- 16 May 2018
FOI reference: FOI/18/00981
Date received: 21 March 2018
Date responded: 19 April 2018
Copies of any correspondence and minutes of meetings or telephone calls Scottish Ministers or their Special Advisers have had with: Aberdeen Airport, Edinburgh Airport, Glasgow Airport, Glasgow Prestwick Airport, Inverness Airport, Sumburgh Airport, Police Scotland, Aberdeen City, City of Edinburgh Council, Renfrewshire Council, South Ayrshire Council, Highland Council, Shetland Islands Council regarding the operation of section 124 of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005, in each of the last three years. You also requested copies of any correspondence and minutes of meetings or telephone calls Ministers or their Special Advisors have had with Transport Scotland officials on the operation of section 124 of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005, in each of the last three years.
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because an exemption(s) under section(s) 29(1)(a) (formulation or development of Scottish Government policy); 30(b)(i) (free and frank provision of advice); 30(b)(ii) (free and frank exchange of views); 30(c) (otherwise prejudice effective conduct of public affairs); and 38(1)(b) (personal data relating to third party) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why that exemption(s) applies are explained below.
An exemption(s) under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal data relating to third party) applies to some of the information you have requested. The names of Scottish Government officials, and also the names of officials from third parties involved in the Campus Watch Initiative at Glasgow Airport and the Best Bar None Initiative at Edinburgh Airport have been redacted from e-mail correspondence. An exemption applies because it is personal data, i.e. names, information which could be used to identify names. Disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Schedule 1 to the Data Protection Act 1998. This exemption is not subject to the 'public interest test', so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.
An exemption applies, subject to the public interest test An exemption under section 29(1)(a) of FOISA (formulation or development of Scottish Government policy); section 30(b)(i) of FOISA (free and frank provision of advice); section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank exchange of views); and section 30(c) of FOISA (otherwise prejudice effective conduct of public affairs) applies to some of the information requested because it relates to the development of the Scottish Government's policy on alcohol licensing at airports, and the free and frank provision of advice and exchange of views regarding this issue. This exemption is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, there is a greater public interest in high quality policy and decision-making, and in the properly considered implementation and development of policies and decisions. This means that Ministers and officials need to be able to consider all available options and to debate those rigorously, to fully understand their possible implications. Their candour in doing so will be affected by their assessment of whether the discussions on alcohol licensing at airports will be disclosed in the near future, when it may undermine or constrain the Government's view on that policy while it is still under discussion and development.
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