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Publication - FOI / EIR Release

Correspondence regarding Science Festival Grants: FOI release

Published: 29 Sep 2017

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

FOI reference: FOI/17/01816
Date received: 15 August 2017
Date responded: 12 September 2017

Information requested

  • Correspondence between Scottish Government and University of Highlands and Islands in relation to administration of Science Festival grants over the last 2 years
  • Copies of reports from Scottish Government funded Science Festivals from 2016 and 2017
  • Copies of the minutes of meetings including with Ministers and decision letters/emails to all science festivals, where the festival reports were discussed for the last 4 years

Response

I enclose an electronic copy of most of the information you requested.

Title Attachment File Type Size
SG and Dumfries and Galloway Meeting 4.03.16 Annex A PDF 90KB
Ms Somerville Meeting 20.09.16 Annex B PDF 301KB
Science Festival Funding Caithness 2016 Annex C PDF 6MB
Science Festival Funding EISF 2016 Annex D PDF 1MB
Science Festival Funding Fife 2016 Annex E PDF 13MB
Science Festival Funding Glasgow 2016 Annex F PDF 3MB
Science Festival Funding Inverness 2016 Annex G PDF 695KB
Science Festival Funding Strathearn 2016 Annex H PDF 611KB
Science Festival Funding Caithness 2017 Annex I PDF 5MB
Science Festival Funding Dumfries & Galloway 2016 Annex J PDF 347KB
Science Festival Funding EISF 2017 Annex K PDF 2MB
Science Festival Funding Fife 2017 Annex L PDF 2MB
Science Festival Funding Inverness 2017 Annex M PDF 731KB
Science Festival Funding Strathearn 2017 Annex N PDF 199KB
Science Festival Funding Borders 2016 Annex O PDF 615KB
Science Festival Funding Midlothian 2016 Annex P PDF 4MB
Science Festival Funding TechFest 2016 Annex Q PDF 3MB
Science Festival Funding Dundee 2016 Annex R PDF 12MB

Due to the file size of the documents released, copies can be provided on request by emailing ceu@gov.scot, quoting the FOI reference number FOI/17/01816

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 s.25(1) (Information otherwise accessible), s.29(1)(a) (Formulation of policy), s.30(b)(ii) (Free and frank exchange of views), s.33(1)(b) (Commercial interests) and s.38(1)(b) (Personal data), of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained below.

Reasons for not providing information

An exemption applies.

Exemptions under sections s.25(1), s.29(1)(a), s.30(b)(ii), s.33(1)(b) and s.38(1)(b) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested.

Section s.25(1) (Information otherwise accessible), applies where you would be able to access the information without having to make a request for it through the Act. In this case we have applied this exemption to communications or minutes where you were a copy or direct recipient.

Section s.29(1)(a) (Formulation of policy) applies to information directly relating to formulation of Scottish Government policy. We have applied this to information where policy is still being formed or where the information applies to policies outwith the scope of your request.

Section s.30(b)(ii) 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 officials to have a private space within which to discuss issues and options with external stakeholders before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of these discussions with the University of Highlands and Island on funding of Highlands and Islands science festivals will substantially inhibit such discussions in the future, because these stakeholders will be reluctant to provide their views fully and frankly if they believe that those views are likely to be made public, particularly while these discussions relate to a sensitive issue such as withholding payment of grant.

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 communicate with appropriate external stakeholders as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government's position. 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 decision making process, which would not be in the public interest.

Section s.33(1)(b) (Commercial interests) applies to information where disclosure may substantially prejudice the commercial interests of a person or organization. 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 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 which enter into Scottish Government contracts, to ensure that we are always able to obtain the best value for public money.

Section s.38(1)(b) (Personal data) applies to a small amount of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, e.g. names of officials, science festival organisers and their personal contact details, 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.

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

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:
29 Sep 2017
Correspondence regarding Science Festival Grants: FOI release