At the 24 January 2024 States meeting, the States Assembly and Constitution Committee proposed changes to the Code of Conduct for States members.
The primary purpose of SACC’s policy letter was to create a way of appealing against Code of Conduct decisions. Last year a new CI Commissioner for Standards was appointed, replacing the previous Code of Conduct panel. In the process of updating the Reform Law for the new system, the ability to appeal against decisions was left out. Deputies expressed their concern at the loss during the Reform Law debate so SACC promised to come back with an appeals mechanism.
At last week’s States meeting, deputies voted by 36-0 for SACC’s recommendation to appoint a Deputy Commissioner for Standards to hear appeals.
Adding definitions of inappropriate behaviour
While sorting out appeals, SACC took the opportunity to review and modernise the whole of the Code. The changes were based on the Commissioner’s knowledge of best practice elsewhere. Deputies voted for the proposition to change the code by 36-0 but there was no actual discussion of Code changes during the debate.
Some examples of the changes:
[WAS: Members shall promote and support these principles by leadership and example].
NOW: Members must exhibit these principles in their own behaviour and treat others with respect. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.
NEW: Members must not engage in unwanted behaviour, harassment, bullying or discrimination.
NEW: “bullying” means offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour; or an abuse or misuse of power in a way that intends to undermine, humiliate, criticise unfairly or injure someone, whether through persistent behaviour or a single grossly unacceptable act. [There are similar detailed definitions of harassment, discrimination and unwanted behaviour].
Of particular note is the addition of this section alongside the definitions:
In interpreting and applying the definitions of bullying, harassment, discrimination and unwanted behaviour
1. the intention of the person complained about is irrelevant
2. the test is whether a reasonable and impartial person would consider the conduct would fall within one of the definitions having regard to the context of the behaviour complained about.
There were no amendments. Debate was short and focused on the appeals mechanism rather than the Code changes.
Screenshots of main changes