Publication - FOI/EIR release

COP 26: Hiring of Glasgow Science Centre: FOI release

Published: 4 May 2020

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

Published:
4 May 2020
COP 26: Hiring of Glasgow Science Centre: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/202000014898
Date received: 4 Feb 2020
Date responded: 1 May 2020
Information requested

Correspondence between Scottish Govt. and Glasgow Science Centre regarding hiring of Science Centre for November 2020.

Response

I attach a copy of the information you requested at ANNEX A. I have put the documents and emails in to a table. I have redacted the names and telephone numbers of staff members below Deputy Director level.
Whilst 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 exception under the following regulations apply:

  • Section 28(1) Relations within the United Kingdom.
  • Section 29 Formulation of Scottish Administration Policy.
  • Section 30(c) Prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs.
  • Section 33(1)(b) Disclosure would (or would be likely to) prejudice substantially the commercial interests of any person or organisation.

The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained in ANNEX B to this letter.
Information that is out of scope of your request has also been redacted.

EXEMPTIONS
ANNEX B

Section 28(1) – relations within the UK [in relation to communications between the SG and another UK administration]
An exemption under section 28(1) of FOISA (relations within the UK) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially relations between the Scottish Government and the UK Government. It is essential for the effective administration of the UK as a whole that there should be regular, and often private, communications between the Scottish Government, the UK Government and the other devolved administrations. The release of these communications about hiring of the Glasgow Science Centre during COP26 will mean that the UK Government is likely to be more reluctant to share such information with the Scottish Government in future, which would reduce both the frequency and openness of communications between the Scottish Government and other UK administrations.

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 maintaining good relations between the Scottish Government and the UK Government, and in protecting the free exchange of information between the administrations to ensure that we keep each other fully and regularly informed about matters of mutual interest, such as hiring of the Glasgow Science Centre during COP26. There is no public interest in disclosing information when that will damage relationships and disrupt future communications.

Section 29 - Formulation of Scottish Administration Policy
Section 29 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) exempts information from disclosure if it relates to the formulation or development of government policy, Ministerial communication, the provision of advice by any of the Law Officers (or any request for the provision of such advice) or the operation of any Ministerial private office.
It is essential for officials to be able to communicate, often in confidence, internally and with external stakeholders on a range of issues, including hiring of the Glasgow Science Centre during COP26.
Disclosing the content of these communications, particularly without the consent of partner organisations would inhibit the programme development process. Stakeholders will be reluctant to provide their views fully and frankly if they believe that their views are likely to be made public, particularly while development and discussions are ongoing. This would significantly harm the Government’s ability to carry out many aspects of its work, and could adversely affect its ability to gather all of the evidence it needs to make fully informed policies. Plans for the Glasgow Science Centre during COP26 will be made public in due course.

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 and officials a private space within which to communicate and develop policy and programmes as part of the process of developing the plans for the Glasgow Science Centre during COP26. This private space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, so that good decisions can be taken based on fully informed advice and evidence, such as that provided by officials to Ministers and stakeholders involved. Premature disclosure will undermine the quality of the policy and programme development and decision making process, which would not be in the public interest.

Section 30(c) – substantial prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs in relation to communications with external stakeholders].
An exemption under section 30(c) of FOISA (prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs) applies to some of the information requested. It is essential for officials to be able to communicate, often in confidence, internally and with external stakeholders on a range of issues, including hiring of the Glasgow Science Centre during COP26. Disclosing the content of these communications, particularly without the consent of the stakeholder, is likely to undermine their trust in the Scottish Government and will substantially inhibit communications on this type of issue in the future. These stakeholders will be reluctant to provide their views fully and frankly if they believe that their views are likely to be made public, particularly while these discussions are ongoing. This would significantly harm the Government’s ability to carry out many aspects of its work, and could adversely affect its ability to gather all of the evidence it needs to make fully informed policies.
 
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 and officials a private space within which to communicate with appropriate external stakeholders as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government’s position on hiring of the Glasgow Science Centre during COP26, until the Government as a whole can adopt a decision that is sound and likely to be effective. This private space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, so that good decisions can be taken based on fully informed advice and evidence, such as that provided by the stakeholders involved. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between the Scottish Government and these stakeholders, which in turn will undermine the quality of the decision making process, which would not be in the public interest.

Section 33(1)(b) - Disclosure would (or would be likely to) prejudice substantially the commercial interests of any person or organisation.
An exemption under section 33(1)(b) of FOISA (prejudice substantially the commercial interests of any person or organization) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure of this particular information in relation to the hiring of the Glasgow Science Centre for COP 26 would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the commercial interests of any commercial organisation, or any other person, which has been referred to in a report or assessment.
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 and transparent government, and to help account for the expenditure of public money. However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the financial interests of the Scottish Government, to ensure that we are always able to obtain the best value for public money.

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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
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