Briefing materials on independence referendum: FOI release

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

Information requested

The most up to date briefing material that is provided to ministers on the topic of Scottish independence/second independence referendum.

If possible, can you also please provide the dates and instances where this briefing material was used for in the last 6 months.

For example, XXX MSP was given the briefing material in preparation for a meeting with XXX organisation on 10/01/2024.


The most recent briefing material on the specific topic of an independence referendum is enclosed in the Annex of this letter.

Briefing relating to broader matters about, or in some way touching on, independence will cover a wide range of topics. It is therefore not possible to locate, retrieve, process and provide all of this information within the upper cost limit.

It is also not possible to provide you with information about “the dates and instances where this briefing material was used for in the last 6 months” within the upper cost limit. The following explanation of why this is the case is provided, outwith FOISA, below.

Ministers regularly receive briefings on a wide range of topics, both within and outside of their respective portfolios. For example, a Minister could be meeting with an external stakeholder who wishes to discuss matters connected to their portfolio, but might also want to discuss a particular topic regarding Scottish independence, and briefing would be prepared by officials accordingly.

The Scottish Government does not have a centrally held record of each briefing it has prepared for each Minister, when this was done, and the topics included in that briefing. Therefore, to fully comply with your request, we would have to conduct searches across every business area of the Scottish Government to determine what briefings had been provided to Ministers over the past 6 months, which would not be possible to do within the upper cost limit.

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 in order that the costs can be brought below £600. For example, you could specify a particular topic concerning Scottish independence that you are interested in, or briefing for a particular meeting or event that a Scottish Government Minister attended, as this would allow us to limit the searches that would require to be conducted. 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:

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 202400392770 - Information Released - Annex


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

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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