Section 23 – Publication schemes
82.This section places a duty on Scottish public authorities to adopt and maintain a scheme which relates to the publication of information by the authority, to publish information in accordance with it and to review it from time to time. Subject to the need to obtain the approval of the Commissioner, and to the requirements set out in this section, each authority is free to draw up its own scheme and so can tailor its proposals to its particular circumstances.
83.Section 23(2) requires an authority to specify the classes of information which it publishes or intends to publish, the manner of publication and whether the information is available to the public free of charge or on payment. A publication scheme is intended to be a guide to the authority’s publications and the scheme can be general in nature or specific.
84.Section 23(3) requires an authority, when adopting or reviewing a scheme, to have particular regard to the public interest (a) in allowing the public to have access to information held by it and (b) in the publication of reasons for decisions made by it.
85.Sections 23(5) and (6) concern the approval of publication schemes. The Commissioner may refuse to approve a scheme, approve it only for a specified period, or revoke a previous approval. The Commissioner must give a reason for refusing to approve or for revoking the approval of a scheme.
86.Material made generally available in accordance with a publication scheme would be exempt under section 25 from the right of access. As such, the Scottish public authority would not be obliged to provide information dealt with in a publication scheme under the conditions set out in Part 1 of the Act, but instead under the conditions governing the disclosure of information under the publication scheme.