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Publication - FOI / EIR Release

Chair of Scottish Canals: FOI release

Published: 28 Mar 2018

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

FOI reference: FOI/18/0534
Date received: 15 February 2018
Date responded: 22 March 2018

Information requested

When you clarified your request, you asked for information about the re-appointment of the Chair of Scottish Canals. Specifically you asked, "A.Thin was appointed initially from 2014 to 2017. He was then reappointed for 3 years in possibly August 2017. The papers relating to that would be very useful and I would be grateful if you could send me those initially".

Response

I enclose a copy of most 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 sections 30(b)(i), 30(b)(ii), 30(c) and 38(1)(b) of FOISA applies to that information. This relates to the draft Ministerial submission and final Ministerial submission and personal data in the appointment letter and e-mails. The reasons why those exemptions apply, and to which documents, are explained below.

REASONS FOR NOT PROVIDING INFORMATION

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to some of the redacted information because it is the personal data of third party, i.e. 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.

This applies to the e-mail addresses of the Chair of Scottish Canals, an employee of Scottish Canals and Scottish Government officials in e-mail exchanges. Also to the address of the Chair of Scottish Canals in the re-appointment letter.

An exemption under sections 30(b)(i) and (ii) 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 for the purposes of deliberation. This exemption recognises the need for Ministers to have a private space within which to seek advice and discuss the assessment of candidates, as part of the process of reaching a decision on an appointment.

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 to discuss the assessment of candidates. Disclosing the content of advice/discussions about one selection exercise will substantially inhibit the free and frank provision of advice and/or exchange of views in relation to future similar exercises.

I have applied this exemption to the Minsterial submission.

An exemption under section 30(c) of FOISA (prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs) applies to some of the information requested. It is essential for Ministers to be able to consider confidential information provided by officials in relation to appointments and re-appointments to the Boards of public bodies.

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 communicate.

The disclosure of the details of discussions about the assessment of candidates, would be likely to inhibit the Scottish Government's ability to run successful selection exercises in future. Disclosing the content of advice/discussions about one selection exercise would be likely to deter well-qualified people from offering themselves as candidates for future public appointments, because they would not want comment on their merits and abilities to be made public.

I have applied this exemption to the pro-forma completed for the Chair of Scottish Canals and the Ministerial submission.

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

E-mails.pdf

9 page PDF
533.4kB

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:
28 Mar 2018
Chair of Scottish Canals: FOI release