- 18 Jul 2018
FOI reference: FOI/18/01712
Date received: 19 June 2018
Date responded: 17 July 2018
Correspondence between the Scottish Government and the Scottish Fiscal Commission (SFC) regarding the SFC's drafting and finalising of their forecast report (released 31 May 2018), including:
- Emails/letters/minutes of meetings or phone calls between Government members (either Ministers or staff) and SFC representatives regarding or containing proposed revisions or edits to the forecast report.
- The drafts of the report up to but not including the final (released) report.
I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested.
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(s) under section(s) 30(b)(i) (free and frank provision of advice) and section 30 b(ii) (free and frank exchange of views) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why that exemption(s) applies are explained below.
Reasons for not providing information
Exemptions under sections 30(b)(i) of FOISA (free and frank provision of advice) and under section 30 b(ii) of FOISA (free and frank exchange of views) apply to some of the information requested. These exemptions apply because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice. These exemptions recognise the need for Scottish Government officials to have a private space within which to provide free and frank advice to the Scottish Fiscal Commission before the Commission reaches a settled view as agreed within the protocol. Disclosing the content of free and frank advice on the development of the content of their Report will substantially inhibit the provision of such advice in the future.
These exemptions are 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 exemptions. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemptions. 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 the Scottish Fiscal Commission. 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. Disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between Scottish Government officials and Commission officials as agreed within the protocol, which in turn will undermine the quality of the decision making process, which would not be in the public interest.
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
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House