All candidates in the Holyrood elections should commit themselves to improving and extending Scotland’s Freedom of Information legislation, according to the Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland. The Campaign is asking candidates to support moves to bring a range of private contractors and other bodies under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act (FoISA).
In particular, contractors responsible for building or running hospitals, schools, roads and sewage facilities should be covered by the Act as well as bodies which run privately managed prisons or provide prison escort services, the Campaign argues. Trusts and other arms-length organisations running sports, leisure and cultural facilities, providing transport and other public services should be covered. The Campaign is asking candidates to support bringing housing associations under the Act and the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland. The Westminster Government has announced the corresponding body for England and Wales, ACPO, will be covered by the UK FOI Act.
More information on how public money is spent should also be provided. The Campaign says details of all new Scottish government contracts over £10,000 should be published automatically as should details of council contracts worth more than £500.
The Campaign is calling on candidates to oppose any attempts to restrict the legislation, for example by introducing new charges for information or by making it easier for authorities to refuse requests on cost grounds. It says it is important that public services and public finances are transparent and information is freely accessible.
Carole Ewart, Co-convener of the Campaign said: “When the legislation was originally passed, FoISA was widely regarded as superior to the Act which applies to England, Wales and Northern Ireland. But the Westminster government has confirmed that the UK legislation will be extended and it is vital that the Scottish Act should not fall behind.”
Campaign for Freedom of Information, London office 0207 490 3958