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FOI rights remain during the pre-election period

FOI rights remain during the pre-election period

18 March 2021

The 2021 Scottish Parliament election takes place on Thursday 6th May and the pre-election period begins on Thursday 25th March. Although there are some restrictions on the activities of public bodies during this period, Freedom of Information rights and obligations continue as normal.

This means people can still request information from public bodies in the run-up to the election, and those bodies still have a duty to respond promptly and within the statutory maximum timescales - responses to requests should not be delayed because of the election.

In addition, the Commissioner and his staff are not subject to any pre-election restrictions. Therefore, investigations and interventions made by the Commissioner will not be delayed (or fast-tracked) because of the election - they will continue to be carried out and decisions will continue to be issued as normal.

Please refer to our Contact Us page for details of how to get in touch if you have any queries.

Further information

During the pre-election period, there are restrictions on the use of public resources and on the activities of civil servants and ministers. For example, civil servants cannot undertake any activity which could call into question their political impartiality or take any action which is, or could be construed as being, party political or otherwise controversial in the context of elections.

Under the Scottish General Election (Coronavirus) Act 2021, the Scottish Parliament is not officially 'dissolved' until 5th May 2021 and MSPs remain in office until that date. This is to allow Parliament to be recalled in order to debate and pass emergency legislation if required. However, the Parliament is in recess from 25th March and the pre-election period operates as normal from that date.

The Scottish Government has issued guidance for some public bodies on the restrictions on their activities that are in place during the pre-election period. Other public bodies might publish their own specific information. The Scottish Parliament website also provides answers to some frequently asked questions.