Elected representatives are not directly covered by FOI law. FOI applies to public authorities - and elected members are individuals, not public authorities.
Political parties are also not defined as public authorities under FOI law, so are not required to respond to FOI requests for information.
The information that elected members hold - including information on constituency or party-political business - is therefore not covered by FOI.
If they receive requests for information, MSPs or councillors may choose to answer them, but they are not required to do so by FOI law.
However, in certain circumstances, information about elected representatives may be accessible under FOI if:
- they correspond with a public authority
The correspondence may be accessible from the public authority. For example, if a councillor writes to a local authority about the proposed closure of a library, the information is likely to be held by the local authority for the purposes of FOI, and can be requested under FOI law.
- they hold a formal position within an authority
For example, if an MSP is also a Minister and they meet with a trade body about the development of a policy, information about the meeting is likely to be held by the Scottish Government. If a councillor sits on a council committee, information about the work of the committee is likely to be held by the local authority.
- the authority in which they work holds information about them
For example, if there are minutes of meetings, expenses information, registers of interests, and so on, this information is likely to be held by the authority (e.g. the Scottish Parliament or a local authority) for the purposes of FOI.