Publication - FOI/EIR release

Transport Scotland: the process of planning and preparing for Brexit: FOI release

Published: 24 Oct 2018

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

Published:
24 Oct 2018
Transport Scotland: the process of planning and preparing for Brexit: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/18/02656
Date received: 22 September 2018  
Date responded: 17 October 2018
 
Information requested

You asked for information held by Transport Scotland 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

Question 1:

This information is not held. Transport Scotland has not undertaken any expenditure on external consultants or support to advise on the implications and consequences of the UK leaving the EU.

Question 2:

Some of the information you have requested has previously been released under another FOISA request and is available to view from the following link https://beta.gov.scot/publications/foi-18-02051.

Some further information has been published on the Scottish Parliament Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee website in relation to the information you requested. This is  available to view from the following link –

http://www.parliament.scot/S5_Rural/Meeting%20Papers/20181003_REC_Committee_-_PUBLIC_Papers.pdf.

Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you.  If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the website(s) listed above, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.

Whilst 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, Section 28(1) (Relations within the United Kingdom),  Section 29(1)(a)  (formulation or development of government policy), Section 29(1)(b) (Ministerial communications), Sections 30(b)(i) (Free and frank provision of advice) and 30(b)(ii) (free and frank advice and exchange of views) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why the exemptions applies are explained below.

In addition, some of the information you have requested is not held by the Scottish Government for the purposes of FOISA because we received it in confidence from the UK Government. This means that, under the terms of section 3(2)(a)(ii) of FOISA, we are unable to disclose it in response to your request. However, you may wish to submit a new request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) to the Department for Transport at FOI Requests, Department for Transport, FOI Advice Team, D/04, Ashdown House, Sedlescombe Road North, St Leonards on Sea, TN37 7GA or online at https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-transport who should be able to help you further.

Question 3 and 4:

This information is not held. Transport Scotland has not produced any technical or advisory briefing documentation which has been shared with other government agencies or bodies and has not received any from other public bodies that relates to EU Exit contingency planning.

This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

Question 5:

In order to answer your question it has been split into two parts.

a) We are unable to provide the information you have requested because an exemption under Sections 30(b)(i) (Free and frank provision of advice) and 30(b)(ii) (free and frank advice and exchange of views) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why the exemptions applies are explained below.

b) Transport Scotland have not set aside any contingency fund.

This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

Reasons for not providing information

Section 28(1) – relations within the UK.

An exemption under section 28(1) of FOISA (relations within the UK) applies to some of the information requested.  This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially relations between the Scottish Government and the UK Government. It would reveal candid discussions between the UK Government and Scottish Government  on the impact of EU Exit on Scottish Transport and discussions on influencing negotiating positions. It is essential for the effective administration of the UK as a whole that there should be regular, and often private, communications between the Scottish Government, the UK Government and the other devolved administrations. Disclosure of this information will mean that the UK Government is likely to be more reluctant to communicate as frequently and openly with the Scottish Government in 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 maintaining close working relationships between the Scottish Government and the UK Government and in protecting the free exchange of information between the administrations to ensure that we keep each other fully and regularly informed about matters of mutual interest such as the formulation and development of the Scottish Government’s policy proposals to protect Scotland’s interests in Europe following the EU Referendum and their potential impact on Scottish Transport. There is no public interest in disclosing information when that will damage relationships and disrupt future communications as that may impact on the effectiveness of future policy development and implementation work.

Section 29(1)(a) – formulation or development of government policy.

An exemption under section 29(1)(a) of FOISA (formulation or development of government policy) applies to some of the information requested because it relates to the formulation and development of the Scottish Government’s policy proposals to protect Scotland’s interests in Europe following the EU Referendum relating to Scottish Transport issues.

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 high quality policy and decision-making, and in the properly considered implementation and development of policies and decisions. This means that Ministers and officials need to be able to consider all available options and to debate those rigorously, to fully understand their possible implications. Their candour in doing so will be affected by their assessment of whether the discussions on  protecting Scotland’s interests in Europe following the EU Referendum will be disclosed in the near future, when it may undermine or constrain the Government’s view on that policy while it is still under discussion and development.

Section 29(1)(b) – Ministerial communications 

An exemption under section 29(1)(b) of FOISA (Ministerial communications) applies to some the information requested because it relates to communications between Scottish Ministers.

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 Ministers a private space within which issues and policy positions can be explored and refined, until the Government as a whole can reach a decision or adopt a policy that is sound and likely to be effective. This private thinking space also allows for all options to be properly considered, so that good policy decisions can be taken. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between Ministers, which in turn will undermine the quality of the policy or decision making process.

Sections 30(b)(i) and 30(b)(ii).

An exemption under section 30(b)(i) and 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank advice and exchange of views) ) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank exchange of views and provision of advice. This exemption recognises the need for officials to have a private space within which to discuss options freely and provide free and frank advice to Ministers before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of free and frank advice and free and frank exchange of views will substantially inhibit the provision of such advice and the candor of discussions in the future, particularly because these discussions are still ongoing and these discussions relate to the sensitive issue of relates to the formulation and development of the Scottish Government’s policy proposals to protect Scotland’s interests in Europe following the EU Referendum and their potential impact on Scottish Transport.

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 and free and frank exchange of views to Ministers, as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government’s position and development of the Scottish Government’s policy proposals to protect Scotland’s interests in Europe following the EU Referendum  relating to Scottish Transport issues, until the Government as a whole can adopt a policy that is sound and likely to be effective. This private thinking space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, based on the best available advice, so that good policy decisions can be taken. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues and free and frank exchange of views between Ministers and officials, which in turn will undermine the quality of the policy making process, which would not be in the public interest.

About FOI

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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