MSPs unanimously backed the general principles of the
Freedom of Information (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill
at decision time on 15 November 2012.
The Bill includes provisions to:
- give Scottish Ministers enhanced powers to reduce the lifespan of historical records, so there could be varying lengths of time for different public bodies or for different kinds of records
- clarify that information which is provided in a body's publication scheme does not also have to be provided in response to an FOI request
- allow authorities to issue, in reply to a request for information concerning personal information, a neither confirm nor deny response
- allow prosecution for offences, under Section 65 of FOI(S)A, to be made up to six months after sufficient evidence has been amassed, rather than six months after commission of the offence
- create an absolute exemption for communications with the Queen, the heir and the second in line to the throne.
James Kelly MSP who closed for the Labour party said it was "a missed opportunity".
Conservative MSP Gavin Brown said abpit Royal exemption "whilst absolute exemptions are not the norm if they happened they ought to be limited and narrowly defined".
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs she would look at the Royal exemption in the bill and give the objections of the finance committee "very full and very serious attention before bringing forward amendments".