Daniel Zeichner MP called on the Government today to extend freedom of information legislation to make “public services paid for with public money publicly accountable – even if they’re delivered through private contractors“.
The MP comments: “As it stands, private companies who are paid with public money to deliver public services, can hide behind “commercial sensitivity“ and avoid freedom of information requests – this includes organisations like multi-academy trusts running our schools, housing associations delivering social housing, and construction companies building public infrastructure projects. This can’t be right – we must be able to find out where public money goes and what it delivers.“
“Government now spend almost a third of our total expenditure with external suppliers – or £284 billion. If they’re confident that this is good value for money, they need to pull themselves together and make services more accountable – what do they have to hide?“
The Information Commissioner’s report “Outsourcing Oversight? The case for reforming access to information law“ was published earlier this year and recommends extending the FOI Act to private companies on public contracts as Government now outsources much of its service delivery to contractors.
Mr Zeichner told Parliament: “Earlier this year, the Information Commissioner presented a substantial and important report to Parliament requesting an extension to the Freedom of Information Act to outsourced public service providers, particularly drawing on the experiences of Grenfell and Carillion. I’ve discovered, through a written question, that the Government have responded, in a letter that’s hidden away in the Library, but they’re not proposing very much. Given the importance of this subject, and of the ICO, can we not at least have a statement from the Minister?“
The Leader of the House commented that he was sure that the Government “will have heard his comments.“