Publication - FOI/EIR release

Agendas and minutes of meeting between Shona Robison MSP and Bield Housing: FOI release

Published: 21 Aug 2018
Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.
Published:
21 Aug 2018
Agendas and minutes of meeting between Shona Robison MSP and Bield Housing: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/18/02093  
Date received: 19 July 2018 
Date responded: 20 August 2018
 
Information requested
 
Agendas and minutes of the meeting between Shona Robison MSP and Brian Logan, CEO of Bield Housing on 25 January 2018. It was requested that this include any letters, emails, briefings, and notes of conversations (including telephone) pertaining to the meeting.

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 exemptions under sections 30 (b) (i), s.30(c) and s38 (1) (b) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why those exemptions apply are explained below.
 
Reasons for not providing information
 
An exemption applies
An exemption(s) under sections 30 (b) (i), 30(c) and s38 (1) (b) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested.

Section 30(b)(i) – 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 provision of advice. This exemption recognises the need for officials to have a private space within which to provide free and frank advice to Ministers and officials before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view.
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. 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.

Section 30(c) – substantial prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs

An exemption under section 30(c) of FOISA (prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs) applies some the information requested. It is essential for Ministers to be able to communicate and meet, often in confidence, with external stakeholders on a range of issues, including in this case with Bield about their care home closures and transfers. Disclosing the content of the information about these meetings, 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 participate in meetings or provide their views fully and frankly if they believe that their views are likely to be made public, particularly while these discussions are still on-going and decisions have not been taken, and/or these discussions relate to a sensitive or controversial issue such as the Bield care homes. 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 decisions.
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 meet with appropriate external stakeholders as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government’s position on the issues being discussed. 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 Bield Housing and Care colleagues. 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 38(1)(b) – personal data relating to a third party

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA applies to some of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, including: biographical information, contact details and sensitive personal information, 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.

About FOI
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at FOI responses

Attachment

4 page PDF
93.5 kB

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference 
 
Central Enquiry Unit 
Email: CEU
Phone: 0300 244 4000 
The Scottish Government 
St Andrew's House 
Regent Road 
Edinburgh 
EH1 3DG