I have now completed my review of our response to your request under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) for the drafting plan and timeline used to devise the Consultation on Disability Assistance. I have concluded that the original decision should be confirmed, with modifications.
I have reconsidered the application of exemptions to the information contained in the documents released in response to your original request. I have confirmed that the majority of those exemptions were appropriate. I have concluded, however, that in a small number of cases it would be in the public interest if information originally withheld were now released. I have also identified two additional documents which fall within the scope of your request and which should be released subject to redaction of personal data.
As always, our aim is to provide information whenever possible but in relation to some of these documents we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because exemptions under sections 30(b)(i) (free and frank provision of advice) and 38(1)(b) (personal data) of FOISA apply to that information.
Reasons for not providing information - Annex
An exemption under section s.38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to the redacted information because it is the personal data of a third party, i.e. names/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.
An exemptions under section s.30(b)(i) of FOISA (free and frank provision of advice) applies to some of the information you have requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice. It 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. This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. 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, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, this is outweighed by the public interest in allowing a private space within which officials can provide full and frank advice to Ministers and other officials, as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government's position on the further development of communications and engagement activity on the Disability Assistance Policy Consultation. Premature disclosure of the content of that advice will substantially inhibit the provision of such advice in the future, particularly because these discussions relate to sensitive issues.
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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Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
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