Today, on International Right to Know Day (Monday 28 September 2015), the Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland (CFoIS), is launching an initiative designed to unite civil organisations in Scotland around a demand that the Scottish Government tackle the erosion of information rights in the country.
The Campaign today issued a statement that it is asking other organisations to sign. The statement calls on the government to take the opportunity offered by its own legislative amendment, to address the problem caused by increasing public services’ removal from coverage by the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act.
“As public services are increasingly delivered by bodies like, Arms-length organisations(ALEOs), housing associations, charitable bodies and the private sector,” said Carole Ewart convener of the CFoIS, “these services tend to slip out of freedom of information (FOI) coverage. The public are increasingly aware of, and supportive of FOI so we’re asking organisations working with that public to join us in expressing that support to government.”
Despite a clause in the original act that allows the Scottish Government to ensure organisations are covered, this has only been used once in the ten years of the Act. Promises that a wider range of bodies would be included, have largely failed to be delivered in the proposed amendment – coverage being limited to private prisons, secure accommodation for children, grant-aided and independent special schools – and the consultation argued specifically against including housing associations.
Carole Ewart said “The Government is currently analysing the responses to its consultation before moving to stage two in the law-making process. We will be building the broadest possible base of organisations to call for the proposals to be beefed up so that people have the right to ask for information on our public services, whoever delivers them. We’re pleased that seven bodies have signed up before we’ve even launched the document! We’ll be contacting many more from today and putting the statement on the Scottish pages of the CFOI website to get the widest possible distribution.”
[The statement is attached. Currently signatories include:- the CFOIS, the Reid Foundation, GMBScotland, the National Union of Journalists in Scotland, UNISON and Unite in Scotland, and the Scottish Campaign against Irresponsible Driving.
International Right to Know Day is 28 September. It was established in 2002 to draw attention to the right for information across the world, and promote freedom of information as essential to both democracy and good governance.]
For further information, please contact:
Chris Bartter – 07715 583 729 or Carole Ewart