Publication - FOI/EIR release

Scottish Government and Saltire Prize Challenge Committee: FOI release

Published: 3 Apr 2019

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

Published:
3 Apr 2019
Scottish Government and Saltire Prize Challenge Committee: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/19/00422
Date received: 11 Feb 2019
Date responded: 27 Mar 2019
Information requested

1. Please provide a copy of all the correspondence that the Scottish Government has had with the Saltire Prize Challenge Committee since 1 January 2014.
2. On what dates have ministers or officials had meetings with the Saltire Prize Challenge Committee since 1 January 2014? Please provide a copy of the minutes of these meetings.
3. Please provide a copy of any complaints that the Scottish Government has received about the Saltire Prize since 1 January 2014

Response

The Scottish Government have received no formal complaints about the Saltire Prize since 1 January 2014.

The Saltire Prize Committee has met on the following dates since 1 January 2014:
18 March 2014
24 April 2015
08 May 2015
10 November 2016
27 January 2017
7 Februrary 2018
The minutes of the above meetings are included in the correspondence detailed below.

I enclose a copy of the correspondence you requested covering the date range 01/01/14 – 12/02/15 and 14/02/18 – 11/02/19:

We have previously published correspondence relating to your request as part of our response to FoI18/00438 which can be found here - https://www.gov.scot/publications/foi-18-00438/

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 sections 29(1)(a) (policy formulation); 30(b)(i) (free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation in relation to ministerial/official discussions and policy formulation); 30(b)(ii) (free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation in relation to communications with external stakeholders); and s.38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained in the annex to this letter.

 

REASONS FOR NOT PROVIDING SOME INFORMATION

Section 29(1)(a) – formulation or development of government policy
An exemption under section 29(1)(a) of FOISA (formulation or development of government policy) applies to some of the information requested because it relates to the development of the Scottish Government’s policy on Marine Renewables.

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 high quality policy and decision-making, and in the properly considered implementation and development of policies and decisions. This means that Ministers and officials need to be able to consider all available options and to debate those rigorously, to fully understand their possible implications. Their candour in doing so will be affected by their assessment of whether the discussions on Marine Renewables will be disclosed in the near future, when it may undermine or constrain the Government’s view on that policy while it is still under discussion and development.

Section 30(b)(i) – free and frank provision of advice [in relation to Cabinet/ Ministerial/official discussions and policy formulation/development]
An exemption under section 30(b)(i) of FOISA (free and frank provision of advice) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure 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 ministers before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of free and frank advice on the Saltire Prize will substantially inhibit the provision of such advice in the future, particularly because of the Scottish Government’s ongoing interest in supporting the marine energy Sector.

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 a private space within which officials can provide full and frank advice to ministers as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government’s policy position on the marine energy until the Government as a whole can adopt a policy 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 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 30(b)(ii) – free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation [in relation to communications/meetings with external stakeholders]
An exemption under section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank exchange of views) applies to some the information requested. 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 with the Saltire Prize Challenge Committee on the Saltire Prize 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, particularly because the Scottish Governemnt have undertaken to review the ongoing role of the Saltire Prize Committee and may wish to continue consulting with them 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 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 policy position on the Saltire Prize Committee until the Government as a whole can adopt a policy that is sound and likely to be effective. 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, such as that provided by the Saltire Prize Challenge Committee. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between the Scottish Government and these stakeholders, which in turn will undermine the quality of the policy making process, which would not be in the public interest. There is also an important public interest in avoiding the loss of stakeholder confidence in cases where they thought they were providing comments in confidence, which would be inevitable if an individual’s contribution was released against their wishes.

Section 38(1)(b) – applicant has asked for personal data of a third party
An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to a small amount of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, ie contact details of individuals, and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Schedule 1 to the Data Protection Act 1998. 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.

 

About FOI

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.

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