Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Freedom from Information

I was both delighted and dismayed today to receive a communication from the House of Commons authorities indicating to me that a Freedom of Information request had been placed in respect of the allowances I received under the Additional Costs Allowance from 1997 to 2002 (why only till then? I was an MP till 2005). Delighted, because it gives me the opportunity to reproduce the figures kindly supplied to the questioner by the House, as follows:

2001/2: £16,869
2002/3 £19,722

These figures "relate to the total claimed from the Additional Costs Allowance (from which the cost of staying away from the main home can be made) in 2001/2 and 2002/3". The reply concludes "No other information is held."

Oh yes it f***ing is. Payroll records are held. From 1997 to 2001 I claimed a total of approximately £12,000 a year (the allowances were a bit lower in those years) - all those amounts were in respect of having a place to stay in London - obviously if I had had no place to stay in London I could not have claimed the allowance, because that would have been fraudulent.

Dismayed, because the information is publicly available if you follow this link, as the reply indicates : it says "this has been taken from the data previously published on the Parliamentary website and therefore already in the public domain" - so how much did it cost the public purse for whichever f***wit without the nous to download the information from there and remind the public of its existence on their own website or by other means to request the House to send me a two-page paper letter here in France, with the opportunity to comment on it or to question officers of the House about it, which I shall not do as the information is correct and I have supplemented it, see above? Just how much?

As a clue to the identity of the questioner I shall reproduce the request as sent to me by the House authorities, as follows:

"Please could you provide me with the following information:

The total amount of public money provided to the ex-MP Jane Griffiths between the years 1997 and 2002 for the purpose of providing a home in London."

May I for ease of reference remind readers that Mr Salter supported a Tory Bill which if passed would have permitted MPs' correspondence to be exempted from the Freedom of Information Act. Fortunately the Government saw sense and refused to support such pernicious nonsense.

I hope all the above is helpful to those seeking transparency in these matters. Those who might be interested in the prudent use of public funds I fear will have no audience here.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Stand firm. This request has been lodged because you have raised questions and have caused others to ask them.

dreamingspire said...

So why is the information prior to 2001/2 being denied? Can it really have been destroyed? An answer that it would cost too much to unearth it would have been more understandable.

Same Old said...

You claimed this money which you used to pay for a flat in Reading whilst using your daughters flat in London for overnight stays. Honest?

Also will you pay back the money your wrongly claimed (£250 per month) in taxis fayres?

jane said...

Same Old I have allowed your comment, but it is a lie. I claimed for a place in London, which for a while was lived in full-time by my daughter. I claimed nothing for a place in Reading. I have always been clear and public and honest about this. Pity more MPs were not so about their own arrangements, fishing holidays and so on. And no, I am not going to pay the taxi money back. Next?

Anonymous said...

So. I am the original submitter of this FOI request.

There is often a tendency to read conspiracy into everything, but like so many things, the reality, as in this case, much more mundane.

The purpose of the request was to shine a light on exactly what had happened in the previous years.

I wanted proof of that you had accused Mr Salter of.

I put both Reading MPs down as I was genuinely interested in the answer for both. Your argument that Salter was a bit immoral for claiming the allowance would take a lesser light if you had also been claiming it, no?

Anyway, the data for the previous years was not provided, and allegedly doesn't exist (as it's been destroyed).

At the time of the request, the data for 2001/2002 wasn't on the web as far as I was aware.

I've asked for a Internal Review of the decision, as I believe that it's illegal for an employer not to hold Salary and Expense details for previous years.

Sorry if you were offended, as actually you gave me pretty good service as an MP (yes, we corresponded once, not that you will remember as I'll be one of thousands).

Panther said...

Oh yes - Salter's people are really trying to fabricate dirt about Jane now - in desparation because he has been telephoned and asked some pertinent questions by various organs of the natinal media.
Sorry, Same Old. Some of know what the truth is and Jane has nothing to worry about - unlike her erstwhile Reading West neighbour.

jane said...

hmmm

I was not at all offended by the FOI request, it was entirely legitimate and I was rather pleased to see it, having thought about putting one in myself