Publication - FOI/EIR release

Information sharing bill and named person policy: FOI release

Published: 6 Jun 2018

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

Published:
6 Jun 2018
Information sharing bill and named person policy: FOI release

FOI reference: FOI/18/01303
Date received: 8 May 2018
Date responded: 6 June 2018

Information requested

'All correspondence between senior civil servants and the Deputy First Minister with regards to the Information Sharing Bill and Named Person Service since August 2017 to present. This should include all emails, minutes, records of phone calls and dates of meetings.

I would like all information via the means previously requested about senior civil servants who are or have been directly linked to the information sharing bill and named person policy i.e children and families directorate.'

Response

I enclose a copy of the information you requested in the annex to this letter.

Annex A contains meetings and phone calls between Senior Civil Servants from the Directorate for Children and Families and the Deputy First Minister about the Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill/Named Person Service.

Annex B contains correspondence between Joe Griffin, Deputy Director in the Directorate for Children and Families and the Deputy First Minister about the Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill/Named Person.

Annex C contains correspondence between Michael Chalmers, Director for Children and Families and the Deputy First Minister about the Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill / Named Person.

Annex D contains correspondence between Paul Johnston, Director-General of Education, Communities & Justice and the Deputy First Minister about the Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill/Named Person.

All attachments contained within the correspondence in Annex B can be found at the following links –

https://beta.gov.scot/groups/girfec-practice-development-panel/

http://www.parliament.scot/S5_Education/Inquiries/20171106InLtr_from_Joint_Charities_to_Committee_re__Info_Sharing_Bill.pdf

http://www.parliament.scot/S5_Education/Inquiries/20170825JointThirdSectorOrgsResp.pdf

http://www.parliament.scot/S5_Education/Inquiries/20171110Out_ltr_to_Cab_Sec_from_Conv_re_implication_of_commencement_provisions.pdf

Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the websites listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.

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 an exemption under section 38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why that exemption applies is explained below.

Additionally, some information has been redacted in some of the correspondence you have requested. The reasons for this are explained below.

Reasons for not providing information

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to some of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, ie the names and 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. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice. This exemption recognises the need for officials to have a private space within which to provide free and frank advice to Ministers and other officials before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of free and frank advice on drafts of letters and timelines of the development of Bills will substantially inhibit the provision of such advice 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 a private space within which officials can provide full and frank advice to Ministers and other officials, as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government's position on letters and timelines before the Government as a whole can adopt a decision that is sound and likely to be effective. This private thinking space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, based on the best available advice, so that good decisions can be taken. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between Ministers and officials, 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(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 with external stakeholders 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 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, such as that provided by the National Implementation Support Group. 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. There is also an important public interest in avoiding the loss of stakeholder confidence in cases where they thought they were providing comments in confidence, which would be inevitable if an individual's contribution was released against their wishes.

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