Publication - FOI/EIR release

Jeane Freeman's appearance on question Time 2/November 2017: FOI release

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

Published:
25 Jul 2018
Jeane Freeman's appearance on question Time 2/November 2017: FOI release

FOI reference: FOI/18/01742
Date received: 20 June 2018
Date responded: 18 July 2018

Information requested

Scottish Government internal correspondence and briefings on Jeane Freeman's appearance on question Time on 2 November 2017. I would specifically also ask for correspondence on her use of the ministerial car for that event.

Response

I enclose a copy of information (via email) held by the Scottish Government relating to your request.

Some of the information you have requested is available

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006t1q9 and http://www.itv.com/news/wales/

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 website(s) listed, then please contact me.

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) s.29(1)(a) Formulation or development of Scottish Government policy, s.30(b)(i) Free and frank provision of advice, s.32(1)(a)(i)

Relations between UK and any other state, s.38(1)(b) (personal information)> of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why that exemption(s) applies are explained below.

Information about Ministerial travel are published on the Scottish Government website. They can be found in third tab of each monthly spread sheet:

https://beta.gov.scot/publications/ministerial-engagements-travel-and-gifts-november-2017/

Reasons for not providing information

An exemption applies.

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 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 applies, subject to the public interest test.

An exemption under section 29(1)(a) of FOISA (formulation or development of government policy) applies to some of the information requested because it relates to the development of the Scottish Government's policy on Trade.

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 high quality policy and decision-making, and in the properly considered implementation and development of policies and decisions. This means that Ministers and officials need to be able to consider all available options and to debate those rigorously, to fully understand their possible implications. Their candour in doing so will be affected by their assessment of whether the discussions on Trade policy will be disclosed in the near future, when it may undermine or constrain the Government's view on that policy while it is still under discussion and development.

An exemption applies, subject to the public interest test.

Exemptions under sections 30(b)(i) and 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank advice and 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 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 briefing material will substantially inhibit such briefing 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 free and frank advice and views to Ministers in briefing. 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.

An exemption applies, subject to the public interest test.

An exemption under section 32(1)(a)(i) of FOISA (international relations) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially relations between the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The effective conduct of international relations depends upon maintaining trust and confidence between the UK Government and the United States of America. In this case, the information was given to the Scottish Government on the understanding that it would be treated as being in confidence. If the Scottish Government does not respect this confidence, the UK Government's relations with the United States of America and its ability to protect and promote UK interests will be substantially prejudiced. The United States of America, are likely to be more reluctant to share sensitive information with Scotland or other parts of the United Kingdom in future, which would reduce both the frequency and openness of communications with the UK.

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 ensuring that the UK Government is able to maintain good relations with the United States of America, in order to protect and promote UK interests abroad. There can be no public interest in jeopardising those relations by the Scottish Government disclosing confidential information or information which the United States of America has specifically asked us to withhold.

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