Sex, puke and pork scratchings: House of Commons FOIs

List of freedom of information requests reveals records sought by public

The British parliament’s 2016 Freedom of Information request log catalogues the hundreds of FOIs filed to the House of Commons.

Some are prosaic, for example: “Annual total contribution for 2013/14/15 paid towards pensions of senior civil servants” (record not held).

Others are a bit more unusual, however. The British freedom of information act, like its Irish equivalent, creates a public right of access to information held by public authorities.

So here follows a selection of some of the stranger requests sent to the House of Commons in the first half of 2016 – part two of the list has not been posted online yet.


In January a request sought to find out how much the Commons spent on foie gras. Presumably it was the same person who lodged the request for the 2015 spending total on lobster. The details of the foie gras were not held but the lobster figures were fully disclosed, the register shows.

However, the Commons did not have records to satisfy the person who wanted details of flooded toilets on the Parliamentary estate, neither could staff disclose records of “people engaging in sexual acts on the premises”.

A request for instances of public vomiting was withdrawn while another person failed to uncover what efforts, if any, were under way to combat the use of illegal drugs in the Commons.

Another person wished to find out “efforts to reduce the amount of pornographic websites viewed” but unfortunately the records were not available.

A request in February sought the cost of kitting out the sergeant-at-arms with a new uniform while another person wanted to know how many House of Commons documents had been printed on vellum in the last eight years.

In March, a request about “selling items in joke shops” was closed when staff sought but failed to receive clarification from the person who sent it.

Another person failed to get a list of people banned from parliament while a separate request sought evidence that the UK operates under martial rule (also not held).

In April, an individual was no doubt disappointed when they discovered that no record was held of “house correspondence mentioning pork scratchings”. As was another person whose request for CCTV footage of an incident in the central lobby was denied.

In May, someone wanted to know the cost of vandalism to a House of Commons statue and another person wanted to know the number of millionaire members of parliament.

There were many requests for the costs of pest control in the Commons while one person also wanted to know about weapons seized from visitors as well as thefts on the estate.

In June, someone sought a figure for the number of calls made to the speaking clock.

Dan Griffin

Dan Griffin

Dan Griffin is an Irish Times journalist