What is the Ethical Standards in Public Life framework?
The Ethical Standards in Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act 2000 established a framework to ensure that the highest standards of behaviour were maintained by local authority councillors and members (such as board members) of certain public bodies. It introduced Codes of Conduct which these councillors and members must comply with at all times in their duties. It established the Standards Commission for Scotland to hold hearings into alleged breaches of the Codes. It also established the office of the Chief Investigating Officer, whose role has now been taken over by the Public Standards Commissioner, to receive complaints by any member of the public about non-compliance.
Who does the framework cover?
Councillors in all 32 local authorities across Scotland are covered by the ethical standards framework. In addition, the members (usually called 'board members' but sometimes called 'commissioners') of certain devolved public bodies are covered by the ethical standards framework. These bodies are listed in Schedule 3 of the Act and this list is under constant revision as bodies are created, abolished, or merged. As of October 2011, the framework included:
- 29 Executive Non-Departmental Public Bodies
- 1 Executive Agency
- 1 Non Ministerial Department
- 23 NHS Public Bodies
- 1 Public Corporation
- 37 Further Education Colleges
These bodies are responsible for adhering to their codes of conduct and can be subject to investigation by the Public Standards Commissioner and to a hearing carried out by the Standards Commission.
Section 4 of the Ethical Standards Act also makes provision for other public bodies to be included under the ethical standards framework. As of October 2011 there were 6 bodies listed in terms of Part 4 of the Ethical Standards Act. These are largely public bodies which spend little or no public money or whose members receive no remuneration.
These bodies, although responsible for adhering to their own codes of conduct, will not be subject to investigation by the Public Standards Commissioner nor subject to a hearing by the Standards Commission. This ensures that the ethical standards framework will not be disproportionate in the use of public resources.
The list of public bodies included in the ethical standards framework is updated regularly.
Further information on the Ethical Standards in Public Life framework is available from the Scottish Government.