The Government has always been firmly committed to the policy of a Ministerial Code of Conduct for Ministers of His Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar and a Code of Members of Parliament.
Indeed, a draft code of conduct for Ministers and another for Members were published and circulated in September 2015.
The intention was that those Codes, along with other matters, would be reviewed by the Select Committee on Parliamentary Reform, as suggested by former Chief Minister Sir Peter Caruana.
The House knows that the hectic schedule imposed on the Government by our departure from the European Union, the Covid-19 pandemic and the future relationship with the European Union has meant that the Committee has not been able to meet and perform this function.
However, the draft Codes have been published and have always been available on-line on the website of the Gibraltar Parliament.
The Government has not received any comments or feedback on the publication of these draft Codes during all this time.
However, we have been criticised for not formally implementing them although we have adhered to them.
in order not to delay matters any further, I have the honour to lay before the House a Code of Conduct for Members of the Gibraltar Parliament and a Code of Conduct for Ministers of His Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar.
In doing so, I want to thank my friend and colleague the Deputy Chief Minister who has led the detailed work on both.
The Ministerial Code
The draft Ministerial Code available until now was largely based on the Code applicable to Ministers of Her Majesty’s Government of the United Kingdom.
It was the first such Ministerial Code for Gibraltar.
However, that UK Code, which was first published on September 2010, was subsequently amended several times. There were amendments in October 2015, December 2016, January 2018, August 2019, May 2022 and most recently in December 2022.
The new Gibraltar Code is based on the latest United Kingdom version and has been amended and updated to be in line with the most recent December 2022 version in the UK.
This means that the 2015 Gibraltar Code has been updated and relevant amendments have been incorporated into it so that this Code laid today is bang up to date.
There are some areas which are completely irrelevant to the circumstances of Gibraltar, for example the question of Special Advisers and Parliamentary Private Secretaries – none of which exist here.
The Gibraltar Code provides for the appointment of an Independent Adviser who would investigate alleged breaches of the Code. This can come about if the Chief Minister, having consulted the Chief Secretary, feels the matter warrants further investigation.
An investigation can also be initiated by the Independent Adviser where he or she believes that an alleged breach of the Code warrants further investigation, and the matter has not already been so referred.
The Ministerial Code is divided into 11 sections and restates at Annex A at the end the Seven Principles of Public Life, which are identical to those applied in the United Kingdom.
The Parliamentary Code
The Code of Conduct for Members of the Gibraltar Parliament was also first published in September 2015.
The Government has received no comment or feedback from Honourable Members opposite since the publication of the Code for Members.
The new updated version is also based on the Code applicable to Members of the House of Commons, where relevant, and amended to the circumstances of Gibraltar.
This too repeats the Seven Principles of Public Life in the same way.
The Code provides for the Gibraltar Parliament to appoint an Independent Expert Panel with the relevant experience to investigate a specific matter relating to a Member’s adherence to the rules of conduct under the Code and allegations of breaches of the Code.
the Government has been very conscious that to a degree this was unfinished business and we recognise that the process of giving effect to these Codes could have been different in other circumstances.
However, the point is that is it preferable to give this matter some finality and get it done, than to allow the situation to continue any further.
If we have to amend, we can amend going forward, but from a position of having already made the Codes fully applicable going forward.
It is for this reason that the Government remains open to any ideas and suggestions for further improvement that Honourable Members or any person may wish to put in writing.
Further, it is also a condition of both the Code of Conduct for Ministers and the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament that they shall be subject to annual review by the Gibraltar Parliament.
That would not stop us from amending these Codes at any time before.