The Standards Commission is an independent body whose purpose is to encourage high ethical standards in public life through the promotion and enforcement of Codes of Conduct for councillors and those appointed to the boards of devolved public bodies.
All councils and those devolved public bodies listed under Schedule 3 to the Ethical Standards in Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act 2000 (the Act) are obliged to have a Code of Conduct for their elected and appointed members. The Codes of Conduct have a key role in setting out, openly and clearly, the standards of conduct that must be adhered to by those in public office.
The Standards Commission’s vision is to achieve the highest possible ethical standards in public life so that the public in Scotland has confidence in those elected to local councils and those appointed to the board of devolved public bodies.
The Standards Commission promotes awareness of, and adherence to, the Codes of Conduct by providing guidance, support and training to key stakeholders and by maximising engagement opportunities with the public and media.
The Standards Commission is independent of government, political institutions and political parties and as such is able to make impartial decisions, free from any influence, on the enforcement of the Codes of Conduct.
The Standards Commission is aware that there are many instances of exemplary work being undertaken across Scotland and the intention is always to add value rather than duplicate existing work. This involves partnership working, seeking opportunities to share services, and influencing policy development and implementation at national and local level.
The Standards Commission will provide value for money by continually seeking to improve policies and procedures, maintain efficiency and reduce costs.
The Act provided for a framework to encourage and, where necessary enforce, high ethical standards in public life. A later Act established the separate and distinct post of Commissioner of Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland (CESPLS).
In essence, the Act creates a framework whereby local authorities and devolved public bodies are required to adopt Codes of Conduct for their members. Complaints about breaches of these Codes are investigated by the CESPLS. If the CESPLS considers there may have been a breach of a Code of Conduct, he will report the matter to the Standards Commission for adjudication.
The Standards Commission's functions as provided for by the 2000 Act are to:
- issue guidance to councils and devolved public bodies to assist them in promoting high standards of conduct;
- Review reports from the CESPLS on the outcome of his investigations and determine whether to hold a Hearing or to take no action. The Standards Commission can also to direct the CESPLS to carry out further investigations.
The Standards Commission will hold a Hearing to determine:
- whether a councillor or member of a devolved public body has contravened the Councillors' or the Members' Code of Conduct;
- the sanction to be applied where, following a Hearing, the Panel find that a councillor or member has breached the relevant Code of Conduct.
Who we are
The Standards Commission comprises a Convener and four Commission Members who are appointed by the Parliamentary corporation. The Standards Commission employs three staff, led by an Executive Director. The organisation's current structure can found here.
The Scottish Parliamentary Commission and Commissioners etc. Act 2010 provided that with effect from 1 April 2011 the Standards Commission is supported by the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body.
The Standards Commission's Standing Orders outline the arrangements for the discharge of the organisation's functions. They are reviewed biennially. The current Standing Orders can be found here.