- 8 Jan 2020
Date received: 6 Jan 2020
Date responded: 8 Jan 2020
You asked for:
"......the note of a meeting with a member of forwomen.scot which meeting was referred to in the Scottish Government’s consultation on a draft Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, in Annex J, the Equality Impact Assessment."
I enclose a copy of the note of the meeting referred to.
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 38(1)(b) (personal information of third party) and section 30(c) (prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs) of FOISA apply to that information. The reasons why those exemptions apply are explained below.
Reasons for not providing information
An exemption applies
An exemption under section 38(1) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested, because it is personal data of a third party, in that it consists of the names 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(c) (prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested. This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. It is essential for Ministers and officials to be able to communicate and meet with external stakeholders, sometimes in confidence, on a range of issues, including in relation to the development of policy for gender recognition reform. Disclosing the full content of these communications or views expressed in meetings, particularly without the consent of the stakeholder attending, is likely to undermine trust in the Scottish Government and will substantially inhibit communications on this type of issue in the future. Stakeholders will be reluctant to participate in meetings and provide their views fully and frankly if they believe that all of their views are likely to be made public, including where these discussions relate to a sensitive or controversial matter such as gender recognition reform. 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 considers is needed to make fully informed decisions.
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 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 communicate and meet with external stakeholders as part of the process of gathering information, and exploring and refining the Government’s position on gender recognition reform.
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