FOI reference: FOI/16/01735
Date received: 6 November 2016
Date responded: 18 August 2017
You asked for information on the collapse of deal with China: apply for information on the deal signed earlier this year by the SNP and which was cancelled in August 2016.
Some of the information you have requested is available from the Scottish Government website at http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0050/00500943.pdf. Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the website(s) listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy. The remaining information is 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 an exemption(s) under section 30(b)(i) (substantial inhibition of free and frank provision of advice) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why that exemption(s) applies are explained in the Annex to this letter.
An exception applies - Section 30(b)(i).
An exemption under section 30(b)(i) (substantial inhibition of free and frank provision of advice) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have 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 officials to have a private space within which to discuss issues 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. 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 as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government's position, until the Government as a whole can adopt a decision that is sound and likely to be effective.
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
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Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
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