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Lobby man in FoI battle over former MPs' grants

A regional press lobby correspondent plans to appeal to the Information Commissioner after being denied access to data on resettlement grants awarded to former MPs.

Political correspondent Joe Watts, who covers Westminster for the Nottingham Post, was refused information on which MPs had claimed the grants.

The allowance of up to £64,000, depending on age and length of service, is paid to help MPs adjust to life outside Parliament when losing their seat or standing down.

Joe, who writes the Post’s ‘Lobbydog’ blog, put in a Freedom of Information request to the Commons Authorities to find out which politicians had drawn the funds they were entitled to – but has been refused details of this and now plans to go to the Information Commissioner.

He writes on his blog: “It looks like Lobbydog will be forced to go to the Information Commissioner to get a few facts that should be in the public domain.

“Before I nipped off on summer hols I put a Freedom of Information request in with the Commons Authorities to find out which MPs had drawn their resettlement grants and which had not.

“At first request I was refused outright, with the authorities ludicrously claiming that to reveal the information would breach data protection law.

“This blog demanded a review of the decision and has managed to glean a little more information – 200 MPs have drawn their grants, that’s of 230 odd MPs who left Parliament.”

Joe added there was no reason why the authorities should refuse to release the information on who had drawn the grant, considering it concerned taxpayers’ money and many details on other MPs’ allowances had already been made public.