Aberdeen To Central Belt Stakeholders Group Meetings: FOI release

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

Information requested

A copy of the minutes from the Aberdeen to Central Belt Key Stakeholders Group meetings covering the past 12 months.


Please find information you requested in the Annex A – attached.

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 exemptions under sections 30(b)(i) - (Substantial inhibition to free and frank provision of advice), and 38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA apply to that information.

The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained below:-

Section 30(b)(i) - Substantial inhibition to free and frank provision of advice

An exemption under section 30(b)(i) of FOISA (free and frank provision of advice) 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 advice between Scottish Government officials and third parties. This exemption recognises the need for officials to have a private space within which to exchange free and frank advice with colleagues within Scottish Government and representatives of third parties. Disclosing the content of free and frank advice exchanged during the Aberdeen to Central Belt Key Stakeholders Group meetings, would inhibit the exchange of advice in future between officials and third parties in relation to areas of future policy making.

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 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 exchange full and frank advice with third parties, as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government’s decision making process. 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.

Disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between officials and third parties, which in turn will undermine the quality of the decision making process, which would not be in the public interest.

Section 38(1)(b) – Personal data of a third party

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies some of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, i.e. names and contact details of individuals, and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018. 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.

The information that has been redacted has been clearly marked with the relevant exemption i.e. Section 30 (b)(i).

The remaining information that has been redacted is that which falls into the exemption of section 38(1) (b) – personal information.

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.

FOI - 202300358666 - information released - Annex A


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

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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