Freedom of information laws 'should be extended to private companies'
The move would see private companies contracted to provide public services forced to give information.
Freedom of information (FOI) laws should be extended to private companies contracted to provide public services, the Scottish Information Commissioner has said.
Such a move will ensure accountability and transparency where large sums of taxpayers' money are involved, Rosemary Agnew said.
The Scottish Government recently passed FOI legislation, updating existing laws with measures such as removing the royal exemption.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish Government has also begun a consultation to bring arms-length external organisations under FOI.
The UK Government announced in November that it does not intend to extend FOI to public service contractors.
Ms Agnew said: "It would be very disappointing if Scotland were to follow a similar path to Westminster, and I welcome Nicola Sturgeon's statement to the Scottish Parliament earlier this month that she will be actively considering the extension of FOI to public service contractors.
"It is extremely important that the FOI principles of accountability and transparency apply when large sums of public money are spent on the delivery of vital public services.
"The key thing that FOI designation brings is enforceability: an independent right of appeal and enforcement. Where access to information rights are proposed through other means, such as through procurement contracts or codes of conduct, it is unlikely that these will ever offer the same degree of accountability, transparency and scrutiny as that available to the public under FOI."
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