Code of Conduct
The Ethical Standards in Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act 2000 provides for new Codes of Conduct for members of public bodies. Although not strictly a public body, Scrabster Harbour Trust does see itself as acting in the local public interest, and consequently would wish to adopt this Code of Conduct.
As a member of Scrabster Harbour Trust it is your responsibility to make sure that you are familiar with, and that your actions comply with, the provisions of this Code of Conduct.
You have a duty to uphold the law and act in accordance with the law and the public trust placed in you. You have a duty to act in the interests of the Trust.
You have a duty to take decisions solely in terms of the stakeholder interest. You must not act in order to gain financial or other material benefit for yourself, family or friends.
You must not place yourself under any financial or other obligation to any individual or organisation that might reasonably be thought to influence you in the performance of your duties.
You must make decisions solely on merit when carrying out Trust business.
Accountability and Stewardship
You are accountable for your decisions and actions to the stakeholders of Scrabster Harbour. You have a duty to consider issues on their merits, taking account of the views of others, and you must ensure that the Trust uses its resources prudently and in accordance with the law.
You have a duty to be as open as possible about your decisions and actions, giving reasons for your decisions.
You have a duty to act honestly. You must declare any private interests relating to your Trust duties and take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the stakeholder interest.
You have a duty to promote and support these principles by leadership and example, and to maintain and strengthen the public’s trust and confidence in the integrity of the Trust.
You must respect fellow board members and employees of the Trust and the role they play, treating them with courtesy at all times.
There may be times when you will be required to treat discussions, documents or other information relating to the work of the Trust 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 and comply with the requirement to keep such information private.
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 purpose of personal or financial gain, or used in such as way as to bring the Trust into disrepute.
Gifts and Hospitality
You must never canvass or seek gifts or hospitality.
You are responsible for your decisions connected with the offer or acceptance of gifts or hospitality and for avoiding the risk of damage to public confidence in the Trust. As a general guide, it is usually appropriate to refuse offers.
You must not accept any offer by way of gift or hospitality which could give rise to a reasonable suspicion of influence on your part to show favour, or disadvantage, to any individual or organisation. 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. You must not accept repeated hospitality from the same source.
Registration of interests
Separate guidance sets out the kinds of interests, financial and otherwise which you have to register. These are called ‘Registerable Interests’. You must at all times ensure that these interests are registered, when you are appointed and whenever your circumstances change in such a way as to require change or an addition to your entry in the Trust Register.
Declarations of Interest
The key principles of the Code, especially those in relation to integrity, honesty and openness, are given further practical effect by the requirement for you to declare certain interests at Board and Committee meetings. Together with the rules on registration of interests, this ensures transparency of your interests which might influence, or be thought to influence, your actions.
In considering whether to make a declaration in any proceedings, you must consider not only whether you will be influenced but whether anybody else would think that you might be influenced by the interest. You must keep in mind that the test is whether a member of the public, acting reasonably, might think that a particular interest could influence you.
If you feel that, in the context of the matter being considered, your involvement is neither capable of being viewed as more significant than that of an ordinary member of the public, nor likely to be perceived by the public as wrong, you may continue to attend the meeting and participate in both discussion and voting. The relevant interest must however be declared. It is your responsibility to judge whether an interest is sufficiently relevant to particular proceedings to require a declaration and you are advised to err on the side of caution.
Effect of Declaration
Declaring a financial interest has the effect of prohibiting any participation in discussion and voting. A declaration of a non-financial interest involves a further exercise of judgment on your part. You must consider the relationship between the interests which have been declared and the particular matter to be considered and relevant individual circumstances surrounding the particular matter.
In the final analysis the conclusive test is whether, in the particular circumstances of the item of business, and knowing all the relevant facts, a member of the public acting reasonably would consider that you might be influenced by the interest in your role as a member of Scrabster Harbour Trust and that it would therefore be wrong to take part in any discussion or decision-making. If you, in conscience, believe that your continued presence would not fall foul of this objective test, then declaring an interest will not preclude your involvement in discussion or voting. If you are not confident about the application of this objective yardstick, you must play no part in discussion and must leave the meeting room until discussion of the particular item is concluded.