Information

Correspondence with UK Government regarding UNCRC Bill: FOI release

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


Information requested

Correspondence between the UK and Scottish Governments in relation to the UNCRC (incorporation) (Scotland) Bill between September 2019 and March 2021.

Response

I attach a copy of some of the information you requested as an Annex.

Exemptions under s.25(1), s.28 and s.36 (1) of FOISA applies to most of the information you have requested. Section 25 - otherwise accessible Most of the information you have requested is available from

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 website(s) listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.

Section 28 (1) – relations within the UK

An exemption under section 28(1) of FOISA (relations within the UK) applies to most of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would likely to, prejudice substantially relations between the Scottish Government and the UK Government. It is essential for the effective administration of the UK as a whole that there should be regular, and often private, communications between the Scottish Government, the UK Government and the other devolved administrations. The release of the letter sent from Alister Jack MP, Secretary of State for Scotland, to the Scottish Government on 4th March 2021 in relation to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill will mean that the UK Government is likely to be more reluctant to share such information with the Scottish Government in future, which would reduce both the frequency and openness of communications between the Scottish Government and other UK administrations.

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 maintaining good relations between the Scottish Government and the UK Government and in protecting the free exchange of information between the administrations to ensure that we keep each other fully and regularly informed about matters of mutual interest, such as the letter mentioned above. We concluded that the public interest in withholding the information outweighed the public interest in disclosing information. This disclosure will likely damage relationships and disrupt future communications between the UK Government and the Scottish Government.

Section 36(1) – legal advice

An exemption under section 36(1) of FOISA (confidentiality in legal proceedings) applies to most of the information requested because it is legal advice and disclosure would breach legal professional privilege. 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 as part of open and transparent government, and to inform public debate. However, this is outweighed by the strong public interest in maintaining the right to confidentiality of communications between legal advisers and clients, to ensure that Ministers and officials are able to receive legal advice in confidence, like any other public or private organisation.

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

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