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30/08/2000

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION FOR SCOTLAND

SCOTLAND’S ongoing freedom of information debate took another turn today, as it was reported that Justice Minister Jim Wallace is to hold talks with the Irish Government on the issue.
Scotland’s proposed legislation has much in common with the existing Irish model, which maintains that all information be public domain unless the government successfully argue for it to be otherwise.
The proposals will include provision for a Scottish commissioner to oversee the legislation, and make rulings on disputes. Speaking from Dublin, the minister told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland: "If the executive or another public body says no, you're not getting a look at this, everyone will have the right to appeal to the commissioner.
"He or she can overrule the executive and then, it would be in very rare circumstances, it would only be by collective decision of the cabinet that the commissioner could be overruled and you can take it that would be a pretty big political event.”
The debate has raised worries about potential conflict between Westminster and Edinburgh, as the suggested legislation would create a disparity between the two jurisdictions.
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