- 10 Feb 2021
Date received: 1 Dec 2020
Date responded: 23 Dec 2020
Have Scottish Government employees started work on a White Paper on independence, or an equivalent document to the 2013 document, Scotland’s Future? When did this work start? How many officials have been working on this? What is the cost in terms of employee time, etc, of the preparation of that document? Have the recommendations of the Sustainable Growth Commission been considered in the creation of this document?
Secondly, have Scottish Government officials been working on an independence referendum bill? When did this work start? How many officials have been working on this? What is the cost in terms of employee time, etc, of the preparation of that bill? Which Scottish Government Cabinet Secretaries and Ministers have had involvement in it?
In the 2019-20 Programme for Government the Scottish Government announced it would update plans for an independent Scotland, as set out for the 2014 referendum in ‘Scotland’s Future’. On 31 January 2020, the First Minister announced that the Scottish Government would publish a series of ‘New Scotland’ papers, to provide detail on how Scotland can make the transition from a Yes vote to becoming an independent country. On 18 March 2020, the Scottish Government announced it was pausing work to prepare for an independence referendum this year to focus on the response to the Covid-19 pandemic. This included the ‘New Scotland’ papers and the staff concerned were redeployed to other work.
Some of the information you have requested is available in a previously published respons to an FOI request which is available on the Scottish Government’s website at: Scottish Government staff engaged in updating the ‘Scotland’s Future’ publication: FOI release - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)
Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you.
The Scottish Government will consider a wide range of sources when updating its plan for an independent Scotland, including the recommendations from the Sustainable Growth Commission.
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have requested. The reason for this is, in line with usual practice, details of individual tasks carried out by Scottish Government civil servants, including the number of hours spent on them, are not recorded because there is no business need to do this.
At 1 December 2020, production of a draft bill for an independence referendum, as set out in the commitment in the 2020-21 Programme for Government, had not started.
This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have requested.
In regards to your final query, all work regarding constitutional matters fall under the remit of the Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, Europe and External Affairs, Michael Russell MSP.
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