Publication - FOI/EIR release

Best Value Assurance Report: West Dunbartonshire Council: FOI release

Published: 25 Sep 2018

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

Published:
25 Sep 2018
Best Value Assurance Report: West Dunbartonshire Council: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/18/02261
Date received: 24 August 2018  
Date responded: 24 September 2018
 
Information requested
“Details of any meetings or correspondence (emails, typed or handwritten notes, letters, phone calls, minutes of meetings, documents or otherwise) between Scottish Government ministers, senior civil servants, special advisers or communications staff regarding the following publication prior to its release date, including the original draft of the publication that was sent to ministers, senior civil servants, special advisers or communications staff: http://www.audit-scotland.gov.uk/report/best-value-assurance-report-west-dunbartonshire-council.”
Response

I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested in the format you asked for.

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 under either section 38(1)(b) (personal information), section 30(b)(i) (free and frank provision of advice) or section 30(b)(ii) (free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained below.

Reasons for not providing information

An exemption applies.

An exemption under section 38(1) of FOISA applies to a small amount of the information you have requested because it is personal data of a third party, ie the names and contact details of individuals, and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Schedule 1 to the Data Protection Act 1998. This information has therefore been redacted from the copy correspondence being provided.

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 under sections 30(b)(i) of FOISA (free and frank advice) and 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank exchange of views) applies 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 which will be given in whatever final press lines are used.

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. It is clearly in the public interest that Ministers can properly and robustly defend the Government’s policies and decisions. They need full and candid advice from officials to enable them to do so. 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

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-18-02261 - related documents

12 page PDF
432.9 kB

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