The Science Advisory Council for Wales (SACW) is not a formal public advisory body. There are no legal requirements in connection with the way it conducts its business.
It is important, however, that the SACW abides by a self-imposed code of practice, so that the Welsh Government can be confident of the impartiality, quality and usefulness of its advice. The SACW therefore needs to conduct its business transparently and with high integrity. The following code therefore has been adapted closely from that used by formal public advisory bodies across the UK.
Public service values
1. The members of the SACW must at all times:
- observe the highest standards of impartiality, integrity and objectivity in relation to the advice they provide to, and in their interactions with SACW
- be accountable to Welsh Government through its Chief Scientific Adviser for Wales (CSAW) for its activities and for the standard of advice it provides
- operate in an open and transparent manner.
Standards in public life
2. All SACW members must:
- follow the 7 principles of public life set out by the Committee on Standards in Public Life (at annex A)
- comply with this code, and ensure they understand their duties, rights and responsibilities, and that they are familiar with the function and role of this body and any relevant policy statements
- not misuse information gained in the course of their service on the SACW for personal gain or for political purpose, nor seek to use the opportunity of SACW service to promote their private interests or those of connected persons, firms, businesses or other organisations
- inform the Chair of SACW if they hold, or intend to accept a prominent position in any political party. When engaging in other activities, SACW members should be mindful of their position on SACW and exercise proper discretion.
Role of SACW members
3. Members have collective responsibility for the operation of SACW. They must:
- engage fully in collective consideration of the issues, taking account of the full range of relevant factors, including those issues raised by the Welsh Government
- agree SACW Reports
- respond promptly to requests for information and to complaints, if necessary, with reference to officials in the Welsh Government.
4. Formal communications between the SACW and the Welsh Government will generally be through the Co-Chairs, except where the SACW has agreed that an individual member should act on its behalf.
5. Individual SACW members can normally be removed from the SACW by the Welsh Government in consultation with the Co-Chairs, if they fail to comply with the membership terms and conditions issued at the time of appointment, or if they fail to perform the duties required of them, as laid out in this Code of Practice.
Roles of SACW Chair and Co-Chair
6. General duties:
- To chair the SACW
- To represent the views of the SACW to the Welsh Government and to provide strategic scientific advice to the Welsh Government
- To assist the Welsh Government in representing a range of Wales’ science interests to any external audiences
- To champion science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) across Wales more generally.
7. Specific objectives:
- Contribute to the process of appointing members to SACW and, in consultation with the SACW Secretariat, ensure that all members are well briefed on the role of the SACW and receive any training appropriate to their needs
- In consultation with the SACW members, define and agree a work programme for the SACW
- Ensure that the SACW meets at appropriate intervals, and that the minutes of meetings and any reports to ministers accurately record the decisions taken and, where appropriate, the views of individual members
- Meet with ministers to discuss the work of SACW.
8. The specific roles of the 2 Co-Chairs of SACW are outlined in annex B. It is anticipated that these roles be reviewed on a regular basis.
9. SACW will:
- advise the CSAW and, through them, the Welsh Government, on a broad range of scientific issues and science-related policies that will help grow and sustain Wales’ economy and raise quality of life for the people of Wales; address the scientific evidential needs of Wales for problems and opportunities the nation faces and enhance Wales as a nation engaged with and supportive of science
- provide advice to the CSAW on science strategy, policy and priorities to allow the Welsh Government to make effective use of available scientific advice, knowledge and techniques in formulating and implementing policies to support the full range of its objectives
- take a medium to long term, horizon scanning, strategic view in formulating its advice
- represent the views of the SACW to the general public and the media and represent the SACW at meetings, events and functions, as and when appropriate.
Conflicts of interest
10. The purpose of these provisions is to avoid any danger of SACW members being influenced, or appearing to be influenced, by their private interests in the exercise of their SACW duties.
11. All SACW members should, therefore, declare any personal or business interests which may, or may be perceived (by a reasonable member of the public) to influence their judgement. This should include, as a minimum, personal direct and indirect financial interests, and should normally also include, such interests of close family members and of people living in the same household.
The register of interests will be updated regularly and be openly available on the SACW pages on the Welsh Government web site.
12. Indirect financial interests arise from connections with bodies which have a direct pecuniary interest or from being a business partner of, or being employed by, a person with such an interest. Non-financial interests include those arising from membership of clubs and other organisations. Close family members here include personal partners, parents, children (adult and minor), brothers, sisters and the personal partners of any of these.
13. A declaration of any interest should also be made at any SACW meeting if it relates specifically to a particular issue under consideration, for recording in the minutes.
14. SACW members should not participate in the discussion or determination of matters in which they have an interest, and should normally withdraw from the meeting if:
- their interest is direct and financial, or
- their interest is covered in specific guidance issued by the SACW which requires them not to participate and/or to withdraw from the meeting.
The 7 principles of public life
- Selflessness - Holders of public office should take decisions solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.
- Integrity - Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties.
- Objectivity - In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit.
- Accountability - Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.
- Openness - Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands.
- Honesty - Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interests.
- Leadership - Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.
Roles of SACW Chair and Co-Chair
The Chair (the Chief Scientific Adviser for Wales) and the Co-Chair (an independent member of the SACW) will have distinctive roles as outlined below:
Role of the Chair
- Jointly chairs meetings of SACW with the independent Co-Chair, where individual agenda items will be allocated to the Chair or independent Co-Chair
- Facilitates contact between the SACW and the Welsh Government’s ministers,
- Promotes and facilitates linkages between the SACW and the Welsh Government and its Assembly-sponsored public bodies
- Helps the SACW source information from the Welsh Government and its sponsored public bodies
- Helps the SACW source information from UK government departments and non-departmental public bodies, where appropriate
- Provides SACW with background information on the Welsh Government policies and priorities as they relate to science
- Suggests topics for SACW’s work programme
- Manages SACW business between meetings with the independent Co-Chair and Secretariat.
Role of the Independent Co-Chair
- Jointly chairs meetings of SACW with the CSAW, where specific agenda items will be allocated to the Chair or Co-Chair
- Proposes SACW business (following consultation with SACW members)
- Acts as the SACW’s formal point of contact with the Welsh Government’s CSAW
- Chairs meetings and specific agenda items particularly where the SACW formulates and agrees its advice to the Welsh Government’s ministers
- Manages SACW business between meetings with CSAW and Secretariat,
- Delivers the SACW advice and recommendations to CSAW and jointly with CSAW to the Welsh Government’s Ministers and officials
- Take a key role in the development of the SACW’s work programme.