Monday, December 12, 2005

Scotland - Freedom of Information review

Press release - Scottish Executive:
A review will be carried out to investigate how aspects of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act are working.

Minister for Parliamentary Business Margaret Curran said that this will make the legislation more effective.

Confirming details of the review at a FOI conference in Edinburgh today, Ms Curran said:

"The Act has been operating for almost a year and it will take some time to properly judge the overall success. However, while it may be too early to judge any need for wholesale change, I am convinced there is benefit in reviewing certain aspects of its operation.

"There is no doubt that the right to access information serves the public interest. People across Scotland are now able to find out more about their local schools, hospitals and councils.

"But we must also accept and face up to the challenges this new legislation brings. It's vital that FOI is not undermined by misuse which may actually inhibit the free flow of information the Act is designed to help.

"I hope that FOI will be increasingly used to meet peoples' needs to understand and participate in decision making, in policy making and in development of services and less used for gossip and to promote self interest.

"The consultation being launched today will help us decide how any fine tuning can be used to ensure just that."

The FOI(Scotland) Act 2002 came into force on January 1, 2005. Ms Curran announced the intention to review some aspects of the Act in October 2005.

The review will be undertaken to identify any requirements for fine-tuning of the Act following its first year in operation. The review will not encompass a wholesale look at the legislation. It will in the main focus on areas where any agreed changes or outcomes would be achievable through use of subordinate legislation or amendments to the Act's Codes of Practice.

One part of the review will be a public consultation which will be distributed and made available on this website, during the week beginning December 12, 2005.

Key topics of the review include: coverage of the Act, the fees regime, statutory prohibitions to disclosure of information, general feedback on discharge of functions under the Act and any areas where difficulty is arising.

There are currently around 10,000 bodies covered by the Act from the Scottish Parliament and Executive to individual GP practices.

taken from Scottish Executive website

Consultation details

Freedom of Information one year on - A review
This exercise is designed to gather the views of consultees to feed into a review on the operation of certain aspects of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.
Contact: Liza McLean
Address: Freedom of Information Unit Victoria Quay Edinburgh, EH6 6QQ
Telephone: 0131 244 5405

taken from the Consultation section of the SE website

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