Publication - FOI/EIR release

Changes to State Pension age for women and WASPI Campaign correspondence: FOI release

Published: 21 Aug 2019

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

Published:
21 Aug 2019
Changes to State Pension age for women and WASPI Campaign correspondence: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/19/00929
Date received: 2 Apr 2019
Date responded: 7 Aug 2019
Information requested

You asked for any correspondence from the past year between the First Minister, Scottish Government officials, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People concerning changes to State Pension age for women and WASPI Campaign.

Response

I have enclosed copies of some of the information you requested in alongside this letter.

Some of the information you have requested is available from: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=12040&i=108969

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, s.29(1)(b) Ministerial Communications, s.30(b)(i) Free and frank provision of advice, s.30(b)(ii) Free and Frank exchange of views, 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.

Reasons for not providing information - Annex
An exemption(s) under section(s) s.29 (1)(b) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested.

Section 29 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) exempts information from disclosure if it relates to Ministerial communications.

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 a private space within which issues can be explored. This private thinking space also allows for all options to be properly considered, so that good 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 making process.

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to some of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, 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.

An exemption under section s.30(b)(i) Free and frank provision of advice and s.30(b)(ii) Free and Frank exchange of views of FOISA applies to the information you have requested.
Section 30 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) exempts information from disclosure where disclosure would, or would be likely to, cause substantial harm to one or more of the following:

  • the free and frank provision of advice
  • the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation

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, however, there is a greater public interest in high quality decision-making, and in the properly considered implementation and development 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. There is also a greater public interest in allowing a private space within which officials can provide full and frank advice to Ministers and other officials.

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 Ministers and officials, which in turn will undermine the quality of the decision making process, which would not be in the public interest.

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