FOI reference: FOI/17/02404
Date received: 16 October 2017
Date responded: 22 November 2017
"Correspondence between any minister or staff member of the Scottish Government and its arm's-length organisations and any minister or staff member of the Canadian Government and its arm's-length organisations concerning the forthcoming visit to North America of the Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs, and Fair Work, Keith Brown"
I enclose a copy of correspondence between the Scottish Government and the Canadian Government at Annex B of this letter. However, 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 32(1)(a)(i) of FOISA (international relations) and 38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why these exemptions) apply are explained in below.
In relation to our arm's length organisations, while our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested. The reason the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested is because it does not routinely hold correspondence generated by other organisations.
Scottish Enterprise may hold this information and can be contacted by email at email@example.com
This is a formal notice under section 17(1)(b) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have requested.
Reasons for not providing information
An exemption applies:
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 the Canadian Government. The effective conduct of international relations depends upon maintaining trust and confidence between the UK Government and the Canadian Government. In this case, there was some information granted to the Scottish Government on the understanding that it would be treated as being in confidence. If the Scottish Government does not respect this confidence, the UK Government's relations with the Canadian Government and its ability to protect and promote UK interests will be substantially prejudiced. States such as Canada are likely to be more reluctant to share sensitive information with Scotland or other parts of the United Kingdom in future, which would reduce both the frequency and openness of communications with the UK.
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 ensuring that the UK Government is able to maintain good relations with Canada in order to protect and promote UK interests abroad. There can be no public interest in jeopardising those relations by the Scottish Government disclosing confidential information.
An exemption under section38(1)(b) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested as follows:
This information relates to personal data relating to a third party and applied in the following cases: .
- Scottish Government officials below the Senior Civil Service.
- Names of individuals who attended an event and did not give permission for release.
It would not be the expectation of these individuals that their personal information would be released and may cause them damage or distress to do so.
I am satisfied that the information that has been withheld constitutes the 'personal data' of the individuals concerned, as defined in section 1(1) of the DPA.
In coming to the decision to withhold personal data on the basis that it would be unfair to release it, we have taken into consideration:
- seniority of the individuals' positions;
- any potential damage or distress which may be caused by disclosure of the information;
- expectations of the data subjects with regard to the release of the information.
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