Government Minister question decision of Government Official: FOI release

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

Information requested

1. Are there any circumstances where a government minister is prevented from querying the decision of a government official.
2. If so, what are they.
3. Is the civil service in Scotland legally independent from the Scottish Government


The answer to your questions are:
1 & 2: In relation to government policy, civil servants both (i) advise ministers in making recommendations for ministerial decisions and (ii) make decisions on behalf of ministers, either under their direction or in exercising delegated powers. As all such decisions are therefore made by, or on behalf of, Ministers, there is nothing to prevent Ministers querying decisions made by civil servants.

3: The Civil Service in Scotland comprises civil servants who work for the Scottish Government and also civil servants, based in Scotland, but who work for UK Government departments. All staff employed as civil servants (whether working for Scottish Government or other government departments) are employed by the Crown as part of the UK Civil Service and the authority for the Civil Service stems from the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 which put the Civil Service on a statutory footing. The UK Civil Service is a politically neutral body, with the function of impartially implementing the policy programme of the elected governments it serves.

Civil servants who work for the Scottish Government support the government in the delivery of its devolved functions. Day to day responsibility for management of the Civil Service (working to the Scottish Government) is devolved to the First Minister, and in turn to the Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

Back to top