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Commissioner welcomes freedom of information proposals

Scottish Information Commissioner Rosemary Agnew today [28 November 2012] welcomed the Scottish Ministers proposals to revise the Freedom of Information (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill.

The changes include a new requirement for Ministers to review regularly whether additional bodies should be brought within the scope of FOI, and the removal of a proposal to create an "absolute exemption" for information relating to communications with senior royals (this would have set aside the "public interest test" in the current exemption).

Both changes were proposed by the Commissioner in her evidence to the Scottish Parliament Finance Committee in October.

Commenting on the Ministers' announcement, Rosemary Agnew said:

"These changes are consistent with the Scottish Government's goal of strengthening and clarifying Scottish FOI. I explained in my evidence on the Bill that the scope of FOI needs to be reviewed regularly if the public's rights are to be safeguarded and existing provisions for correspondence with the royal family are already fit for purpose - currently relevant information would only be released in exceptional circumstances. I am delighted that Ministers, in response to the Finance Committee's report, have reached the same conclusions."

The Scottish Parliament Finance Committee is due to consider the Scottish Ministers' amendments on Wednesday 5 December 2012.

Ends

For further information contact the Commissioner's Media Team on 01334 464610, out of hours on 07976 511752, or email media@itspublicknowledge.info.

Notes to Editors:

About the Scottish Information Commissioner:

The Scottish Information Commissioner is responsible for enforcing and promoting the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA), the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRS), and the INSPIRE (Scotland) Regulations 2009. FOISA and the EIRs came into force on 1 January 2005, giving anyone, anywhere in the world, important rights to access the information held by more than 10,000 public authorities in Scotland. The Commissioner's duties are set out in FOISA.

In summary, the Scottish Information Commissioner:

  • investigates appeals made to her when people are dissatisfied with how a public authority dealt with their request for information
  • issues legally enforceable decision in relation to these appeals
  • promotes good practice amongst public authorities and
  • provides the public and public authorities with information about their rights and obligations under FOI laws.

The current Scottish Information Commissioner is Rosemary Agnew. Rosemary took up office on 1 May 2012, for a fixed period of six years. Her predecessor, Kevin Dunion, held the post of Commissioner for nine years, and demitted office in February 2012.

About the Freedom of Information (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill:

The Freedom of Information (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill is currently at Stage 2 of its progression through the Scottish Parliament. Further information on the passage of the Bill, including copies of the submissions and evidence from the Scottish Information Commissioner, is available at: www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/52148.aspx

The Scottish Government's news release announcing the amendments to the Bill is available at: www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2012/11/FOI-amends

Details of the amendments are available on the Scottish Parliament's website at: www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/BusinessBulletin/57147.aspx

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