Information about yourself or other people.
You can ask any organisation for information - BUT only some are required by law to give it to you. This page explains which organisations have to respond to requests for information that they hold.
There is also a section at the bottom of the page which lists some of the organisations we are commonly asked about, which do not have to respond by law to requests for information they hold.
An organisation must respond to a request for information it holds, if it falls into one of the following three categories:
If your request is for environmental information, then a different law applies - the Environmental Information Regulations (Scotland) (EIRs). However, all three categories of organisation listed above are also subject to the EIRs, and so must respond to requests for environmental information.
The EIRs may apply to additional organisations as well - read the briefing "Public authorities and bodies covered by the EIRs".
The Act applies to "Scottish public authorities", and they are described in detail, in Schedule 1 to the Act:
You can also view our list of Scottish public authorities below, or Search for a Scottish public authority.
|Scottish public authorities covered by the Act?||What does this include?|
|The Scottish Ministers||The Scottish Government, including Scottish members of the civil service, and government agencies such as Marine Scotland.|
|The Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body(SPCB)||The Scottish Parliament itself, and the organisation which runs it. Individual members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) are not covered (see below).|
|Non-Ministerial Office Holders||A number of small government bodies including e.g. inspectorates, such as HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, and registrars. These bodies are all part of the Scottish government (though they are covered separately in the FOI Act).|
Local authorities (councils) - although individual councillors are not covered (see below). Also joint boards, licensing boards, assessors, Strathclyde Partnership for Transport and other transport partnerships.
|The National Health Service||All Scottish Health Boards (which run most Scottish hospitals). Individual health practitioners, i.e. GPs, dentists and ophthalmologists, are covered in relation to their NHS work.|
Scottish universities and colleges. (Most schools are run by local authorities so are covered under that heading.)
|Police||Scotland's police forces, and the Scottish Police Services Authority which provides support services e.g. forensic services.|
A range of public authorities which do not fit into any of the above categories, including non departmental public bodies (NDPBs, sometimes called 'quangos') such as Scottish Enterprise, Creative Scotland, and Audit Scotland.
Commissioners and ombudsmen (including the Scottish Information Commissioner) are covered here.
Publicly-owned companies must also respond to requests for information that they hold. A publicly owned company is one which is completely owned by one or more Scottish public authority - see . For example, Caledonian MacBrayne Limited is completely owned by Scottish Ministers.
There is no definitive list of publicly-owned companies. If you are unsure whether a company is "publicly-owned", you can contact us and we will advise, if we can. Otherwise, contact the company directly and ask them. Here are some examples of publicly-owned companies:
Scottish Ministers also have powers to "designate" organisations, which do not fall into the first two categories described above. Organisations which are designated must also respond to requests for information that they hold.
Ministers can designate an organisation if it appears to be carrying out "public functions", or is contracted to deliver a Scottish public authority's functions on its behalf - see .
Ministers have not designated any organisations yet. During 2010 they consulted on whether to designate:
They decided, in January 2011, not to take forward plans to designate these bodies at this time.
If an organisation does not fall into one of the three categories described at the top of this page, then it does not have to respond to requests for information that it holds. It may choose to respond, but you do not have the same legal right to information.
There is no definitive list of these, but here are some examples of organisations or individuals which we are commonly asked about, which do not have to respond to information requests:
UK public authorities are covered by the Freedom of Information Act 2000 , which covers all of the UK except Scotland. UK wide authorities may operate in Scotland, and even have their own Scottish divisions - but they are still covered by the UK Act. The UK Act is enforced by The UK Information Commissioner. Examples include:
If you are unsure whether an organisation is covered by the Act or the EIRs, you should contact the organisation directly, and ask them. However you may also contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 01334 464610, and we will advise if we can.
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