Publication - FOI/EIR release

Senior Civil Servant correspondence regarding building cladding: EIR release

Information request and response under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004.
Published:
12 Dec 2017
Senior Civil Servant correspondence regarding building cladding: EIR release

FOI reference: FOI/17/02601
Date received: 30 October 2017
Date responded: 27 November 2017

Information requested

You asked for:

  1. Any correspondence between Scottish Government ministers or their staff and/or special advisers and/or senior civil servants on the topic of cladding or ACM cladding between August 10 and September 5, 2017.

  2. Any correspondence from August 10 to September 5, 2017 involving Scottish Government ministers or their staff and/or special advisers and/or senior civil servants mentioning flats owned by Hacking & Paterson.

Response

As the information you have requested is 'environmental information' for the purposes of the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs), we are required to deal with your request under those Regulations. We are applying the exemption at section 39(2) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA), so that we do not also have to deal with your request under FOISA.

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, because there is no public interest in dealing with the same request under two different regimes. This is essentially a technical point and has no material effect on the outcome of your request.

I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested in the format you asked for.

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 exception(s) under regulation(s) 10(4)(e) (internal communications) of the EIRs applies to that information. The reasons why that exception(s) applies are explained in the Annex to this letter.

In this instance, some of the information you have requested is not held by the Scottish Government for the purposes of the EIRs because we received it in confidence from the UK Government. This means that, under the terms of regulation 2(2) of the EIRs, we are unable to disclose it in response to your request.

However, you may wish to submit a new request under the UK Environmental Information Regulations 2004 to Department for Communities and Local Government at 2 Marsham Street, London, SW10 4DF or dclgkia@icasework.fcos.gsi.gov.uk who should be able to help you further.

With regard to your request 2 (above) the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested. Therefore we are refusing your request under the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs. The reasons why that exception applies are explained below.

Reasons for not providing information

An exception applies:

An exception under regulation 10(4)(e) of the EIRs applies to some the information you have requested because it is internal communication about press lines or Ministerial briefing.

This exception 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 exception. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exception.

We recognise that there is some public interest in release as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, this is outweighed by the public interest in allowing a private space within which officials can provide free and frank advice and views to Ministers in briefing and press lines. It is clearly in the public interest that Ministers can provide sound information to Parliament (to which they are accountable) and robustly defend the Government's policies and decisions. They need full and candid advice from officials to enable them to do so. Premature disclosure of this type of information could lead to a reduction in the comprehensiveness and frankness of such advice and views in the future which would not be in the public interest.

The Scottish Government does not have the information:

Under the terms of the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs (information not held), the Scottish Government is not required to provide information which it does not have. The Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

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

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference

Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG