Bodies avoid being open to scrutiny

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AN EFFORT to force councils to open up arms-length bodies and large contractors to public 
scrutiny has been withdrawn from new freedom of information legislation.

Councils have the power to remove services from public scrutiny under the Freedom Of Information Act by designating them as “arms length external organisations” (Aleos).

Audit Scotland recently found 130 Aleos in Scotland, with more being set up.

In September Scottish Information Commissioner Rosemary Agnew complained that Aleos and council outsourcing have led to the loss of freedom of information rights.

The Campaign for Freedom of Information accused the Scottish Government of delaying tactics by failing to open any new 
bodies to public scrutiny since the Act was created a decade ago.

Last year it emerged that Glasgow councillors claimed £260,000 between them to sit on Aleos, and regulations were enforced to end this practice.

Private companies carrying out public work have never been covered by the Act.

A new Freedom Of Information (Amendment) Bill to extend the current Act has now been considered at stage two by Holyrood’s Finance Committee.