Information

Preparations for a second independence referendum: FOI release

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


Information requested

Please may you provide me with:

  • The name of the unit within the Scottish Government working on preparations for a second independence referendum.
  • The budget allocated to the unit for the rest of the parliamentary term, and if possible, could this be broken down by year.
  • The date on which the unit was established.
  • How many people have been assigned to work under David Rogers, Constitution director, on preparations for a white paper prospectus?
  • What are the job titles, salaries and job descriptions of people as described above?
  • Have any other civil servants within the Scottish Government been assigned to independence preparation work - who do not work under Mr Rogers - and if so could you confirm how many and which department they are assigned to?
  • Information on the recruitment process for those who have been tasked with preparing for a second independence referendum, including any job advertisements, job specifications etc.
  • Please provide the information in the form of a Word document or PDF.

Response

The 2021/22 Programme for Government (PfG) set out that the Scottish Government will work to ensure that a legitimate and constitutional referendum can be held within this Parliamentary term, if the Covid crisis is over, and that a detailed prospectus for an independent Scotland will be prepared to allow the people of Scotland to make an informed choice over their future.

The work to prepare legislation for an independence referendum is being taken forward by the Referendums Scotland Bill Team within the Elections and FOI Division. As well a work on an independence bill, the team is responsible for policy on the framework for Scottish referendums in the Referendums (Scotland) Act 2020. The work to prepare an independence prospectus is being coordinated by the Constitutional Futures Division which has been re-established over recent months. Both divisions are part of the Constitution and Cabinet Directorate and report to David Rogers, Constitution Director.

Over the current financial year, prior to commencement of the independence work, the staff in these units have also worked on a range of other matters, including for example COP26 and supporting cooperation agreement talks between the Scottish Government and the Scottish Green Party.

The Scottish Government has published an annual budget, rather than one for the full Parliamentary term. 2022-23 operating cost budgets within the Directorate have not yet been set. This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have requested.

Details of the date of formation of the Referendums Scotland Bill Team is available in the publication in the link below. You will want to note that the remit of this team also included work on the development of Referendums (Scotland) Act 2020, and not solely on preparation of legislation for an independence referendum.

Referendums Scotland Bill Team - date of formation: FOI release - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)

The Scottish Government made a formal request to the Electoral Commission in February 2020 to re-test the referendum question. The Referendums Scotland Bill Team was involved with this work until 18 March 2020.

The Constitutional Futures Division was originally established with the appointment of its previous head on 7 November 2019. It was set up over a number of months following the 2019-20 Programme for Government to take forward the commitment for the Scottish Government to update its plan for an independent Scotland from 2014. The division was in the initial stages of this work at 18 March 2020.

On 18 March 2020, the Scottish Government announced it was pausing work to prepare for an independence referendum in 2020 to focus on the response to the Covid crisis. The staff involved in work associated with preparing for an independence referendum in 2020 were then redeployed to other work. For the rest of the 2016-21 Parliamentary term, the only other work conducted was preparation of a draft Independence Referendum Bill for publication on 22 March 2021 in fulfilment of a commitment in the 2020 Programme for Government, and reactive work to deal with correspondence, FOI requests and parliamentary questions.

Following the 2021 Scottish Parliament election, the Scottish Government published the 2021/22 Programme for Government (PfG), and since then, preparatory work for the implementation of the PfG commitments set out above has been under way.

At 24 January 2022, the Constitutional Futures Division, which is coordinating preparations for a prospectus, comprised of eleven officials (5 graded C2, 5 graded C1 and 1 graded B3) and one Senior Civil Servant. The Senior Civil Servant responsible for the division is titled Deputy Director – Constitutional Futures.

As the Constitutional Futures Division has only recently recommenced work, final job titles, for those below senior civil service level, and job descriptions are not yet agreed for individual civil servants. The initial team of civil servants has been brought together by redeployment across the Scottish Government, including within the Constitution and Cabinet Directorate. At 24 January 2022, final job advertisements or job specifications had not been produced for any future recruitment. This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have requested.

We have identified one job description for a vacancy in the Referendums Scotland Bill Team and details of this are enclosed in the Annex of this letter.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because an exemption under section 38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA applies to that information. This is because it is personal data of a third party, specifically the salaries of individuals, 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.

As part of our commitment to be an open and transparent government we do disclose salary details of senior civil servants, the salary band for the post in Constitutional Futures Division is below.

  • Deputy Director – Constitutional Futures £77,340 - £83,233

The work to prepare an independence prospectus will be co-ordinated by Constitutional Futures Division, but will draw on other officials across a range of portfolios who will contribute to varying extents. The Scottish Government does not have a recorded number of other staff who will participate in this work because in line with usual practice, the Scottish Government does not routinely record details of individual tasks carried out by civil servants, including the number of hours spent on them, as there is no business need to do this. This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have requested.

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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