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Scott: Scottish Government dragging its feet on FOI legislation

January 13, 2016 9:24 AM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Tavish Scott has welcomed news that the Scottish Government plans to slightly extend freedom of information legislation but has warned that by continuing to drag their feet, Ministers are failing millions of Scots who should be able to access information on how their country is run.

Scottish Ministers have confirmed that from September the contractors running Scotland's two private prisons, Addiewell and Kilmarnock, will be subject to FOI requests, as will providers of secure accommodation for children, grant-aided schools and independent special schools.

But Liberal Democrats, along with the Scottish Information Commissioner, believe organisations building and maintaining schools and hospitals, along with housing associations, should be subject to FOI.

Mr Scott said: "It is certainly welcome news that the Scottish Government plans to extend freedom of information legislation but these proposals don't go nearly far enough. The SNP have been in power for eight years now and this will only be the second time they have extended FOI.

"81% of the public think the firms building and maintaining schools and hospitals should be subject to FOI and over the last ten years 15,000 tenants have lost enforceable rights because council housing stock has been transferred to housing associations, which are not subject to FOI.

"The SNP's attitude towards transparency is well known - their approach to extending coverage of FOI legislation is ad hoc at best. Their secretive multi-million-pound deals with private firms delivering major infrastructure projects such as schools, hospitals and roads shows they are more than happy to keep some things hidden.

"This minor change will not deliver. The 2002 Act was meant to be the start of the process of opening up government and improving transparency. This announcement is largely just restoring rights that have been lost."