- 12 Apr 2018
FOI reference: FOI/18/00378
Date received: 8 February 2018
Date responded: 9 March 2018
Copies of, or details of, all estimates put together by the Scottish Government in the last five years in relation to how much money it would cost the Scottish Government and/or other authorities to buy out the contract between NHS Tayside and Indigo to run the car parking operation at Ninewells Hospital;
Copies of all written correspondence received or sent by the cabinet, including health minister Shona Robison, which discusses or refers to the issue of parking charges at Ninewells Hospital, from the last three years.
1. In relation to your first bullet point, while our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide the information you have requested because an exemption under Section 33(2)(b) (financial interests) of FOISA applies to that information. In addition, an exemption under Section (30)(b)(ii) (free and frank exchange of views) applies to some of this information. The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained below.
2. In relation to your second bullet point, I enclose a copy of all of the information you requested in the format you asked for. Some redaction of personal information has, however, been carried out under Section 38(1)(b) of FOISA.
Reasons for not providing information
An exemption under section 33(2)(b) of FOISA (financial interests) applies to all of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure of this particular information would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the financial interests of the Scottish Government. Disclosing information about how much the Scottish Government is willing to pay to buyout the Ninewells Car Parking contract would compromise any commercial negotiation on this subject.
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 and transparent government, and to help account for the expenditure of public money. However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the financial interests of the Scottish Government, to ensure that we are always able to obtain the best value for public money.
An exemption under section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank exchange of views) also applies to some of this information. 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 cost of buying out the contracts in question will substantially inhibit such discussions in the future, because they relate to a sensitive issue.
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 in relation to the contracts in question, until the Government as a whole can adopt a policy 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 ofissues between Ministers and officials, which in turn will undermine the quality of the policy making process, which would not be in the public interest.
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
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House