- 25 Sep 2018
Date received: 24 August 2018
Date responded: 24 September 2018
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.
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House