Advice from Yinnon Ezra to DCMS ref Lincolnshire County Council's reorganisation of library services provision.

The request was refused by Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Dear Department for Culture, Media and Sport,
Please supply the following information pursuant to ss.1 and 10 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 :
All documentation and records relating to :
(i) opinions expressed and recommendations made by Mr Yinnon Ezra, during his tenure as the DCMS Libraries Advisor, to DCMS Ministers and/or Officers on the subject of the closure of libraries and the reorganisation of library services in the County of Lincolnshire; and
(ii) opinions expressed and recommendations made by Mr Yinnon Ezra, during his tenure as the DCMS Libraries Advisor, to Lincolnshire County Council officers and/or councillors on the subject of the closure of libraries and the reorganisation of library services in the County of Lincolnshire.

Yours faithfully,

Maurice Nauta

Maurice Nauta

FOI, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

3 Attachments

Dear Mr Nauta,

Thank you for your information request of 16 March. You wrote:

“Please supply the following information pursuant to ss.1 and 10 of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 :   

All documentation and records relating to:

(i)  opinions expressed and recommendations made by Mr Yinnon Ezra, during
his tenure as the DCMS Libraries Advisor, to DCMS Ministers and/or
Officers on the subject of the closure of libraries and the reorganisation
of library services in the County of Lincolnshire;  and

(ii) opinions expressed and recommendations made by Mr Yinnon Ezra, during
his tenure as the DCMS Libraries Advisor, to Lincolnshire County Council
officers and/or councillors on the subject of the closure of libraries and
the reorganisation of library services in the County of Lincolnshire”.

We have dealt with your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
(the Act) and have interpreted ‘advices’ to mean ‘an opinion or
recommendation offered as a guide to action’.

We hold a small amount of information that falls within scope of your
request; however, we have determined that this information is exempt from
disclosure under section 35(1)(a) of the Act.

Section 35 is aimed at protecting the policy-making process in order to
maintain the delivery of effective government. Section 35 is a qualified
exemption, and accordingly, we have had to consider whether the public
interest lies in withholding the information or in disclosing it.  The
arguments for and against disclosure are detailed below.

For disclosure

·        Allowing access to the information sought may allow informed
debate about the development of government policy and decisions in this
area.

·        The public interest in being able to assess the quality of advice
being given to ministers and subsequent decision making.

·        Open policy making may lead to increased trust and engagement
between citizens and government.

·        The desirability of citizens being confident that decisions are
taken on the basis of the best available information.

·        The interest in knowing to what extent Ministers followed
official advice.

 

Against disclosure

·        Good government depends on good decision making; these decisions
need to be based on the best advice available and a full consideration of
all the options without fear of premature disclosure.

·        Advice provided to ministers and officials should be broad-based
and there may be a deterrent effect on external experts or stakeholders
who might be reluctant to provide advice because it might be disclosed.

·        Ministers and civil servants need to be able to conduct rigorous
and candid assessments of their policies, including the considerations of
the pros and cons without there being premature disclosure which might
close of better options.

·        There needs to be free space in which it is possible to consider
options without fear their proposals will be derided or misrepresented.

·        This information concerns options which are still under
consideration. It would therefore not be particularly helpful at this
point in time to get involved in a debate on theoretical options.

 

After careful consideration of the competing interests, we conclude that
the public interest in favour of maintaining the exemption outweighs the
public interest in disclosure.

Yours sincerely

 

[1]cid:image001.png@01CE41D8.92FDC8D0  

 

Freedom of Information Team

4^th Floor, 100 Parliament Street, London SW1A 2BQ
[2]cid:image002.jpg@01CE41D8.92FDC8D0[3]@dcms 
[4]cid:image003.jpg@01CE41D8.92FDC8D0 [5]/dcmsgovuk |
[6]www.gov.uk/dcms

 

Complaints and comments

As is customary in our replies, I would like to explain that if you are
dissatisfied with any aspect of our response to your request for
information and/or wish to appeal against information being withheld from
you please send full details within two calendar months of the date of
this email to:  [7][email address]

 

You have the right to ask the Information Commissioner (ICO) to
investigate any aspect of your complaint. Please note that the ICO is
likely to expect internal complaints procedures to have been exhausted
before beginning his investigation.

 

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