Scotland

World’s first FOI law is 250 this year

On International Right to Know Day (Wednesday 28 September 2016), the Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland (CFoIS) is organising a seminar in Strathclyde University which will both celebrate the 250th Anniversary of the world’s first freedom of information (FoI) law in Sweden, and look for ways to improve Scotland’s eleven year-old law.

The seminar is jointly hosted by the CFoIS and the University of Strathclyde, and will feature Dr David Goldberg, an expert on Sweden’s FoI law of 1766 and subsequent developments, and Rob Edwards, Environment Editor of the Sunday Herald, and Journalist Director of The Ferret who has a distinguished career in using the Scottish Freedom of Information Act as well as the Environmental Information Scotland Regulations. The seminar will be chaired by Carole Ewart, convener of the CFoIS.

Carole Ewart said “As Scotland’s eleven-year old FoI law becomes increasingly patchy in coverage and complicated to use, we think it might be instructive to look at the history of FoI in a country with a much longer history of access and information rights.”

Although FoI in Scotland is a relatively recent law, the CFoIS argues that continually-changing methods of public service delivery – via the private sector, arms-length trusts, housing associations, joint boards, central agencies and the voluntary sector – have meant people’s legal rights to information vary, and getting information becomes more complex. This puts people off exercising their rights.

Carole Ewart said “We hope many people who work with FoI can come along to the seminar to discuss how we can improve the situation in Scotland. The seminar is free, but places are limited, so registration is essential.”

Details of the seminar – 250:11 Celebrating the World’s 1st Freedom of Information Law and Scotland’s late arrival – which runs from 14.30pm to 17.30pm in Strathclyde University’s McCance Building (MC319), 16 Richmond Street, Glasgow, are on eventbrite.

ENDS

Further Information
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 more information on CFoIS visit https://www.cfoi.org.uk/scotland/

For further information, please contact:
Chris Bartter – 07715 583 729 or Carole Ewart on 07768 794 689

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Consultation response FOISA (Time for Compliance) Regulations 2016

Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland response to the Scottish Government consultation on the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (Time for Compliance) Regulations 2016.

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New Scottish Parliament must revive our information rights

The campaigning body that was instrumental in achieving Freedom of Information laws in the UK and Scotland over 14 years ago, now says that the popular legislation is in danger of being dangerously eroded in Scotland.

The Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland (CFoIS) has today issued a Manifesto for the Scottish Parliament, calling on candidates to pledge themselves to a nine-point plan to reverse the erosion of rights caused by changes in public service delivery and the planned creation of a ‘two-tier’ system.

Carole Ewart, Convener of the CFoIS said “While Scotland hasn’t seen the up-front challenge to our information rights that has recently been fought off at UK-level, the consistent failure of Scotland’s governments ensure information rights are maintained when public services are hived-off to arms-length bodies, Housing Associations, PPP’s or NPD Trusts, or private companies, has meant an erosion of people’s right to ask for information.”

The Manifesto, which is being sent to all political parties and circulated to supporters, calls for an audit of all Arms Length Organisations (ALEOs) and for them to be drawn into the FoI net quickly, and for the law to be changed so that coverage details the public functions to be covered, as well as listing the public bodies.

“It is amazing that we still have no idea how many ALEOs exist in Scotland.” Carole says. “And a recent Scottish Local Government Committee report into them failed to even mention the issue of information rights. We need to ensure that FoI follows the public pound.”

The Manifesto also draws attention to the current Scottish Government consultation suggesting that grant-aided schools and independent special schools be given longer to respond to FoI requests Carole Ewart says this is a breach of a ‘universal’ rights. “To make people wait so much longer for their information will cause problems for individual requesters,” she says, “but we are concerned about the wider detriment if other public service providers – like housing associations, private companies or third sector providers start demanding special treatment too.”

“Independent polling proves Freedom of Information is widely known and backed by the Scottish public. It is an enforceable right that should be maintained. That’s why we are asking candidates to back the Nine Asks, and to support them within their party, and if elected, in Parliament.”

ENDS
[For Editorial Information: The CFoIS Manifesto is available here]

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

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A Manifesto for the Scottish Parliament Elections 2016

The Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland (CFoIS) has issued a Manifesto for the Scottish Parliament, calling on candidates to pledge themselves to a nine-point plan to reverse the erosion of rights caused by changes in public service delivery and the planned creation of a ‘two-tier’ system.

You can read the Manifesto in full here.

 

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Call for society to back right to Freedom of Information

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.
Read More

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Response to Scottish Government’s consultation on extending FOISA

The Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland has responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation on extending the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act (FOISA) to cover more organisations. The consultation proposes extending FOISA to:

  • contractors who run privately-managed prisons
  • providers of secure accommodation for children
  • grant-aided schools
  • independent special schools

The Campaign’s believes the proposed extension is woefully inadequate.

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Weakening FOI rights with threats and excuses

This article first appeared in Issue 88 of Scottish Left Review 

The current Westminster Freedom of Information (FoI) law is under threat, and here in Scotland a long-promised consultation on extending the law looks like ignoring demands to restore public services to accountability. At the British level, there have been a series of direct threats to FoI from both government ministers and official practices.
Read More

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Loophole in new law allows trust to avoid public scrutiny

Research carried out at Strathclyde University has uncovered a loophole in the Scottish Government’s 2013 extension of the Freedom of Information Act, says the Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland (CFoIS).
Read More

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RSLs, FOISA and the Public’s Right to Know

Submission by the Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland to the Public Petitions Committee of the Scottish Parliament on a petition calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to make an Order under Section 5 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 to make all housing associations subject to the provisions of that Act.

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30:10 Reflecting and Protecting Freedom of Information Rights

This publication celebrates 30 years of the Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland (CFOI in S) and the 10th anniversary of implementation of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA).

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