This item was published during the term of a previous administration that ended in April 2007
Freedom of Information (Scotland) Bill
This Bill Provides a legal right of access to information held by Scottish public authorities. It establishes an independent Scottish Information Commissioner, with powers to order the disclosure of information. It requires public authorities (in most circumstances) to consider the public interest in disclosing information.
It fulfils the Executive's commitment in the Partnership Agreement to introduce an effective Freedom of Information regime and to introduce a Bill by end of 2001.
Deputy First Minister Jim Wallace said:
"The Executive is committed to promoting a culture of openness throughout the Scottish public sector. This Bill will go along way in achieving this.
"Very shortly, I shall introduce this Bill to the Parliament. Another Executive commitment will be fulfilled. But Freedom of Information is also a personal commitment. That is why I will be especially pleased when this particular Bill is introduced.
"The Freedom of Information Bill will transform the culture of the Scottish public sector. Better government will be the result of better scrutiny. The Bill's distinctive approach is designed for Scotland. And I look forward to the Parliament's consideration of it.
- An Open Scotland (consultation paper on FOI proposals) published November 1999: distinctive approach; made in Scotland and tailored to meet the specific requirements of Scotland.
- Consultation paper on draft Bill published March 2001. Draft Bill proposed: wide coverage of Scottish public authorities, a rigorous and demanding 'harm test' of 'substantial prejudice' to withhold information, a narrowly drawn set of exemptions to protect sensitive information, and a powerful independent Scottish Information Commissioner who has real powers to order disclosure of information.
- Draft Bill received a generally broad welcome (208 responses received). A number of issues and many points of detail were raised - Freedom of Information is a not a simple area of policy - a delicate balance between providing a right of access to information yet recognising the need to protect sensitive information. All responses have been considered carefully.
- A Scottish Freedom of Information Implementation Group, with representation across the Scottish public sector, has been established to ensure that all necessary measures are put in place such that the Scottish FOI legislation may be implemented smoothly and consistently across the Scottish public sector.