Publication - FOI/EIR release

Spending review: FOI release

Published: 24 Feb 2021

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

Published:
24 Feb 2021
Spending review: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/202000129463
Date received: 23 Dec 2020
Date responded: 9 Feb 2021
Information requested

 

  • Any correspondence (emails, letters, text messages, WhatsApp messages, phone calls or otherwise) between Ministers (including the First Minister), Special Advisors and civil servants in the Scottish Government Press Office concerning the UK Government’s Spending Review as announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak on 25 November 2020.
  • Any briefings (notes, memos, or otherwise) produced by civil servants for Ministers (including the First Minister) and/or Special Advisors concerning the UK Government’s Spending Review as announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak on 25 November 2020
Response

attach a copy of some of the information you requested, in Annexes A and B.

Some of the information you have requested is available from the Scottish Government website
(https://blogs.gov.scot/scotlands-economy/2020/11/25/finance-secretary-responds-to-ukgovernment-spending-review/; https://www.gov.scot/news/call-for-gbp-98-billion-stimuluspackage/).

Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the websites listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.

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/development of government policy) and Section 30(b)(i) (free and frank provision of advice) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why those exemptions apply are explained below.

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 to support public scrutiny of government decision making. However, this is outweighed by the public interest in maintaining officials' ability to provide free and frank advice to ministers.

REASONS FOR NOT PROVIDING INFORMATION

An exemption applies
An exemption under section 25(1) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested. Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. 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
Exemptions under section 29(1)(a) and section 30(b)(i) of FOISA apply to some of the information you have requested. Section 29(1)(a) exempts information relating to the formulation or development of Scottish Government policy, and section 30(b)(i) exempts information relating to the free and frank provision of advice.

These exemptions are 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 a private space within which officials can provide full and frank advice to Ministers and within which policy positions can be explored and developed. This private thinking space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, based on the best available advice, so that good policy decisions can be taken. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between Ministers and officials, which in turn will undermine the quality of the policy making process, which would not be in the public interest.

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