FOI reference: FOI/17/01835
Date received: 10 August 2017
Date responded: 30 August 2017
Copies of all emails with attachments to and from the Scottish Government health department and Action on Smoking and Health Scotland since 1st January 2015.
Copies of all grant letters, awards and contracts made between the Scottish Government and Action on Smoking and Health Scotland in each of the last five years.
Copies of all assessment or monitoring reports relating to the grants made between the Scottish Government and Action on Smoking and Health Scotland in each of the last five years.
We do endeavour to provide information whenever possible. We have now completed our search for the information you request, and a copy of the information is attached.
However, in this instance, exemptions under FOISA apply to pieces of the information requested. The information below explains the exemptions that apply.
Reasons for not providing information
30 (b) (i) – Free and frank provision of advice
An exemption under section 30(b)(i) of FOISA applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure of the information would, or would be likely to inhibit substantially the free and frank exchange of advice for the purposes of deliberation. This exemption is subject to the public interest test. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption because the information relates to policy that is still in development.
30 (b) (ii) – Free and frank exchange of views
An exemption under section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure of the information would, would be likely to inhibit substantially the free and frank exchange of views for the purpose of deliberation/ this exemption is subject to the public interest test. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption because the information relates to policy that is still in development.
Section 30(c) - Substantial prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs [in relation to communications/meetings with external stakeholders]
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 officials to be able to communicate/meet, often in confidence, with external stakeholders on a range of issues. Disclosing the content of these communications 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. These stakeholders will be reluctant to participate in meetings or provide their views fully and frankly if they believe that their views are likely to be made public, particularly while these discussions are still on-going and decisions have not been taken. 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 circumstance 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 policy position until the Government as a whole can adopt a policy that is sound and likely to be effective. This private space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, so that good policy decisions can be taken based on fully informed advice and evidence, such as that provided by ASH Scotland. 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.
Section 38 (1) (b) - Personal data the disclosure of which would contravene data protection principles
Please note that personal data has been redacted. Personal data includes all information that relates to an individual, and includes identifiers such as name, address and date of birth.
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