New legislation, proposed by Labour MSP Katy Clark, is being brought to Holyrood.
An MSP has published a consultation on a member’s bill which amounts to the most significant reform to Freedom of Information since its inception.
Scottish Labour’s Katy Clark is bringing forward the Freedom of Information Reform (Scotland) Bill, aiming to extend freedom of information (FOI) legislation to cover all organisations that provide public services.
The bill will aim to improve enforcement, encourage an increase in proactive publication and ensure sufficient resources are in place for the regulator to enable the law to work.
The move would include third sector contractors, who at present are not covered by FOI laws.
Ms Clark, an MSP for the West of Scotland region, said: “I am pleased to launch the consultation for this bill.
“There is already wide consensus that reform to FOI is well overdue.
“The way publicly funded services are delivered in Scotland has changed over the past two decades to the point where we have a patchwork of FOI rights which depend on a provider being ‘public’ rather than on the public service received.
“Reform is needed to close legal loopholes, build institutions which are accountable and transparent, and ensure the public’s enforceable right to access information is robust.
“The Scottish Government has had ample opportunity to come forward with its own reforms, as called for by legislators, journalists, campaigners and trade unionists.
“I look forward to working with MSPs from across parties and hearing from organisations and members of the public about how we ensure FOI is equipped to deal with the challenges of today.”
The proposal builds upon a draft bill by the Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland (CFoIS), which has received backing from the Scottish Trades Union Congress.
Carole Ewart, convener of CFoIS, said: “The CFoIS applauds the decision of Katy Clark MSP to deliver reform of FoI law through a member’s Bill.
“It is 20 years since Scotland first passed legislation to establish an enforceable right to access information and create and architecture of transparency, accountability and scrutiny regulated by the independent Scottish Information Commissioner.
“Since 2015 there has been a succession of research, reports, campaigns and a Parliamentary inquiry which have all confirmed the law needs to be substantially reformed as well as updated.
“Therefore, action is overdue and we are delighted that an MSP has agreed to consult on specific proposals to deliver robust FOI rights which will benefit individuals, families and communities across Scotland. “CFoIS encourages people and organisations to respond to the consultation as your views count. Also please share practical details so the reform is effective.”