- 22 Nov 2018
Date received: 22 October 2018
Date responded: 19 November 2018
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide a small amount of the information you have requested because exemptions under section 38(1)(b) or section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained below.
An exemption under section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank exchange of views) applies to some of the information contained in the letters made available within the annex of the briefing to Ministers dated 22 May 2017. This exemption applies 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 officials to have a private space within which to discuss issues and options with external stakeholders before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of these discussions will substantially inhibit such discussions in the future, because these stakeholders will be reluctant to provide their views fully and frankly if they believe that those views are likely to be made public.
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 and officials a private space within which to communicate with appropriate external stakeholders as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government’s position. This private space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, so that good policy decisions can be taken based on fully informed advice and evidence.
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