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Publication - Advice and guidance

Model code of conduct for members of devolved public bodies

Published: 3 Feb 2014
Local Government and Communities Directorate
Part of:
Public sector

Model Code of Conduct for Members of Devolved Public Bodies revised edition February 2014

Model code of conduct for members of devolved public bodies
Section 1: Introduction to the Model Code of Conduct

Section 1: Introduction to the Model Code of Conduct

1.1 The Scottish public has a high expectation of those who serve on the boards of public bodies and the way in which they should conduct themselves in undertaking their duties. You must meet those expectations by ensuring that your conduct is above reproach.

1.2 The Ethical Standards in Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act 2000, "the Act", provides for Codes of Conduct for local authority councillors and members of relevant public bodies; imposes on councils and relevant public bodies a duty to help their members to comply with the relevant code; and establishes a Standards Commission for Scotland, "The Standards Commission" to oversee the new framework and deal with alleged breaches of the codes.

1.3 The Act requires the Scottish Ministers to lay before Parliament a Code of Conduct for Councillors and a Model Code for Members of Devolved Public Bodies. This Model Code for members was first introduced in 2002 and has now been revised following consultation and the approval of the Scottish Parliament. These revisions will make it consistent with the relevant parts of the Code of Conduct for Councillors, which was revised in 2010 following the approval of the Scottish Parliament.

1.4 As a member of a public body, it is your responsibility to make sure that you are familiar with, and that your actions comply with, the provisions of this Model Code of Conduct.

Appointments to the Boards of Public Bodies

1.5 Public bodies in Scotland are required to deliver effective services to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population. In addition, the Scottish Government's equality outcome on public appointments is to ensure that Ministerial appointments are more diverse than at present . In order to meet both of these aims, a board should ideally be drawn from varied backgrounds with a wide spectrum of characteristics, knowledge and experience. It is crucial to the success of public bodies that they attract the best people for the job and therefore it is essential that a board's appointments process should encourage as many suitable people to apply for positions and be free from unnecessary barriers. You should therefore be aware of the varied roles and functions of the public body on which you serve and of wider diversity and equality issues. You should also take steps to familiarise yourself with the appointment process that your board (if appropriate) will have agreed with the Scottish Government's Public Appointment Centre of Expertise.

1.6 You should also familiarise yourself with how the public body's policy operates in relation to succession planning, which should ensure public bodies have a strategy to make sure they have the staff in place with the skills, knowledge and experience necessary to fulfil their role economically, efficiently and effectively.

Guidance on the Model Code of Conduct

1.7 You must observe the rules of conduct contained in this Model Code. It is your personal responsibility to comply with these and review regularly, and at least annually, your personal circumstances with this in mind, particularly when your circumstances change. You must not at any time advocate or encourage any action contrary to the Model Code of Conduct.

1.8 The Model Code has been developed in line with the key principles listed in Section 2 and provides additional information on how the principles should be interpreted and applied in practice. The Standards Commission may also issue guidance. No Code can provide for all circumstances and if you are uncertain about how the rules apply, you should seek advice from the public body. You may also choose to consult your own legal advisers and, on detailed financial and commercial matters, seek advice from other relevant professionals.

1.9 You should familiarise yourself with the Scottish Government publication "On Board - a guide for board members of public bodies in Scotland". This publication will provide you with information to help you in your role as a member of a public body in Scotland and can be viewed on the Scottish Government website.


1.10 Part 2 of the Ethical Standards in Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act 2000 sets out the provisions for dealing with alleged breaches of this Code of Conduct and where appropriate the sanctions that shall be applied if the Standards Commission finds that there has been a breach of the Code. Those sanctions are outlined in Annex A.