UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union with members across the public, private and voluntary sectors. UNISON’s interest in FoI includes our campaigns function, the fact that we make regular use of FOI at Scottish and local levels, and the fact that we are the union that represents most FoI staff in public bodies.
UNISON has been campaigning for strong Freedom of Information legislation since before the Scottish Parliament was established. We were among those calling for this post legislative scrutiny and we welcome the opportunity to submit written views to the Committee.
UNISON believes that the right to information is fundamental to a democracy and that it should apply to all public services, however they are delivered. We support the submission from the Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland (CFoIS), which does vital work to promote FOI rights, including the importance of the human right to access information.
There should be a universal, statutory, enforceable right to information about all public services, regardless of what type of body delivers the service. We have long called for the extension of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) to ensure this. We have raised concerns in particular, along with many others, about the ways in which the right to information has been undermined by the public losing rights through the changing way services are delivered, including some services being outsourced / transferred to different providers. As the Scottish Information Commissioner’s Office has been saying for many years, information rights should follow the public pound. The CFoIS are right to describe FOI rights being weakened “through stealth and omission.” We believe that the post-legislative scrutiny should address this as a top priority.