Publication - FOI/EIR release

Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government communications: FOI release

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

Published:
15 Sep 2020
Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government communications: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/202000064632
Date received: 22 Jul 2020
Date responded: 19 Aug 2020
Information requested

Any internal Scottish Government communications (including letters, emails, text messages, typed or hand-written notes, or phone calls) either to or from the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government, Aileen Campbell MSP. I would like this information for 05 May 2020

Response

I enclose a copy of most of the information you requested, please see annex A. 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 section 29(1)(a) formulation or development of Scottish Government policy, 38 (b)(ii) personal data, 30(b)(i) and 30(b)(ii) free and frank advice and exchange of views in FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why those exemptions apply are explained in full below.

Section 29(1)(a) – formulation or development of government policy
An exemption under section 29(1)(a) of FOISA applies to some of the information requested because the contents of the communications relates to the formulation of the Scottish Government’s policy.

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 high quality policy and decision-making, and in the properly considered implementation and development of policies and decisions.

Section 30(b)(i) and 30(b)(ii) - free and frank advice and exchange of views
An exemption under section 30(b)(i) and 30(b)(ii) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested. These exemptions apply because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice and exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. The exemptions recognise the need for Ministers to have a private space within which to seek advice and views from officials before reaching the settled public position.

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 explore and refine the Government’s position, until the Government as a whole can adopt a policy that is sound and likely to be effective.

Section 38(1)(b) – applicant has asked for personal data of a third party
An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to a small amount of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, ie names and contact details for a range of people 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.

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