Tuesday 4 November 2014

How long does the House of Commons hold records for?


 MPs' expenses claims prior to 2010 have been destroyed. Why the rush? Parliament hangs onto health and safety records from the last forty years


The expenses claims of all MPs prior to 2010 have been destroyed. That means the only remaining data set on the expenses scandal is the one the Telegraph still has.
That means that the record, for example, of Peter Vigger's £1645 duck house is gone for good - but you could probably still locate the record of any trip to the nurse from the last ten years.

Here's what Parliament deletes, and what they hold on to

The Authorised Records Disposal Practice is incredibly detailed, covering everything from instruction manuals to notes from nurses. 

A staff member can expect the House of Commons to hold onto their data for a while

In fact, someone who works there will have their staff file held until their 80th birthday. And if a member of staff in the House of Commons applies for parental leave, their application will be held on file for six years, or twice as long as an MP's expenses forms.
If a piece of furniture belonging to Parliament is sold at auction, the now-redundant list including it is held for six years. But if, for example, an MP bought the same piece of furniture on expenses, that record would be gone in three.
The destruction is in accordance with Parliamentary guidance on the matter. All records of MPs expenses and allowances are meant to be destroyed after three years, though this rule was suspended for a while after the scandal hit.

They keep an eye on staff health for an awfully long time

Most health and safety records are kept for ten years, aside from those involving exposure to serious health risks, like asbestos. Going to the nurse will also incur a report that'll last ten years.
And the records of examinations of respiratory devices - gas and oxygen masks - are kept for fifty years since the last entry.
The Parliamentary Archive means records of even some of the most trivial activities of politicians are preserved for perpetuity. It's a valuable resource for historians, but when it comes to the here and now? We'd rather follow the money.

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