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Scottish Ministerial Code 2016 edition

DescriptionA 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
Official Print Publication Date
Website Publication DateAugust 31, 2016


ISBN 978 1 78652 419 5 (web only publication)
PPDAS 78515

This document is also available in pdf format (681 KB)


An errata was published on 09/12/2016 at the following pdf pages:

Page 2 - Scottish Ministers
Paragraph 1.4 - Text has been updated to read: The Code applies to all Scottish Ministers and covers Parliamentary Liaison Officers in paragraphs 4.8 to 4.14. 

Page 15 - Ministers and Their Responsipilities
Paragraph 4.9 - Text has been updated to read: No approach should be made to a potential PLO without the prior approval of the First Minister and the Minister for Parliamentary Business.

Paragraph 4.14 - Text has been updated to read: PLOs must declare their appointment as a PLO on each occasion they are participating in Parliamentary business related to the portfolio of their Cabinet Secretary


Foreword by the First Minister

1. Scottish Ministers
General Principle
Ministerial Conduct

2. Ministers and the Government
General Principle
The Scottish Government
Collective Responsibility
Cabinet Business
Cabinet Correspondence
Ministerial Discussions below the Level of the Cabinet
Priority of Cabinet Meetings
Attendance at Meetings of Cabinet Sub-Committees
Publication of Policy Documents and Consultation Papers
Confidentiality and Security of Cabinet Documents and Other Government Papers
Official Papers held by Ministers Relinquishing Office
Access by Former Ministers to Official Papers
Taking Legal Advice
Disclosure of the Existence, Source or Content of Legal Advice
The Law Officers' Role in Legal Proceedings

3. Ministers and the Scottish Parliament
General Principle
Key Principles of the Consultative Steering Group on the Scottish Parliament
Commitments to Legislate
Introduction of Bills
Parliamentary Statements and other Government Announcements
Supply of Publications
Financial Resolutions
Ministerial Availability
Membership of Cross-Party Groups
Appearing before a Select Committee of the UK Parliament

4. Ministers and their Responsibilities
General Principle
Appointment of the First Minister
Ministerial Responsibilities and Titles
Membership of the Cabinet
Ministers' Availability
Parliamentary Liaison Officers
Special Advisers
Royal Commissions and Public Inquiries
Contacts with Outside Interest Groups, including Lobbyists

5. Ministers and Appointments
General Principle
Civil Service Appointments
Selection Principles for Public Appointments
The Role of the First Minister and Other Ministers with a Particular Interest

6. Ministers and Civil Servants
General Principle
Ministers and the Civil Service
The Role of the Accountable Officer
Civil Servants and Party Conferences

7. Ministers' Constituency and Party Interests
General Principle
Use of Government Property/Resources
References for Constituents
Constituency Interests
Lottery Bids
Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Cases
Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration

8. Ministers' Engagement on Planning Matters, Including the Granting of Energy Consents
General Principle
Ministers' Interests in Specific Cases
The Planning Minister
Other Ministers with a Particular Interest
All Ministers
The First Minister

9. Travel by Ministers
General Principle
Guiding Principles for Ministerial Travel
Overseas Visits
Detailed Arrangements for Overseas Visits
Ministerial Reports on Return from Overseas Visits
Publication of Ministerial Overseas Travel
Visits by Ministers from Foreign or Commonwealth Countries
Ministers Recalled from Abroad
UK Visits
Party Political Occasions
Air Miles, Etc.
Travelling Expenses of Spouses or Partners
Travelling Expenses of Special Advisers
Contact with Commercial Companies

10. Ministers and the Presentation of Policy
General Principle
Media Interviews, Speeches, Etc.
News Conferences/Broadcasts
Non-Government Communications, including Press Articles
Social Media
Payment for Speeches, Media Articles, Etc.
Publication of Policy Statements and Consultation Papers
Meetings with External Organisations
Meetings with the Media

11. Ministers' Private Interests
General Principle
Responsibility for Avoiding a Conflict
Financial Interests
Steps to be Taken where Financial Interests are Retained
Register of Interests of Members of the Scottish Parliament
Public Appointments
Non-Public Bodies
Trade Unions
Civil Legal Proceedings
Nominations for Prizes and Awards
Foreign Decorations
Acceptance of Gifts and Hospitality
Acceptance of Appointments after Leaving Government Office

Annex: The Seven Principles of Public Life


In this Code:
Cabinet is the Scottish Cabinet;
Government is the Scottish Government;
Law Officers are the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General for Scotland;
Ministers are the Scottish Ministers (First Minister, Cabinet Secretaries and Law Officers) and junior Scottish Ministers; and
Parliament is the Scottish Parliament.