Alistair P Sloan

Dear Sirs

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000
REQUEST FOR INFORMATION

Pursuant to the general right of access to information contained in the Freedom of Information Act 2000 I request from the Scotland Office the full content of the diaries for the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland from the date that the present incumbents were appointed to office following the General Election on 7 May 2015 until 30 June 2015.

I look forward to receiving your response

Yours faithfully,

Alistair P Sloan

Scotland Office

Dear Mr Sloan
 
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION
 
Thank you for your email of 3 July 2015 which is being treated under the
Freedom of Information Act 2000. We aim to issue you with a response by 31
July 2015 but in the meantime if you have a query regarding the request,
please contact me.
 
Regards
 
Tony Conte
Scotland Office
 
Tony Conte | Senior Administrator | Scotland Office | 1 Melville Crescent
| Edinburgh | EH3 7HW
Tel: 0131 244 9066 | [1]www.gov.uk/scotland-office |
Twitter:@ScotlandOffice
 
The UK Government’s office for Scotland
Get in the Know on Facebook and LinkedIn
 
 
 
 
 

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Alistair P Sloan

Dear Mr Conte

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000
REQUEST FOR INFORMATION: MINISTERIAL DIARIES
REFERENCE: DB 954

I refer to the above request for information made to the Scotland Office on 3 July 2015 pursuant to the general right of access to information contained in the Freedom of Information Act 2000. I note in the Scotland Office’s acknowledgement dated 3 July 2015 that it stated that it aimed to respond by 31 July 2015; however, due to bank holidays in Northern Ireland and Scotland on the 13 July 2015 and 3 August 2015 respectively, the date for compliance under section 10 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 was Tuesday 4 August 2015. I further note with disappointment that the Scotland Office has yet to respond to this request for information.

I should be grateful for an update from the Scotland Office as to when it expects to be in a position to respond to the request for information. If no substantive response is received from the Scotland Office by Wednesday 2 September 2015 I shall make a complaint to the Information Commissioner pursuant to section 50 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

I look forward to receiving the Scotland Office’s substantive response.

Yours sincerely,
Alistair P Sloan

Scotland Office

Thank you for your email.

 

I am now out of the office and will return on Friday 7 August 2015 when it
will be read.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Scotland Office

Dear Mr Sloan,

Please accept our apologies for having not responded to your request for information within the stated timescale. We shall aim to get back to you with a full response by the end of this week.

Kind regards,
James

James Newman |Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Scotland | Scotland Office | 1 Melville Crescent | Edinburgh | EH3 7HW
| www.gov.uk/scotland-office | Twitter:@ScotlandOffice

The UK Government’s office for Scotland

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Scotland Office

Dear Mr Sloan

 

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST DB954

 

Thank you for your email sent to the Scotland Office on 3 July 2015. 
Please accept our apologies for the delay in responding. 

 

You asked for the following information under the Freedom of Information
Act 2000:

 

Pursuant to the general right of access to information contained in the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 I request from the Scotland Office the
full content of the diaries for the Secretary of State for Scotland and
the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland from the date that
the present incumbents were appointed to office following the General
Election on 7 May 2015 until 30 June 2015. 

 

The information you requested is being withheld as it falls under the
exemptions in Sections 21 and 40 (2) of the Freedom of Information Act
2000. 

 

Under Section 21 of the Act, we are not required to provide information in
response to a request if it is already reasonably accessible to you. 
Information relating to Ministers’ meetings with external organisations is
published on a regular basis on the UK Government website
([1]www.gov.uk).  The information covering the dates that you are
interested in has not yet been published but will be shortly, during the
course of next month.  You will be able to view that information at the
following link:

 

[2]https://www.gov.uk/government/publicatio...

 

Beyond the information relating to Ministers’ meetings with external
organisations, the other content of Ministers’ diaries is exempt from
disclosure under the absolute exemption at section 40(2) of the FOI Act as
it would reveal personal data, belonging to both Ministers and third
parties, as defined by the Data Protection Act 1998 and its disclosure
would breach one or more of the data protection principles in that Act. 
In our view the disclosure would not constitute fair processing as the
individuals to whom the personal data relates would have had no reasonable
expectation that it would be disclosed.  

