Background to consultation proposals
As part of the Scottish Government's Six Principles of Freedom of Information the Scottish Government is committed to adjusting the Act where it is necessary and sensible to do so. This includes regularly assessing coverage of Scotland's freedom of information legislation and bringing forward proposals to extend coverage as it considers appropriate.
To put these proposals in broader context, we note that at the time of debate on the original Freedom of Information Bill there was considerable discussion about the inclusion of RSLs in the legislation. While RSLs were not brought within scope from 1 January 2005 there was clear expectation that formal consultation would follow and that, in due course, the majority of RSLs would become subject to FOISA.
More recently, in January 2015, the Scottish Information Commissioner's Special Report (see link on page 4) included a recommendation that consideration be given to an order extending the Act to Registered Social Landlords ( RSLs)  .
The Scottish Government consultation in 2015 on further extension of the Act to certain bodies also included an invitation to put forward proposals in respect of other organisations or types of body which should be considered for inclusion within the scope of the Act. The consultation paper specifically acknowledged the long-term interest in extending coverage of the Act to RSLs.
While at the time the Scottish Government was 'not persuaded of the merits of extending coverage' to RSLs, landlords and tenants were encouraged to provide their views. Consequently, approximately half of all responses made reference to RSLs  .
Subsequently, the views of consultation respondees as well as the Commissioner's report informed the first biennial report required to be laid by the Scottish Government 'about the exercise of the section 5 power'.
The report noted the strong opinions, over a considerable period of time, on the issue of freedom of information legislation applying to RSLs. The Scottish Government therefore agreed that the housing sector should be consulted with a view to extending the Act to RSLs  .
Analysis setting out the key issues around extending coverage to RSLs follows below.
This consultation paper also includes a partial Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment ( BRIA) setting out, as best we can at this stage, the key issues concerning the practical impact of extending coverage of the Act to registered social landlords.
Question 4 invites comments specifically in respect of the BRIA.
As part of this consultation exercise we would also welcome comments in respect of the potential impact of these proposals on 'Equality Groups', for example, in terms of age, gender, disability, ethnic background etc. Little data is available on those making information requests, particularly in terms of Equality Groups, and any specific barriers to accessing information which applicants from such groups may face.
Relevant comments will inform both the Equalities Impact Assessment ( EQIA) and the Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment ( CRWIA) we intend to publish following the consultation process.
Question 5 invites comments specifically in respect of the impact of the proposals on 'Equality Groups'.