Former Transport Minister meeting with Transport Scotland Chief Executive: FOI release

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

Information requested

Details of meetings attended by Transport Minister Michael Mathieson and Roy Brannen on 3 November 2020, 24 November 2020 and 15 December 2020. Details being sought include:

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


While our aim is to provide information wherever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested.

Roy Brannen, Chief Executive, Transport Scotland and Michael Matheson, then Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity met four times on the dates of 3 November 2020, 24 November 2020 and 15 December 2020.

On each of the dates they were the sole participants in phone calls to discuss current transport issues.

On the 24 November 2020 both attended a meeting to discuss the Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity portfolio budget.

We are unable to provide copies of any briefings, minutes or notes from the meetings. This is because an exemption under section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank exchange of views) applies to the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. This exemption recognises the need for officials to have a private space within which to discuss issues and options. Disclosing the content of these discussions on planning for the end of the transition period will substantially inhibit such discussions in the future, because officials will be reluctant to provide their views fully and frankly if they believe that those views are likely to be made public, particularly while these discussions are still ongoing and decisions have not been taken, and these discussions relate to a sensitive or controversial issue such as planning for the end of the transition period.

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 allowing officials a private space within which to communicate with each other as part of the process of exploring the impact of the end of the transition period. This private space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, so that good policy decisions can be taken based on fully informed advice and evidence. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between officials, which in turn will undermine the quality of the policy making process, which would not be in the public interest.

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Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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