Scot Lib Dems call for freedom of information expansion to bolster democratic standards
Speaking ahead of the Scottish Liberal Democrat conference in Hamilton next weekend, Scottish Liberal Democrat deputy leader Wendy Chamberlain has attacked the “sneakiness and secrecy” of the Scottish Government and called for reform of freedom of information (FOI) legislation and the ministerial code to bolster democratic standards.
On Saturday 29th October, Ms Chamberlain, a retired police officer, will urge conference to support a motion to:
- Apply freedom of information rules to companies which provide government services, including health and social care service providers
- Reform FOI legislation so that the right to request public interest information is a human right
- Introduce a new “duty to record” so that the public can access information about important ministerial meetings and decision-making processes
- Call an end to the Scottish Government placing adverse publicity clauses in public sector contracts, which prevent contractors from saying anything a minister deems detrimental to the public perception of the Scottish Government (Or West Dunbartonshire Council Ed.)
- Apply international best practice, signing up to the Council of Europe’s Tromsø
The calls follow the Scottish Information Commissioner’s report in May 2022 which investigated the Scottish Government’s handling of Freedom of Information requests. The report found, “a number of areas where performance and practice fell short.”
Wendy Chamberlain said: “The sneaky and secretive Scottish Government has repeatedly delayed and blocked freedom of information requests and struck a series of dodgy deals with dubious partners. From silencing civil servants and contractors who speak out to heaps of government meetings with no records of what was agreed or discussed, they just don’t care about being accountable to the people who pay their wages.
“As the party that ushered freedom of information legislation through the Scottish Parliament, Scottish Liberal Democrats know how important standards of honesty and transparency are to our democracy. Twenty years on, it is time to protect those hard-won rights and take the next steps.
“The public deserve to know that ministers are working in the best interests of the public.
“We cannot rest on our laurels. Government practice must evolve and expand to keep up with threats and international best practice.
“That’s why I am backing measures which will bolster our commitment to transparency, integrity and fair practice. I hope conference will back these measures next weekend.”