New code of conduct for government ministers

A new code of conduct is being drawn up for government ministers.

The standards of conduct for cabinet members are covered a ministerial code contained within a broader government code.

Chief Minister Alfred Cannan told the House of Keys this week: ‘The current version of the government code is being revised, with the ministerial code having been redrafted as a standalone document on the basis that provisions in respect of procedures and standards should, as far as practical, be distinct.’

CoMin will consider the document ‘in due course’ and once agreed, it will be circulated to Tynwald members and then published.

The chief was replying to a question from Rushen MHK Dr Michelle Haywood, who wanted info on the codes of conduct for Tynwald members and ministers and how breaches would be addressed.

He explained: ‘An alleged breach of the ministerial code would be considered on a case by case basis.

‘Where an allegation concerning a potential breach of the code is made and if, having consulted with the chief secretary, I am of the opinion that the allegation requires further investigation, I may request the chief secretary instigates an independent external examination by a suitably qualified person.’

The code of conduct for Tynwald members is contained within standing orders and states: ‘The application of the code is a matter for Tynwald, its branches and the Tynwald committee on members’ standards and interests.’

Dr Haywood asked for a reassurance that the Nolan Principles on standards in public life  – first drawn up in the UK in 1995 – were ‘very much ingrained’ in the administration and application would be clearly supported.

Mr Cannan said the Nolan Principles ‘should be ingrained throughout all of us when it comes to our public duties’.

He expected the redraft of the ministerial code would be considered ‘within the next few weeks’.

Arbory, Castletown and Malew MHK Jason Moorhouse asked if the codes covered behaviour of Tynwald members when ‘off-duty’.

Mr Cannan said: ‘All these codes, whether they are standing orders in Tynwald or the government code apply to individuals who are undertaking their public duties.

‘It is up to individual members to interpret how they should distinguish and behave in their private lives. That is not for me to comment.’

Douglas Central MHK Chris Thomas, a former minister himself, asked whether the current version of the Nolan Principles were contained within the current ministerial code, which was dated 2017, as there had been ‘significant changes’ since then.

Mr Cannan said that would be looked at.

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