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Scots call for freedom of information to extend to contractors

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Private companies in Scotland that build and run schools, hospitals and prisons may soon have to answer to freedom of information laws under plans for greater transparency

The legislation already applies to public authorities, giving the public a statutory right to the information of about 10,000 organisations.

The Scottish Government is to consult on extending it to apply to those companies working with public money on PFI/PPP contracts.

This will mean those building and maintaining hospitals will be subject to scrutiny, as well as the firms behind Addiewell and Kilmarnock prisons.

It may also be extended to the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland, Glasgow Housing Association, leisure, sport or cultural services and the firms that operate and maintain trunk roads.

Parliamentary Business Minister Bruce Crawford said: ‘It is important that organisations that deliver key public services for the people of Scotland operate transparently so the public can be reassured we are getting high-quality services and value for money.’

However, CBI Scotland argues that it is unnecessary and that the cost of services would go up if private firms had to deal with freedom of information requests.

Neil Baxter, secretary and treasurer at the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, said: ‘While I could understand that large companies would be frustrated by the undoubted substantial [extra burden]… transparency in public and quasi-public procurement is in the broad a very good thing.’

‘[Increased] transparency in the procuring of architects and ensuring fairness is applied is also a very good thing and on balance this [move] is a positive measure.’

 

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