No change to fees under Scottish FOI law

A number of organisations including independent schools, charities and the Faculty of Advocates could be brought under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act as the Scottish Executive aims to contact hundreds of organisations currently exempt from the FOI regime to decide whether to bring them under the Act. The Executive will finalise the conditions for considering a body for coverage, and consult with those bodies which Ministers decide are suitable before the end of the year.

Margaret Curran, the minister for parliament, has announced the findings of a review into the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act. She said she would look closely at the fee structure but saw no need to introduce the kind of restrictions being considered by the government at Westminster.

There has been a great deal of controversy over the recent decision by Glasgow City Council to create a charitable trust, Culture and Sport Glasgow, to deal with the Council's leisure and sport facilities. As a charitable trust, it is not covered by the FOI regime and therefore no-one can has the right to demand information from it. But sources close to Ms Curran have indicated that she may be prepared to change the law to include charitable trusts.

A spokesman for Kevin Dunion, the Scottish Information Commissioner, said he was pleased the Executive had not proposed any major changes to the fee regime, adding it "made sense" to keep the bodies covered by the Act under review.

No hiding place as plans to extend Freedom of Information unveiled (The Scotsman, 16 March 2007)

FOI 'serving Scotland well' (eGov monitor, 16 March 2007)