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The Holyrood Inquiry

1997 referendum. So far as I am aware there is no written record of a conclusion to this effect

by Donald Dewar. Conservative Party

If, however, this did influence his in Scotland recognised immediately

thinking it was erroneous.1

after

the

1997

referendum

The

that

a

Scottish Parliament was going to be set up and ceased its the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom had privately

hostility towards it. Furthermore, appreciated that it had virtually no

prospect

of

winning

the

General

Election

after

1997

and

had

no

plans

to

repeal

the

Scotland

Act 1998. If he had so chosen, Donald Dewar fashion with the selection of a site for the Scottish devolution proposals in their entirety at risk.

could have proceeded in a more leisurely Parliament without putting the Government’s

Scottish Constitutional Convention

    • 1.3

      In the period following the 1979 referendum a number of pressure groups were formed which were influential in keeping the issue of constitutional change in front of the public and the political parties during the period of the Conservative administrations. One such group was the Campaign for a Scottish Assembly. This “gathering of notables”2 produced a report in 1988 A Claim of Right for Scotland which asserted the right of the people of Scotland to decide on their own constitution. A key recommendation of the report was that a convention should be brought into being to draw up a blueprint for a Scottish Assembly or parliamentary body.

    • 1.4

      Accordingly, a body calling itself the Scottish Constitutional Convention was set up and held its first meeting in March 1989. Although the Conservatives and the Scottish National Party declined to participate, the Convention included members of the other main political parties, local authorities, trade unions, churches and other organisations. The joint chairs of the Convention were Lord Ewing of Kirkford and Sir David Steel, and its Executive was chaired by Canon Kenyon Wright. The Convention’s final report, Scotland’s Parliament, Scotland’s Right, was presented on St Andrew’s Day 1995.

    • 1.5

      The report proposed the key elements of the constitutional changes that would form the backbone of the subsequent White Paper. The proposals were for a Parliament of 129 members, elected under an additional member system; a power to vary the basic rate of income tax by up to 3p in the pound; and substantial devolution of legislative and executive functions to a Scottish Parliament and an Executive formed from it. The report made only one reference to the accommodation that might be required by the proposed legislature. Under a chapter headed “What price accountability?” the Convention’s report stated:

1 2

Evidence of Mr Kenneth Thomson on 3 February 2004, Par 85 Himsworth C (The Scotland Act 1998) (2nd Edition) W Green & Son 2000

10

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