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Speaker's Office Expenditure (2017)

Request

The full breakdown of spending charged to the Speaker's official House account since 2009.

 

Response

You asked for a full breakdown of spending charged to the Speaker's official House account since 2009. Please note, there is not a “Speakers Official House Account” in existence. The Speaker’s Office has a budget, of which all expenditure is made from and the information provided below relates to this budget.

Some information is held by the House of Commons. In accordance with Parliament’s records disposal policy, the Speaker’s Office is not required to hold financial records for more than 3 financial years, plus the current financial year, and therefore we do not hold information for the whole period requested.

Please note, the Speaker is committed to cutting costs wherever possible, and the overall expenditure of the Speaker’s Office has fallen during his tenure from £626,029 in 2009/10 to £504,737 in 2015/16, representing a reduction of 23.7 percent since he was elected to the role. Additionally, while the expenditure as detailed on the spreadsheet relates to Mr Speaker and the nine staff of the Speaker’s Office, the salaries and staff costs expenditure relates solely to Speaker’s Office staff and not Mr Speaker.

From our records, the following expenditure was charged to the Speaker’s Office budget between 1 January 2017 and 31 January 2017:
13 January 2017: Official entertainment and gifts (The Dreams and Wishes Reception) £165.50

Details of spending charged to the Speaker’s Office budget for the financial years 2012/13, 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2015/16 (up until 14 January 2016) is already published on the parliamentary website here.

As this information is reasonably accessible to you otherwise than under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), this part of your 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.

Additionally, in line with the House’s commitment to greater transparency, details of the Speaker’s official travel costs are published quarterly and information from June 2013 to December 2016 is available on our transparency pages.
As the information you request is reasonably accessible to you otherwise than under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), your 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.
Information relating to Mr Speaker’s travel expenses for January 2017 are due to be published in the spring of 2017. This information is 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.