FOI reference: FOI/17/01475
Date received: 20 June 2017
Date responded: 17 July 2017
Minutes from the meeting held between Michael Russell MSP and Gordon Jackson and Angela Graham on 15 March 2017
All correspondence before and after this meeting relating to the meeting.
There were no minutes taken during this meeting. The material provided in our response is solely in response to the second part of your request.
- briefing for meeting on 15 March 2017
- covering email – arbitration paper
- Faculty of Advocates arbitration proposal
- emails relating to meeting
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 of exemptions under sections s.30(b)(ii) (free and frank exchange of views for the purpose of deliberation) and s.38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why these exemption(s) applies are explained in the Annex to this letter.
Some sections of the correspondence supplied in this response have been redacted as they are out with the scope of your request.
Reasons for not providing information
An exemption under section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank exchange of views for the purpose of deliberation) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. This exemption recognises the need for Ministers and officials to have a private space within which to discuss and explore options before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of free and frank discussions on the operation of legal systems and processes following the UK exit from the European Union, will substantially inhibit such discussions in the future, particularly because these discussions are still ongoing.
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 Ministers and officials a private space within which to explore and refine the Government's position on the operation of legal systems and processes following the UK exit from the European Union, 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, 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 policy making process, which would not be in the public interest.
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 third parties, i.e. names of specific individuals which would allow those individuals to be identified, and disclosing this information 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.
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