Senior civil servants who are SNP members: FOI release

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

FOI reference: FOI/18/00884
Date received: 21 March 2018
Date responded: 6 April 2018

Information requested

Details of how many senior civil servants or Scottish Government agency chiefs or board members are registered members of the SNP.

On 22 March you provided clarification of what you meant by "board members":

I mean agency board members e.g. board members of Scottish Enterprise, Creative Scotland,etc.


While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not hold the information that you have requested. This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested. The information you requested on board members of public bodies may be available from the bodies themselves and you may wish to contact them direct.

All civil servants are required to serve the Government of the day, whatever its political persuasion. For the Civil Service to serve successive governments of different political complexions it is essential that Cabinet Secretaries, Ministers and the public should have confidence that civil servants' personal views do not cut across the discharge of their official duties.

The rules governing political activities by civil servants apply across the whole of the UK Civil Service. They are made available to staff on the Scottish Government intranet and are designed to allow the greatest possible freedom to participate in public affairs without infringing these fundamental principles. These rules are concerned with political activities liable to give public expression to political views, rather than privately-held beliefs and opinions.

Senior Civil Servants (SCS) are in the politically restricted category and are required to register all political activity as well as all other outside interests. However they are not asked to register membership of a political party specifically. Membership of a political party would be considered a private matter unless it became likely to lead to public political activity or there was considered to be the potential for conflict of interest with a civil servant's role at work. Members of the SCS are debarred from engaging in national political activities but free to seek permission from the Scottish Government to engage in local political activities. Members of the SCS must discuss all outside interests regularly with their line manager and keep under review any activity where it is considered that there may be the potential for conflict of interest to arise.

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Please quote the FOI reference

Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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