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Publication - FOI / EIR Release

Meeting between Keith Brown MSP and Hu Chunhua: FOI release

Published: 6 Dec 2017

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

FOI reference: FOI/17/02407
Date received: 13 October 2017
Date responded: 21 November 2017

Information requested

1) All communications regarding the organisation of the Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work's meeting with Hu Chunhua (Party Secretary, Guangdong Province) on June 11, 2016.

2) any communications between the Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work or SG officials and Mr Chunhua/Mr Chunhua's officials following the meeting.

3) Any briefing papers prepared in advance of the meeting.

4) Any notes, minutes or action points taken following the meeting.

Response

Request 1

The event Mr Brown attended was a welcome dinner, not a formal meeting. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the costs of locating, retrieving and providing the information requested would exceed the upper cost limit of £600. This is because details of these communications are not held centrally, so to locate and retrieve these pieces of information we would need to carry out an extensive search across the Scottish Government and our Agencies. Under section 12 of FOISA, public authorities are not required to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying would exceed the upper cost limit, which is currently set at £600 by Regulations made under section 12.

You may, however, wish to consider reducing the scope of your request in order that the costs can be brought below £600, for example by requesting communications containing the official operational and seating arrangements of the meeting between the Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work and the Party Secretary of Guangdong.

You may also find it helpful to look at the Scottish Information Commissioner's 'Tips for requesting information under FOI and the EIRs' on her website at: Commissioner's Tips

Request 2

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have the information you requested. We do not have the information because there are no records of any communications between the Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work or Scottish Government officials and Mr Chunhua/Mr Chunhua's officials following the meeting. This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

Request 3

Title Detail File Type Size
Annex A Summary Page PDF 939KB
Annex B Biographies PDF 639KB
Annex C Key Investors PDF 541KB
Annex D Party Secretary Programme PDF 160KB
Annex E Trade Investor Links PDF 369KB
Annex F China's Belt & Road Initiatives PDF 214KB
Annex G Key Messages PDF 1.8MB

I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested (Annex A-G). A redacted copy is attached at Annex A. 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 section 38(1)(b) (personal data of a third party) and section 32(1)(a)(i) (international relations) of FOISA apply to that information. An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to some of this information because it is personal data of a third party, ie names/contact details of individuals, 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.

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 China. The effective conduct of international relations depends upon maintaining trust and confidence between the UK Government and China. If the Scottish Government does not respect this confidence, the UK Government's relations with China and its ability to protect and promote UK interest will be substantially prejudiced; and China and other countries 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 China in order to protect and promote UK interests abroad.

Request 4

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested. As set out earlier, this was not a formal meeting but a welcome dinner. This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

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

FOI-17-02407-Annex A-Summary Page.pdf

5 page PDF
960.9kB

FOI-17-02407-Annex B-Biographies.pdf

3 page PDF
654.0kB

FOI-17-02407-Annex C-Key Investors.pdf

3 page PDF
553.3kB

FOI-17-02407-Annex E-Trade Investment Links.pdf

2 page PDF
377.1kB

FOI-17-02407-Annex G- Key Messages.pdf

10 page PDF
1.9MB

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:
6 Dec 2017
Meeting between Keith Brown MSP and Hu Chunhua: FOI release