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Publication - FOI/EIR release

Confederation of Passenger Transport Scotland Conference November 2017: FOI release

Published: 15 Dec 2017

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

Published:
15 Dec 2017
Confederation of Passenger Transport Scotland Conference November 2017: FOI release

FOI reference: FOI/17/02758
Date received: 14 November 2017
Date responded: 13 December 2017

Information requested

  1. Notes retained by the Scottish Government relating to the Confederation of Passenger Transport Scotland Conference at Trump Turnberry in November 2017, including speaking notes and briefing notes for the Minister for Transport and the Islands.
  2. A list of meetings attended by the Minister for Transport and the Islands during the Confederation of Passenger Transport Scotland Conference at Trump Turnberry in November 2017.
  3. A summary of the issues discussed with the Minister for Transport and the Islands during the Confederation of Passenger Transport Scotland Conference at Trump Turnberry in 2017.

Response

Question 1

I enclose a copy of some of the information you have requested.

  • A copy of the Ministerial briefing and speaking note prepared ahead of the Minister's appearance at the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) Conference at Trump Turnberry in November 2017.

  • An email dated 10 November 2017 which detailed key points of the first day of the CPT Conference (6 November 2017).

The Ministerial briefing document contained within it a separate briefing for a different event undertaken by the Minister for Transport and the Islands at Trump Turnberry on the same day. This was separate from the CPT Conference so this information has been redacted as it is outwith the scope of your request.

Some other information held within the email dated 10 November 2017 has also been redacted as it does not relate to the CPT Conference.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information because an exemptions under sections 29(1)(a) (policy formulation), 30(b)(i) (free and frank advice) and 38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained below.

Question 2 and 3

The Minister for Transport and the Islands did not attend any meetings during the Confederation of Passenger Transport Scotland Conference at Trump Turnberry in November 2017 so there is no information pertinent to the second part of your request.

The Minister had a variety of discussions during his time at the Conference relating to bus policy however, these discussions were not recorded.

This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

Reasons for not providing information

An exemption applies, subject to the public interest test:

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to some of the information requested 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 applies, subject to the public interest test:

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 and development of the Scottish Government's policy on Concessionary Travel and Low Emission Zones.

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, and to help account for the expenditure of public money. 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 the discussions on Concessionary Travel and Low Emission Zones 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.

An exemption under section 30(b)(i) of FOISA (free and frank provision of advice) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice. This exemption recognises the need for officials to have a private space within which to provide free and frank advice to Ministers before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of free and frank advice on Patronage, Bus Policy and Concessionary Travel will substantially inhibit the provision of such advice in the future, particularly because these discussions are still on-going and decisions have not been taken.

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 a private space within which officials can provide full and frank advice to Ministers, as part of the process of exploring and refining the Government's policy position on Patronage, Bus Policy and Concessionary Travel 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 policy 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 policy making process, which would not be in the public interest.

About FOI

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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