Access to information rights consultation: response

Scottish Government response to the analysis of responses our consultation on Access to Information Rights in Scotland. We sought views on the operation of the access to information rights regime following post-legislative scrutiny of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

1. Introduction

1. The Scottish Government published its analysis of responses to its recent consultation on Access to Information Rights in Scotland on 30 June 2023.[1] The consultation ran from 29 November 2022 until 14 March 2023.

2. The consultation was based around the recommendations of the former Public Audit and Post-Legislative Scrutiny Committee (the Committee) report on post-legislative scrutiny of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA), published in May 2020[2].

3. The consultation paper asked 31 questions, organised around the following key themes:

  • Agility of the regime - maintaining and strengthening access to information rights in the context of varied models of service delivery
  • Developments in Information Technology – ensuring access to information rights in the face of changing modes of information use
  • Improving proactive publication – promoting openness as 'business as usual' in a digital age
  • Technical and other issues – ensuring the Act remains fit for purpose

4. The consultation received 83 responses from members of the public, private, third sector and civil society organisations. Three stakeholder discussion events were also held.

5. This response summarises key outcomes arising from the consultation analysis, and sets out the Scottish Government's position in relation to each.

1.1 Scottish Government position

6. The Scottish Government considers that post-legislative scrutiny of FOISA, and the subsequent Scottish Government consultation has been a useful exercise to examine the operation of access to information rights in Scotland – changes to FOISA having last been made by the Freedom of Information (Amendment) (Scotland) Act 2013. The Scottish Government recognises that there are areas where further amendments to primary legislation could be of some value, to make incremental improvements to the regime. We therefore do not rule out a further FOISA Amendment Bill in the future.

7. However, the Scottish Government believes that the fundamentals of the access to information rights regime, provided by FOISA and Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs), remain fit for purpose, so we do not propose to introduce new primary legislation to amend FOISA within the current session of the Scottish Parliament. Rather, the Scottish Government proposes to address issues which have been raised in the post-legislative scrutiny process within the framework provided by the existing primary legislation – including through the use of existing secondary legislation making powers.



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