- 22 Nov 2018
Date received: 30 October 2018
Date responded: 21 November 2018
Q) Any recorded information relating to the development of options for a public bid for Scotland’s railway franchise.
Q) Copies of any reports to the Scottish Ministers on public ownership of the railways.
Q) A list of the documents which have been provided to the Scottish ministers on public ownership of railways, including authors, titles and dates the documents were sent.
Q) Copies of any documents which the Scottish Government hold containing details of internal reorganisation of staff within Scotrail since Abellio won the franchise in 2015.
Q) Copies of any information which relates to:
- Scotrail staff satisfaction.
Clarification of request
FOISA section 30b(ii) In line with the original response to your request, this exemption applies to some of the information you have requested because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. This exemption recognises the need for Ministers to have a private space within which to discuss issues and options with external stakeholders before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosure is likely to inhibit future exchanges, particularly while discussions are ongoing and where the exchanges relate to, or will inform, a sensitive issue (note that rail services operate in a commercial environment).
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 that relates to the future operation of rail passenger services. However, there is a greater public interest in allowing Ministers and officials a private space within which to explore and refine the Government’s position on a public sector bid for rail services in future, until the Government as a whole can adopt a position that is sound and likely to be effective. This private thinking space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, so that good decisions can be taken. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between Ministers and officials, and between the Scottish Government and external stakeholders, which in turn will undermine the quality of the decision making process, which would not be in the public interest.
FOISA section 29(1)(a) This exemption applies to some of the information you have requested because it relates to the development of the Government’s policy on a public sector bid for rail, prior to Ministerial decision/implementation.
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 a public sector bid for rail will be disclosed in the near future, which may undermine or constrain the Government’s view on that policy while it is still under discussion and development.
FOISA Section 25(1) Some of the information you have requested is already in the public domain and so, in line with the exemption at section 25(1) of FOISA, I have not replicated that information here. Please find below links to the published information. 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.
- FoI published 29 October:
- PQ reference S5W-18378, 22 August 2018: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/28877.aspx?SearchType=Advance&ReferenceNumbers=S5W-18378&ResultsPerPage=10
- Press release, 23 August 2018: https://www.transport.gov.scot/news/public-sector-bidders-will-be-able-to-bid-for-next-scotrail-franchise/
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
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House