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Publication - FOI / EIR Release

Meetings with Unite Union/workforce representatives/Doosan Babcock: FOI release

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

FOI reference: FOI/17/01396
Date received: 21 June 2017
Date responded: 12 July 2017

Information requested

A copy of all background notes and/or briefing/s provided to Scottish Ministers in advance of meetings with representatives of Doosan Babcock in the past year. In addition, and again under Freedom of Information legislation you asked for a copy of any minutes and notes taken during or subsequent to these meetings.

Response

I enclose a copy of most of the information you requested in the format you asked for.

Documents released

  • Meeting with union & workforce representatives: 14 Dec 2016
  • Note of meeting: 14 Dec 2016
  • Meeting with Unite Union & Doosan Babcock: 23 Feb 2017

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, 30(c) (prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs); 30 (b) (i) provision of free and frank advice and 38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA apply to that information. The reasons why those exemptions apply are explained below.

Reasons for not providing information

An exemption applies, not subject to the public interest test

Section 38(1)(b) An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to some of the information requested because it is personal data i.e. names and 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.

Exemptions applied, subject to the public interest test

Section 30(b)(i) An exemption under section 30(b)(i) of FOISA (free and frank provision of advice) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice.

This exemption recognises the need for officials to have a private space within which to provide free and frank advice to Ministers before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of free and frank advice will substantially inhibit the provision of such advice in the future, particularly because these discussions relate to a sensitive issue.

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 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 full and frank advice to Ministers as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government's policy position on support for the Renfrewshire area until the Government as a whole can adopt a policy that is sound and likely to be effective.

This private thinking space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, based on the best available advice, so that good decisions can be taken. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between Ministers and officials, which in turn will undermine the quality of the decision making process, which would not be in the public interest.

Section 30(c) An exemption under section 30(c) of FOISA (prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs) applies to some of the information requested. It is essential for Ministers to be able to meet often in confidence, with external stakeholders on a range of issues, including their business operations in Scotland.

Disclosing the content of the information from these meetings particularly without the consent of the stakeholder is likely to undermine their trust in the Scottish Government and will substantially inhibit communications on this type of issue in the future. Stakeholders will be reluctant to participate in meetings if they believe their views are likely to be made public. This would significantly harm the Government's ability to carry out many aspects of its work, and could adversely affect its ability to gather all of the evidence it needs to make fully informed decisions.

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. However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the process of allowing Ministers and officials a private space within which to meet with appropriate external stakeholders as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government's position on business matters, until the Government as a whole can adopt a decision that is sound and likely to be effective.

This private space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, so that good decisions can be taken based on fully informed advice and evidence. 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.

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

Note of 14 Dec 2016 meeting.pdf

2 page PDF
331.6kB

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:
18 Jul 2017
Meetings with Unite Union/workforce representatives/Doosan Babcock: FOI release