LibDems call for freedom of information expansion to bolster democratic standards  

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.”

One comment

  1. Freedom of Information is a joke. West Dunbartonshire Council being a good local example.

    They are the last organisation to share information and if formally requested under current legislation to disclose information that they don’t want to, then they just with-hold the information. And if later caught out under review and or appeal they just explain that the data had gone missing, wasn’t in the file it was supposed to be in, or was on a different computer system.

    Police are very similar too. As is the biggest of them all, the Scottish Government. (Think about who made the decision to award ferries and on what basis and you’ll get the picture)

    FO, honesty and truth are in very short supply in today’s Scotland. The system’s rotten.

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