- 22 May 2019
Date received: 2 Apr 2019
Date responded: 22 May 2019
You asked for ‘all briefing notes provided to the Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People pertaining to the Disability and Carers Benefits Expert Advisory Group review, including before the review began and once the report had been drafted.’
I enclose a copy of most of the information you requested.
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we had to redact some of the information you have requested because exemptions under sections 38(1)(b) (personal information) and Section 30(b)(ii) (free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation) of FOISA apply to that information. The reasons why that exemption(s) applies are explained in the Annex to this letter.
Reasons for not providing information - Annex
An exemption applies
An exemption(s) under section(s) 38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested because it is personal data of a third party, i.e. names/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.
An exemption applies, subject to the public interest test
An exemption under section 30(b)(ii) (free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation) of FOISA applies to small amount of the information you have 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 Ministers and officials to have a private space within which to discuss and explore options before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of free and frank discussions on the Disability and Carer Benefits Expert Advisory Group and the review of this group will substantially inhibit such discussions in the future, particularly because those involved in similar discussions in the future may be concerned that their early views and opinions will be disclosed.
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 explore and refine the Government’s position on the review of the Disability and Expert Advisory Group until the Government as a whole can adopt a decision that is sound and likely to be effective. This private thinking space is essential to enable 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 and officials, which in turn will undermine the quality of the decision making process, which would not be in the public interest.
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