- 23 Sep 2021
Date received: 17 Jun 2021
Date responded: 29 Jun 2021
Your request, reference 202100197742
Please provide any reports submitted to the Scottish Government by First Marine International about the Ferguson shipyard in the fourth quarter of 2020 or first quarter of 2021.
Your review requested, reference 202100210951
As is acknowledged in the response, there is a public interest in disclosing the information as part of an open, transparent and accountable government. This report would give the public crucial information about how a publicly-owned asset is being managed.
The shipyard has no other current work other than a contract to complete a public contract to build two CalMac ferries, so the commercial risks of disclosure are minimised as a result.
While I accept that there may be some limited information which may be commercially sensitive and not suitable for release, the normal process would be for this to be redacted rather than the whole report being withheld. I believe this would be a more appropriate balance between resolving commercial sensitivity issues and acting openly and transparently about an issue of public interest.
Further to my letter of 17 June 2021, I have now completed my review of our response to your request under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) for any reports submitted to the Scottish Government by First Marine International about the Ferguson shipyard in the fourth quarter of 2020 or first quarter of 2021.
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 without modifications.
The review involved a reconsideration of the request and related information. Following a search of our records the initial request identified one report submitted during the period to which your request relates. It found that we are unable to provide the information requested because an exemption under section 33(1)(b) of FOISA (commercial interests) applies to the information requested and having given further consideration to this report on review, I am satisfied that this exemption was appropriately applied. The release of the information could substantially prejudice the commercial interests of the Ferguson Marine Limited and First Marine International and their ability of to submit competitive tenders in the future. While you indicate that the shipyard has no other current work at present, disclosing the information within the report could as previously explained also impede Ferguson Marine Limited achieving the best value for public money and potentially hinder the sustainable operation of the business. While there is, as you note, a public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, there is a greater public interest in protecting the commercial interests of companies who enter into contractual relationships with the Scottish Government or any of its Public Bodies.
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