Publication - FOI/EIR release

Meetings between Fergus Ewing and the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation: FOI release

Published: 18 Mar 2019

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

Published:
18 Mar 2019
Meetings between Fergus Ewing and the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/19/00443
Date received: 11 Feb 2019
Date responded: 6 Mar 2019
Information requested

 

You asked for details of any meetings (dates, times, minutes, etc.) between Fergus Ewing and the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation in (a) 2016 (b) 2017 and (c) 2018.

 

Response

 

In considering your request, we reviewed a number of documents and I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested. We are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because an exemptions under the following sections of FOISA:
 29(1)(a) Formulation or development of Scottish Government policy
 29(1)(b) Ministerial communications
 30(b)(ii) Free and frank exchange of views

The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained in the Annex to this letter.

 

ANNEX

REASONS FOR NOT PROVIDING INFORMATION


Exemptions apply

An exemption under section 29(1)(a) of FOISA (formulation or development of government policy) applies to some of the information requested because it relates to the formulation of the Scottish Government’s policy on future fisheries.

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 future fisheries 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.

 

An exemption under section 29(1)(b) of FOISA (Ministerial communications) applies to some of the information requested because it relates to communications between Scottish Ministers.

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 Ministers a private space within which issues and policy positions can be explored and refined, until the Government as a whole can reach a decision that is sound and likely to be effective. This private thinking space also allows for all options to be properly considered, so that good policy decisions can be taken. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between Ministers, which in turn will undermine the quality of the decision making process.

 

An exemption under section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank exchange of views) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation.

These exemptions are 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 exemptions. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemptions. 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 free and frank advice and views to Ministers in lines to take. It is clearly in the public interest that Ministers can properly answer Parliamentary questions, provide sound information to Parliament (to which they are accountable), and robustly defend the Government’s policies and decisions. They need full and candid advice from officials to enable them to do so. Premature disclosure of this type of information could lead to a reduction in the comprehensiveness and frankness of such advice and views in the future, which would not be in the public interest.

 

About FOI

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foi-19-00443 list of dates

1 page PDF
336.9 kB

foi-19-00443 information released

4 page PDF
641.8 kB

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG