Publication - Research and analysis

Ethical standards in public life - model code of conduct for board members: consultation analysis

Published: 10 Jun 2021
Directorate:
Local Government and Communities Directorate
Part of:
Public sector
ISBN:
9781802010237

An analysis of responses to the consultation on current proposals for a revised Model Code of Conduct for members of devolved public bodies.

Ethical standards in public life - model code of conduct for board members: consultation analysis
Annex A of the Model Code

Annex A of the Model Code

Question 10: The information in Annex A has been extended to include information about the role of the Ethical Standards Commissioner and the sanctions available to the Standards Commission following a finding of a breach of the Model Code and what these mean. Do you have any comments on the changes proposed to Annex A?

Most respondents (30, or 67%) did not provide any feedback on the changes proposed to Annex A in the revised Model Code. This may indicate that the majority of respondents were content with the changes proposed to this section. However, a degree of caution is required here as it may also be the case that respondents did not provide feedback for other reasons.

Among the 15 respondents (33%) who did provide comments on this section, some expressed the view that the revised Annex A is clear and well-explained. For example, one respondent said that Annex A was clear in outlining the responsibilities of both the Standards Commission and the Commissioner, and in detailing the process of investigation and the potential consequences of any breaches of the Model Code. Another commented as follows:

“I think that the proposed Annex A sets out the situation and changes well and in clear language (and not an 'I' in sight!). Much better.”

Other respondents said that they found Annex A to be helpful. In particular, a couple of respondents said that it was helpful to have information on the respective functions of – and relationships between – the Standards Commission and the Commissioner.

Several respondents identified changes that could be made to the Model Code, although again there was no clear consensus in terms of the issues raised. Some examples of changes that could be made, as suggested by respondents, included:

  • the Model Code should stipulate that during the investigation of a complaint, it may be appropriate to suspend board members to enable a fair investigation to take place;
  • the Model Code should include reference to the Standards Officer in respect to any investigatory role that they may be required to fulfil;
  • it may be useful to explain how the Commissioner and the Standards Commission may test conduct against the principles outlined in Section 2, when considering any potential breaches of the Model Code – the research team suggest that this be explained in the Standards Commission’s guidance to the Model Code;
  • text should be included to note expectations to meet the provisions of the Equality Act, which was viewed as being key in enforcing high standards in public life;
  • consideration should be made of whether a more graded approach to handling breaches of the Model Code is required, where there is potential for resolution at a local level before the issue is escalated further.

Contact

Email: socialresearch@gov.scot