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Publication - FOI / EIR Release

Correspondence with Migration Advisory Committee: FOI release

Published: 30 Nov 2017

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

FOI reference: FOI/17/02595
Date received: 30 October 2017
Date responded: 28 November 2017

Information requested

'Scottish Government correspondence with the Migration Advisory Committee from September 2014.' We received clarification from you on 1 November that you have asked for correspondence from September 2014 until the present date.

Response

We have now completed our search for the information you requested and a copy of most of the information you have requested is enclosed in the Annex to this letter.
Some of the information you have requested is in the public domain. Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the websites listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy. Please see below the following links:

Review of the shortage occupation lists for the UK and Scotland)

NHS Agenda for Change pay scales – 2013/2014)

NHS Lothian Board Meeting Minutes)

Partial review of the Shortage Occupation Lists for the UK and for Scotland)

Codes of Practice for Skilled Workers)

All data related to Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings: 2014 Provisional Results)

Call for evidence review: shortage occupation list - nurses)

igration Advisory Committee (MAC) partial review: shortage occupation list and nursing)

Teacher Workforce Planning and Recruitment)

The Contribution of EEA Citizens to Scotland: the Scottish Government's Response to the Migration Advisory Committee Call for Evidence on the Role of EEA Workers in the UK Labour Market - Evidence Annex)

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 s.38(1)(b) (personal information), section s.29(1)(a) (formulation or development of government policy), section 30(b)(i) (free and frank provision of advice) and (ii) (free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation), and section s.28(1) (relations within the UK) of FOISA applies to that information.

The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained below.

Reasons for not providing information

An exemption applies.

An exemption under section s.38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to some of the information you have requested because it is personal data of a third party, i.e. 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 s.29(1)(a) of FOISA (formulation or development of government policy) applies to some of the information you have requested, because it relates to the formulation of the Scottish Government's policy on the configuration of medical posts and profiles in relation to our wider policy approach to NHS workforce planning, which is still undergoing development.

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 disclosing the information as part of an open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate.However, this is outweighed by the public interest in ensuring that public administration is informed by high-quality and frank advice, in which Ministers are afforded the opportunity to appropriately consider the development and implementation of policies and decisions, including the opportunity to debate policy options rigorously in order to fully understand their possible implications. Ministers' candour and scrutiny of the available policy options in relation to the configuration of medical posts and profiles as a component of NHS workforce planning, is influenced by their assessment of whether their advice and discussions will be disclosed in the near future, which may undermine the Government's view on this policy area which, as aforementioned, is still in development.

An exemption under section 30(b)(i) and (ii) of FOISA (free and frank provision of advice, and free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation) applies to some of the information requested. These exemptions apply because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice and exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. These exemptions recognise the need for Ministers and officials to have a private space within which to discuss and explore options before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of free and frank advice on local implementation of workforce strategy will substantially inhibit such discussions and provision of advice in the future, particularly because the content was to capture officials' views and inform a response back to the Board's concerned.

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 allowing Ministers and officials a private space within which to provide full and frank advice as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government's position on workforce strategy, until the Government as a whole can adopt a decision that is sound and likely to be effective. This private thinking space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, based on the best available advice, so that good decisions can be taken. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between Ministers and officials, which in turn will undermine the quality of the decision making process, which would not be in the public interest.

An exemption under section s.28(1) (relations within the UK) of FOISA (formulation or development of government policy) applies to some of the information you have requested, as disclosure would be likely to prejudice substantially relations between administrations in the UK (i.e. Westminster and Holyrood).

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 disclosing the information as part of an open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, there is a greater public interest in maintaining good relations between the Scottish Government and the UK Government, and in protecting the free exchange of information between the administrations to ensure that we keep each other fully and regularly informed about matters of mutual interest, such as the work of the Migration Advisory Committee. There is no public interest in disclosing information when that will damage relationships and disrupt future communications.

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:
30 Nov 2017
Correspondence with Migration Advisory Committee: FOI release