Scottish info commissioner calls for more FoI disclosure

The Scottish information commissioner has called on public sector bosses to follow the lead of police officers and agree to publish their full expenses.

Kevin Dunion said his two priorities for next year were to improve public authorities’ use of FoI legislation and to press for safeguards to the right to information.

According to its newly published annual report, the Scottish information commissioner’s office has dealt with almost 2,000 applications for information and made about 750 formal decisions since 2005.

In the past year, a third of applications were settled or withdrawn as staff work to broker mutual deals without the need for formal decisions.

The number of open cases fell from 180 at the end of 2007 to 128 at the end of last year.

The average age of cases closed last year was seven months, compared with 10 months in 2007.

Dunion said: “Public trust is greater when people can see for themselves that public officials are doing a good job.

“Leaders should see it as a matter of right, not offence, when they are asked for information. We need to see more such examples – and not just in relation to expenses.”

He added: “My desire to see the scope of the Act extended is a matter of public record, and I have recently recommended to the Scottish Government that they should designate housing associations, leisure trusts and contractors delivering high-value public service contracts.”

Dunion told yesterday’s Sunday Herald that there seemed to be a different move towards extending the Act south of the border.

Down south, the indications are that’s far from the Government’s agenda,” he told the paper.

“It’s more concerned with amending FoI, to make sure it doesn’t apply to things like Northern Rock and to use the veto to stop the release of Cabinet minutes.”

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