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Publication - FOI / EIR Release

Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board: FOI release

Published: 4 Jan 2018

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

FOI reference: FOI/17/02872
Date received: 27 November 2017
Date responded: 22 December 2017

Information requested

The estimated running costs of the Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board; how often it envisions that it will meet in a year; for Scottish Government correspondence on the membership of the Board; whether anyone refused a position on the Board and the details of this refusal; for how much board members will be paid; for if the Board will have any input into the upcoming or future budgets and if this FOI has not been answered beforehand for the minutes and cost of the meeting held on 13 December.

Response

You may wish to be aware that a significant amount of information regarding the Entetrprise and Skills Strategic Board has been published online. This includes the report on Phase 2 of the Enterprise and Skills Review which laid out proposals for the Strategic Board, plus a series of associated feeder reports and the Scottish Government's response to Professor Lorne Crerar's Proposals on Governance. This is available at https://beta.gov.scot/policies/economic-growth/enterprise-and-skills-review/

Information including the minutes of all meetings and papers presented at the Implementation Board which met over the summer of 2017 is available at

https://beta.gov.scot/groups/enterprise-and-skills-review-implementation-board/

Information on the Strategic Board itself is available at https://beta.gov.scot/groups/enterprise-and-skills-strategic-board/. Minutes of meetings will be published here in the future.

The following information responds to your specific requests:

  • The estimated running costs of the Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have the specific information you have requested. The reasons why we don't have the information are below.

  • How often it envisions that it will meet in a year

It is expected that the Strategic Board will meet once every two months.

  • Scottish Government correspondence on the membership of the Board

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 under the following sections of FOISA apply to that information:

  • Section 30(b)(i) (substantial inhibition of free and frank advice)

  • Section 30(c) (substantial prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs)

The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained below.

  • Whether anyone refused a position on the Board and the details of this refusal

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide the information you have requested because an exemption under the following section of FOISA applies to that information:

  • Section 30(c) (substantial prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs)

The reason why this exemption applies is explained below.

  • How much board members will be paid In line with Scottish Government policy, non-ex-officio members of the Board will have the opportunity to claim a daily rate of £250 plus appropriate expenses, for time devoted to Strategic Board duties. Members' paid time commitment is limited to a maximum of 2 days per month.

  • If the Board will have any input into the upcoming or future budgets Responsibility for the allocation of budgets for enterprise and skills agencies remains with Ministers. However the Strategic Board may offer Ministers advice regarding budgets as part of their remit to align and co-ordinate the activities of Scotland's enterprise and skills agencies.

  • If this FOI has not been answered beforehand, the minutes and cost of the meeting held on 13 December.

Section 1(4) of FOISA states that the information to be given by an authority is that held by it at the time the request is received. No information was held at 27 November 2017 and so none can be released.

Reasons for not providing information

The Scottish Government does not have the information.

The Scottish Government performs a wide range of business engagement activities, with recent examples including the National Economic Forum in December and the Business in Parliament event in November.

As a result of this, the costs of the Strategic Board such as remuneration and expenses, venue hire and secretariat costs, will be met through existing budget lines, and so no estimate for costs is available.

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

Exemptions apply.

Exemptions under the following sections of FOISA apply to some of the information you have requested:

  • Section 30(b)(i) (substantial inhibition of free and frank advice)

  • Section 30(c) (substantial prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs)

Section 30(b)(i) (substantial inhibition of free and frank advice) 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 and other officials before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of free and frank advice on the appointment of members to the Strategic Board will substantially inhibit the provision of such advice in the future, particularly because discussions relate to the merits of propsed candidates.

Section 30(c) (substantial prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs) applies because disclosing this information would substantially prejudice our ability to conduct appointment processes because officials would not have private space in which to discuss potential caididates.This would constitute substantial prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs in terms of the exemption.

These exemptions are 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 exemptions. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemptions. 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 and other officials, and within which officials can conduct such appointment processes. This private space is essential to enable all candidates 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.

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 17-02872 - related documents.pdf

38 page PDF
858.7kB

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:
4 Jan 2018
Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board: FOI release