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
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.