- 25 Jan 2019
Date received: 7 December 2018
Date responded: 24 January 2019
We have identified information within the scope of your request which is contained in Appendix A to this letter. 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 Section 30(b)(i)(ii),free and frank provision of advice and exchange of views, and Section 33(1)(b), commercial interests, of FOISA apply. The reasons why these exemptions apply is explained below.
Reasons for not providing information
Exemptions apply, subject to the public interest tests.
Section 30(b)(i)(ii) - free and frank provision of advice and exchange of views.
Exemptions under sections 30(b)(i)(ii) free and frank provision of advice and exchange of views applies 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 and discussion. These exemptions recognise the need for officials to have a private space within which to discuss issues and options with colleagues and stakeholders, in this case Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd. Disclosing the content of these discussions could inhibit the ongoing discussions regarding the contract they have with Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd for the construction of the ferries, 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.
Public interest test
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 these exemptions. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding these 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 officials and stakeholders a private space within which to communicate with appropriate colleagues and external stakeholders.
We consider, therefore, on balance, that the public interest in release is outweighed by that in favour of upholding these exemptions.
Section 33(1)(b) - Commercial interests
The Section 33(1)(b) exemption applies to a small amount of the information because the release of certain financial information relating to any potential purchase or charter could adversely affect future dialogs that Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd have with the vessel owners and would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of those companies.
Public interest test
We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open and transparent government. However, we consider that there is a greater public interest in ensuring that we avoid the capacity of significant harm to the commercial interests of both Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd, Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd and their parent company Clyde Blowers Capital with regards to both the current contract and any possible procurement exercises in the future.
We consider, therefore, on balance, that the public interest in release is outweighed by that in favour of upholding the exemption.
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