Publication - FOI/EIR release

Local councillors correspondence with John Swinney on the Education Bill: FOI release

Published: 24 Oct 2018

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

Published:
24 Oct 2018
Local councillors correspondence with John Swinney on the Education Bill: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/18/02585  
Date received: 12 September 2018  
Date responded: 10 October 2018
 
Information requested
 
Details of any meetings or correspondence (emails, typed or handwritten notes, letters, phone calls, minutes of meetings, documents or otherwise) between local councillors and John Swinney on the topic of the Education Bill in 2018.
 
Response
 
I enclose a copy of most 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 38(1)(b) (personal information) and 30(b)(i)(free and frank provision of advice) of FOISA, apply to that information. The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained below.
You may also be interested in the published responses to Empowering Schools: A consultation on the provisions of the Education (Scotland) Bill, some of which are from local
councils, available here:
 
Reasons for not providing information
 
  1. An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to the redacted information because it is the personal data of a third party, i.e. names/contact details of individuals, and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Schedule 1 to the Data Protection Act 1998. 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.
  2. An exemption under section 30(b)(i) of FOISA (free and frank provision of advice) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice. This exemption recognises the need for officials to have a private space within which to provide free and frank advice to Ministers/other officials before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of free and frank advice on the Joint Agreement on Education Reform will substantially inhibit the provision of such advice in the future. 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 other officials, as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government's position on the further implementation of the Joint Agreement. 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 between Ministers and officials, which in turn will undermine the quality of the decision making process, 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

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