Publication - FOI/EIR release

Non-religious bodies - requests prescribed under Marriage (Scotland) Act correspondence: FOI release

Published: 5 Apr 2019

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

Published:
5 Apr 2019
Non-religious bodies - requests prescribed under Marriage (Scotland) Act correspondence: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/201900000708
Date received: 12 Mar 2019
Date responded: 4 Apr 2019
Information requested

You asked for copies of all correspondence since 22 January 2018 between bodies other than religious bodies and civil servants, relating to requests to become prescribed under the Marriage (Scotland) Act 1977, as amended by the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014.

Response

I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested.

  • Reply to Humanist Society Scotland
  • A covering email to a letter of 12 June 2018 to Humanism in Scotland, on requirements for being prescribed. 
  • The SG letter of 12 June 2018 to Humanism in Scotland.  [Humanism in Scotland were acting for a number of bodies.  Our reply made it clear that each body has to apply separately for prescribed status].
  • A covering email to a letter of 12 June 2018 to Independent Humanist Ceremonies, on requirements for being prescribed. 
  • The SG letter of 12 June 2018 to Independent Humanist Ceremonies.
  • A covering email to a letter of 12 June 2018 to Caledonian Humanist Association, on requirements for being prescribed. 
  • The SG letter of 12 June 2018 to Caledonian Humanist Association.
  • An exchange of emails with Caledonian Humanist Association on the latest on their planned application.

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  30(c) (Prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs) and section 38(1)(b) (personal data relating to third party) 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 applies

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested.   This relates to names and personal details of individuals. 
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(c) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested.  This exemption relates to material about a formal application to be prescribed.  

It is essential for Ministers and officials to be able to consider, often in confidence, formal applications by external stakeholders on a range of issues.  Disclosing the content of such applications is likely to undermine trust in the Scottish Government and will substantially inhibit communications on this type of issue in the future.  This would significantly harm the Government’s ability to carry out many aspects of its work, and could adversely affect its ability to gather all of the evidence it needs to make fully informed decisions on applications it is dealing with.

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 consider applications.  Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between the Scottish Government and the applicant, 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