I am pleased to launch the consultation for my Member’s Bill – the Freedom of Information Reform (Scotland) Bill.

It is vitally important people have the right to full disclosure about how they’re governed and how their services are delivered in a democratic society. Yet despite being recognised as a substantive human right, freedom of information (FOI) legislation in this country is increasingly outdated, full of loopholes and in need of reform. Many people report extremely slow response times, whilst many more who submit requests find the providers of public services they are querying are not covered at all.

This bill will aim to extend FOI legislation to cover all organisations that provide public services, improve enforcement, encourage an increase in proactive publication and ensure sufficient resource is in place for the regulator to enable the law to work. The Scottish Government has had lots of opportunities to come forward with its own reforms, as called for by legislators, journalists, campaigners, trade unionists and many other members of the public, but little progress appears to have been made. I therefore believe this bill is long overdue. Reform is needed to close legal loopholes, build institutions which are accountable and transparent, and ensure the public’s enforceable right to access information is robust.  

I would invite everyone to read through the consultation and share their thoughts. Details on how to respond are provided at the end of the document. The consultation has now been extended from 2 February and now closes on 14 March. I look forward to reading all your responses.