- 29 Jul 2019
Date received: 27 Jun 2019
Date responded: 25 Jul 2019
You asked for any communications between the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, his department and officials and Local Authorities in relation to a national default 20mph speed limit in Scotland from 2017 to date.
I enclose in Annex B 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 exemption under section:
s.30 (b) (ii) - Free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation (see Annex A)
Reasons for not providing information - Annex A
An exemption applies
Section 30(b)(ii) - free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation [in relation to communications/meetings with external stakeholders]
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. This exemption recognises the need for Ministers and officials to have a private space within which to discuss and explore options before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of free and frank discussions on the developments of views and position in relation to the Restricted Roads (20 mph Speed Limits) (Scotland) Bill will substantially inhibit such discussions in the future, particularly because these discussions are still ongoing, as the next steps are being established and agreed and decisions have not been taken.
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 senior officials, as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government's policy position on the development of the next steps following the Restricted Roads (20 mph Speed Limits) (Scotland) Bill until the Government as a whole can adopt a policy that is sound and likely to be effective. This private thinking space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, based on the best available advice, so that good policy decisions can be taken. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between Ministers and officials, which in turn will undermine the quality of the decision making process, which would not be in the public interest.
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 Andrews House