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News IconCommissioner to urge Ministers to take their own course on FOI

31 January 2013

Scottish Information Commissioner Rosemary Agnew will today [31 January] urge Scottish Ministers to follow their own course when considering the extension of freedom of information (FOI) law, and not follow the example of the UK Government at Westminster, which has said that it does not intend to extend FOI rights to private contractors delivering public services.

The message will come as part of Rosemary Agnew's first address to the annual Holyrood FOI Conference since taking up post as Commissioner in May 2012.The Westminster Government announced in November that it does not intend to extend FOI to public service contractors at this time, amid concerns around balancing the need for public accountability with the impact of FOI designation on businesses.

Speaking on the eve of her conference address, Rosemary Agnew said:

"It would be very disappointing if Scotland were to follow a similar path to Westminster, and I welcome Nicola Sturgeon's statement to the Scottish Parliament earlier this month that she will be actively considering the extension of FOI to public service contractors.

It is extremely important that the FOI principles of accountability and transparency apply when large sums of public money are spent on the delivery of vital public services. The key thing that FOI designation brings is enforceability - an independent right of appeal and enforcement. Where access to information rights are proposed through other means, such as through procurement contracts or codes of conduct, it is unlikely that these will ever offer the same degree of accountability, transparency and scrutiny as that available to the public under FOI."

Ends

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

 

 

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