Publication - FOI/EIR release

Minutes of meetings of the Race and Equality Network: FOI release

Published: 31 Aug 2018

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

Published:
31 Aug 2018
Minutes of meetings of the Race and Equality Network: FOI release

FOI reference: FOI/18/02132  
Date received: 7 August 2018  
Date responded: 29 August 2018

Information requested

Minutes of the meetings of the Race and Equality Network in 2016, 2017, and 2018.

Response

I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested. These minutes relate to meetings which took place in 2017 and 2018. We do not hold minutes for meetings that took place in 2016 as the network met on an informal basis only and minutes were not kept.

It should be noted that these minutes relate to meetings of an internal staff network and therefore the accuracy of the facts contained within the minute cannot be guaranteed. Furthermore, they may contain individual opinions which are not necessarily a reflection of Scottish Government policy.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance some of the information you have requested has been redacted or suppressed because an exemptions under section(s) Section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information); section 29(1)(a) of FOISA (formulation or development of government policy); and section 28(1) of FOISA (relations within the UK) of FOISA apply to that information.  The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained below. 

Reasons for not providing information

The Scottish Government does not have the information.

The Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have asked for because in 2016 the Race and Equality Network was meeting on an informal basis only and minutes were not taken.  

This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have some the information you have requested.  

Exemptions apply.

An exemption under section s.38(1) (b) (personal information) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested. This relates to:

  • Individuals whose names appear in the minutes. This personal information has been redacted.   
  • Statistical data referenced in the minutes, where this relates to less than 5 individuals. This information has been suppressed.

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.

Exemptions under section 29(1)(a) of FOISA (formulation or development of government policy) apply to some of the information you have requested, specifically:

(i) A funding figure noted on p2 of the minutes. The figure quoted was not signed off for release to the Race and Equality Network. Accurate figures are set out in the Scottish Government budget which is available for public scrutiny.

(ii) The record of a discussion relating to the pilot of selection tools during recruitment (p13 and 14), which is not as yet official government policy. 

An exemption under section 28(1) of FOISA (relations within the UK) applies to some of the information you have requested.  This relates to information contained on p13 of the minutes referencing UK government recruitment policy which has not been cleared for public release, nor can its accuracy be assured as reported in these minutes.

The exemptions under section 29(1)(a) of FOISA (formulation or development of government policy) 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 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 informal discussions at internal staff networks 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.

The exemption under 28(1) of FOISA (relations within the UK) applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially relations between the Scottish Government and the UK Government.  It is essential for the effective administration of the UK as a whole that there should be regular, and often private, communications between the Scottish Government, the UK Government and the other devolved administrations.  The release of these communications about the impact of recruitment policy will mean that the UK Government is likely to be more reluctant to share such information with the Scottish Government in future, which would reduce both the frequency and openness of communications between the Scottish Government and other UK administrations.

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 maintaining good relations between the Scottish Government and the UK Government, and in protecting the free exchange of information between the administrations to ensure that we keep each other fully and regularly informed about matters of mutual interest, such as recruitment policy.  There is no public interest in disclosing information when that will damage relationships and disrupt future communications.

About FOI

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

 

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 3