First Minister's accommodation during Bute House essential maintenance: FOI release

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

FOI reference: FOI/17/02674
Date received: 7 November 2017
Date responded: 19 April 2018

Information requested

(A) Please provide details of the First Minister's accommodation after she moved out of Bute House due to essential maintenance. Please provide all communications (emails, memos etc) discussing the subject and also list (to the date of the FoI response):

1. The accommodation (eg hotel) where she has been accommodated since leaving Bute House

2. The dates when she was in each type of accommodation

3. Cost per night/week/month.

(B) Please also provide all information relating the repairs to Bute House and anticipated costs and timescales.


(A) In response to requests 1 and 2, while our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide all of the information you have requested because an exemption under section 39(1) (health and safety) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why that exemption applies are explained below.

The information we are able to provide is as follows:

The First Minister spent a total of six nights in hotel accommodation in Edinburgh while Scottish Government identified suitable alternative accommodation; and the cost for six nights of hotel accommodation was £1,195.02. The First Minister then used alternative accommodation organised by the Scottish Government for five months while repairs were taken forward in Bute House. The location of the hotel accommodation, and the location of the alternative accommodation will not be released for security reasons. The costs of the alternative accommodation are available on the Scottish Government website here:

(B) Changes to the Bute House Drawing Room ceiling were identified as part of routine monitoring during the first half of October. Further investigations into the repair requirements then took place - the ceiling as a whole was investigated and repairs commenced in October. The repair work was coordinated by Historic Environment Scotland. Information about the repair works, including costs, has been published on the Scottish Government website:

Reasons for not providing information

An exemption under section 39(1) of FOISA applies to the information you have requested in relation to the First Minister's accommodation. This exemption applies because we consider that release would be likely to endanger the safety of the First Minister.

This exemption is also 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. While we recognise that there is some public interest in release of this information in order to promote openness, there is a much greater public interest in avoiding significant risks to the safety of Ministers.

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 Andrew's House
Regent Road

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