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Publication - FOI / EIR Release

Average time taken to release FOI request: FOI release

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

FOI reference: FOI/17/01862
Date received: 16 August 2017
Date responded: 11 September 2017

Information requested

You asked for the following:

1 - All papers that Mr Fitzpatrick has based his claim of "Scotland is one of the worlds most transparent countries and governments in the world."

2 - The average time taken to release FOI request answers in each of the last 5 years

3 - The number of FOI rejected each of the last 5 years and the percentage of FOI rejected in each of the last 5 years.

Response

1 – While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested. We hold no record of Mr Fitzpatrick stating that "Scotland is one of the worlds most transparent countries and governments in the world" and, having examined briefing provided to the Minister on the subject, I am satisfied that no information is held which falls within the scope of your request. This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

However, Mr Fitzpatrick has spoken of the intention "to become the most open and transparent government Scotland has seen," and of Scotland having "the most far-reaching freedom of information laws in the UK".

The latter point is based upon comparisons of the Scottish FOI legislation with that of the UK (PDF 130kb), for a comparative table produced by the Office of the Scottish Information Commissioner. Furthermore, in his special report to the Scottish Parliament on the state of FOI in Scotland, Kevin Dunion, the first Scottish Information Commissioner, wrote:

"Scotland's freedom of information regime is widely recognised as being strong and withstanding international scrutiny. The law is progressive, authorities comply with their obligations and public use of FOI rights is widespread. More information is being disclosed and proactively published as a result of FOISA. I base this view not only on my experience as the independent appellate body for the legislation in Scotland, but also on substantial engagement with FOI regimes in many other countries."

In her special report to the Scottish Parliament on proactive publication, Rosemary Agnew, the second Scottish Information Commissioner, wrote:

"[S]ince Scotland introduced the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, it has put itself ahead of the international field. Our law is respected because of the enforcement powers it gives the Commissioner, and our publication scheme duties are seen as positive. This respect is reflected in the frequency with which we are approached to: host or visit countries putting in place FOI for the first time, and speak at both national and international events about FOI in Scotland. Our regime is well established, operating in a mature democracy."

And in a speech from December 2014, Lord Wallace of Tankerness, in reflecting on the differences between the UK and Scottish legislation, said the latter is "widely seen as the stronger FOI regime."

In 2016 Scotland was selected by the Open Government Partnership as one of 15 Pioneer governments round the world to join a programme to bring new leadership and innovation into the OGP at all levels of government - Scotland being chosen because of its commitment to Open Government reforms, including community empowerment and improvements in democracy. The Open Government Partnership was launched in 2011 to provide an international platform for those committed to making governments more open, accountable, and responsive to citizens.

2 & 3 – The information you have requested is presented below:

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Average time taken to respond (calendar days, includes weekends & holidays) 30.4 days 31.2 days 27.9 days 27.0 days 26.9 days
No. of requests received 1914 2012 2061 2155 2103
No. of requests refused 384 385 514 354 230
% of requests received that were refused 20.1% 19.1% 24.9% 16.4% 10.9%
  • The figures above are calendar days and therefore do not exclude weekends and holidays, which would not be counted as working days under FOISA (under FOISA, the statutory time limit for responding is 20 working days.) 20 working days would therefore equate to a minimum of 28 calendar days. In addition, under the EIRs the deadline of a request can be extended by a further 20 working days. Such cases are included in the above figures.

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:
11 Sep 2017
Average time taken to release FOI request: FOI release