1. SCOTTISH MINISTERS
1.1 In the performance of their duties, Scottish Ministers are expected to behave according to the highest standards of constitutional and personal conduct. In particular, they are expected to observe the Seven Principles of Public Life (as set out in Annex A) and the following principles of Ministerial conduct:
(a) Ministers must uphold the principle of collective responsibility, as defined in Section 2;
(b) Ministers have a duty to the Parliament to account, and be held to account, for the policies, decisions and actions taken within their field of responsibility;
(c) It is of paramount importance that Ministers give accurate and truthful information to the Parliament, correcting any inadvertent error at the earliest opportunity. Ministers who knowingly mislead the Parliament will be expected to offer their resignation to the First Minister;
(d) Ministers should be as open as possible with the Parliament and the public, reflecting the aspirations set out in the Report of the Consultative Steering Group on the Scottish Parliament. They should refuse to provide information only in accordance with the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and other relevant statutes;
(e) Similarly, Ministers should require civil servants who give evidence before Committees on their behalf and under their direction to be as helpful as possible in providing accurate, truthful and full information in accordance with the duties and responsibilities of civil servants as set out in the Civil Service Code;
(f) Ministers must ensure that no conflict arises, or appears to arise, between their public duties and their private interests;
(g) Ministers should avoid accepting any gifts and hospitality which might compromise their judgement or place them under an improper obligation. It is for that reason that any gifts or hospitality over £140 will be registered and a list will be published on a quarterly basis.
(h) Ministers must keep separate their roles as Minister and as constituency or regional list Member;
(i) Ministers must not use public resources for party political purposes. They must uphold the political impartiality of the Civil Service, and not ask civil servants to act in any way which would conflict with the Civil Service Code.
1.2 This Code details the arrangements for the conduct of affairs by Scottish Ministers. It gives guidance by listing the principles and the precedents which may apply but it is not a rulebook. It is for individual Ministers to judge how best to act in order to uphold the highest standards, and it is not the role of the Permanent Secretary or other officials to enforce it. The Permanent Secretary can of course provide Ministers with advice on matters which it covers.
1.3 It is important to note that the Scottish Ministerial Code sets out the standards of conduct required of Members of the Scottish Parliament ( MSPs) who are acting in their capacity as Government Ministers. The Code should be read against the background of the duty of Ministers to comply with the law, including international law and treaty obligations; to uphold the administration of justice; to observe the general obligations listed above; and to protect the integrity of public life. Ministers must also, of course, adhere at all times to the requirements the Parliament has itself laid down. All MSPs, including those who are Ministers, are bound by the Interests of Members of the Scottish Parliament Act 2006, taken together with Section 39 of the Scotland Act 1998 and are expected to adhere to the terms of the Code of Conduct for Members of the Scottish Parliament. This separate guidance document, available from the Scottish Parliament's website at: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/msp/conduct/index.htm. provides a set of principles and standards for MSPs and seeks to establish the ethical standards expected of them in carrying out their Parliamentary duties.
1.4 It is for individual Ministers to judge how best to act in order to uphold the highest standards. Ministers are responsible for justifying their conduct to the Parliament. The First Minister, however, is the ultimate judge of the standards of behaviour expected of a Minister and the appropriate consequences of a breach of those standards. Although the First Minister will not expect to comment on every matter that could conceivably be brought to his attention, Ministers can only remain in office for so long as they retain his confidence. Where he deems it appropriate, the First Minister may refer matters to the independent advisers on the Ministerial Code 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 will be published.