- 14 Mar 2019
Date received: 18 Feb 2019
Date responded: 8 Mar 2019
You asked for all information and correspondence held by the Scottish Government pertaining to petition PE01658, including correspondence relating to this issue between the Scottish Government, the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee or any third parties.
I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some the information you have requested because exemptions apply under sections 29(1)(b): Ministerial Communications, section 38: Personal Data relating to an Applicant of FOISA and Section 36 (1): Confidentiality in legal proceedings applies to that information. The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained below.
REASONS FOR NOT PROVIDING INFORMATION
An exemption applies
Section 38(1)(b) – Personal data of a third party An exemption under section s.38(1)(b) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested because it is the personal data of a third party, ie names and contact details of individuals, 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.
Section 29(1)(b) – Ministerial communications An exemption under section(s) s.29(1)(b) FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested because it relates to communications between Scottish Ministers.
This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, 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 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 a private space within which issues can be explored and refined, until the Government as a whole can reach a decision that is sound and likely to be effective. This private thinking space also allows for 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, which in turn will undermine the quality of the policy and decision making process.
Section 36 (1) - Confidentiality in legal proceedings An exemption under section 36 (1) - Confidentiality in legal proceedings of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested because it is legal advice and disclosure would breach legal professional privilege.
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 as part of open and transparent government, and to inform public debate. However, this is outweighed by the strong public interest in maintaining the right to confidentiality of communications between legal advisers and clients, to ensure that Ministers and officials are able to receive legal advice in confidence, like any other public or private organisation.
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.
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Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House