Freedom of information - extension of coverage: consultation analysis

Summary of responses to the Scottish Government's consultation exercise on extension of FOISA, which ran from 30 August to 3 December 2019. The consultation sought views on the future use of Scottish Ministers' powers under section 5 to extend coverage of the Act.

Key issues highlighted in responses

61. Across the 36 responses received, there was a clear divergence of views about whether there should be a further extension of FOISA, and the basis on which any such extension should take place. The Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland and UNISON Scotland, together with most of the individual respondents expressed consistent enthusiasm for an ambitious approach to extension. This was supported to a significant extent by the detailed response from the Scottish Information Commissioner who also advocated for substantial extension, albeit qualified by an emphasis on certain areas identified as particular priorities.

62. By contrast a number of stakeholders, predominantly representing the third sector and many with an interest in the delivery of health and social care services, expressed significant concerns about the impact of extending FOISA coverage in terms of administrative burden and the willingness of third or private sector organisations to enter into contracts with public authorities. These stakeholders tended either to oppose further extension of FOISA outright or to urge a more cautious approach.

63. Responses to Question 6 – about the effectiveness of accessing information about a contract to provide services to the public sector by making requests to the Scottish public authority that has contracted out the service – illustrate a key divergence in perspectives. Those respondents who advocated an ambitious approach to extension tended to see such arrangements as inadequate to ensure the information rights of the public. Those who opposed extension or advocated a cautious approach were much more inclined to see such arrangements as sufficient and providing greatest simplicity.



Back to top