Friday, 11 January 2013

Email MSPs to protect Freedom of Information rights

11 Jan 2013

Contact your MSPs - ask them to protect Freedom of Information rights

Stage 3 Debate on Freedom of Information (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill
Wed 16 Jan 2013, 2pm Scottish Parliament

The Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland (CFoIS) and UNISON Scotland are campaigning to amend the Freedom of Information (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill, aiming to protect the public’s right to know.

The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FoISA) must be reformed to ensure a robust framework, so the public enjoy an enforceable right to know.

We think it is essential that the public has full rights to information on PPP/PFI contracts, leisure trusts, Arms Length External Organisations (ALEOS), housing associations and other bodies currently not covered by FOISA. There is strong and widespread support for information rights to ‘follow the public pound’.

A major reason for the weakening of FoISA is that promises to add named bodies and categories of bodies have not been honoured, leading to information rights being lost. The Scottish Government and previous Scottish Executive Administrations have never used their powers to do so, through an order under section 5 of FOISA.

We are asking you to email MSPs letting them know which amendments we would like them to support or oppose in the debate on Wednesday 16 January.

Amending the Bill is also necessary to meet the Scottish Government’s own FoI principles, 1 and 2: that “the public’s right to know remains an essential part of an open, democratic government and responsive public services” and FoISA “will be adjusted where it is necessary and sensible to do so”.

Consistently the Scottish Government has assured people of its good intentions, its willingness to act and to listen. For example, Nicola Sturgeon, the Deputy First Minister, said during the 5 December Stage 2 Debate "Even though I am asking the committee to reject amendments this morning—including amendment 8— for specific reasons, I will continue to consider the scope for introducing amendments at stage 3 that try to encapsulate the views of the campaign and the committee where that is possible." Clearly the Scottish Government has decided it is not possible for them to accept the detailed arguments made by CFoIS and UNISON.

We urge MSPs to:
• Support amendments: 1 – 9, 12 and 14
• Oppose amendments: 10 and 11
• No view: amendment 13 which appears to be of a technical nature.


UNISON's MSP briefing at Stage 2
CFoIS briefing at Stage 2
Uncovered: CFoIS briefing Nov 2012

Detailed briefing:A detailed briefing setting out our views on each amendment will be provided here and sent to MSPs before the debate.


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