- 5 Mar 2019
Date received: 5 Feb 2019
Date responded: 5 Mar 2019
1. The total cost and a breakdown of the First Minister's trip to the U.S. and Canada including the cost of the flight for the First Minister and all staff brought along with her. Details of any other incidentals, including bar tabs and a breakdown of all costs on the trip.
2. What class did the First Minister and her staff fly on all of her flights?
3. What hotel did the First Minister stay in? What kind of room did the First Minister have and what did her staff have?
4. Was any attempt made at communicating with the administrations of the U.S. and Canada to set up formal meetings?
1. You have asked for a breakdown of costs for the First Minister’s trip to the US and Canada, showing costs for the First Minister and accompanying staff. Please find this below.
Costs for First Minister
Flights: £7,097.79 (6 flights)
Accommodation: £950.59 (5 nights)
There were no bar (alcohol) costs associated with the visit.
Costs for First Minister’s Support Staff:
(7 people in total from Communications, Private Office, Special Advisors, Visits and Events)
Flights: £21,024.90 (41 flights)
Accommodation: £6,643.98 (35 nights)
Subsistence: £3,063.94 (includes meals)
United States: £3,082.42
During the US leg of the visit, Standard SUVs were used for the First Minister and the travelling party. In Canada, an SUV and a mini bus were hired.
2. All flights by all staff members were taken at economy standard with the exception of the First Minister and her Private Secretary’s journeys from Edinburgh to Washington DC and Toronto to Edinburgh, which were business class. Rail travel was not possible between any destinations in-country due to time constraints.
3. You have asked for the details of the hotels and room types the First Minister and Scottish Government Officials stayed at. The First Minister stayed in a standard suite and the rest of the delegations rooms were a standard double.
Regarding the names of hotels, this is a notice that we do not have to give this information under Section 39(1) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) which states information may be withheld if disclosure “would, or would be likely to, endanger the physical or mental health or safety of an individual.” As the same hotels can be used regularly on visits, publication of these could pose a security risk to future visits.
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 preserving and maintaining the safety and wellbeing of the general public.
4. As is standard practice, Officials engaged with staff at US Consulate in Edinburgh to advise of the visit. Contact was made with the Canadian Federal Governments through the Scottish Affairs Office.
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