Publication - FOI/EIR release

Ministerial diary: Angela Constance's trip to Italy: FOI release

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

Published:
26 Jul 2018
Ministerial diary: Angela Constance's trip to Italy: FOI release

FOI reference: FOI/18/01741
Date received: 21 June 2018
Date responded: 20 July 2018

Information requested

'I would like to submit an FOI for the ministerial diary for Angela Constance for when she was in Italy on 5 February to 5 March (according to the ministerial engagements release may be an error) including engagements and she met with; I would also like to ask for her personal costs associated with the visit and for any staff who accompanied her; for correspondence on the trip and for the job titles of the staff that accompanied her.'

  • Please note the incorrect date was recorded and has now been corrected to show the date of visit as 5 February.

Response

Information about Ministerial engagements and travel (including overseas engagements) are published on the Scottish Government website. The release for the month of February 2018 can be found at:

https://beta.gov.scot/publications/ministerial-engagements-travel-and-gifts-february-2018/

Job Title Total cost for accompanying officials
Deputy Private Secretary £395.25
Head of Open Government £421.90
Scottish Leaders Forum and Open Government Manager £726.14

Please find attached all correspondence relating to the Cabinet Secretary's attendance at the European Open Government Leader's Forum in Milan, Italy in the Annex A to this letter.

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.25 (i) information otherwise accessible; s.29 (1)(d) operation of any Ministerial private office; s.30 (b)(i) free and frank provision of advice; s.30 (c) otherwise prejudice effective conduct of public affairs and s.38 (1)(b) personal data relating to third party.

The reasons why that exemption(s) applies are explained below.

Reasons for not providing information

An exemption applies.

An exemption applies under section 25 (1) of FOISA (information otherwise accessible) applies to some of the information you have requested because it is information that you can reasonably obtain without making a request for it.

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to some of the information you have requested because it is personal data of a third party and disclosing it (names/personal details) would contravene the data protection principles in Schedule 1 of the Data Protection Act 1998. These exemptions are 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 applies, subject to the public interest test.

An exemption applies under section 29 (1)(d) (operation of any Ministerial private office) of FOISA to some of the information requested.

An exemption under section 30(b)(i) of FOISA (free and frank 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 and exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. The exemptions recognise the need for Ministers to have a private space within which to seek advice and views from officials before reaching the settled public position. Disclosing the content of free and frank advice will substantially inhibit such briefing in the future.

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 meet and communicate, often in confidence, with external stakeholders on a range of issues, including prospects for commercial activity and views on domestic and international political matters. Disclosing the content of these communications and information about these meetings, particularly without the consent of the stakeholder, 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 participate in meetings and 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, and/or these discussions relate to a sensitive or controversial issue. 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 policies and decisions.

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 free and frank advice and views to Ministers. Premature disclosure of this type of information could lead to a reduction in the comprehensiveness and frankness of such advice and views in the future, which would not be in the public interest.

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
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