Publication - FOI/EIR release

Royal Bank of Scotland - branch closures: FOI release

Published: 8 May 2018

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

Published:
8 May 2018
Royal Bank of Scotland - branch closures: FOI release

FOI reference: FOI/18/00881
Date received: 21 March 2018
Date responded: 18 April 2018

Information requested

Details of any correspondence (emails, typed or handwritten notes, letters, phone calls, minutes of meetings or otherwise) between Keith Brown and representatives of RBS on the topic of branch closures in the last year.

Response

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 exemptions under sections s 27(1) – information intended for future publication and s 30(b)(ii) – free and frank provision of advice of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why that exemption(s) applies are explained below.

Reasons for not providing information

An exemption applies.

Section 27 (1) – information intended for future publication

An exemption(s) under section(s) s27(1) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested.

The exemption in section 27(1) allows public authorities to refuse to disclose information if they already plan to publish it within the next 12 weeks, but only if it is reasonable to delay disclosing the information until the planned date of publication.

In this instance, the document in question will be published within twelve weeks of today's date.

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 because of media interest in the recent branch closures announcements by Royal Bank of Scotland, and this will be met by our planned publication. In the meantime, we see no public interest in disrupting our programme of work to release the information ahead of the intended publication date. We intend to publish that information within 12 weeks of the date of your request. We consider that it is reasonable to withhold the information until that date, rather than release all of this routinely published information before the palnned publication date.

Section 30(b)(ii) – prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs

An exemption(s) under section(s) s 30(b)(ii) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested. Section 30 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) exempts information from disclosure where disclosure would, or would be likely to, cause substantial harm to one or more of the following.

  • the maintenance of the convention of the collective responsibility of the Scottish Government

  • the free and frank provision of advice

  • the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation

  • the effective conduct of public affairs

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 because of media interest in the recent branch closures announcements by Royal Bank of Scotland. However, this is outweighed by the public interest 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 to have a private space within which to discuss issues and options with external stakeholders before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view.

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