In January 2003, an ethics framework came into operation governing the ethics and codes of conduct of local authority members. As a general rule, this framework provides that it is the duty of every local authority member and employee to maintain proper standards of integrity, conduct and concern for the public interest. In addition, it established for each member a system of annual declaration of interests, disclosure of interest in a matter that comes before the authority, and a public register of interests.
The interests, which have to be declared annually, are set out in Section 175 of the 2001 Act and associated regulations. As a general guide, they include such items as holdings of land or other property, shareholdings, directorships and/or contracts with a local authority. Each member must complete and return each year a form setting out his or her interests.