film, appearing in the film or presenting it.
Please indicate whether such requests were declined, approved or are still under consideration and if approved when filming will commence.
Please indicate, if possible, how much Parliament's fee for such filming will be and any provisos or restrictions on film.

 

 

Response

Please note that our response only deals with information for which the House of Commons is responsible. Some information relevant to your request about ‘parliamentary authorities’ may be held by the House of Lords, which is a separate public authority for the purposes of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) therefore you may wish to consider forwarding your request to them.

Filming has been allowed on the Estate by a number of agreements over many years.  For example, the first State Opening of Parliament was filmed in 1958 and business in the Chamber of the House of Commons has been televised since 1989.

Owing to the number of filming agreements, the number of years involved and the number of individuals and departments involved in approving filming, we estimate that the cost of fully complying with your request would exceed the appropriate limit of £600. The appropriate limit has been specified in regulations and for the House of Commons is set at £600. This represents the estimated cost of one person spending 3½ working days in determining whether the House holds the information, and locating, retrieving and extracting the information. Under section 12 of the FOIA the House is not obliged to comply with your request and we will not be processing your request further.
If you were to make a new request for a narrower category of information, it may be that we could comply with that request within the appropriate limit, although I cannot guarantee that this will be the case. For example, you could refine your request to ask for a specific type of film or programme, for a specific location on the estate or a narrower number of years.

However, to comply with our responsibilities under section 16 of the FOIA (our duty to provide advice and assistance), the following information may be helpful to your request.

Routine filming is carried out on an almost daily basis and includes factual programmes, MPs interviews, broadcasters filming for the news, etc. 
A large amount of filming takes place in the Elizabeth Tower 
the filming logs for the last 3 financial years:

These logs provide the company, date and the purpose/title of the film.  Details of the specific genre, any provisos or restrictions on filming and who has commissioned, appeared in or presented these films is not held by the House of Commons.

In addition, since August 2014, the House of Commons Media and Communications team have centrally logged filming requests for other Commons locations (CSV CSV 3 KB).
The log contains details of the company, date and the purpose/title of the film.  Details of the specific genre, any provisos or restrictions on filming and who has commissioned, appeared in or presented these films is not held by the House of Commons.

Information on the fees charged for filming in both the Elizabeth Tower and the other Commons locations is held by the House of Commons.  However, we have concluded that the fees charged for the use of the parliamentary estate for the purposes of filming is exempt under section 43(2) of the FOI Act in that the House of Commons considers that the disclosure of this information would be prejudicial to the House’s commercial interests. This is a qualified or non-absolute exemption and the public interest test applies.
We have considered the public interest in transparency in public money and resources being used effectively as well as the negotiation of fees being conducted in an open and honest way.  However, whilst there may be a public interest in access to this information, any release of what film companies were charged may affect what we are able to negotiate in the future.  In these circumstances of the case it is our view that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information at this time.

Information on filming activities that did not commence have also been redacted from both documents.  They may not have commenced because the enquiries were withdrawn by the media companies, or they may not have been approved by the House authorities, or for technical or scheduling reasons. 
However, we have concluded that the fees charged for the use of the parliamentary estate for the purposes of filming is exempt under section 43(2) of the FOI Act in that the House of Commons considers that the disclosure of this information would be prejudicial to the House’s and the third party’s commercial interests. This is a qualified or non-absolute exemption and the public interest test applies.
We have considered the public interest in transparency in public money and resources being used effectively as well as the negotiation of fees being conducted in an open and honest way.  However, whilst there may be a public interest in access to this information, any release of details of filming not carried out could negatively affect the ability of film companies to negotiate future activities and as a consequence would make them less interested in planning filming with the House.  In turn this would affect our ability to generate income for the House.  Any harm to the House’s to be ability to use income generation opportunities may place more of a burden on the public purse. In these circumstances it is our view that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information at this time.