Publication - FOI/EIR release

Loan to Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited: FOI release

Published: 8 Aug 2018

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Published:
8 Aug 2018
Loan to Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited: FOI release

FOI reference: FOI/18/01835
Date received: 30 June 2018
Date responded: 6 August 2018

Information requested

All information held regarding the loan of £30 million made by the Scottish Government in June 2018 to Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited, including but not limited to:

1. All minutes and notes of meetings held between FME Limited and the Scottish Government.

2. The loan agreement including interest terms and basis of repayment.

3. Due diligence carried out by the Scottish Government on FME Limited prior to granting the loan.

Response

I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested. 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 of exemptions under sections of FOISA apply. The reasons why that exemptions applies are explained below.

Reasons for not providing information

Exemptions apply, subject to the public interest test

An exemption under sections 33(1(a)) and 33 (1(b)) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested because it relates to trade secrets and commercial information that may prejudice the company.

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 development and implementation. 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.

Exemptions also apply under section 36(1) of FOISA as the documents contain legal advice. 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, this information is legally privileged.

Exemptions also apply under sections 30(b(i)) and 30(b(ii)) as the information, if disclosed, could inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of exchange and advice of views.

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 allowing a private space within which officials can provide full and frank advice to Ministers and each other. This private thinking space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, based on the best available advice, so that good decisions can be taken. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues and exchange of views between Ministers and officials, which in turn will undermine the quality of the decisions made, which would not be in the public interest.

About FOI

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

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference

Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG