Dedicated to conducting and administering a public consultation on the content and subsequent promotion into legislation of a Constitution endorsed by credible numbers of Scottish citizens.
There are three characteristics of a good national administration:
Firstly, politicians with integrity, who lead the administration, who take decisions and who defend those decisions with conviction, both internally and externally.
Secondly, clearly defined areas of responsibility between the government and parliament, and regional and local government, the judiciary and the supporting public services.
Thirdly, efficient and conscientious employees, who know who to turn to if there are disagreements to resolve.
None of these three characteristics is self-evident or simple to achieve; but when problems arise in the administration, the causes often lie in one or more of these areas.
The structure for these three characteristics to operate effectively is a codified written Constitution that clearly sets out the areas of authority, subsidiarity and responsibility.
Note. For a variety of reasons the usual process of public consultation seldom results in any material change to the original government proposals. It is difficult to draft any totally neutral template for a Constitution and this is evidenced in some elements of this introduction and the draft itself. It will be interesting to observe how they survive this new system of online consultation.
A Codified Written Constitution (CWC) is a framework for government institutions rather than a detailed policy document. It sets out the fundamental law that defines the state, establishes and regulates its institutions, protects its citizens by authorising the extent of powers available to the government, and in general provides an overarching legal framework for the governance and well-being of the people and the conduct of politics.
On June 2014 the Scottish government published “THE SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE BILL: A CONSULTATION ON AN INTERIM CONSTITUTION FOR SCOTLAND” – 20,000 word setting out an interim constitution pending the appointment of an independent convention to consult widely in the preparation of a permanent Constitution.
It states –
“The autonomy of the convention is an important matter guaranteed by ensuring that neither the Scottish Government nor the Scottish Parliament can direct or control the Convention and its members or staff”. It also provides for “its membership and funding arrangements; the time it has to draw up the constitution; its working methods; the procedure by which the constitution is to be approved; and its dissolution having completed its work.”
The draft Bill continues, “ The current Scottish Government will be just one voice amongst many in this process. The Scottish Government would make proposals for some issues to be included in the constitution, as set out further in Chapter 5, but would not control the process or the content of the constitution. It will be open to all groups, and also individual citizens of an independent Scotland, to make proposals for the constitution that the independent Convention will consider and upon which it will decide.”
Popular sovereignty is endorsed with – “The accountability provisions in section 12 are significant. That Government is accountable to Parliament and Parliament to the electorate is implicit within existing arrangements, but the Government believes that one of the advantages of moving to a written constitution is that such basic and fundamental democratic principles can, and should be, expressly stated. This provision is also a practical articulation of the sovereignty of the people – Parliament and Government are subject to the people and their authority derives from the people”.
This document contains much of good intent, however, it is important that such aspirations survive the political critique of parliament.
The constitution needs to be completed and nailed to the post well before any new referendum because it sets out exactly what the electorate is being asked to vote for.
The public status of the currency, pensions and the financial structure must be clearly defined,and by no means least, ‘public consultation’ as currently employed by government is an unacceptable measure in this age of digital communication & technology. There must be clear water between the consultation process and the State.