- 12 Feb 2020
Date received: 14 Jan 2020
Date responded: 7 Feb 2020
Please provide all drafts and copies of Social Security Scotland Audit and Assurance Committee minutes and agendas relating to the Tuesday 17 September 2019 meeting. This should include versions of the minutes and agendas not published at https://www.socialsecurity.gov.scot/what-we-do/minutes-meetings-and-agendas, and drafts provided to members before and at the meeting they were approved for, as well as the notes taken for the aiding of producing the minutes, as well as any correspondence relating to changes to the minutes.
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 of the information you have requested. This is because the following exemptions have been applied:
- Section 38(1)(b) (personal information)
- Section 30(b)(1) (free and frank exchange of advice)
- Section 17(1) (information not held)
Annex - Reasons for not providing information
Information not held
Section 17(1) of FOISA (information not held) requires the Scottish Government to notify you if it does not have the information you requested. The Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have asked for because we do not hold any notes taken for the aiding of producing minutes as our process is to routinely destroy any notes once the minutes have been drafted. Also, in line with our current document retention policy we do not hold previous drafts of published minutes and agendas.
This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.
An Exemption Applies - s.38(1)(b) - Personal Information
An exemption under section 38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested, such as name and contact information. Disclosing this information 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 - s.30(b)(i) - Free and Frank provision of advice
Section 30(b)(i) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 exempts information from disclosure where disclosure would, or would be likely to, cause substantial inhibition of free and frank provision of advice. This exemption applies in this instance as it recognises the need for Scottish Government officials to have a private space within which to discuss and explore issues before reaching a conclusion.
We recognise that there is some public interest in disclosing information as part of an open, transparent and accountable government. However, there is a greater public interest in allowing a private space within which officials can provide full and frank advice to officials and Non-Executive members. This private thinking space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, based on the best available advice. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of these issues which would not be in the public interest. We believe that, in this instance, the interest is in favour of upholding the exemption.
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