One of the things that had many people up in arms was not however the more outlandish claims that some members made, but also the fact that as they were stepping down they would all receive a nice little Golden Goodbye in the form of a resettlement grant, which is calculated based length of service and detailed in a table in the Green Book.
However, the grant is not something former MPs get automagically. They still have to make an official application for the grant using one of the many forms that Parliament has. So who made applications for the grant from public money and how much did they receive? Who knows?
Well the House of Commons does but they've decided you're not allowed to know because it would be a breach of the Data Protection Act, at least that's was their argument when responding to an FoI on the matter.
We have concluded that this information is exempt from the disclosure. We can confirm that this information is held by the House of Commons.Now there may be some that agree with this, after all, the people receiving the money are not MPs and are actually "former" MPs (alternatively Joe Public). However, given so many stood down after expenses scandals, and given that came about after the House and its members consistently tried to block the information being released, isn't the claim that the "public interest test does not apply" at least partly, if not wholly, bollocks?
However, your request for this information is refused. This information is exempt by virtue of section 40 (2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the exemption for personal information), as disclosure of this information to the public generally, in the House’s view, would not be consistent with data protection principles in the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA).
In particular, it cannot be disclosed without contravening the first principle as none of the relevant conditions for the processing of personal data are satisfied. This is an absolute exemption and the public interest test does not apply.
There are currently three former MPs awaiting trial on allegations of false accounting after the whole expenses saga, doesn't the public have a right to know whether they have been given more taxpayers money since leaving? What's more don't we have a right to know in general which MPs have received public funds as a goodbye present?
Update: A former researcher has been in touch to note that I;m being unfair and that the resettlement grant money is used by former MPs to make redundancy payments to their staff, and is not pocketed entirely by them. Whilst I understand this, I still think that knowing how much was actually paid to each former MP shouldn't be withheld. How they spend it is their private business, but how much they receive, if any, isn't.