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Board members set to win right to privacy

THE Scottish Executive has given the first public indication that it is prepared to bow to pressure from colleges to make changes in a new statutory code governing the conduct of board members.

Colleges claim that new rules in the Ethical Standards in Public Life etc (Scotland) Act, which are now the subject of consultation, represent an "invasion of privacy" because of the disclosure they require not only of the financial affairs of board members but also of their families.

Colleges have warned this could lead to resignations from boards of management and make it difficult to recruit members at the very time when the Government is urging boards to take a more hands-on approach.

Angus MacKay, Finance Minister, who is also responsible for modernising government, says he is "sensitive to those concerns". Speaking during his statement on quangos last week, Mr MacKay gave an assurance that he intends to "fine-tune" the impact of the Act.

He said: "We might be able to put in place a proper regime of accountability and openness that will also safeguard appropriate levels of privacy.

"We don't want to end up chasing away individuals who have a substantial amount to contribute and who make, in essence, a voluntary contribution to those bodies."

The Executive's policy on quangos will not apply to FE boards and local enterprise companies which are not directly accountable to ministers but to bodies which are, such as the FE funding council and the two main enterprise agencies.

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