Consultation on the Ethical Standards in Public Life
etc. (Scotland) Bill
UNISON Scotland welcomes the opportunity to comment on the consultation
document on Ethical Standards in Public Life.
UNISON Scotland is the country's largest union with 100,000 of our
members employed by Scottish local government.
New Ethical Framework
Codes of Conduct Local Government
UNISON welcomes the proposal to establish a new National Code
of Conduct for local councillors.
Relevant Public Bodies
UNISON supports the proposal for the Bill to cover both councillors
and quango members.
UNISON believes the provisions should be extended to cover members
of LECs, who distribute over £450 million of public money
of councils and relevant public bodies to assist members' to uphold
UNISON supports the flexible approach outlined in this section
UNISON supports the setting up of public registers of members interests.
UNISON believes that this register should be sufficient to ensure
that local government staff are permitted to stand for election
to local government. This would ensure that all councillors are
treated equally with all potential interests recorded and made public.
Standards Commission for Scotland & Investigations
UNISON believes that every council in Scotland should be required
to set up a local Standards Committee. The committee should include
representation from all political groups within the council and
reflect overall political balance, subject to no one party having
UNISON does not see the need for all allegations of misconduct to
be dealt with by the Standards Commission for Scotland.
UNISON believes that allegations against elected councillors should
in the first instance be dealt with by their own Standards Committee
which should have the primary role for investigating and dealing
with the original complaint.
As a safeguard UNISON believes that the parties to the original
complaint should all have the ability to ask that the case be reviewed
by the new Scottish Standards Commission.
UNISON believes that a new Scottish Standards Commission should
act as an appeal body, rather than one which carries out detailed
investigations into local complaints. UNISON believes the system
should operate on the principle of local councils putting their
own houses in order, subject to individuals having the right of
appeal to an external body such as a new Scottish Standards Commission.
UNISON believes that appointments to the Standards Commission should
be made by the Scottish Ministers, after public advert, and from
nominations received from individual councils, COSLA and other organisations
such as the STUC.
UNISON believes that all allegations against elected councillors
should be processed by fair and transparent procedures which operate
under the established rules of natural justice.
- Local Government
UNISON is concerned that sanctions can be imposed on councillors
without a right of appeal. This goes against natural justice.
UNISON believes that the suspension of an elected councillor is
a very serious matter which should only be used in the most exceptional
of Section 2A of the Local Government Act 1986
UNISON welcomes the comments made in the consultation paper on
the Scottish Executive's commitment to ensuring that "equal
opportunity is at the heart of all policy making" and the recognition
that the "lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual communities
are one such group of people in Scotland who are discriminated against
and excluded throughout their lives as a result of their sexual
It is long past time that that the LGBT citizens of this country
were seen as having civic rights as well as civic duties and that
we should enjoy the same freedoms as other taxpayers and citizens
to have our needs addressed by our elected representatives.
In addition to the points made in the paper we should like to point
out that it simply is not possible to "promote homosexuality"
in the sense of being able to turn people gay. However human sexual
orientation is determined it is clearly not something that can be
altered by sex education lessons in schools.
Some may argue that there are better things for the Parliament to
be spending its time on but they are the ones who will occupy time
and money in opposing this progressive step. Repealing this law
is a simple straightforward step which should not take up a great
deal of the Parliament's time.
It is important also that Section 2A should be repealed outright,
not amended. Safeguards, prohibitions and professional guidance
already in place help to protect young people from sexual abuse
in schools and covers all types of abuse. The idea that "homosexuals"
form a particular threat which requires additional safeguards is
unfounded and discriminatory.
This legislation is highly discriminatory and actively harms young
people by denying them the advice and information they need to take
a responsible attitude to sex and sexuality. It encourages bullying
and attacks the self-esteem of young gay men and lesbians and those
perceived to be gay or lesbian. It denies councils the ability to
help a minority fight discrimination and is incompatible with the
Government's Social Inclusion agenda.
The Executive has indeed taken a progressive step with this proposal
and we hope that it will continue to promote equality by producing
laws which are neutral in terms of sexual orientation.
For further information please contact:
14 West Campbell Street
0141 332 0006