- 26 Nov 2018
Date received: 11 October 2018
Date responded: 23 November 2018
You asked for:
1. All communications both internal and external (including letters, e-mails, memos, meeting minutes and notes plus, should they exist, any transcripts or recordings of telephone calls) within the Scottish Government and between the Scottish Government and any ferry operators (including P&O and Stena Ferries) and the Scottish Government and The National Farmers Union Scotland, referring to the export of male dairy calves from Scotland to/via Northern Ireland and/or any English ports. I am interested in any information from six months prior to any agreement/arrangement between the Scottish Government and P&O Ferries or Stena Ferries to the present date.
2. In addition, figures are requested for: a) dairy calves originating in Scotland exported to Spain and Italy via Ireland; and b) dairy calves originating in England and Wales and exported to Spain and Italy via Scotland and Ireland.
I enclose a copy of most of the information you requested.
Some of the information you have requested under question 1 is available from https://www.gov.scot/publications/foi-18-02636/ ; and some of the information that relates to question 2 may be found in the form of published responses to questions from Christine Grahame MSP and Mark Ruskell MSP in the Scottish Parliament, during period March to May 2018, which can be accessed via the search facility at http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/28877.aspx. 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, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested under question 2. The reasons why we don’t have the information are explained below.
However, you may wish to contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency who would be best placed to respond to your enquiry. You can contact their Enquiries team who handle such requests at:
Animal and Plant Health Agency
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 an exemption(s) under section(s) s.30(b)(i) and S. 30(b)(ii) (free and frank exchange of views), s.36(1) (legal advice) and s.38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why that exemption(s) applies are explained below.
Reasons for not providing information
The Scottish Government does not have the information.
The Scottish Government does not have the information you have asked for because because the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) may have the information that you are looking for. The Scottish Government does not have an operational role in the transport of live animals. APHA staff, working on behalf of Scottish Ministers oversee the legislation on the welfare protection of animals during transport and related operations.
This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.
An exemption applies.
An exemption(s) under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA applies to information that has been redacted from the documents which are being released to you. This exemption applies because the information is personal data of a third party 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.
An exemption applies, subject to the public interest test.
Exemptions under sections 30(b)(i) and 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank advice and exchange of views) apply to some of the information requested. These exemptions apply because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice and exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. The exemptions recognise the need for Ministers to have a private space within which to seek advice and views from officials before reaching the settled public position which will be given in whatever participation in debate in the Scottish Parliament or final press lines which are used. Disclosing the content of free and frank briefing material on the issue of live animal exports will substantially inhibit such briefing in the future, particularly because these discussions relate to such a sensitive or controversial issue.
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 exemptions. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemptions. 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 free and frank advice and views to brief Ministers for appearances in the Scottish Parliament or press lines. It is clearly in the public interest that Ministers can properly provide sound information to Parliament (to which they are accountable), and robustly defend the Government’s policies and decisions. They need full and candid advice from officials to enable them to do so. Premature disclosure of this type of information could lead to a reduction in the comprehensiveness and frankness of such advice and views in the future, which would not be in the public interest.
An exemption under section 36(1) of FOISA (confidentiality in legal proceedings) applies to some of the information requested because it is legal advice and disclosure would breach legal professional privilege.
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 some public interest in release as part of open and transparent government, and to inform public debate. However, this is outweighed by the strong public interest in maintaining the right to confidentiality of communications between legal advisers and clients, to ensure that Ministers and officials are able to receive legal advice in confidence, like any other public or private organisation.
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
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Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House