- 4 Sep 2018
FOI reference: FOI/18/02105
Date received: 3 August 2018
Date responded: 3 September 2018
The various Terms of References for Boards submitted to the Social Security Programme Board since September 2017.
We do endeavour to provide information whenever possible. However, in this instance an exemption under sections s.30(b)(i) and s.30(b)(ii) of FOISA applies to some of the information requested. However, I have provided a template of the Programme Board Terms of Reference, which I hope will be of help.
Section 30(b)(i) applies where disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice. Section 30(b)(ii) applies where disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. The Terms of Reference provide the basis of free and frank advice for critical discussion to aid decision making.
As the exemption is conditional we have applied the ‘public interest test’. This means we have, in all the circumstances of this case, 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. While we recognise that there is some public interest in release as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate, this is outweighed by the vital public interest in ensuring that the Terms of Reference lead to high quality, fully considered decision making. Officials need to have a private space within which to consider the evidence, debate their findings, and explore all available options before reaching settled policy decisions.
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 policy-making process or constrain the Government’s view on policy while it is under discussion and development.
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at https://www.gov.scot/foi-responses
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House