FOI reference: FOI/17/01366
Date received: 20 June 2017
Date responded: 14 July 2017
Any information relating to correspondence between the minister for Department of Finance and Personnel in Northern Ireland and the Scottish Department for Local Government and Community Empowerment (including its predecessors and successors who dealt with the relevant issues) in relation to same sex marriage or civil partnership legislation – and related issues - between 1st July 2009 and 1st March 2016.
By way of background, section 8 of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 made provision so that civil partners in a partnership registered in Scotland can, if they wish, change their relationship to marriage in Scotland. Section 9 of the 2014 Act gives a power to the Scottish Ministers to make a Scottish Statutory Instrument (SSI) so that couples in a civil partnership registered outside of Scotland can also, if they wish, change their relationship to marriage in Scotland.
The Scottish Ministers have made an SSI under section 9.
The Scottish Government has also issued guidance to couples considering changing their civil partnership registered outside of Scotland to a marriage in Scotland:
Before making the SSI, the Scottish Government issued a consultation on a draft order on changing civil partnerships registered outwith Scotland into marriage in Scotland. The consultation follows an earlier discussion paper.
In addition, following the passage of the 2014 Act, an Order under section 104 of the Scotland Act 1998 (on UK consequential provision following an Act of the Scottish Parliament) was made. Some of this Order (eg Article 6) affected Northern Ireland and so there was correspondence with the Northern Ireland administration accordingly.
I enclose a copy of most of the information you requested.
Some of the information you have requested is available at (https://beta.gov.scot/publications/changing-civil-partnerships-registered-outwith-scotland/) 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 we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because an exemption under section 36(1) (confidentiality) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why that exemption(s) applies are explained below.
Reasons for not providing information
An exemption applies, subject to the public interest test.
An exemption under section 36(1) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested. This relates to requesting and obtaining legal advice.
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 some public interest in release because of the general benefits of transparency. However, this is outweighed by the public interest in requests by Scottish Government officials for legal advice and the advice to be kept confidential.
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