The government is bowing to mounting pressure to extend freedom of information laws to private companies carrying out public functions, a minister said today.
Justice minister Simon Hughes said the change would be written into the contracts of companies after the publication of a new code of practice, which should be in place by the end of this year.
Earlier this week the local communities and local government committee proposed such changes in a hard-hitting report on procurement, saying that increasing transparency is essential if fraud is to be identified and the public is to see what value the council is getting from contracts.
Hughes, a Liberal Democrat appointed to the government just before Christmas, told MPs that the extension would be made "as soon as practical".
"We intend to publish a revised code of practice to make sure that those private companies that carry out public functions have freedom of information requirements in their contracts, and go further than that, and we hope that will be in place by the end of this year."
Recent calls for more transparency on government contracts have come from the Confederation of British Industry as well as trade unions, MPs and the Information Commissioner.