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Date: Mon 17 November 2008

Freedom of Information legislation should cover companies delivering PPP/PFI contracts

UNISON Scotland today criticised proposals to extend Freedom of Information legislation for not promising to include companies delivering PPP/PFI contracts.

Scottish Organiser Dave Watson said it was extremely disappointing that today’s Scottish Government discussion paper is not proposing to make all companies with PPP/PFI contracts and all leisure trusts accountable under FOI laws.

The discussion paper states: "Our preliminary view is that where contracts are for the provision of construction, maintenance or cleaning etc, the contractor may not be performing functions of a public nature or providing under a contract made with a Scottish public authority a service whose provision is a function of that authority.”

Dave said: "To say that hospital cleaning services may not be a public function seems utterly inconsistent with recent action on hospital acquired infections announced by the Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

"I think the general public would be very strongly of the view that hospital cleaning is a major health issue.

"UNISON wants to see the Scottish Government live up to pledges of open government by actually making firms that sign up to PPP/PFI contracts accountable to the public."

The discussion paper says that important considerations for extending the Act include whether the organisation carries out significant work of a public nature, receives significant public funding and whether coverage would enhance transparency and accountability.

UNISON believes all these things apply strongly to PPP/PFI contracts, many of which have been criticised by Ministers for ripping off the public purse with credit card levels of repayment.

ENDS

Note to Editors: The Scottish Government seems to regularly be failing to live up to pledges on open government, including refusing to provide information this summer to UNISON on PPP/PFI contracts by using the ‘figleaf’ of saying it would cost more than £600.

See 'Open’' Scottish Government Hides PFI Information from the Public http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/news/2008/julyaug/2807.htm

For further information please contact: Dave Watson, Scottish Organiser 07958 122 409 (m)

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