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Scottish Ministerial Code

Scottish Ministerial Code - 2016 edition

By convention, revisions to the Scottish Ministerial Code are routinely made by First Ministers at the commencement of each new Parliamentary term or on their appointment to office, and the 2016 edition of the Ministerial Code was published on August 31, 2016.

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 or she deems it appropriate, the First Minister may refer matters to the independent advisers to provide him or her with advice on which to base his or her judgement about any action required in respect of Ministerial conduct. The findings of the independent advisers are published.

The independent advisers are currently Rt Hon Dame Elish Angiolini QC DBE and James Hamilton, former Director of Public Prosecutions at the Irish Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Details of the independent advisers since 2008 and their reports are as follows:




Rt Hon Sir George Reid and
Rt Hon Lord Steel of Aikwood KT KBE

June 2008 to
August 2011

March 2009,
August 2009,
January 2010

Rt Hon Dame Elish Angiolini QC DBE

August 2011 to date

June 2012

Rt Hon Lord Fraser of Carmyllie QC

August 2011 to
June 2013

November 2011

Sir David Bell KCB

October 2012 to
January 2013

January 2013 and
related correspondence

James Hamilton

January 2013 to date