Information

Scottish National Investment Bank investment statistics and correspondence: FOI release

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


Information requested

1. How much money has the Scottish Government invested in the Scottish National Investment Bank since its founding in 2020, broken down by each payment.

2. How much money has been invested in Scottish firms, broken down by date and including name of business and how much money they received.

3. Any emails and correspondence between former boss Eilidh Mactaggart and government ministers and the board of the Scottish National Investment Bank since 2020.

Response

The Scottish National Investment Bank was launched on 23 November 2020 at which point Eilidh Mactaggart became the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Our searches are therefore limited to between that date and the date of your request.

I attach a copy of most of the information you requested (see Annex A).

Some of the information you have requested is available from the Scottish National Investment Bank’s website. 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.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have requested as it is not held by the Scottish Government. This is therefore a notice under Section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

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 exemptions under the following sections: Exemptions under sections 30(b)(i) and 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank advice and exchange of views) apply to a small amount of the information requested. These exemptions apply because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice and exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. The exemptions recognise the need for Ministers to have a private space within which to seek advice and views from officials before reaching the settled public position. Disclosing the content of free and frank briefing material on these matters will substantially inhibit such briefings in the future, particularly as such matters were still ongoing at the time and final decisions had yet to be taken or positions agreed.

These exemptions are 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 exemptions. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemptions. 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 a private space within which officials can provide free and frank advice and views to Ministers in briefings and submissions or in relation to investment propositions. It is clearly in the public interest that Ministers can properly make decisions, potentially provide sound information to Parliament (to which they are accountable) and to understand fully the investments being made. They need full and candid advice from officials to enable them to do so. Disclosure of this type of information could lead to a reduction in the comprehensiveness and frankness of such advice and views in the future, which would not be in the public interest.

An exemption under section 30(c) of FOISA (prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs) An exemption under section 30(c) of FOISA (prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs) applies to a small amount of the information requested. Disclosing this information would substantially prejudice the Scottish Government and/or the Bank's ability to conduct aspects of its operations. 

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. However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the Bank’s objective investment assessment process and operations ensuring the Bank and the Scottish Government is able conduct aspects of its business effectively.

An exemption under section 33(1)(b) of FOISA applies to a small amount of the information requested. This exemption applies when disclosure of this information would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the commercial interests of the Scottish National Investment Bank and the business discussed in the information. In particular, disclosing the information might undermine the business’s ability to seek future funding applications to the Scottish Government, Scottish National Investment Bank and elsewhere or impact the business’s shareholders, investors, creditors or financial arrangements or financial standing.

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. While we recognise there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open and transparent government, there is a greater public interest in protecting the integrity of the Bank’s investment process and not undermining the financial standing of the business concerned so that they are not deterred or prejudiced from approaching the Bank or any other financial provider regarding investment propositions in the future.

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. Another example of this would be the names and contact details of civil servants (in grades below the Senior Civil Service) and other persons. Disclosing this information 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.

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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