- 12 Feb 2019
Date received: 15 Jan 2019
Date responded: 12 Feb 2019
You asked for all internal correspondence and briefing, including draft responses to Parliamentary question S5W-20751, and for a breakdown of the handling of the question and the response, detail who handled it and how many times
I enclose a copy of most of the information you requested.
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 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 in the Annex A to this letter.
REASONS FOR NOT PROVIDING INFORMATION
An exemption applies
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.
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 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: a private space within which officials can provide full and frank advice to Ministers before the Scottish Government reaches a public view; and Ministers a private space within which policy positions can be explored and refined. This private thinking space is essential to enable 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 and officials, which in turn will undermine the quality of the policy making process, which would not be in the public interest.
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.
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 Andrews House