Publication - FOI/EIR release

Official engagement with Sir Tom Hunter: FOI release

Published: 27 Oct 2021

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

Published:
27 Oct 2021
Official engagement with Sir Tom Hunter: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/202100232182
Date received: 19 Aug 2021
Date responded: 29 Sep 2021
Information requested

Please can you provide details of the following meetings attended by Transport Minister Michael Matheson and Tom Hunter on 27th October 2020 and 25 November 2020.

Details being sought include

  • Pre meeting briefing(s)
  • Agenda(s)
  • Minutes or notes from meetings
  • Post meeting action points
Response

Attached is the information that Transport Scotland holds in relation to your request above, in the Annex's appended to this letter as follows:-

Annex A – Documents held in relation to the meeting between Michael Matheson and Sir Tom Hunter – 27 October 2020

27 October 2020

Information requested

Details

FOISA Exemption (s)

Pre meeting briefing

Yes, included in Annex A

Section 30(b)(ii), Section 38 (1) (b) - Third party data

Agenda

No agenda existed

Section 17 – Information note held

Minutes or notes from meetings

Yes, included in Annex A

Section 38 (1) (b) - Third party data

Post meeting action points

Yes included in the Notes from

the meeting.

 

Annex B – Document held in relation to the meeting between Michael Matheson and Sir Tom Hunter – 25 November 2020.

25 November 2020

Information requested

Details

FOISA Exemption (s)

Pre meeting briefing

Yes, included in Annex B

Section 30(b)(ii), Section 38 (1) (b) - Third party data

Agenda

No agenda existed

Section 17 – Information note held

Minutes or notes from meetings

Yes, included in Annex B

Section 30(b)(ii), Section 38 (1) (b) - Third party data

Post meeting action points

Yes included in the Notes from the meeting.

 

From the above you will see that some information has been redacted in line with FOISA.

Section 17 – Information not held
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have agendas for the meetings that took place on 27 October 2020 and 25 November 2020 because there were no agendas compiled before the meetings took place.

This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

30(b)(ii) - Substantial inhibition to free and frank exchange of views
An exemption section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (substantial inhibition to free and frank exchange of views applies to some of the information requested. The reasons why this exemption has been applied is outlined in Appendix A.

Section 38 (1) (b) – Third party data
An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to some of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, i.e. names and contact details of individuals and companies, 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 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.

For ease, the information that has been redacted in line with section 30 (b)(ii) has been clearly marked as follows: -

Section 30(b)(ii)
The remaining information that has been redacted is that which falls into the exemption of section 38 (1) (b) – third party data.

Appendix A
An exemption under section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank provision of advice) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank exchange of views. This exemption recognises the need for officials and a member of a third party to have a private space within which to provide free and frank advice to Ministers before the Scottish Government and member of a third party reaches a settled public view.

Disclosing the content of free and frank exchange of views regarding the Winchburgh railway station would likely substantially inhibit the exchange of such views in future, particularly because these discussions relate to railway station that is still in development.

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 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 allowing a private space within which officials can exchange full and frank views, as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government’s and third party’s decision making process. This private thinking space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, based on the best available advice, so that good policy decisions can be taken. Disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between Ministers and officials, which in turn will undermine the quality of the decision making process, which would not be in the public interest.

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.

FOI202100232182 - Annex A & B

12 page PDF
457.0 kB

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