Ann Court delay correspondence (FOI)
Ann Court delay correspondence (FOI)Produced by the Freedom of Information office
Authored by States of Jersey and published on 28 January 2019.
Prepared internally, no external costs.
All email correspondence between the Chief Minister and / or the Housing Minister, the Chief Executive of the States of Jersey, the Social Security Minister, the Treasurer or the Treasury Minister concerning the delay of the Ann Court housing project in order to explore the option of using the site for the States offices.
Please use the time frame of 1 September 2018 to date.
Please find enclosed the results of the search of the emails of the Chief Executive Officer Charlie Parker.
Please note that emails received by the Chief Minister, the Treasury Minister and the Housing Minister have been provided in response to two previous Freedom of Information requests and are available through the following links:
Ann Court development correspondence (FOI)
Ann Court correspondence (FOI)
Email searches on the accounts of the Social Security Minister and the Treasurer of the States produced no unique emails (ie any emails returned within the searches have been provided in one of the published chains).
The emails attached have been redacted in accordance with the following articles of the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011 (the Law).
Article 25 Personal information
(1) Information is absolutely exempt information if it constitutes personal data of which the applicant is the data subject as defined in the Data Protection (Jersey) Law 2018.
(2) Information is absolutely exempt information if –
(a) it constitutes personal data of which the applicant is not the data subject as defined in the Data Protection (Jersey) Law 2018; and
(b) its supply to a member of the public would contravene any of the data protection principles, as defined in that Law.
Article 33(b) Commercial interests
Information is qualified exempt information if –
(a) the economic interests of Jersey; or
(b) its disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of a person (including the scheduled public authority holding the information).
Article 33 (b) is a prejudice-based exemption. That means that in order to engage this exemption there must be a likelihood that disclosure would cause prejudice to the interest that the exemption protects. In addition, this is a qualified exemption and consideration must be given to the public interest in maintaining the exemption.
The Scheduled Public Authority (SPA) considers that the sections of email redacted under Article 33 could prejudice the commercial interests of both the States of Jersey and third parties. There may be public interest in the commercial information however it was considered that this is outweighed by the potential for commercial and / or financial damage.
Article 35 Formulation and development of policies
Information is qualified exempt information if it relates to the formulation or development of any proposed policy by a public authority.
The SPA is withholding the release of certain parts of the information as it relates to the formulation and development of policy by the public authority.
Article 35 is a qualified exemption, which means that a public interest test is required to be undertaken by the SPA. It is therefore necessary for the scheduled public authority to examine the circumstances of the case. Following assessment the SPA has to decide whether, on balance, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
Although there is a need for transparency, accountability, financial and good decision making by public authorities this information relates to an ongoing situation. The SPA, and indeed good government, requires Ministers to be provided with full, frank advice from officials about the possible impact of proposed policy, and for Ministers and officials to be able to discuss and test those proposed policies in a comprehensive way.
The following considerations were taken into account:
Public interest considerations favouring disclosure
Disclosure of the information would support transparency and promote accountability to the general public, providing confirmation that the necessary discussions have taken place
Disclosure to the public fulfils an educative role about the early stages in policy development and illustrates how the department engages with parties for this purpose.
Public interest considerations favouring withholding the information
In order to best develop policy and provide advice to Ministers, officials need a safe space in which free and frank discussion can take place. The need for this safe space is considered at its greatest during the live stages of a policy. Sharing views internally within the Department and across Government is important to ensure that all relevant considerations are taken into account in developing and implementing policy. Disclosure at a time when these views are still being considered would negatively impact the Department’s ability to fully consider the information
Release of the information at this stage might generate misinformed debate in areas where future options have yet to be finalised. This would affect the ability of officials to consider and develop policy away from external pressures, and to advise Ministers appropriately.
Premature disclosure of this information may limit the willingness of parties to provide their honest views and feedback. This would hamper and harm the policy–making process not only in relation to this subject area but in respect of future policy development across wider Departmental business.
Taking into account the various factors, the SPA has applied redactions where necessary to maintain this exemption.
It should also be noted that once a policy is formulated and published, the public interest in withholding information relating to its formulation is diminished, however, the use of the exemption can be supported if it preserves sufficient freedom during the policy formulation phase to explore options without that process being hampered by some expectation of future publication.