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Extending FOI to landlords

3rd December 2016

Views sought on extending FOI legislation to Registered Social Landlords.

The Scottish Government is launching a consultation on proposals to extend FOI legislation to Registered Social Landlords.

The Scottish Government is committed to promoting openness and transparency and seeks to extend coverage of the legislation to organisations delivering key public services. Freedom of Information has previously been extended to bodies undertaking leisure, sporting, cultural, security, care and educational functions.

Minister for Parliamentary Business, Joe FitzPatrick, said:

"Scotland's Freedom of Information regime is internationally recognised and we are determined to continue developing a culture of openness and transparency across our public services.

“This latest consultation sets out proposals to extend FOI information rights to Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) on the basis that they undertake functions of a public nature. It also demonstrates our ongoing commitment to ensuring that Scotland’s freedom of information legislation remains robust and up-to-date.

“The First Minister has committed to leading the most open and accessible government that Scotland has ever had. The ‘right to know’ provided by FOI legislation underpins this commitment to democratic engagement.

“We encourage responses from tenants, registered social landlords, the wider housing sector, other interested stakeholders and the public."

This latest consultation on the scope of freedom of information legislation follows earlier orders extending FOI to a range of organisations including local authority arm’s length trusts delivering leisure, culture and sporting services, private prisons and providers of secure accommodation for children.

The consultation closes on 23 February 2017.

The consultation paper is available on the Scottish Government website.

The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 provides a right of access to information held by Scottish public authorities (unless certain exemptions apply, for example for national security or personal data).

The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 can be extended to bodies that carry out functions of a public nature or which provide a service which is a function of a public body through a contract.

Scotland’s previous orders extending coverage of freedom of information legislation have brought within scope of the Act a wide range of bodies including arm’s length organisations providing cultural, sporting and leisure services, private prison contractors, providers of secure accommodation for children and grant-aided and independent special schools.

http://www.gov.scot/About/Information/FOI/Coverage

The Government’s Six Principles of Freedom of Information commit the Government to adjusting the legislation where it is necessary and sensible to do so.

http://www.gov.scot/About/Information/FOI/6principles

In April this year Scotland was selected by the Open Government Partnership as one of 15 Pioneer governments around the world to join a programme to bring in new leadership and innovation into the Open Government Partnership at all levels of government.

The Open Government Partnership Summit takes place in Paris from 7th to 9th December during which the Scottish Action Plan will be launched. This is an important platform to highlight Scotland’s work on open government.

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