FOI scrutiny extended

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More organisations across Scotland will be open to scrutiny under Freedom of Information (FoI) legislation laid in the Scottish Parliament, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced.

If agreed by Parliament, arm’s length bodies established by local authorities to provide cultural, sports and leisure services to the public will be subject to FoI law from April next year.

 

The order  is being brought forward shortly after enactment of the Freedom of Information (Amendment) (Scotland) Act.

The Act strengthens Scottish Freedom of Information legislation by paving the way for more information to be made available earlier as well as enhancing power to prosecute any deliberate destruction of information more effective.          

Ms Sturgeon said:

“It is important that bodies which spend taxpayers’ money are subject to scrutiny, including through Freedom of Information legislation.

“This new legislation, which is being laid in parliament today, will see us extend the scope of FoI coverage to more organisations, reflecting our commitment to continuously improve Scotland’s transparency.

“Under this Government we now make historic files available to the public after just 15 years – sooner than anywhere else in the UK.  The Amendment Act has added strength and clarity to Scotland’s FoI legislation and we are now proposing to widen the scope of bodies covered by that legislation.

“Scotland already has the most robust Freedom of Information regime in the whole of the UK.  It is my aim to ensure that this continues, and that our principles of openness, transparency and accountability  set an example for other nations to aspire to.”

The announcement was welcomed by Green MSP Alison Johnstone who Last year wrote to Ms Sturgeon calling for such an extension after a previous plan by SNP ministers was shelved.

Ms Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian, said:

“Public accountability has clearly been eroded in recent years with hundreds of private and arms-length organisations delivering public services.  It’s often incredibly difficult or impossible to find out if they’re making best use of public resources.

“There is a clear public appetite to extend FoI so this move by government is welcome, if long-overdue.”