- 30 Dec 2019
Date received: 3 Dec 2019
Date responded: 30 Dec 2019
You asked for all correspondence between the Scottish Police Authority and the Scottish Government Finance Department that relate to the budget and deficit approval process for the budget of the Scottish Police Authority for each of the years for 16/17, 17/18, 18/19, and 19/20.
I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested, including correspondence from/to Scottish Government Police Division Sponsor Team, as this is the main contact for the SPA on budgetary issues. 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 of FOISA exemptions applies to that information. The reasons why that exemptions applies are explained in the Annex to this letter.
Annex - Reasons for not providing information
An exemption under section s.36(2) Actionable breach of confidence of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested. Specifically this apply to legal advice obtained by a Scottish public authority and disclosing it would constitute an actionable breach of confidence.
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.
Exemptions under section 30(b)(ii) (free and frank exchange of views) apply to some of the information you requested. This exemptions apply because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice, the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation or free and frank discussions between the Scottish Government and its external stakeholders. These exemptions recognise the need for officials to have a private space within which to provide free and frank advice to Ministers and to have free and frank discussions with each other and with stakeholders before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view.
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 exemptions.
On balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemptions. 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 a private space within which officials can provide full and frank advice to Ministers and in which full and frank discussion of issues can take place, as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government's position. This is essential to enable all options to be properly considered and based on the best available advice, which enables good decisions to be taken. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between Ministers, officials and stakeholders, which in turn will undermine the quality of the decision making process. This 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