- 3 Jun 2021
Date received: 20 Apr 2021
Date responded: 18 May 2021
"I would like to ask for information on Scottish Government loans made to Jim McColl of Clyde Blowers.
Mr McColl has received several loans from the public purse and I would like to have all the details of those loans you have.
There may be other entities used to register the loans, I have no idea. I note he has at least nine entities registered in his name at Companies House"
You were not satisfied with our reply to your original Freedom of Information (FoI) request which was allocated reference number 202100179140. You submitted the following statement/request:
"What is the point of providing this redacted document? It contains no information that should be made available in a democracy which purports to run as a transparent administration. All the information which should be freely available to the tax-payer who 'loaned' the money is hidden!”
I have been asked to look at your request afresh, to decide whether the original response should be confirmed, with or without modifications, as appropriate, or that a fresh decision should be substituted. I can confirm that I was not involved in the handling or decision-making around the original response.
I have concluded that the original decision should be confirmed with modifications.
Having reviewed this request and the information previously withheld, I have concluded that all of the information previously withheld under section 30(c) (prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs) and most of the information previously withheld under section 33(1)(b) (commercial prejudice) was incorrectly withheld and can now be disclosed. I have attached this as a separate document.
I have also determined that a small amount of information is exempt under sections 33 (1)(b) (paragraphs 5.1 and 5.2) and 38(1)(b) (personal information) for the reasons previously given in our response issued to you on 16 April 2021.
Additionally, the information still being withheld under section 33(1)(b) is specific pieces of financial information related to the commercial terms of the loan agreement. We have applied this exemption as release of the information would – or would be likely to – prejudice substantially the commercial interests that the Scottish Government holds.
The information withheld would if released have a negative impact on the Scottish Government’s negotiating position with other parties in the future should we enter into lending discussions with them. The Scottish Government has powers to make loans and other financial interventions to promote industry and safeguard or develop jobs, and does so from time-to-time where there is a public interest and where criteria within the Scottish Public Financial Manual is met. This criteria includes ensuring the Scottish Government seeks an appropriate commercial return on its investment to deliver value for money for the public purse. The ability of the Scottish Government to negotiate with other parties in the future would be negatively impacted if the commercial terms of its previous transactions were disclosed. We therefore conclude that this exemption applies in order to protect the ongoing interests of the Scottish Government in securing best value for taxpayers from any future lending to commercial organisations.
In withholding this information, we are mindful of the further need to apply the public interest test given exemption 33(1)b is subject to this test. In applying that test, we again conclude that release of this financial information is not in the public interest given it could have a bearing on the future ability of the Scottish Government to negotiate terms with commercial organisations. It would – or would be likely to – affect our position in future relationship with commercial organisations seeking advice or support from the Scottish Government to safeguard Scotland’s commercial interests and protect jobs in those commercial organisations.
I hope that this revised version of the material and the above rationale for the small amount of remaining material redacted under exemption is useful to you and that it provides the information you are seeking.
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