Further Extension of Coverage of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 to More Organisations

Closed 4 Sep 2015

Opened 12 Jun 2015

Feedback Updated 18 Jan 2016

We Asked

For your views on whether certain bodies we considered to be undertaking functions of a public nature should be made subject to the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA).

You Said

Responses showed strong support for the Scottish Government’s proposals to extend coverage of Freedom of Information legislation – with suggestions also being put forward for other organisations to be considered.  Some responses indicated concerns about the organisational impact of the proposals as well as the suggested timescale.

We Did

We analysed the responses to the consultation and considered the range of views submitted. An order extending coverage of Scotland’s Freedom of Information legislation has now been laid before the Scottish Parliament. Arising from the consultation exercise the Scottish Government has announced that it intends to consult with Registered Social Landlords with a view to extending coverage of FOISA. This further consultation is anticipated in the autumn.    

Results Updated 11 Jan 2016

Consultation took place between June and September 2015 on extending coverage of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 to various organisations, including private prison contractors, providers of secure accommodation, grant-aided schools and independent special schools.

The consultation response paper considers the responses made to the consultation and sets out the Government's formal response.

The Government proposes to lay an order on the basis of the consultation proposals to come into effect, subject to Parliamentary approval, on 1 September 2016.

The Government also confirms its intention to consult later in 2016 on extending coverage of FoI to registered social landlords.

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Published Responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.

Overview

The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (‘the Act’)

 

The Act provides a statutory right of access to information held by Scottish public authorities.  These range from the Scottish Parliament and Government, to local authorities, NHS boards, higher and further education bodies, doctors and dental practitioners.

 

Requested information must be provided unless it is subject to one or more exemptions, as set out in the Act.  If a requester is dissatisfied with the response received to a request or does not receive a response, he or she can ask the authority to review its decision or handling of the request.

 

The Scottish Information Commissioner both promotes and enforces the Act.  Requesters who remain dissatisfied with the conclusions of an authority’s review of their request can appeal to the Commissioner for a decision.

 

Extending coverage of the Act

 

The provisions of the Act can be extended to bodies that carry out functions of a public nature or which provide, under a contract with a Scottish public authority, a service which is a function of that authority.  

 

This can be done by making an order under section 5 of the Act, which designates those bodies as a Scottish public authority for the purposes of the Act.  They would also automatically become subject to the requirements of the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs).

 

Why We Are Consulting

The Scottish Government brought forward Scotland’s first order under section 5(1) of the Act in September 2013.  Following consideration by the Parliament the order came into effect on 1 April 2014. 

 

The order extended coverage of the Act to certain trusts which have been created by local authorities to deliver sporting, cultural and leisure facilities and/or activities on behalf of the local authority(ies). 

 

At the time the order was debated the then Deputy First Minister made clear that it was seen as an initial order and that consultation on further extension would follow.  

 

In line with this commitment, we are now consulting on options for further extension of coverage.  The organisations now considered for inclusion are:

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

 

In addition to the organisations discussed in this paper, we would welcome suggestions as to what other bodies – whether individually or collectively - should be considered in any future consultation.  

 

Read the full consultation document here

What Happens Next

An order extending coverage of Freedom of Information has now been laid and, subject to Parliamentary process, will come into effect on 1 September 2016.

The order can be found here.

Areas

  • All Areas

Audiences

  • People of Scotland
  • Regulators
  • Local Authorities
  • Public bodies
  • Individuals