Shetland MSP Tavish Scott has today called on the Scottish Government to improve transparency and accountability, warning that “There can only be one reason that government ministers do not keep a formal record of a meeting. They have something to hide."
The ‘Get it Minuted’ campaign is calling on people and organisations to insist on meetings with the Scottish Government having agendas, notes and minutes.
In June 2017 the Scottish Parliament voted unanimously for an independent inquiry into the Scottish Government’s handling of FoI requests. The Government also committed to post-legislative scrutiny of the Freedom of Information Act 2002 (FoISA). As the Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland (CFoIS) points out, neither inquiry has started.
Recent high profile meetings with no minutes available include a meeting between Justice Secretary Michael Matheson and SPA chairman Andrew Flanagan about the prospective return from leave of Chief Constable Phil Gormley. Similarly, no minutes or notes were available following a meeting between three Scottish Government ministers including the First Minister and representatives of Teach First.
Tavish Scott said:
“There can only be one reason that government ministers do not keep a formal record of a meeting. They have something to hide.
"This is ripping up the Freedom of Information rulebook and being as secretive as possible. The Justice Ministers meeting with the former boss of the Scottish Police Authority is a very important. Yet because there is no record, parliament is kept in the dark about what was really said. That is just wrong.
“The Scottish Government should embrace the Get It Minuted campaign. That would take a dynamic shift in culture on transparency and good governance.
"The Scottish Government have a duty to recognise and act on the vote in Parliament calling for a full and comprehensive inquiry into freedom of information practices. Sadly what we see today is a culture of evasiveness that characterises the Scottish Government's approach to open information."
The Campaign is launched in response to concerns that the Scottish Government is undermining transparency and accountability by failing to issue agendas and take notes and minutes of meetings with a range of external parties. Organisations that have already signed up to the Campaign include UNISON Scotland and the Scottish Council on Deafness
More information on the campaign can be found here: