What are the Codes of Conduct
The Scottish Ministers believe codes of conduct should be comprehensive statements of the principles and rules of conduct for behaviour in the performance of their duties by local authority councillors and member of public bodies.
There is one Code of Conduct for councillors of all 32 local authorities in Scotland which has been in force since May 2003. During 2009 the Scottish Government undertook a limited review to address two key areas: the implications for the Code with respect to the legislative reforms of the Scottish Planning System which came into effect during 2009 and to review those areas of the Code which would benefit from the experience gained in its application since 2003. The third edition of the Code of Conduct was published in December 2010.
The Scottish Parliament approved the Model Code of Conduct for Members of Devolved Public Bodies. Each public body included in the ethical standards framework must submit a Code of Conduct for it's members to the Scottish Ministers for approval. In order for the Scottish Ministers to approve the Code of Conduct for that body, the Code of Conduct for that public body must have regard to the Model Code of Conduct. A supplementary guidance note to Devolved Public Bodies and their members has been published by the Standards Commission and is available to provide help in interpreting the Code.
What is contained within the Codes of Conduct
The Codes of Conduct are based on 9 key principles (which are also contained within the Codes). The 9 key principles are:
- Duty/Public Service
- Accountability & Stewardship
The 9 key principles in the Codes for councillors and members of public bodies are roughly the same. However, one principle differs. The first key principles for councillors is Duty, while the first key principles for members of public bodies is Public Service.
Register of Interests
The Codes of Conduct state which interests a councillor or a member of a public body must register. All local authorities and public bodies included in the ethical standards framework have a duty to set up, maintain and make available for public inspection a register of the interests of their councillors and members which the relevant Code requires to be registered. The Register must be available electronically and councillors and members are required to update their entries in the Register of Interests within one month of their circumstances changing. Councils and Public Bodies are also asked to make this information available on their own websites.
The Codes of Conduct state which interests a councillor or a member of a public body must declare and when they must withdraw from a meeting and not vote as a result of a potential conflict of interest. The fundamental position is that no-one should use, or give the appearance of using, their public position to further their private interests.
Hospitality, Gifts and Entertainment
The Codes of Conduct state when the acceptance of hospitality, gifts and entertainment might influence, or appear to influence, an official decision or action. As a general rule, councillors and members of a public body should refuse any gift or hospitality and when one is accepted, it should normally be recorded in a Hospitality Register maintained by the local authority or public body, unless in the case of councillors, it is an isolated gift of a trivial nature not exceeding £50 in value.