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 3: General Conduct

Section 3: General Conduct

3.1 The rules of good conduct in this section must be observed in all situations where you act as a member of a public body.

Conduct at Meetings

3.2 You must respect the chair, your colleagues and employees of the public body in meetings. You must comply with rulings from the chair in the conduct of the business of these meetings.

Relationship with Board Members and Employees of the Public Body (including those employed by contractors providing services)

3.3 You will treat your fellow board members and any staff employed by the body with courtesy and respect. It is expected that fellow board members and employees will show you the same consideration in return. It is good practice for employers to provide examples of what is unacceptable behaviour in their organisation. Public bodies should promote a safe, healthy and fair working environment for all. As a board member you should be familiar with the policies of the public body in relation to bullying and harassment in the workplace and also lead by exemplar behaviour.

Remuneration, Allowances and Expenses

3.4 You must comply with any rules of the public body regarding remuneration, allowances and expenses.

Gifts and Hospitality

3.5 You must not accept any offer by way of gift or hospitality which could give rise to real or substantive personal gain or a reasonable suspicion of influence on your part to show favour, or disadvantage, to any individual or organisation. You should also consider whether there may be any reasonable perception that any gift received by your spouse or cohabitee or by any company in which you have a controlling interest, or by a partnership of which you are a partner, can or would influence your judgement. The term "gift" includes benefits such as relief from indebtedness, loan concessions or provision of services at a cost below that generally charged to members of the public.

3.6 You must never ask for gifts or hospitality.

3.7 You are personally responsible for all decisions connected with the offer or acceptance of gifts or hospitality offered to you and for avoiding the risk of damage to public confidence in your public body. As a general guide, it is usually appropriate to refuse offers except:

(a) isolated gifts of a trivial character, the value of which must not exceed £50;

(b) normal hospitality associated with your duties and which would reasonably be regarded as appropriate; or

(c) gifts received on behalf of the public body.

3.8 You must not accept any offer of a gift or hospitality from any individual or organisation which stands to gain or benefit from a decision your body may be involved in determining, or who is seeking to do business with your organisation, and which a person might reasonably consider could have a bearing on your judgement. If you are making a visit in your capacity as a member of your public body then, as a general rule, you should ensure that your body pays for the cost of the visit.

3.9 You must not accept repeated hospitality or repeated gifts from the same source.

3.10 Members of devolved public bodies should familiarise themselves with the terms of the Bribery Act 2010 which provides for offences of bribing another person and offences relating to being bribed.

Confidentiality Requirements

3.11 There may be times when you will be required to treat discussions, documents or other information relating to the work of the body in a confidential manner. You will often receive information of a private nature which is not yet public, or which perhaps would not be intended to be public. You must always respect the confidential nature of such information and comply with the requirement to keep such information private.

3.12 It is unacceptable to disclose any information to which you have privileged access, for example derived from a confidential document, either orally or in writing. In the case of other documents and information, you are requested to exercise your judgement as to what should or should not be made available to outside bodies or individuals. In any event, such information should never be used for the purposes of personal or financial gain, or for political purposes or used in such a way as to bring the public body into disrepute.

Use of Public Body Facilities

3.13 Members of public bodies must not misuse facilities, equipment, stationery, telephony, computer, information technology equipment and services, or use them for party political or campaigning activities. Use of such equipment and services etc. must be in accordance with the public body's policy and rules on their usage. Care must also be exercised when using social media networks not to compromise your position as a member of the public body.

Appointment to Partner Organisations

3.14 You may be appointed, or nominated by your public body, as a member of another body or organisation. If so, you are bound by the rules of conduct of these organisations and should observe the rules of this Model Code in carrying out the duties of that body.

3.15 Members who become directors of companies as nominees of their public body will assume personal responsibilities under the Companies Acts. It is possible that conflicts of interest can arise for such members between the company and the public body. It is your responsibility to take advice on your responsibilities to the public body and to the company. This will include questions of declarations of interest.