Correspondence regarding transparency of Scotland’s Governing Party: FOI review

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

Information requested

  1. All correspondence (including emails, letters, meetings, instant messages and phone calls) between Scottish Ministers, Scottish Government officials and SNP officials (employed by the party) regarding the debate held in the Scottish Parliament on 3 May 2023 on Transparency of Scotland’s Governing Party. This correspondence should also include any email attachments, minutes of meetings including all attendees and any notes taken, details or notes of phone calls about the order between 28 April 2023 and 3 May 2023 inclusive.
  2. The briefing provided to Scottish Ministers by the Scottish Government who were participating in the Transparency of Scotland’s Governing Party debate on 3 May 2023.

I was refused this information on the count of the fact it would cost too much because there was so much material in scope despite it covering just a five day period. I find it difficult to believe that it would cost more than £600 to extract this material over what is a period covering just five days but if I reduce the scope of my request to not include instant messages and phone calls then I am confident that it will be in scope.

Furthermore, I also requested the briefing handed out to Scottish Ministers who participated in the debate and this was not given even though I have been provided ministerial briefings before and is easily available to you so I would also request this briefing in full as my original request stated.


I have treated the request in two parts, in line with your original request.

For part one, I have concluded that the original decision should be confirmed without modification.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the costs of locating, retrieving and providing the information requested would exceed the upper cost limit of £600. While you have limited your request to email correspondence regarding one Parliamentary debate, there is a large amount of material held relating to the debate due to its cross-cutting nature, and locating and providing all of the correspondence relating to the debate from all business areas involved would require significant time and resource. It is worth noting, for example, that due to the breadth of topics covered within the debate several dozen officials were involved in briefing, all of whom would need to undertake searches as part of the response to this FOI.

Under section 12 of FOISA public authorities are not required to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying would exceed the upper cost limit, which is currently set at £600 by Regulations made under section 12.

You may, however, wish to consider reducing the scope of your request, for example, by focussing on a certain topic or topics within the scope of the debate in order that the costs can be brought below £600. You may also find it helpful to look at the Scottish Information Commissioner’s ‘Tips for requesting information under FOI and the EIRs’ on his website at:

For the second part of your request, I have concluded that a different decision should be substituted. Some of the information you have requested is enclosed in Annex A of this letter.

Exemptions under Sections 38(1)(b) (Personal Information) and Section 30(b)(i) (Free and Frank Provision of Advice) of FOISA apply to some of the information requested, this has been indicated on the release where it occurs. The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained in Annex B of this letter.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at

FOI - 202300359727 - Annex A-B


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

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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