Publication - FOI/EIR release

Non-invasive Prenatal Testing: FOI release

Published: 30 Jan 2018
Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.
Published:
30 Jan 2018
Non-invasive Prenatal Testing: FOI release

FOI reference: FOI/17/02965
Date received: 28 November 2017
Date responded: 29 December 2017

Information requested

You asked for documentation relating to NIPT assessment, including, but not limited to: Initial project stages:

  • Strategic Case
  • Economic Case (1st draft)
  • SWOT Analysis
  • PRINCE2 Project Initiation Document

Response

I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested including:

  • NIPT Scoping Document
  • Outline Business Case (which contains Strategic Case and Economic Case)

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have requested. We do not have any SWOT Analysis or PRINCE2 Project Initiation Document relating to the Non-invasive pre-natal testing assessment because no such documents have been prepared.

In addition, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because exemptions under section s.29(1)(a) (Formulation of Scottish Administration Policy), s.30(c) (prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs) and 38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA apply to that information. The reasons why those exemptions apply are explained below.

Reasons for not providing information

An exemption applies, subject to the public interest test:

An exemption under section s.29(1)(a) (Formulation of Scottish Administration Policy) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested because it relates to the development of the Scottish Government's policy on Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing. Certain parts of the Outline Business Case have been redacted as these sections are still under consideration and being revised; in particular this relates to anticipated costs of the proposals. The Outline Business Case has not been approved by Scottish Ministers.

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 high quality policy and decision-making, and in the properly considered implementation and development of policies and decisions. This means that Ministers and officials need to be able to consider all available options with the Committee and to debate those rigorously, to fully understand their possible implications. Their candour in doing so will be affected by their assessment of whether the initial draft costings provided will be disclosed in the near future.

An exemption under section 30(c) (prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs) also applies to some of the information requested. It is essential for NHS staff to be able to communicate, often in confidence, with officials on issues, including potential costings related to Non-invasive Pre-natal Testing proposals. Disclosing the content of their draft cost estimates, particularly without the consent of members of the Committee and while those costs are still being considered, is likely to undermine their trust in the Scottish Government and will substantially inhibit communications on this type of issue in the future. These stakeholders will be reluctant to provide their views fully and frankly in future if they believe that their views are likely to be made public, particularly while these discussions are still ongoing and decisions have not been taken. This would significantly harm the Government's ability to carry out many aspects of its work, and could adversely affect its ability to gather all of the evidence it needs to make fully informed decisions. 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 at the current time. We recognise that there is some 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 high quality policy and decision-making, and in the properly considered implementation and development of policies and decisions. This means that officials need to be able to consider costs in detail and to debate those rigorously with stakeholders, to fully understand their possible implications before final costs can be agreed.

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to some of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, ie the personal data of key personnel involved in the Outline Business Case, and disclosing it 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.

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