FOI reference: FOI/17/02746
Date received: 14 November 2017
Date responded: 21 December 2017
I would like to submit an FOI into the cost of hosting the Arctic Circle Forum entitled 'Scotland and the new North'; the names of representatives of foreign governments that are expected to be in attendance; for the cost of Sturgeon and other Scottish delegates attending the Arctic Circle Assembly in 2016 and 2017 and a full list of who she met with and for entries in the diary of Scottish Ministers to show the amount of time that they are spending at the Arctic Circle Forum.
1. Section 17(1) of FOISA (information not held) requires the Scottish Government to notify you if it does not have the information you requested. The Scottish Government does not have the information you have asked for because the Arctic Circle Forum took place very recently on 19th to 21st November 2017 and the final invoice has not yet been issued.
2. Please see the pdf attachment (Appendix A) for the registered attendees.
3. Please see the attachment (Appendix B) for the costs incurred by Scottish Government delegates attending the Arctic Circle Assembly in 2016 and 2017.
Some of the information you have requested is available from the Scottish Government website as all ministerial engagements, including foreign travel are proactively published by the Scottish Government. This includes costs associated with engagements. Therefore the list of the First Minister's engagements and associated costs at the Arctic Circle Assembly in 2016 can can be accessed at the following link:Ministerial Engagements 2016
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 website(s) listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.
An exemption under section 27(1) of FOISA applies to the information requested in relation to the First Minister's engagements and costs at the Arctic Circle Assembly in 2017 because we intend to publish that information proactively within 12 weeks. We consider that it is reasonable to withhold the information until that date, rather than release this routinely published information before the planned publication date.
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 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.
4.Please see the attachment (Appendix C) for details of the time spent by Scottish Ministers in relation to the Arctic Circle Forum 2017.
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