Publication - FOI/EIR release

Correspondence regarding the ‘Financial Health Check’ policy: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.
Published:
12 Nov 2018
Correspondence regarding the ‘Financial Health Check’ policy: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/18/02885  
Date received: 9 October 2018  
Date responded: 6 November 2018
 
Information requested
 
You asked for any Scottish Government correspondence between ministers, special advisers, senior civil servants or communications staff between January 2016 and present, regarding the ‘Financial Health Check’ policy. This includes but is not limited to correspondence around the SNP manifesto pledges, the 2016/17 Programme for Government and any subsequent announcements.
 
Response
 
I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested at Annex B.
 
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 the following sections of FOISA apply to that information:

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

Section 30(b)(i) – Free and frank provision of advice

Section 30(b)(ii) – Free and frank exchange of views

Section 38(1)(b) – Applicant has asked for personal data of a third party.

The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained below.
 
Reasons for not providing information
 
Section 29(1)(a) – formulation or development of government policy.

An exemption under section Section 29(1)(a) of FOISA (formulation or development of Scottish Government policy) applies to some of the information requested because it relates to the formulation of the Scottish Government’s policy on the Financial Health Check.

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 the development of full and properly considered policies and decisions. This means that Ministers and officials need to be able to explore all available options and refine policy positions to fully understand their possible implications. Their candour in doing so will be affected by their assessment of whether the discussions on the Financial Health Check will be disclosed in the near future, when it may undermine or constrain the Scottish Government’s view on that and related policies.

Section 30(b)(i) – Free and frank provision of advice

Section 30(b)(ii) – Free and frank exchange of views

Exemptions under Section 30(b)(i) and Section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA apply to some of the information requested because it relates to the free and frank provision of advice, and the free and frank exchange of views.
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 policy positions can be explored and refined. 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- making process.

Section 38(1)(b) – applicant has asked for personal data of a third party.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide a small amount of the information requested because an exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies. The exemption applies because it is personal data of a third party, i.e. names/contact details of individuals involved, and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018.

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.
 
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

foi-18-02885 Annexes B and C

8 page PDF
341.1 kB

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