The public may soon have the right to request information from publicly owned companies that provide culture and leisure facilities on behalf of councils, the Deputy First Minister has announced.
In the last decade many councils have split off their culture and leisure services and set up companies to run them, such as Glasgow Life and Edinburgh Leisure.
Many MSPs, campaigners and public bodies have complained that the rise of these arms-length external organisations (Aleos) has led to an "erosion" of freedom of information (FoI) rights as the public has no right to know how their tax money is being spent by these firms.
In response, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon used a stage 3 debate on a new FoI (Amendment) Bill to announce that she has started a consultation to bring culture and leisure Aleos under FoI.
But Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie described this as "a timid response" to widespread calls for all Aleos, not just culture and leisure, to be brought under FoI.
Labour MSP Elaine Murray also sought to introduce a clause to the Bill itself to compel councils to transfer FoI responsibilities to new Aleos at the point of conception. This was rejected by Ms Sturgeon and her SNP colleagues who say that the discretion to designate Aleos and other bodies such as housing associations should remain with Scottish ministers.
No minister has extended FoI rights to any public body since the FoI Act was passed over a decade ago, but Ms Sturgeon pledged to make the first new designations "as soon as practicably possible".
Ms Sturgeon said: "This initial order, and I stress the word initial, will at the first instance extend coverage to bodies established by local authorities to deliver recreational, sporting and cultural and social facilities and activities on their behalf. We then plan to look towards further extensions of other Aleo organisations carrying out other functions.
"We didn't consult on them previously but I can confirm that I now intend to consult (council umbrella body) Cosla, local authorities and other interested parties on bringing councils' other Aleos which carry out public functions within the scope of FoI."
Mr Rennie complained that the SNP has taken six years to bring these proposals forward. He said: "This is a timid response to a demand that's been going on for a long time."