Call for private contractors to be brought under FoI Act

The Campaign for Freedom of Information is calling for private contractors to come under the boundaries of the Freedom of Information Act.

The group wants companies which provide services for public authorities such as the NHS to be held accountable under the Act. It also says the same principle should apply to voluntary organisations providing services under contracts with public authorities and private bodies with public functions such as academy schools.

The Campaign made the call in response to a consultation by the Ministry of Justice about the possible extension of the FoI Act. The Campaign's director Maurice Frankel said: "These services were previously provided by public authorities directly and would otherwise have come under the Freedom of Information Act when it came into force in 2005. Contracting-out has led to a reduction in the public's rights to information which should be restored."

The private bodies which the Campaign believes should be brought under the Act include:
  • Those providing treatment or diagnosis to NHS patients
  • Private care home owners acting under contract to local authorities
  • Contractors running schools for local education authorities
  • Private train, bus and tram operating companies
  • Housing associations
  • BAA which runs Heathrow and other airports
  • Network Rail
  • Self-regulatory bodies like the Press Complaints Commission
The National Union of Journalists Parliamentary Group and the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom are also lobbying for the PCC to be included under the Act.

Press freedom campaign group's fresh call for wider FoI remit (Holdthefrontpage, 19 March 2008)