Publication - FOI/EIR release

Loan facility provided to Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited: FOI release

Published: 17 Oct 2018

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

Published:
17 Oct 2018
Loan facility provided to Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/18/02245
Date received: 15 August 2018  
Date responded: 17 October 2018
 
Information requested
 
You asked two questions relating to the advice dated 22 June 2018 to Scottish Ministers prepared by Mary McAllan (Director of Economic Development) on the loan facility provided by the Scottish Government to Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited (FMEL) in June 2018:

1. To ask Scottish Ministers to provide all minutes of meetings, emails and correspondence that relate to Section 1V 'Previous Interventions to support FMEL'.

2. To ask Scottish Ministers why this commercial loan was approved for Ferguson Marine Engineering Holdings Ltd and announced on 27th June 2018 when it was known by the Scottish Government (assumed under the commercial diligence stream) that the Company and its operating subsidiary Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd that both companies had failed to file their accounts at Companies House for the year ended 31st December 2016 which were due on 30th September 2017, almost 9 months late on the day of the public announcement of this loan by Cabinet Secretary Derek Mackay MSP.
 
Response
 
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 exemptions under sections of FOISA apply. The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained below.
 
1. To ask Scottish Ministers to provide all minutes of meetings, emails and correspondence that relate to Section 1V 'Previous Interventions to support FMEL'.

In response to a previous FOI request (FOI/18/01835) the Scottish Government released some content from a submission to Scottish Ministers dated 22 June 2018 from Mary McAllan (Director of Economic Development). The section of the submission entitled ‘IV) Previous Interventions to Support FMEL’ was redacted because exemptions under sections of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) apply.

We have released some of the information requested. It is attached.

2. To ask Scottish Ministers why this commercial loan was approved for Ferguson Marine Engineering Holdings Ltd and announced on 27th June 2018 when it was known by the Scottish Government (assumed under the commercial diligence stream) that the Company and its operating subsidiary Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd that both companies had failed to file their accounts at Companies House for the year ended 31st December 2016 which were due on 30th September 2017, almost 9 months late on the day of the public announcement of this loan by Cabinet Secretary Derek Mackay MSP.

Scottish Government officials and expert external commercial and legal advisers undertook extensive due diligence before the loan facility for Ferguson Marine was put to Ministers for approval.

The financial material scrutinised by Scottish Government officials and independent third-party advisers through the due diligence process included accounting information, business plan, financial projections and the forward investment and diversification plans of the business.
 
Reasons for not providing information
 
Exemptions apply, subject to the public interest test.

An exemption under section 33 (1(b)) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested because it relates to commercial information that may prejudice the company.

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.
Exemptions also apply under section 36(1) of FOISA as the documents contain legal advice. 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, this information is legally privileged.

Exemptions also apply under sections 30(b(i)) and 30(b(ii)) as the information, if disclosed, could inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of exchange and advice of views.
 
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 allowing a private space within which officials can provide full and frank advice to Ministers and each other. 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. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues and exchange of views between Ministers and officials, which in turn will undermine the quality of the decisions made, which would not be in the public interest.
 
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
 

FOI-18-02245 related documents

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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