Date: 25 October 2007
Government should use powers to extend Freedom of Information
coverage - UNISON
UNISON, Scotland's public service union which has consistently
argued that Freedom of Information should cover all non-public bodies
who provide public services, today welcomed the call of the Scottish
Information Commissioner for bodies such as housing associations,
leisure trusts, and PFI/PPP contractors to be covered by the Freedom
of Information act.
The union said that this could be exercised by the Scottish Government
simply by using the current legislation.
Chris Bartter, UNISON's Scottish Communications Officer said "We
and many other groups argued that the original legislation should
cover all bodies providing public services - whether these are public,
voluntary or private. We are pleased that the Commissioner has backed
an extension of the coverage.
"We have asked housing associations for business plans, for example
when they are contemplating transfer of housing to other associations,
but we cannot currently use the Freedom of Information Act. If these
were councils in the same position, this legislation would be open
to us and to tenants"
UNISON points out that the current legislation provides the power
for Scottish Ministers to designate such bodies as 'public' for
the purpose of the Act.
Chris Bartter said "Section 5 of the Act has already been reviewed
by the previous executive - there is no barrier to its use. We call
on the Minister to compile a list of the housing associations, trusts,
private contractors, and other voluntary and private sector organisations
- private nurseries, residential care and nursing homes for example
- that are curently spending our money without having to provide
information to us."
Notes to Editors:
1. UNISON's evidence to the Justice Committee, at the time of the
FoI Bill's consideration is available which calls for extensionm
of the coverage is at
2. Ironically the Environmental Information Scotland Regulations
- which allow applications of information on environmental grounds,
already DO cover contractors -but for more limited information.
For Further Information Please Contact: Chris Bartter (Communications
officer) 07715 583 729(m) Dave Watson (Scottish Organiser) 07958