Views

Developing a Written Constitution for Scotland

Having a written constitution lays the foundation of a citizen’s rights in the country in which they live.

The UK is one of the few states in the world that does not have a written constitution. Instead a citizen’s rights have been built up through a series of laws. Some of these date very far back and of course the United Kingdom does not consist of one nation but of: Scotland, England, Wales and N.Ireland.

Parliamentary sovereignty is a principle of the UK constitution. It makes Parliament the supreme legal authority in the UK, which can create or end any law. Generally, the courts cannot overrule its legislation and no Parliament can pass laws that future Parliaments cannot change. Parliamentary sovereignty is the most important part of the UK constitution. UK Parliament

This means a government with a majority (like we have now in the UK) can get laws passed and change a citizen’s rights. You might think this is fine but bear in mind that the House of Commons is elected on a First Past the Post system which means that MPs are elected who many not have the support of most of the electorate. Also to consider is that there are 650 MPs sitting in the House of Commons but they divide up as follows: Scotland 59, Wales 40, N Ireland 18 and England 533. This means that legislation can be passed which suits one part of the UK (say England) and not suit the other 3.

Devolution with some powers going to parliaments in Scotland, Wales and N Ireland was supposed to redress some of that imbalance. The 2016 vote to leave the European Union which only had support in England and Wales with Scotland and N Ireland voting to remain – shows just how unbalanced that set up is. More recently votes on food standards have threatened the farming industry in Scotland which produces high quality grass fed cattle.

A group has been set up called the ‘Constitution for Scotland’ to give citizens in Scotland an opportunity to engage with a process of developing a future constitution.

This is a non party political group with registered charity status. It has produced an interactive format online where people can take part in discussing what they would like to see in a written constitution.

The online consultation will be conducted via a fully independent and transparent website: www.constitutionforscotland.scot 

The model constitution has been formulated to stimulate debate on specific proposals rather than vague notions – but is not in itself prescriptive. 

The document within the website contains a summary outlining the 15 articles that are set out into 174 sections within the ‘model’ constitution. 

The interactive debate will provide choices, enabling participants to read either the summary or the full model constitution. You can choose to read the summary and then use a Quick vote facility, or, use the Links or Searchbox to locate a section of interest, and from that section another click will take you to the Vote, Amendment and Blog panels.  

Then you may add your own ideas and comment on those of others. You will be able to return again and again to see the latest vote counts and rankings or update your own input and vote – right up to Independence Day.  

Robert Ingram, on of the 4 trustees,explains:

“It matters not whether you are for or against self-governance: we should all prepare for a positive outcome to a referendum that would enable Scotland to once again be a normal country making its own decisions.

“Being prepared is not just a good motto for Guides and Scouts. Everyone will benefit from looking ahead and considering the political nature of a Scotland in full control of its own affairs, economy and resources. 

“That is the thinking behind this initiative to conduct a public consultation on a written Constitution for Scotland.

” For all these reasons, this is not a job just for politicians: it is for every citizen to have a say in how he or she is to be governed and to make their priorities crystal clear. “

When Iceland regained its independence it established a written constitution on 17th of June 1944. And Norway celebrates its constitution of 1814 on Norwegian Constitution Day which we commemorate with them every year in Orkney.

The Constitution for Scotland (CfS), which was formally constituted as a Scottish charity in April 2019, advocates Scottish independence as a matter of community democracy and fundamentally exists to encourage consultation on a draft constitution. It is not aligned to any particular political party and all its activities are wholly financed by donations from supporters.  

The charity, managed by four trustees, is chaired by Robert Ingram, a retired chartered marine engineer, who lives near Inverurie, Aberdeenshire. His three co-trustees are Ronald Morrison, Helensburgh, a retired accountant and entrepreneur; Lorraine Cowan, Uddingston, a senior college lecturer: and John Hutchison, a retired chartered civil engineer and community advocate, who lives near Fort William. 

Reporter: Fiona Grahame

1 reply »

  1. What a good idea. The chaos In England with Johnson bending the rules all the time derives from the fact that we haven’t got a written constitution. Not having one works when you haven’t got a government of charlatans but have a government that respects the rule of law.

Leave a Reply