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FM is Goliath blocking rights of ordinary Scots

February 9, 2012 4:03 PM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie challenged the First Minister today on the what his Government is doing to ensure that Scotland's Freedom of Information record does not slip behind other countries, including the rest of the UK.

Willie Rennie MSPWillie Rennie MSPScotland's former Freedom of Information Commissioner, Kevin Dunion, issued a warning to the Scottish Government last week saying that Scotland's Freedom of Information system was at risk from slipping and he wasn't sure why the Scottish Government had decided to row back on this legislation.

Mr Rennie challenged the First Minister to explain why instead of looking to roll this legislation out further, he had actually blocked the extension of information laws to cover housing associations, PFI companies and other public bodies.

Commenting afterwards, Mr Rennie said:

"Mr Dunion's comments are a serious blow to Scotland's aim of being a beacon of progress in this area.

"Instead of trying to blame anyone else, the First Minister needs to explain why his Government blocked the extension of information laws in Scotland.

"Access to information is important in a free and liberal Scotland so individuals can challenge those who wield power.

"The First Minister needs to clarify why tenants in Lanarkshire can access information about their rent increases, but tenants in Glasgow cannot. Why can an arms-length company, spending millions of pounds of taxpayers' money, dodge giving answers when councils cannot?

"Mr Dunion said himself that he was "not entirely clear why the Government has decided to row back" on improving Scotland's Freedom of Information system.

"So it is up to the First Minister to be clear.

"The First Minister always wants to be David, but, isn't he now Goliath, blocking the rights of ordinary Scots?"