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Publication - FOI / EIR Release

Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy meeting SSE: FOI release

Published: 24 Aug 2017

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

FOI reference: FOI/17/01385
Date received: 19 June 2017
Date responded: 3 July 2017

Information requested

Copy of all background notes and/or briefing/s provided to the Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy with regard to the meeting with SSE in relation to the meeting on Energy held on 15th March 2017.

Response

I enclose a copy of most of the information you requested.

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(s) under section(s) 30(b)(i) and 30(b)(ii) (free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation) and 33(1)(b) (commercial interests). 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 s.30(b)(i), s.30(b)(ii) and s.33(1)(b) of FOISA applies to some the information you have requested.

Section 30(b)(i) and 30(b)(ii) – free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation.

These exemptions apply because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice and exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation.

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 allowing a private space within which officials can provide free and frank advice and views to Ministers in briefing for meetings. There is also a greater public interest in allowing Ministers and officials a private space within which to communicate with appropriate external stakeholders as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government's position on matters discussed at this meeting. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between the Scottish Government and these stakeholders, which in turn will undermine the quality of the policy making process, which would not be in the public interest. There is also an important public interest in avoiding the loss of stakeholder confidence in cases where they thought they were providing comments in confidence, which would be inevitable if an individual's contribution was released against their wishes.

Section 33(1)(b) – commercial interests.

This exemption applies because disclosure of this particular information would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the commercial interests of the companies discussed at this meeting.

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 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 and transparent government, and to help account for the expenditure of public money. However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the commercial interests of companies discussed in this briefing. Disclosing specific information discussed with SHE-T could give competitors an advantage.

About FOI

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

foi-17-01385 Note of meeting with SHE-T.pdf

2 page PDF
219.5kB

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference

Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG

Published:
24 Aug 2017
Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy meeting SSE: FOI release