Political Oversight Group meeting minutes (FOI)
Political Oversight Group meeting minutes (FOI)Produced by the Freedom of Information office
Authored by Government of Jersey and published on 29 November 2021.
Prepared internally, no external costs.
In a previous FOI, the minutes of the Political Oversight Group working on the new hospital were requested and supplied up to and including the 4 June 2020. Since then no minutes have been released and these should be in the public domain.
Please provide all minutes of all meetings which have taken place since then.
Please find attached copies of the requested minutes. Please note that the minutes for meetings from 19 July to today’s date are yet to be approved and therefore cannot be released at this time. Please note that meetings are sometimes moved or cancelled and so the ‘date of next meeting’ at the foot of the minutes does not necessarily correspond to the actual date of the next meeting.
Redactions have been applied to the minutes where required under the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011. Justification for such redactions is provided within the detail below.
Our Hospital POG Minutes 6 July 2020 to 13 July 2021 redacted
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 2005.
(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.
(3) In determining for the purposes of this Article whether the lawfulness principle in Article 8(1)(a) of the Data Protection (Jersey) Law 2018 would be contravened by the disclosure of information, paragraph 5(1) of Schedule 2 to that Law (legitimate interests) is to be read as if sub-paragraph (b) (which disapplies the provision where the controller is a public authority) were omitted.
Article 25 is an absolute exemption, and therefore does not require a public interest test. However, it is noted that minimal personal information has been redacted within the minutes, such redactions limited to the names and roles of less senior members of staff.
Article 31 - Advice by the Bailiff, Deputy Bailiff or a Law Officer
Information is qualified exempt information if it is or relates to the provision of advice by the Bailiff, Deputy Bailiff or the Attorney General or the Solicitor General.
Public Interest Test
Article 31 is a qualified exemption, which means that a public interest test is required to be undertaken to examine the circumstances of the case and decide if, on balance, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
The following considerations were taken into account
disclosure of the information would support transparency and promote accountability to the general public
Article 31 of the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011 recognises the longstanding constitutional Convention that government does not reveal whether Law Officers have or have not advised on a particular issue, or the content of any such advice
however it is recognised that the strong public interest in protecting Law Officers’ advice may still be overridden in some cases, if there are particularly strong factors in favour of disclosure
disclosing advice could inhibit the Law Officers from giving frank advice, could inhibit government bodies in taking advice for fear of its publication; and inhibit the full disclosure to the Law Officers of all material relevant to the advice being sought.
After considering the points above the Scheduled Public Authority (SPA) consider that the balance falls in favour of maintaining the exemption as the public interest in favour of disclosure does not outweigh the preservation of the Convention on this occasion.
Article 33 - Commercial interests
Information is qualified exempt information if –
(a) it constitutes a trade secret; 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).
Public interest test
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 SPA considers that if released, the sections of the minutes redacted under Article 33 (b), could prejudice the commercial interests of the Government of Jersey and / or 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.
Public interest test
The SPA has redacted certain information within the minutes as it relates to the formulation and development of policy and procedure by the public authority.
Article 35 is a qualified exemption, which means that a public interest test has to be undertaken to examine the circumstances of the case and 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, Officers and Ministers 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 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
the need for this safe space is considered at its greatest during the live stages of a policy
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
disclosure of this information may limit the willingness of parties to provide their honest views and feedback in future. 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 decided in favour of withholding the redacted information.