Building a New Scotland white papers: FOI release

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

Information requested

In relation to the series of white papers being prepared by the Scottish Government under the title ‘Building a New Scotland’:

  1. The expected publication date of future releases, the number of papers expected still to be released and which topics they will focus on
  2. How many meetings have been held to discuss the contents of the papers and could the Scottish Government provide a list of attendees? Please include meetings which involved high level ministers, such as the FM and constitution secretary, and also those, if any, which were just civil servants.
  3. Any invoices, notes or correspondence related to the publication schedule of the white papers and the costs associated with creating hard copies. This relates specifically to invoices, notes and correspondence regarding the costs associated with the Building a New Scotland prospectus series.
  4. How many hard copies were printed and where were they distributed to? If this could be broken down by which of the three currently published white papers this related to that would be great.


Part 1
Decisions on the timing and content of Building a New Scotland papers will be taken in due course. The Scottish Government has stated publicly that they will cover topics including pensions and social security, EU membership and trade, and defence and security. This is a formal notice under Section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

Part 2
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the costs of locating, retrieving and providing the information requested would exceed the upper cost limit of £600. The reason for this is that locating and retrieving the information would require us to conduct a Scottish Government-wide trawl, as no central record of meetings is held. Under section 12 of FOISA public authorities are not required to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying would exceed the upper cost limit, which is currently set at £600 by Regulations made under section 12.

You may, however, wish to consider reducing the scope of your request in order that the costs can be brought below £600. For example, you may wish to specify which topic(s) or individual(s) you are most interested in so we can focus our searches on those specific areas. You may also find it helpful to look at the Scottish Information Commissioner’s Tips for requesting information under FOI and the EIRs.

Part 3
Some of the information you have requested is included below and at Annex A. An exemption under section 30(b)(ii) – Free and Frank Exchange of Views for the Purposes of Deliberation applies to some of the information requested. The reason why this exemption applies is explained in Annex B of this letter.

The following links provide details of the costs for the publication of the Independence in the Modern World. Wealthier, happier, fairer: why not Scotland? and Renewing Democracy through Independence papers:

Paper 1 - Written question and answer: S6W-11001 | Scottish Parliament Website
Paper 2 - Written question and answer: S6W-11002 | Scottish Parliament Website

Regarding the costs associated with A stronger economy with independence, an exemption under section 27(1) (information intended for future publication) of FOISA applies to the information you have requested.

An exemption under section 27(1) of FOISA applies to the information requested because the Scottish Government intends to publish that information within 12 weeks of the date of your request. We consider that it is reasonable to withhold the information until that date, rather than release some of this information before the planned publication date.

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 some public interest in the costs associated with the prospectus papers, and this will be met by the planned publication.

In the meantime, there is a greater public interest in taking the time necessary to ensure the information has been properly collated and checked before it is published as planned. Also, we see no public interest in disrupting the programme of work to produce the independence prospectus series to release the information ahead of the intended publication date.

Part 4

200 copies of Independence in the Modern World. Wealthier, happier, fairer: why not Scotland? were printed.
200 copies of Renewing Democracy through Independence were printed.
200 copies of A Stronger Economy with Independence were printed.

Some copies of all three papers were distributed to journalists at the launch event for each respective paper. Some copies are also being used internally within the Scottish Government.

The remaining hard copies of each paper were issued to members of the public upon request.

About FOI

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



Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

Back to top