Campaign calls on Parliament to throw out ‘confusion and dilution’ of FOI rights

The Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland (CFoIS) today called on Scotland’s MSPs to reject Scottish Government proposals to give grant-aided and independent special schools three times longer to respond to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests than public schools. The Campaign says these changes endanger both the principles and effectiveness of Scotland’s much-respected Freedom of Information law.

The Scottish Government is introducing rules allowing these non-public schools longer to respond to FoI requests – increasing times from 20 to 60 working days. It will be introduced in a Scottish Statutory Instrument (SSI) to the Parliamentary Bureau today (25 October), and (subject to approval) the full Parliament tomorrow (26 October).
The Campaign wants MSPs to vote against approval as this is a breach of ‘universal’ rights enshrined in Scotland’s FOI law.

Carole Ewart, Convener of the CFoIS says: “To increase the timescales for some schools will cause confusion about the law and dilute the rights of disabled children and their families.

“We are also alarmed that breaching the principle of universal application will tempt other potential providers – like housing associations, private companies or the third sector – to demand special treatment if and when they are covered.”

Really confusingly in fact, information requests submitted under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations will still need to be answered within 20 days!

Carole Ewart added, “These proposals are excessive and disproportionate, extending the time so much that any information would be far less use to the requester, and it delays possible appeals to the Scottish Information Commissioner (SIC).”

ENDS
[For Editorial Information: The CFoIS Consultation Response is available from the contacts below and on the CFoIS website at – https://www.cfoi.org.uk/scotland/ ]

For further information please contact:
Carole Ewart (Convener, CFoIS) – 07768 794689
Chris Bartter (Communications, CFoIS) – 07715 583729

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