MP Calls For FOI Extension Following Carillion Collapse

Labour MP Andy Slaughter has called for an extension of the Freedom of Information Act to cover private companies undertaking public sector work following the collapse of Carillion.

In a House of Commons session last week, Mr Slaughter said an extension of the Act – a move which the News Media Association has campaigned for for many years – might have “alerted us sooner to the chaos” at the company.

With publishers and press freedom bodies, the NMA campaigned hard against proposed restrictions to the FOI Act, leading to the Government pulling back from extreme changes to the law, which is widely used by national and local journalists to get information from public bodies.

During the Business of the House in the Commons last week, Mr Slaughter, MP for Hammersmith, said: “Will the Government also support my private Member’s Bill on the extension of the Freedom of Information Act to private sector companies that undertake public sector contracts?

“Such an extension might have alerted us sooner to the chaos at Carillion that both the company and the Government kept to themselves for too long.”

The move is also supported by the Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham who said in 2016:  “Private contractors above a certain threshold for a contract or doing some specific types of work could be included under the FOI Act.

“The government could do more to include private bodies that are basically doing work on behalf of the public.”