Management Board papers (2015)

Request

All the papers considered by Management Board over the past three months.

 

 

Response

List of the Management Board papers (CSV CSV 5 KB):
together with any relevant exemptions under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

 

Listed documents that have been redacted due to an applied exemption:

 

As stated above, some material has been withheld under the following exemptions of the FOIA:

Section 36 – Prejudicial to the conduct of public affairs
Information relevant to your request is exempt from the provisions of the FOIA under sections 36(2)(b) and 36 (2)(c) of this Act.
The Speaker of the House of Commons has formed the reasonable opinion, under the above sections of the FOIA, that disclosure of these documents would be likely to inhibit the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation and would prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs.  In the case of the House of Commons, Section 36 of the FOIA provides an absolute exemption and the public interest test does not apply.

Section 34 – Parliamentary privilege
Some of the information contained within the papers is subject to parliamentary privilege as it forms part of the workings of a Select Committee.  This material is exempt from disclosure under section 34(1) of the FOIA.  The exemption applies in order to avoid an infringement of the privileges of the House of Commons.  This is an absolute exemption and the public interest test does not apply.

Section 42 – Legal professional privilege
We identified information within the scope of your request that is subject to legal professional privilege and therefore the exemption in section 42 of the FOIA is applicable.  This is not an absolute exemption; rather it is subject to a public interest test.
We have considered the public interest in the decision making processes of our functions being open to scrutiny to enable individuals to understand how decisions have been arrived at.  There is a countervailing public interest that staff should be able to seek legal advice and lawyers should be able to provide that advice without concern that it should be released into the public domain.  The disclosure of legal advice and assistance could lead to less in-depth analysis of the issues in respect of which legal advice has been requested and inadequate records being maintained, leading to poorer and less consistent decision making by the House.  There could also be a reluctance to seek advice at all.  In these circumstances it is our view that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.

Section 24 – National security
Some information relevant to your request is exempt under section 24(1) of the FOIA.  The relevant documentation withheld includes a security review, the security Risk Register, contingency plans and decisions made by the Board on these matters. This is a qualified or non-absolute exemption and the public interest test applies.
There is a public interest in the adequate security and protection of Parliament and how taxpayers money is spent on protecting the Parliamentary Estate and its occupants from harm or threats of harm. 
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.  The documents contains details of security arrangements and procedures which if disclosed would reveal detailed information on the methodologies and capabilities used to protect Parliament, giving valuable information to those wishing to harm the Parliamentary Estate or individuals thereon and therefore impact on national security.  Groups planning attacks are known to conduct extensive research into the opposition they might face.  Releasing details around security measures into the public domain would make this information accessible to criminals, terrorists or fixated individuals and subsequently compromise the tactics of those responsible for operational security within Parliament.  Provision of information on security arrangements could also provide guidance on other security provisions for the UK and disclosure of such information would be prejudicial to these. 

Section 31 – Law enforcement
Information relating to security arrangements has also been withheld in accordance with sections 31 (1) (a) and (b) of the FOIA, as to disclose this information would be likely to prejudice the prevention and detection of crime and apprehension and prosecution of offenders.  The relevant documentation withheld includes a security review, the security Risk Register, relocation plans and decisions made by the Board on these matters.
This is a qualified or non-absolute exemption and the public interest test applies.
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.  These obligations and legitimate interests are outweighed by the risk of the prejudice that might arise in relation to the prevention of crime by disclosing the measures we have in place to prevent criminal activity being undertaken against our estate and any persons thereon.  The information in question would assist those looking to gain unauthorised access to the Parliamentary Estate by highlighting risks in our security, which could then be more easily exploited.  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 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 present on the parliamentary estate. We have therefore concluded that the information requested is exempt from disclosure as provided by section 38(1) (a) and (b).  This is not an absolute exemption and requires a public test to be performed.
We have considered the public interest in knowing and understanding how taxpayer money is spent on ensuring Members, Peers, staff and visitors are provided with adequate protection of their health and safety when on the parliamentary estate, and in being able to understand the measures in place and how they work effectively.  There is a countervailing public interest that the health and safety of those individuals may be harmed by the release of specific security arrangements and procedures.  The disclosure of the information you seek would actively prejudice the ability of those providing security by identifying measures put in place to protect that health and safety making them more vulnerable to exploit, thereby increasing the risk of harm to those on the Parliamentary Estate.  It is our view that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.

Section 40 – Personal data
Some of the 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.

Section 43 – Commercial interests
We have concluded that some material 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 not an absolute exemption and the public interest test applies.
We have considered the public interest in transparency in the decision making process relating to the spending of public money, in public money being used effectively and public authorities getting value for money, and in procurement processes being conducted in an open and honest way.  However, whilst there may be a public interest in access to this information, we consider that in this case it is not in the wider public interest to disclose as there is a risk that the House's bargaining position for the future will be prejudiced and commercial organisations may become reluctant to enter into discussions which would undermine the House’s ability to fulfil its role effectively.