Publication - FOI/EIR release

FOI/18/02623, copy of case log, correspondence and notes of meetings: FOI release

Published: 27 Feb 2019

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Published:
27 Feb 2019
FOI/18/02623, copy of case log, correspondence and notes of meetings: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/19/00291
Date received: 28 Jan 2019
Date responded: 25 Feb 2019
Information requested

 

In relation to FOI/18/02623, you asked for:
1) A copy of the FOI case log.
2) A copy of all correspondence (excluding any to myself) and notes of meetings.

Response

 

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 an exemption(s) under section(s) s.30(b)(i) (free and frank provision of advice), section 30(c) (substantial prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs), section 33(1)(b) (commercial interests) and s.38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why those exemptions apply are explained in the Annex to this letter.

 

ANNEX
REASONS FOR NOT PROVIDING INFORMATION


Exemptions under section 38(1) of FOISA apply to some of the information you have requested. This section applies where the information is the personal data of the requester (s38(1)(a)); or where the information is the personal data of a third party and its release would contravene any of the data protection principles (s38(1)(b)).
This exemption has been applied in redacting the names of the requester and those of relatively junior officials named in the correspondence.

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 under section s.30(b)(i) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested. This section applies where disclosure of the information would or would be likely to inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice. This exemption recognises the need for officials to have a private space within which to provide free and frank advice to FOI case handlers before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of free and frank advice in developing a clear and defensible response to an FOI will substantially inhibit the provision of such advice in the future, particularly because this case is still under consideration by the Commissioner.

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 because there is public interest in how the Scottish Government develops its responses to FOI requests. However, there is a greater public interest in allowing a private space within which officials can provide full and frank advice to other officials, as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government’s responses to requests, until the Government as a whole can adopt a position that is sound and likely to be effective. This private thinking space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, based on the best available advice, so that good decisions can be taken. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between officials, which in turn will undermine the quality of the decision-making process, which would not be in the public interest.

 

An exemption under section 30(c) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested. Disclosing this information would substantially prejudice our ability to provide support to industry because potential recipients of that support would not have confidence in the ability of the Scottish Government to protect their commercial interests if the marketsensitive terms of the support provided to them were to be disclosed. I also consider that disclosing this information could set expectations or limits on the contractual terms on which the Scottish Government engages, thus directly affecting the Scottish Government’s ability to negotiate with other parties in the future.

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 strong public interest in ensuring effective scrutiny around the use of public money, and in understanding how and why the Scottish Government provides support to industry outweighed by the public interest in protecting the Government’s ability to provide support to industry in appropriate cases, particularly where this is for the purpose of maintaining economic activity and employment.


An exemption under section 33(1)(b) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested. This exemption applies because disclosure of this particular information would be likely to prejudice substantially the commercial interests of the company in question. This is because disclosure would reveal commercially sensitive details of the company’s operations and the nature of support they are receiving, which would affect its ability to continue to operate successfully in the commercial environment. Such details would provide market intelligence that otherwise would not be available thus impacting on the ability of the business to perform.

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 concluded 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 and transparent government, in ensuring effective scrutiny around the use of public money, and in understanding how and why the Scottish Government provides support to industry. However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the Government’s ability to provide support to industry in appropriate cases, particularly where where this is for the purpose of maintaining economic activity and employment.

 

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foi-19-00291 Information requested

165 page PDF
2.2 MB

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG