Government of Jersey correspondence (FOI)
Government of Jersey correspondence (FOI)Produced by the Freedom of Information office
Authored by Government of Jersey and published on 31 May 2019.
Prepared internally, no external costs.
Please release all emails since 1 April 2019 that include the words 'COM workshop key points' in the title and were sent to or by the Chief Minister (Senator Le Fondre), the Deputy Chief Minister (Senator Farnham), the chief executive (Charlie Parker) and the chief of staff (Catherine Madden).
The Council of Ministers Working Group was formulated in order that Ministers and staff would have a forum in which to freely discuss and formulate future policy proposals.
The Scheduled Public Authority (SPA) undertook an auditable search of emails, however the emails retrieved are being withheld as they relate to the ongoing formulation and development of wider policy by the public authority, which will then be published as the Government Plan.
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.
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 SPA to carefully 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 ongoing work and sensitive aspects of the ongoing transformation of the Government of Jersey. The SPA – and indeed good government, requires Ministers to be provided with full and 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 full 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.
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.
Article 36 Information intended for future publication
(1) Information is qualified exempt information if, at the time when the request for the information is made, the information is being held by a public authority with a view to its being published within 12 weeks of the date of the request.
(2) A scheduled public authority that refuses an application for information on this ground must make reasonable efforts to inform the applicant –
(a) of the date when the information will be published;
(b) of the manner in which it will be published; and
(c) by whom it will be published.
(3) In this Article, “published” means published –
(a) by a public authority; or
(b) by any other person.