By Bill Heaney
The Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference has today endorsed a motion to extend current freedom of information (FOI) legislation and to improve ministerial codes as a way of bolstering democratic standards.
Conference passed calls to:
1) Apply freedom of information rules to companies which provide government services, including health and social care service providers
2) Reform FOI legislation so that the right to request public interest information is a human right
3) Introduce a new “duty to record” so that the public can access information about important ministerial meetings and decision-making processes
4) Call an end to the Scottish Government placing adverse publicity clauses in public sector contracts, which prevent contactors from saying anything a minister deems detrimental to the public perception of the Scottish Government
5) Apply international best practice by signing up to the Council of Europe’s Tromso Convention
In May 2022, The Scottish Information Commissioner’s Report found that there are, “a number of areas where performance and practice fell short” in the Scottish Government’s handling of FOI requests.
Wendy Chamberlain MP., an ex police officer, right, said: “I am delighted to see that this motion has galvanised the support of Liberal Democrats across conference.
“The public deserve so much better than the poisonous toxin of secrecy and sneakiness plied by both Scottish and UK Governments.
“While the Scottish Government all too often treat valid requests from the public and journalists as hostile attacks, the UK Government have played fast and loose with the rule of law.
“Twenty years on from when Scottish Liberal Democrats first ushered freedom of information legislation through parliament, the time has now come for us to consolidate and develop those successes.
“We cannot rest on our laurels. Government practice must evolve and expand to keep up with new threats and international best practice.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats will return transparency, integrity and fair practice back into the beating heart of a better politics.”