Under consideration PE2093: Review and update the Scottish Ministerial Code

Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to review and update the Scottish Ministerial Code to:

  • put the Code under statute
  • enable the independent advisers (IAs) to initiate investigations, and if the First Minister decides to go against the IAs advice a statement should be provided to Parliament
  • set out the sanctions for breaches other than misleading Parliament
  • allow IAs to make recommendations for changes to the Code
  • renaming the IA position to make it clear there is no judicial involvement
  • require Ministers to make a public oath or commitment to abide by the Code.

Background information

I think the changes set out above would strengthen public standards in Scotland.

Through a statutory code (which Northern Ireland and partly Canada has), a First Minister (FM) would be unable to not have a Code.

Through self-initiated investigations by the IA, a FM could not block such investigations.

A statement in Parliament would enable an explanation as to why a FM has not taken the IAs advice.

The IAs should be able to offer their views on any potential short-comings of the Code itself so to improve it.

The IAs title gives an impression of judicial involvement which is misleading.

Ministers making public oaths would improve public confidence in adhering to it.

I also recommend the following reports which are useful reading:

  • Created by Benjamin Harrop
  • Considered from 9 April 2024
  • Petitions can collect signatures until the petition has been closed

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