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Publication - FOI / EIR Release

Potential for immigration to be devolved: FOI release

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

FOI reference: FOI/17/02580
Date received: 30 October 2017
Date responded: 16 November 2017

Information requested

'Any analysis of the potential for immigration to be devolved conducted by Scottish Government ministers and officials in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Any correspondence conducted during 2016 and 2017 (meetings, minutes of meetings, emails, letters, phone calls, briefs, notes or otherwise) involving Nicola Sturgeon surrounding the potential for immigration to be devolved.'

Response

I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested. 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 apply under sections s.29(1)(a) (policy formulation), and s.27(1) (information intended for future publication) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained below.

Reasons for not providing information

Exemptions apply, subject to the public interest test.

Exemption under section 29(1)a.

An exemption under section 29(1)(a) of FOISA (formulation or development of government policy) applies to some of the information requested because it relates to the formulation of the Scottish Government's policy on the potential for immigration to be devolved to the Scottish Government.

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 high quality policy and decision-making, and in the properly considered implementation and development of policies and decisions. This means that Ministers and officials need to be able to consider all available options and to debate those rigorously, to fully understand their possible implications. Their candour in doing so will be affected by their assessment of whether discussions on the potential for immigration to be devolved to the Scottish Government will be disclosed in the near future, when it may undermine or constrain the Government's view on that policy while it is still under discussion and development.

Exemption under section 27(1).

An exemption under section 27(1) (information intended for future publication) of FOISA applies to some of the information you requested because we intend to publish that information within 12 weeks of the date of your request. We consider that it is reasonable to withhold the information until publication, rather than release this information beforehand.

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 some public interest in release because it relates to our commitment in this year's Programme for Government to set out the case for further extending the powers of the Scottish Parliament in areas such as immigration, and this will be met by our planned publication. In the meantime, there is a greater public interest in taking the time necessary to ensure the information has been properly collated and checked before it is published as planned. Also, we see no public interest in disrupting our programme of work to release the information ahead of the intended publication date.

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:
20 Nov 2017
Potential for immigration to be devolved: FOI release