- 8 Jun 2021
Date received: 27 Apr 2021
Date responded: 26 May 2021
Please provide any correspondence between First Marine International or Royal Haskoning DHV and (a) the Economy Secretary, (b) the Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, (c) special advisers or (d) Scottish Government officials about the Ferguson shipyard in the 2020/21 financial year.
Attached is a copy correspondence between Scottish Government officials and First Marine International. Personal data of a third party has been redacted from the correspondence because of an exemption under section 38(1)(b) (personal data of a third party). There is no other correspondence regarding Ferguson Marine between First Marine International or Royal HaskoningDHV and any other party listed above in the 2020/21 financial year.
Within the correspondence, First Marine International submitted a proposal to officials in the Strategic Industrial Assets Division (formerly Ferguson Marine Response Division) of Scottish Government. The proposal was for a study of the approach taken by European Union countries towards the domestic contracting of Government influenced shipbuilding. Ultimately, the project did not go ahead.
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to disclose some of the information within the proposal because an exemption under section 33(1)(b) (commercial interests) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why that exemption applies are explained in the Annex.
REASONS FOR NOT PROVIDING INFORMATION
An exemption applies
An exemption(s) under section(s) section 38(1)(b) (personal data of a third party) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested. This exemption applies to the names of third parties referenced throughout the emails within scope of the request. The Scottish Government has a policy of not disclosing the names of officials who are not Senior Civil Servants. The names of First Marine International employees have also been redacted to protect their privacy.
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
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance an exemption under section 33(1)(b) of FOISA (commercial interests) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure of this particular information would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the commercial interests of First Marine International. Disclosing this information would be likely to give First Marine Internationals competitors an advantage in future similar tendering exercises, which would substantially prejudice their ability to submit competitive tenders and so could significantly harm their commercial business.
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 protecting the commercial interests of companies which provide information to the Scottish Government to ensure the continued sharing of information with the Scottish Government. In turn this will ensure that the decisions taken by the Scottish Government are as robust as possible and obtain the best value for public money.
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