Publication - FOI/EIR release

Proposed ban on exporting live animals outwith UK: EIR release

Published: 2 May 2018

Information request and response under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004

Published:
2 May 2018
Proposed ban on exporting live animals outwith UK: EIR release

FOI reference: FOI/18/00394
Date received: 8 February 2018
Date responded: 4 April 2018

Information requested

(a.) Advice received by Scottish Ministers which informed their recent decision not to support a UK wide ban on the export of live animals outside of the UK, including advice not only from agricultural departments, but also that from the Scottish Government animal welfare division and any other advice received by Ministers.

(b.) Numbers of representations received since 6/2/18 (a) in support of the Scottish Government's position on this issue and (b) those who have expressed concern, anger or outrage at the Scottish Government's statement.

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.

Response

With regards to the first part of your query: Advice received by Scottish Ministers which informed their recent decision not to support a UK wide ban on the export of live animals outside of the UK, including advice not only from agricultural departments, but also that from the Scottish Government animal welfare division and any other advice received by Ministers. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide any of the information because exemptions under sections 11(2) "personal data relating to third party", 10(4)(e) "internal communications" and 6(1)(b) "information publicly available" of the EIRs applies to that information. The reasons why that exception applies are explained below.

We also note that the advice the Cabinet Secretary received on this matter is substantively the same as that provided in the answers to the Parliamentary Questions detailed below.

With regards to the second part of your query: Numbers of representations received since 6/2/18 (a) in support of the Scottish Government's position on this issue and (b) those who have expressed concern, anger or outrage at the Scottish Government's statement.

We note that the OneKind campaign on this issue states that 4,200 emails were sent to Mr Ewing to 'Ask the Scottish Government to stop opposing a live export ban'. Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) also presented 333 postcards to Scottish Government Officials as part of a campaign to end the long distance export of live animals.

We can confirm that the number of representations outwith these campaigns received between 6/2/18 and 7/3/18 (a) in support is nil and (b) noting a lack of support for the publicised Scottish Government position is 88.

We have received one representation in support of transporting animals from the Scottish Islands to the mainland. We have also received one representation that didn't express a clear preference on this issue.

REASONS FOR NOT PROVIDING INFORMATION

An exception under regulation 11(2) of the ElRs (personal data) applies to information not being released to you. This exception applies because the information is personal data of a third party and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Schedule 1 to the Data Protection Act 1998.

An exception under 10(4)(e) of the EIRs (internal communications) applies to information not being released to you. 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 this 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 and transparent government, and to inform public debate. However, this is outweighed by the public interest in in allowing Ministers and officials a private space within which policy positions on a matter of such importance to animal welfare can be explored and refined, until the Scottish Government can adopt a policy that is sound and likely to be effective . This private thinking space also allows for all options to be properly considered, so that good policy decisions can be taken based on the best advice available.

An exception under regulation 6(1)(b) of the ElRs (information publicly available) also applies to information not being released to you. Under regulation 6(1)(b) we do not have to give you information which is already publicly available and easily accessible to you in another format. This information can be found at the following weblinks:

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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