- 13 Sep 2017
FOI reference: FOI/17/01919
Date received: 22 August 2017
Date responded: 6 September 2017
In relation to the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014, please provide me with details of the following:
1. Consultations the Scottish Government - or its appointed proxies and representatives - may have held. This might refer to, but is not limited to, public bodies, third sector groups, and faith groups.
2. Correspondence the Scottish Government - or its appointed proxies and representatives - may have received expressing opposition in all or in part of the said legislation.
With regards to 1 and 2, this indicates individuals or distinct entities both within and outwith Scotland. With regards to ii., it also includes any correspondence from elected representatives within Scotland who may have been interceding.
I have dealt with your request in two parts, with the first part being about consultations, and the second part being about correspondence.
I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested in the format you asked for. You can find this information in the attachment below.
The rest of the information in this part of your request is already available from our website. I have provided further information about this information in paragraphs 6 to 9 below. Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you.
The Scottish Government held two consultations in the lead up to the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 (the 2014 Act). The first consultation, which ran from 2 September to 9 December 2011, was on the registration of civil partnership and same sex marriage. The second consultation, on the draft Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill, was open from 12 December 2012 until 20 March 2013. We have published these two consultations, the analyses of responses, and the responses from organisations which we have permission to publish, on our website at the link below.
We have also published information about four sets of draft Scottish Statutory Instruments which we sought views on when implementing the 2014 Act. These are available on our website at the link below.
Correspondence expressing opposition
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the costs of locating, retrieving and providing the information in this part of your request would exceed the upper cost limit of £600. This is because the Scottish Government received a very high volume of correspondence relating to the 2014 Act. My estimate of the cost of responding to your request relies on certain assumptions which I have set out below.
I have assumed that your request is for correspondence we received from 2 September 2011 until the date of your request. I have used the date of 2 September 2011 because that is the date the Scottish Government published its Consultation on the registration of CP and same sex marriage
I have also assumed that your request is for copies of any letters or e-mails received by the Scottish Government which express opposition to any of the following:
- any of the proposals in either of the two Scottish Government consultations which informed the development of the 2014 Act
- any provisions which appeared in the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill
- any of the provisions of the 2014 Act itself
On the basis of what I have said above, I have identified that the bulk of the relevant information we hold is contained within three files in our electronic documents and records management system. The documents in these three files have "creation dates" between 6 September 2011 and 14 April 2015. The creation date indicates the date we added a document to our electronic records and document management system. In some cases, the creation date is some time after the date we received the document.
We hold relevant information in other files. But the majority of the relevant information is likely to be in these three files and therefore I have based the cost estimate on the information in those files. In total, there are 2,475 documents in the three files.
I have estimated the cost of responding to your request on the basis that you would like copies of the relevant correspondence in all three of these files. The estimated cost is £4,573.56. The attachment below 'Cost Estimate' explains the basis for this estimate.
Under section 12 of FOISA, public authorities are not required to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying would exceed the upper cost limit, which is currently set at £600 by Regulations made under section 12.
You may, however, wish to consider reducing the scope of your request in order that the costs can be brought below £600. One way to do that would be to limit your request to a particular date range. You should note what I have said about the "creation date" above. This is because we can quickly determine when we filed a document, but determining when we received it could take us longer. You should also note that the 2014 Act made a number of changes to the law on marriage and civil partnership. The issue which attracted the large volume of correspondence was same sex marriage.
You may also find it helpful to look at the Scottish Information Commissioner's 'Tips for requesting information under FOI and the EIRs' on the Commissioner's website at the link below.
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House