Scotland extends FoI legislation to arm's-length bodies

The Scottish Government is set to extend the scope of its Freedom of Information laws to include some non-governmental bodies.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that the extension to cover so-called arm’s-length organisations providing leisure and cultural services to Government would take effect from next April.

She said Scotland would have the “most robust” FoI rules in the country following the change. But opponents of the move in the Scottish Parliament said it did not go far enough, arguing that FoI should also be extended to include housing associations and private companies with public sector contracts.

“This is a timid response to a demand for open government,” said Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie. “This only deals with a micro-fraction of the range of bodies that should be subject to Freedom of Information laws.”

Westminster’s coalition Government had threatened to include housing associations in any extension to FoI laws in England and Wales but the plans have been shelved.

Meanwhile, the Government has come under criticism for its plans to lower the cost limit at which FoI requests can be refused from £600 to £450.

The Campaign for Freedom of Information said the proposal would result in many more requests being refused under claims they would be “disproportionately burdensome”.

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