Publication - FOI/EIR release

GCRB and SFC roles and remuneration 2016-2017: FOI release

Published: 21 Dec 2017
Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.
Published:
21 Dec 2017
GCRB and SFC roles and remuneration 2016-2017: FOI release

FOI reference: FOI/17/02857
Date received: 22 November 2017
Date responded: 20 December 2017

Information requested

[GCRB – Glasgow Colleges' Regional Board]

[SFC – Scottish Funding Council]

Please provide me with the following in electronic format:

All email/letter including but not limited to telephone conferencing exchanges (Tripartite) between the GCRB/SFC/Scottish Government relating to the review of staff roles and remuneration in relation of executive staff. Between the dates of 1st December 2016 to 30th September 2017.

The Scope of your trawl should include:

  • Any/all members of the Board of Management of GCRB
  • Any/all members of GCRB staff
  • Any/all members of SFC Staff including the Senior Executive Team
  • Any/all members of the Board of Management of SFC • Any/all Scottish Government official's including the College Policy Unit

I do not require personal information and where appropriate this can and should be redacted.

Response

I enclose a copy of most of the information you requested in the format you asked for(Annex A).

Some of the information you have requested is available from Motions, Questions and Answers

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.

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(s) s36(1) (legal advice), s.38(1)(b) (personal information) and s.30(b)(i) and 30(b)(ii) (free and frank provision of advice/exchange of views) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why that exemption(s) applies are explained below.

Reasons for not providing information

Section 38(1)(b) - personal information An exemption under section s.38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested. This applies to some of the information requested because it contains personal data of a third party, i.e. Scottish Government official names below Senior Civil Service and their direct contact details. This information has been redacted throughout the documents which are being released. Disclosing this information would contravene the data protection principles in Schedule 1 to the Data Protection Act 1998.

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.

Section 36(1) – legal advice

An exemption under section 36(1) of FOISA (confidentiality in legal proceedings) applies to some of the information requested because it is legal advice and disclosure would breach legal professional privilege.

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 release as part of open and transparent government, and to inform public debate. However, this is outweighed by the strong public interest in maintaining the right to confidentiality of communications between legal advisers and clients, to ensure that Ministers and officials are able to receive legal advice in confidence, like any other public or private organisation.

Section 30(b)(i) – free and frank provision of advice [in relation to Cabinet/ Ministerial/official discussions and policy formulation/development]

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 before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of free and frank advice on the review of staff roles and remuneration in relation of GCRB executive staff will substantially inhibit the provision of such advice in the future, particularly because these discussions relate to a sensitive or controversial issue in relation to the remuneration of staff.

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 a private space within which officials can provide full and frank advice to Ministers, as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government's position on the review of staff roles and remuneration in relation of GCRB executive staff, until the Government as a whole can adopt a decision that is sound and likely to be effective. This private thinking space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, based on the best available advice, so that good decisions can be taken. 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(b)(ii) – free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation [in relation to Cabinet/Ministerial/official discussions and policy formulation/ development]

An exemption under section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank exchange of views) applies to some of the information 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 Ministers and officials to have a private space within which to discuss and explore options before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of free and frank discussions on the review of staff roles and remuneration in relation of GCRB executive staff will substantially inhibit such discussions in the future, particularly because these discussions relate to a sensitive or controversial issue in relation to the remuneration of staff.

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 explore and refine the Government's position on the review of staff roles and remuneration in relation of GCRB executive staff, until the Government as a whole can adopt a decision that is sound and likely to be effective. This private thinking space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, so that good decisions can be taken. 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(b)(ii) – free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation [in relation to communications/meetings with external stakeholders]

An exemption under section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank exchange of views) applies to some of the information 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 and options with external stakeholders before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of these discussions with stakeholders involved on the review of staff roles and remuneration in relation of GCRB executive staff will substantially inhibit such discussions in the future, because these stakeholders will be reluctant to provide their views fully and frankly if they believe that those views are likely to be made public, particularly while these discussions relate to a sensitive or controversial issue in relation to the remuneration of staff.

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 with appropriate external stakeholders as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government's position on the review of staff roles and remuneration in relation of GCRB executive staff, until the Government as a whole can adopt a decision that is sound and likely to be effective. 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 stakeholders. 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. There is also an important public interest in avoiding the loss of stakeholder confidence in cases where they thought they were providing comments in confidence, which would be inevitable if an individual's contribution was released against their wishes.

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

FoI 17 02857-Annex A.pdf

57 page PDF
1.0 MB

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