FOI reference: FOI/18/01550
Date received: 22 May 2018
Date responded: 19 June 2018
'All minutes and notes relating to the meeting between John Swinney MSP and Pat Watters, Chair of the Fire and Rescue Board which took place on 24th October 2017. This should include minutes, notes taken of the meeting, agenda or any other papers pertaining to the meeting including handwritten notes.'
I have attached the note of the meeting in Annex A.
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 an exemption under section s.30(b)(i) Free and frank provision of advice of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why that exemption(s) applies are explained in below.
Reasons for not providing information
Section 30(b)(i) – free and frank provision of advice.
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 within Ministerial briefing will substantially inhibit the provision of such advice in the future.
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. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between Ministers and officials.
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