Publication - FOI/EIR release

Funding for Newlands Junior College: FOI release

Published: 21 Jun 2018

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

Published:
21 Jun 2018
Funding for Newlands Junior College: FOI release

FOI reference: FOI/18/01163
Date received: 17 April 2018
Date responded: 16 May 2018

Information requested

  • All communications, including the content of attachments in emails, in relation to the £345,000 funding for Newlands Junior College;

  • the dates and locations of all meetings with NJC/their representatives in relation to this funding, as well as the minutes of those meetings.

Response

I enclose copies of the information you requested.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance some information has been redacted from the enclosed documents because exemptions under 38(1)(b) (personal information), 30(b)(i) (free and frank provision of advice), 30(b)(ii) (free and frank exchance of views) and 30(c) (otherwise prejudice effective conduct of public affairs) of FOISA apply to that information. The reasons why those exemptions apply are explained below.

The following engagements took place with Newlands Junior College in relation to the funding:

  • 30/03/2017 – Call between SG officials and Keir Bloomer – No minutes

  • 10/04/2017 – Meeting with SG officials, Keir Bloomer and Alex Stewart- No minutes

  • 04/10/2017 – Private call between the Deputy First Minister and Jim McColl – No minutes

  • 26/10/2017 – Meeting with SG officials and Keir Bloomer – No minutes

  • 20/11/2017 – Meeting with the Deputy First Minister and Jim McColl – No minutes

  • 17/01/2018 – Meeting with SG officials, Keir Bloomer and Alex Stewart – minutes included

  • 28/03/2018 – Meeting with SG officials, Glasgow City Council, Keir Bloomer and Alex

  • Stewart – minutes included

Some of these were private meetings and no minutes were taken, I have marked the meetings where minutes are included in the papers.

Reasons for not providing information

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to some of the redacted information because it is the personal data of third party, i.e. names/contact details of individuals, 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.

An exemption under section 30(b)(i) of FOISA (free and frank provision of advice) applies to some of the information requested concerning advice from officials on Newlands Junior College. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice for the purposes of deliberation. This exemption recognises the need for Ministers to have a private space within which to discuss issues and options before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view.

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 communicate as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government's position. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption.

An exemption under section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank exchange of views) applies to some of the information requested. 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 issues and options, including with external stakeholders, before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of these discussions regarding potential funding for Newlands Junior College will substantially inhibit such discussions in the future.

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 communicate with appropriate external stakeholders as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government's position, until the Government as a whole can adopt a decision that is sound and likely to be effective. This private space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, so that good decisions can be taken based on fully informed advice and evidence. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between the Scottish Government and these stakeholders, which in turn will undermine the quality of the decision making process, which would not be in the public interest.

An exemption under section 30(c) of FOISA (prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs) applies to some of the information requested. It is essential for Ministers and officials to be able to communicate and meet, often in confidence, with external stakeholders on a range of issues. Disclosing the content of these communications 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 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 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 communicate and meet with appropriate external stakeholders as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government's position on funding proposals such as that for Newlands Junior College until the Government as a whole can adopt a decision that is sound and likely to be effective. This private space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, so that good decisions can be taken based on fully informed advice and evidence, such as that provided by Newlands Junior College.

About FOI

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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