In September 2021, the First Minister announced that Scottish Government civil servants would start work on a detailed prospectus for independence (as reported here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-58478187). On 21st May this year, the First Minister stated: 'we will shortly begin publishing an updated prospectus on the opportunities that independence can offer Scotland.'
On 21st May this year, the First Minister stated: 'we will shortly begin publishing an updated prospectus on the opportunities that independence can offer Scotland.' (https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/independent-scotland-may-keep-pound-for-stability-as-nicola-sturgeon-to-begin-publishing-new-white-paper-3704169 )
I have previously asked for the plans for this prospectus, and have previously been told that the material either has not existed, or that officers believe that exemptions apply, covering policy formulation or free and frank provision of advice. Now, with the prospectus about to be published 'shortly', I hope that you can provide me with some information. I hope that the information I am requesting below is not subject to these exemptions, not least because I am not requesting at this stage to review the advice provided, or to understand the process of generating a plan for the prospectus.
- Please provide me with a copy of the plan for the production and publication of the prospectus. Please note that this is a request for a plan, starting from now (or earlier) and through to the final publication of all parts of the prospectus, including key dates for publication; it is not merely a request for a final target date.
- Please let me know how many Scottish Government staff are currently working on the prospectus, and the grades of each staff member. I expect that the answer to this question may have changed since information on this matter was released previously.
- Please confirm whether any external consultants or contractors have so far been involved in the preparation of the prospectus.
- Please let me know whether there are currently any plans to involve external consultants or contractors in the preparation of the prospectus in the future.
- If any external consultants or contractors are involved, or are due to be involved, and they have been engaged, please let me know the name(s) of the company/companies involved.
- Please let me know if any non-staff costs have been budgeted for the production of the prospectus, including but not limited to: consultancy costs, printing and other publication costs, and promotional costs.
- Please let me know the total budgeted non-staff costs for the production of the prospectus. Please note that at this stage I am not asking for a breakdown of this total, as I understand that a breakdown could be considered to be commercially sensitive.
Please answer each of these questions separately, rather than lumping them together in your response, as I would like it to be clear as to the answer to each one.
- While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide the information you have requested because an exemption under section 29(1)(a) formulation or development of government policy of FOISA applies to that information. The reason why this exemption applies is explained in Annex A of this letter.
- At 24 May 2022, the staff in the Constitutional Futures Division co-ordinating work on an independence prospectus comprised of one Senior Civil Servant and nineteen other officials. The grades of the other officials are – 6 C2, 9 C1, 1 B3, 1 B2 and 2 B1. The work on the prospectus will also draw on other officials across a range of portfolios who will contribute to varying extents as part of their wider responsibilities in supporting the Scottish Government.
- At 24 May 2022, no external consultants and one external contractor had been involved in the preparation of the prospectus.
- There are currently no plans to involve any external consultants or any additional external contractors in the preparation of the prospectus.
- The external contractor involved in the publication of the prospectus is APS Group.
- The Scottish Government has not created a separate budget for non-staff costs for the production of the independence prospectus, from that already allocated to portfolios for operational costs for the current financial year.
- Please see answer to question 6.
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.
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
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