Information

Briefing notes and communications around Homes for Scotland event: EIR Review

Information request and response under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004


Information requested

Your request, reference 202100240001:

“In relation to the Homes for Scotland (HfS) virtual event on the 15 September 2021:

1. Copies of all briefing notes and advice provided to the Minister for Public Finance, Planning & Community Wealth by Special Advisors and Civil Servants;

2. Copies of all communications between HfS and the Scottish Government; and

3. Any communications between attendees and Scottish Government staff and Ministers.”

Your request, reference 202100254655:

"I am writing to request an internal review of Scottish Government's handling of my FOI request 'Briefing notes and communications around Homes for Scotland event'.

The request is now long overdue."

Response

Further to my letter of 12 November 2021, I have now completed my review of our failure to respond to your request under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) for,

“In relation to the Homes for Scotland (HfS) virtual event on the 15 September 2021:

1. Copies of all briefing notes and advice provided to the Minister for Public Finance, Planning & Community Wealth by Special Advisors and Civil Servants;

2. Copies of all communications between HfS and the Scottish Government; and

3. Any communications between attendees and Scottish Government staff and Ministers.”


As the information you have requested is ‘environmental information’ for the purposes of the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs), we are required to deal with your request under those Regulations. We are applying the exemption at section 39(2) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA), so that we do not also have to deal with your request under FOISA.

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, because there is no public interest in dealing with the same request under two different regimes. This is essentially a technical point and has no material effect on the outcome of your request.

In accordance with regulation 16(3)(b) of the EIRs, I have also reached a decision on your request.

I apologise again for the delay in responding to your request. The delay was as a result of the volume of documentation we were reviewing and ensuring we consulted appropriate parties in order to meet your request.

I can now provide our response to your original request.

Response to your request

I attach a number of documents that satisfy your request. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information that you have requested because an exception under regulation 11(2) (personal data) of the EIRs applies. The reasons why that exception applies are set out below.

The documents that satisfy part 1 of your request are:

1. A briefing document provided to the Minister ahead of the event.
2. A speaking note provided to the Minister.
3. Suggested answers for standby questions at the HfS event, provided by Civil Servants.
4. Routine submission from Civil Servants to Minister, with recommendation that the Minister speaks at the HfS event.
5. Submission email from Civil Servants to Minister showing the Minister content with recommendation to speak at HfS event.

The documents that satisfy part 2 of your request are:

6. Correspondence between HfS and the SG, sharing the Minister’s speaking note with HfS.
7. Correspondence between HfS and the SG, in preparation of the event.
8. Correspondence between HfS and the SG, in preparation of the event.
9. Correspondence between HfS and the SG, in preparation of the event.
10. Letter from HfS to Minister, referencing event on 15th September 2021.
11. Response to HfS letter from Minister, agreeing to speak at event on 15th September 2021.
12. Correspondence following response to Minister’s letter to HfS, regarding event on 15th September 2021.
13. Correspondence between HfS and the SG, providing standby questions for the event.
14. Correspondence between HfS and the SG in regards to a fuller version of the speaking briefing for the event.
15. The speaker briefing document mentioned in document 14.

The documents that satisfy part 3 of your request are:

16. A follow up email from one of the speakers at the event, providing the speaking notes and presentation used at the event.
17. The speaker’s speaking notes, mentioned in document 16.
18. The PowerPoint slides used by the speaker, mentioned in document 16.

REASONS FOR NOT PROVIDING INFORMATION
An exception under regulation 11(2) of the EIRs (personal information) applies to documents 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, and 16 because personal data relating to third parties is included in the documents, 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 exception 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 exception.

You will also notice that in documents 4 and 15 there has been information redacted. This is because the information found in this document is not within the scope of the request.

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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