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Consultation on FOI extension

17 November 2008

Freedom of information legislation could be extended to cover contractors working for public authorities, registered social landlords and local authority trusts or bodies set up by local authorities.

Scottish ministers are seeking views on extending the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act.

Also today, the Minister for Parliamentary Business Bruce Crawford announced that the Government would be publishing ministerial car travel and diary information.

The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 came into force on 1 January 2005 and provides a statutory right of access to information held by Scottish public authorities.

These include, for example, the Scottish Government, the Scottish Parliament, local authorities, schools, colleges, NHS Scotland and the police. The Act also requires the proactive publication of certain information.

Mr Crawford said: “The Act's provisions do not include a number of organisations which many people believe should be covered – for example, contractors supplying services traditionally provided directly by a public authority, such as private prisons.

"Today's paper is recognition of those concerns – but it highlights the legal and policy considerations related to any extension of coverage.

Mr Crawford added that the paper recognised that any extension of coverage "needs to be measured and appropriate. That is a particular consideration given the impact of the current global economic downturn on some sectors. No decision on extending coverage will be taken until we have considered responses to our discussion paper and weighed up all the necessary considerations”.


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