Travel - Select Committees (2014)

Request

Details of all overseas trips under taken by commons select committees in each calendar year from 2009 onwards, including

  1. cost
  2. location
  3. duration
  4. purpose of visit
  5. details of expenses paid for during trip (ie. hotels, food, transport, hosipatility, etc.)
  6. list of members that attended each trip

 

Response

Most of the information you require is already publicly available in the Sessional Reports published on the parliamentary website. This includes cost, location, date/duration, purpose of visit, total cost of the trip and Members that attended each trip. 

Sessional Returns are published at the end of each Parliamentary session, so records are available up until 2013.  The information for the Sessional Returns for the current Parliamentary session is exempt from the provisions of section 1(1)(b) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) (the right of access to the information) by virtue of the exemption set out in section 22(1) of the same Act (the exemption for information held by the public authority with a view to its publication at some future date (whether determined or not)).  This exemption is not an absolute exemption and the public interest test applies.
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 main 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.

A breakdown of the details of expenses paid during each trip is held by the House of Commons.  However, we have experienced some difficulty gathering this information because our accounting system changed in 2012. Unfortunately on this occasion we will not be able to supply this material to you in the time limit set down by the FOIA.  Your request is being treated as a priority and we will reply to you as soon as possible. We aim to provide you with a response no later than 16 May 2014.  Please accept my sincere apologies for the delay and any inconvenience caused.