Procurement and Apprentices (2015)

Request

  1. A full list of all suppliers of goods and services to the House of Commons during each of the past five years;
  2. The value of each of these goods and services supplied to the House of Commons during each of the past five years;
  3. The guidelines under which the which the House of Commons procures goods and services
  4. Details of any apprentices (number, roles, rates of pay) working in the House of Commons during each of the past five years
  5. Details of any apprenticeship schemes attached to the House of Commons during each of the past five years.

 

 

Response

  1. A full list of all suppliers of goods and services to the House of Commons during each of the past five years;
    and
  2. The value of each of these goods and services supplied to the House of Commons during each of the past five years;
    Some of this information is held by the House of Commons.
    A list of all suppliers and the total value of the goods or services they provided for each of the financial years: 2012/13 (CSV CSV 53 KB), 2013/14 (CSV CSV 53 KB) and 2014/15 (CSV CSV 51 KB). Details of suppliers prior to 2012/13 are not held by the House of Commons. The system on which this data was held was replaced in 2012 and the information is no longer accessible.
    The names of some suppliers who provide security-related goods and/or services have been redacted. This information has been withheld under the following sections of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA):
    Section 24 – Safeguarding national security
    Some supplier names have been withheld under section 24(1) of the FOIA. This is a qualified or non-absolute exemption and the public interest test applies.
    There is a public interest in Parliament fairly procuring goods and services from suppliers, as well as 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.
    However, by disclosing details of the suppliers who supply security products and services to Parliament, details of these products and services linked to Parliament would enter the public domain. This 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 suppliers (and consequently 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 this information could also provide guidance on other security provisions for the UK and disclosure of such information would be prejudicial to these.
    Therefore, 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
    The names of suppliers providing goods and services relating to security have also been withheld in accordance with section 31 (1) (a) and (b) 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. We accept that there is public interest in the companies who supply to Parliament, and that goods and services are procured fairly and cost-effectively.
    However, the release of details of our suppliers would provide valuable information about the security-related goods and services they supply. Releasing this information would provide those intending to commit crimes on Parliament’s occupants, the physical premises and the parliamentary network with information necessary to target their efforts effectively.
    In failing to protect this information, we would fail in our duty to prevent weaknesses coming to the attention of parties intending criminal attacks against our systems and in turn we would fail in our duty to assist those services providing us with law enforcement for such activity. In these circumstances we consider the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the interest in disclosure.
    Section 38 – Health and safety
    The names of security-related suppliers are also 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 information 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 knowing and understanding how Members, Peers, staff and visitors are provided with adequate protection of their health and safety when on the parliamentary estate. 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 which would be made public if the suppliers of security goods and services were disclosed. In turn, 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 those measure more vulnerable to exploit and 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.
  3. The guidelines under which the which the House of Commons procures goods and services
    This information is already publicly available on the parliamentary website. The Parliamentary Procurement and Commercial Services (PPCS) team publish their procurement policies as well as the General Terms and Conditions for Contracts.
    As the information you request is reasonably accessible to you otherwise than under the FOIA your FOI request is refused. In refusing your request the House is applying the exemption set out in section 21 (1) and (2) (a) of the FOIA. This is an absolute exemption and the public interest test does not apply.
  4. Details of any apprentices (number, roles, rates of pay) working in the House of Commons during each of the past five years
    and
  5. Details of any apprenticeship schemes attached to the House of Commons during each of the past five years.
    In the last five years, three apprenticeship schemes have been in operation.
    The House of Commons Apprentice scheme launched in July 2013. To date, a total of 20 apprentices have participated (10 apprentices in 2013/14 and 10 apprentices in 2014/15). Apprentices are paid the London Living Wage of £9.15 per hour and have carried out a range of roles in different teams in the House of Commons and Parliamentary Digital Service, primarily business and administration-based, with one undertaking a professional cookery apprenticeship.
    The Speaker’s Parliamentary Placement Scheme started in November 2011 and there have been 4 cohorts of interns as follows:
    o 10      in 2011/2012
    o 9        in 2012/2013
    o 11      in 2013/2014
    o 9        in 2014/2015
    Interns on the Speaker’s Parliamentary Placement Scheme work for 9 months in a variety of roles and are also paid the London Living Wage of £9.15 per hour.
    The Parliamentary Academy was set up in 2011 by Robert Halfon MP and The Creative Society. Details of apprentices in the Academy are not held by the House of Commons. You may wish to contact the Academy directly for the information you require. Please note that this organisation is not a public authority for the purposes of the FOIA, so they are not legally obliged to respond to requests for information.
    Further details of these schemes [the House of Commons Apprentice Scheme, the Parliamentary Academy, the Speaker's Parliamentary Placement Scheme] are publicly available on the parliamentary website.