Publication - FOI/EIR release

Education Scotland: Brexit implications: FOI release

Published: 22 Oct 2018

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

Published:
22 Oct 2018
Education Scotland: Brexit implications: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/18/02644
Date received: 22 September 2018  
Date responded: 22 October 2018
 
Information requested
 
This is a Freedom of Information request.  I am interested in information from held by your organisation that relates to the process of planning and preparing for a possible future when the UK may not be a member of the European Union ("Brexit"). 
 
In particular:
 
1. How much has been spent on external consultants or support to advise on the implications and consequences of brexit, or recommend actions to mitigate any possible brexit impacts?  If spend has occurred, please confirm the name of the supplier or suppliers and copies of any material produced by this process.
 
2. Please supply copies of any brexit planning documentation held by the organisation or consumed by senior management. This may include, but should not be limited to, Risk Assessments, Action Plans, Meeting minutes, Reports and presentations.  
 
3. Please supply technical or advisory briefing documentation on brexit that has been produced by the organisation and supplied to other government agencies or bodies. 
 
4. Please supply copies of any technical or advisory documentation that has been supplied to the agency from other public bodies that relates to Brexit contingency planning.  
 
5. Please supply details of any assessment that has been made of the financial impact on the organisation, either positive or negative, of the brexit process. Has the organisation set-aside a contingency fund or invested as a direct consequence of the brexit process?  If so, please provide summary details.
 
Response
 
1. Education Scotland has not undertaken any expenditure on external consultants or support to advise on the implications and consequences of Brexit.
 
2. An overview paper on Brexit Implications, provided in the attached Annex A, was discussed and agreed at the Agency’s Executive Team at the end of May 2018. Education Scotland will undertake a more detailed examination of the highlighted areas before April 2019.  Education impacts are being considered in the wider work being undertaken across the Scottish Government on preparation and contingency planning for EU exit. 
 
Education Scotland has been in correspondence about the implications for data protection and contingency planning for data transfers from Europe in the event of  "no deal", please see Annex B. In this annex, information has been redacted by the exemption at section 38(1)(b) of FOISA, the personal data of a third party, as disclosing the personal data would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulations. This exemption is not subject to a public interest test.
 
An exemption under section 30(b)(i) of FOISA (free and frank provision of advice) and section 30(b)(ii) (free and frank exchange of views) applies to some of the information requested and held in Annex B. 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 and freely exchange views with other officials before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content will substantially inhibit the provision of such advice and the exchange of views in the future. 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 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 exchange views with other officials, as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government’s position on EU exit contingency planning. This private thinking space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, based on the best available advice, so that robust 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.
 
An exemption also applies under section 29(1)(a), (formulation or development of Scottish Government Policy). 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 develop policy as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government’s position on EU exit contingency planning. This private thinking space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, based on the best available advice, so that robust policy can be formulated.
 
3. Education Scotland has not supplied technical or advisory briefing documentation on Brexit that has been produced by the organisation and supplied to other Government agencies or bodies.
 
This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that Education Scotland does not have the information requested.
 
4. No technical or advisory documentation has been supplied to the agency from other public bodies that relates to Brexit contingency planning.
 
This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that Education Scotland does not have the information requested.
 
5. Education Scotland has not made any assessment of the potential financial impact on the organisation, either positive or negative, of the Brexit process. The organisation has not set-aside a contingency fund or invested as a direct consequence of the Brexit process.
 
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Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit 
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

 
The Scottish Government 
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