Scottish Ministerial Code - 2011 edition
By convention, the Scottish Ministerial Code is revised at the commencement of each new Parliamentary term, and the 2011 edition of the Code was published on December 13, 2011.
Note on Ministerial titles: Following changes in Ministerial portfolios which took effect on September 6, 2012, all references in the December 2011 edition of the Code to the Cabinet Secretary for Parliamentary Business and Government Strategy and the Minister for Parliamentary Business and Chief Whip should be taken as referring to the Minister for Parliamentary Business.
Purpose of the Ministerial Code
The Scottish Ministerial Code provides a code of conduct and guidance on procedures for members of the Scottish Government (the First Minister, Cabinet Secretaries and Law Officers) and junior Scottish Ministers.
All Scottish Ministers are expected to behave in a way that upholds the highest standards of propriety. They are expected to observe the Seven Principles of Public Life and the principles of Ministerial conduct set out in the Code.
The Code provides guidance to Ministers on how they should act and arrange their affairs in order to uphold these standards. It lists the principles which may apply in particular situations, drawing on past precedent, but it is not a rulebook.
The Code should be read against the background of the overarching duty on Ministers to comply with the law, including international law and treaty obligations, and to uphold the administration of justice and to protect the integrity of public life.
Independent Advisers on the Scottish Ministerial Code
The June 2008 edition of the Scottish Ministerial Code introduced, for the first time, independent advisers on the application of the Code.
Where he deems it appropriate, the First Minister may refer matters to the independent advisers to provide him with advice on which to base his judgement about any action required in respect of Ministerial conduct. The findings of the independent advisers are published.
In June 2008, the former Presiding Officers, Rt Hon George Reid and Rt Hon Lord Steel of Aikwood, were appointed as the first independent advisers on the Scottish Ministerial Code. They issued three reports:
In August 2011, the former Lords Advocate, Rt Hon Lord Fraser of Carmyllie QC and Rt Hon Dame Elish Angiolini QC DBE, were appointed as independent advisers on the Scottish Ministerial Code.
Lord Fraser has issued one report to date:
Dame Elish Angiolini has also issued one report:
On October 25, 2012, the First Minister appointed Sir David Bell KCB as an independent adviser to examine whether there had been any breach of the Scottish Ministerial Code in relation to the debate on the existence or content of legal advice on an independent Scotland’s continued membership of the EU. Sir David Bell was appointed to conduct this investigation because the issue raised related to an area of the Code which touched on the Law Officers' prerogative, and it was therefore appropriate to refer the issue to an independent adviser who was not drawn from legal circles. Sir David Bell's report was published:
In January 2013, the First Minister appointed James Hamilton, former Director of Public Prosecutions at the Irish Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, to join the First Minister's panel of independent advisers.
Updating the Scottish Ministerial Code 2011
Information is available about the changes made to the Scottish Ministerial Code between the edition published in June 2008 and the current edition published in December 2011, and about the process followed in making those changes.