FOI reference: FOI/17/02109
Date received: 19 September 2017
Date responded: 30 October 2017
Internal correspondence on Fiona Hyslop's Statement on Catalonia from 16 September 2017 and whether any notification was given to the Foreign Office before issuing this statement.
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have asked for because an exemption under section 32(1)(a)(i) (prejudice to relations between the UK and any other State) applies to that information. The reason why this exemption applies is explained below.
You also asked whether the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) was notified in advance about the statement. We can confirm no such notification was issued.
Reasons for not providing information
An exemption under section 32(1)(a)(i) of FOISA (international relations) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially relations between the United Kingdom and Spain. The effective conduct of international relations depends upon maintaining trust and confidence between the UK Government and other States. In this case, the information about the Scottish Government's internal discussions about Catalonia could be open to misinterpretation of misrepresentation, and this would be likely to prejudice substantially relations between the UK and Spain.
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 outweights 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 this information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, there is a greater public interest in ensuring that the UK Government is able to maintain good relations with Spain, in order to protect and promote UK interests abroad.
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