Publication - FOI/EIR release

Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning cladding information: EIR release

Published: 29 Mar 2021

Information request and response under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004

Published:
29 Mar 2021
Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning cladding information: EIR release
FOI reference: FOI/202100145113
Date received: 26 Jan 2021
Date responded: 9 Mar 2021
Information requested

From 1 June 2020 to present:

Copies of all correspondence (emails, texts, briefings, minutes of meetings, minutes of calls, memos and/or otherwise) between civil servants, Special Advisors and Housing Minister Kevin Stewart regarding a cladding fund and/or banning combustible cladding.

Response

As the information you have requested is 'environmental information' for the purposes of the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs), we are required to deal with your request under those Regulations. We are applying the exemption at section 39(2) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA), so that we do not also have to deal with your request under FOISA.

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, because there is no public interest in dealing with the same request under two different regimes. This is essentially a technical point and has no material effect on the outcome of your request.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide a small amount of the information you have requested because exceptions under regulation 10(4)(e) (internal communications) and 11(2) (personal data) of the EIRs apply to that information. The reasons why these exceptions apply are explained below.

Reasons for not providing information
An exception under regulation 10(4)(e) of the EIRs (internal communications) applies to some of the information you have requested because it is internal communication between Scottish Government Ministers and officials about a cladding fund and banning combustible cladding materials.

This exception 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 exception. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exception. 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 high quality policy and decision-making, and in the properly considered implementation and development of policies and decisions. This means that Ministers and officials need to be able to consider all available options and to debate those rigorously, to fully understand their possible implications. Their candour in doing so will be affected by their assessment of whether the discussions on a cladding fund will be disclosed in the near future, when it may undermine or constrain the Government’s view on that issue while it is still under discussion and development.

An exception under regulation 11(2) of the EIRs (personal information) applies to some of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party 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 exception 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 exception.

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