 

If you are dissatisfied with the decision made in relation to your request
you may ask for an internal review.  A request for an internal review
should be addressed to:

 

FOI Officer

1 Melville Crescent

EDINBURGH

EH3 7HW

 

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review you have
the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a
decision.  The contact details are:

 

Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

CHESHIRE

SK9 5AF

 

Yours sincerely

 

James Newman

Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Scotland

 

 

 

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Dear Sirs

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000
REQUEST FOR INTERNAL REVIEW
REFERENCE: DB954

I refer to the above and write to request that the Scotland Office conducts and internal review into its handling of the request in respect of the following:

(1) reliance on section 21
(2) reliance on section 40(2)
(3) compliance with section 10

(1) Scotland Office's reliance on section 21

The Scotland Office states, correctly, that Section 21 of the Act means that there is no requirement "to provide information in response to a request if it is already reasonably accessible to you." This is not the case here because the Scotland Office then goes on to state that the information will be published "shortly". The Information is not already published and therefore cannot already be reasonably accessible. It is submitted that by citing an exemption that cannot apply, the Scotland Office has failed to comply with the requirements if Part I of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

(2) The Scotland Office's reliance on section 40(2)

While it is accepted that the Secretary of State and the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State will have likely had meetings with junior officials who have a reasonable expectation of privacy it is contended that the Ministers will have met with other Government Ministers and with senior officials. In those cases it is contended that section 40 would not apply. For example, it is anticipated that the Secretary of State will have attended Cabinet during the period in question and that Cabinet meetings would be entered into his diary to prevent clashes.

Furthermore, in cases where Ministers have met with individuals who cannot be named there would be other information within the Ministers' diaries that could be released. It is also contended that there will be entries within the Ministers' diaries of other official engagements and that releasing details of this would not be in breach of the Data Protection Act 1998.

(3) Compliance with section 10

It is also submitted that the Scotland Office failed to comply with section 10 of the Freedom of Information Act because either (a) it took longer than 20 working days in circumstances where section 10(3) did not apply, or (b) it took longer than 20 working days to respond in circumstances where section 10(3) did apply but did not fully comply with the requirements of section 10(3).

I note that there is no statutory limit on the length of time that an internal review should take, but note that the Commissioner considers that 20 working days is a reasonable time period for a public authority to conduct an internal review. I therefore look forward to receiving the Scotland Office's substantive response within the next 20 working days.

Yours faithfully,

Alistair P Sloan

Scotland Office

Dear Mr Sloan

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION

I refer to your email of 24 August 2015 requesting an Internal Review. We aim to provide you with a non-statutory response by 21 September but in the meantime if you have any query regarding the request, please contact me.

Samantha Paterson

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Dear Sirs

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000
INTERNAL REVIEW
REFERENCE: DB954

I refer to the above request my E-mail of 24 August 2015 requesting that the Scotland Office conducts an internal review into its handling of the request.

I note that no substantive reply to the request for internal review has been provided by the Scotland Office in relation to this request and that a period of 20 working days has passed since the request for internal review was submitted. I further note that there is no statutory timescale for the conduct of internal reviews is contained in the Freedom of Information Act 2000. However, I refer to the Information Commissioner's Good Practice Guidance No.5 which relates to the conduct of internal reviews.

I note that the Information Commissioner's guidance places emphasis on not delaying a requester's rights under section 50 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and that he considers that a period of 20 working days is sufficient to conduct an internal review. The Commissioner's guidance further states that there are a small number of exceptional circumstances where a review might take longer than 20 working days, and in that event it should take no more than 40 working days. However, I note that the Commissioner's good practice guidance provides that it is a matter of good practice for an authority in such circumstances to notify the requester that further time is required, why it is required and how much is needed. I note that the Scotland Office has not advised that more time is needed, whit is required and how much is required. However, I am sceptical that this is a case that could be considered as "exceptional".

In view of all of this, if the Scotland Office does not either provide a substantive response or advise that more time is required, the reason therefore and the amount of time required to complete the review by close of business on Wednesday 23 September 2015 I shall be left with no alternative but to make a complaint to the Information Commissioner pursuant to section 50 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. I trust that such a step will not be required.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully,
Alistair P Sloan

Scotland Office

I am now on annual leave, returning on 22 September.  My e-mails will not
be checked.

For anything urgent please direct to Margo MacIver on 0131 244 9069
[email address]

 

Thank you

Samantha

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Scotland Office

Good Morning Mr Sloan

Thank you for your email as below.

I can confirm that the officer in charge of your request for an Internal Review is currently putting a response together, however there is no statutory deadline for requests for Internal Reviews.

A response will be issued to you as soon as possible.

Regards

Tony Conte
Scotland Office

Tony Conte | Senior Administrator | Scotland Office | 1 Melville Crescent | Edinburgh | EH3 7HW
Tel: 0131 244 9066 | www.gov.uk/scotland-office | Twitter:@ScotlandOffice

The UK Government’s office for Scotland
Get in the Know on Facebook and LinkedIn

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Scotland Office

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Sloan

 

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION

 

I understand that you have lodged a complaint with the Information
Commissioner’s Office over the delay of the response to your request for
an Internal Review, but please now see the attached.

 

Regards

 

Tony Conte

Scotland Office

 

 

 

Tony Conte | Senior Administrator | Scotland Office | 1 Melville Crescent
| Edinburgh | EH3 7HW

Tel: 0131 244 9066 | www.gov.uk/scotland-office | Twitter:@ScotlandOffice

 

The UK Government’s office for Scotland

 

 

 

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