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28/08/13 08:47

The People's Constitution'

Independent Scotland to have written constitution.

Everyone in Scotland will have their say in the shaping of a written constitution for an independent Scotland, First Minister Alex Salmond will say today.

In the fifth of a series of keynote speeches over the summer about Scotland’s new relationship with the rest of these islands, Mr Salmond will outline the shape that an independent Scotland’s constitution could take and how it will make a real difference to people’s lives.

The United Kingdom is the only country in the European Union, and the only country in the Commonwealth, which does not currently have a written constitution or Constitution Act.

The First Minister also highlighted that the social union – the ties of family and friendship connecting the people of these islands – will endure, regardless of the choices of governments.

Speaking in Campbeltown on the Scottish Cabinet’s summer tour, the First Minister said:

“Scotland is currently part of six unions. The union we want to become independent from is the political and economic union that ties us to Westminster.

“We do not want decisions on the economy, welfare, foreign affairs or military interventions made by a government we did not choose and do not support.

“The other unions – the European Union, the defence union, the currency union and the union of the crowns – are ones which we would propose to maintain. Change, certainly. Improve, absolutely. But basically maintain.

“The social union – the ties of family and friendship connecting the people of these islands - will endure, regardless of the choices of governments.

“An independent Scotland will also retain the monarchy. Her Majesty will remain Queen of Scots, just as she is Queen of 16 other independent nations throughout the Commonwealth.

“But just because some things stay the same, that doesn’t mean that nothing changes. Independence gives us the power to choose – we can choose to renew, recast and improve arrangements which no longer work for us.

“The United Kingdom calls itself a constitutional monarchy. But it’s the only country in the European Union which doesn’t have a written constitution.

“In the entire Commonwealth - even including countries which took their parliamentary system from the United Kingdom - we are the only nation without a written constitution or Constitution Act.

“Between the referendum in September 2014 and independence in March 2016, the current devolved parliament would set out a constitutional platform for an independent nation – putting in place the legal necessities for Scotland to become independent.

“However, once Scotland is independent, one of our first and most exciting tasks will be to draft and approve a constitution. Since no single party or individual has a monopoly on good ideas; all parties and the people of Scotland will be encouraged to contribute to drawing up a constitution.

“Modern countries use their constitutions to articulate their values, to define who they are. They don’t only protect human rights; they enhance liberties and define responsibilities. Scotland’s constitution will do the same.

“It will make clear that it will uphold the values, rights and responsibilities of the people, of the Community of the Realm of Scotland. By doing so, it will make a real difference to people’s lives.

“In all of this, we will adhere to one fundamental principle. In Scotland, the people are sovereign. Not the Government, not the Parliament, not even the monarch, but the people.

“In Ireland, citizen participation is a crucial part of the current convention on the constitution. In Scotland, we have a chance to learn from that example and others.

“The process of drawing up a constitution in itself will energise and inspire people. It will provide us with a chance to reflect on the democracy and society we want to live in, the values that we most cherish.

“Independence offers the opportunity for Scotland to move away from that outdated and profoundly undemocratic Westminster system – one which, for two thirds of my life, has delivered governments with no popular mandate in Scotland.

“We will move instead to a more transparent, democratic and effective system of government – a government of the people, by the people and for the people of Scotland.”

Notes to editors

Over the summer, the First Minister has been highlighting how, following a vote for independence in next year’s referendum, Scotland will continue to participate fully in five unions – the European union, a defence union through NATO, a currency union, the Union of the Crowns and the social union between the people of these isles. Mr Salmond has also spelt out the benefits that independence brings instead of the current political and economic union, which is democratically unacceptable to the people of Scotland.
Links to the First Minister’s speeches can be found here: