FOI reference: FOI/17/01352
Date received: 19 June 2017
Date responded: 28 June 2017
- a copy of all background notes and/or briefing/s provided to the Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy with regard to the meeting with the Federation of Small Businesses in relation to the meeting on Small Businesses held on 9th March 2017 and;
- a copy of any minute and note taken during or subsequent to this meeting.
In response to 1. above, I enclose a copy of the pre-meeting briefing provided to the Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy. 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 exemptions under sections 29(1)(a) (formulation or development of government policy) and 38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA apply to that information. The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained in the Annex to this letter. In response to 2. above, while our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested. The reasons why we don't have the information are explained in the Annex.
In relation to 1. above
An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to a small amount of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, i.e. names/contact details of individuals, and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Schedule 1 to the Data Protection Act 1998. 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.
In relation to 1. above
An exemption under section 29(1)(a) of FOISA (formulation or development of government policy) applies to some of the information requested (specifically "Annex C – EU Referendum Overview" and "Annex G - Can Do Places (Formerly Can Do Towns)" because it relates to the formulation/development of Scottish Government policy.
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, and to inform public debate. However, there is a greater public interest in high quality policy and decision-making, and in the properly considered implementation and development of policies and decisions. This means that Ministers and officials need to be able to consider all available options and to debate those rigorously, to fully understand their possible implications. Their candour in doing so will be affected by their assessment of whether the discussions on the implications of the EU Referendum result will be disclosed in the near future, when it may undermine or constrain the Government's view on that policy while it is still under discussion and development.
In relation to 2. above
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have or hold a copy of any note or minute taken and/or action points and any post meeting briefing. There is no requirement for minutes to be taken at all Scottish Government meetings. This is in line with normal practice across the UK Civil Service. This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have that information which you have requested.
Pre-meeting briefing provided to Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy
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 Andrew's House