The Citizens' Assembly of Scotland was established by the Scottish Government, supported by the Scottish Parliament, to bring together a representative cross section of the people of Scotland and consider three questions:
- What kind of country are we seeking to build?
- How best can we overcome the challenges Scotland and the world face in the 21st century, including those arising from Brexit?
- What further work should be carried out to give us the information we need to make informed choices about the future of the country?
The Assembly worked before and through the pandemic, in both face-to-face sessions, and then online. In January 2021 it published its report Doing Politics Differently – the report of the Citizens' Assembly of Scotland which contained 10 vision statements and 60 recommendations, grouped into eight themes. The report was noted by the last Scottish Parliament, before the recent Scottish General Election, and commended for further consideration to its successor Parliament.
This response details how the government plans take forward the Assembly's recommendations across the eight themes of its report, as set out in the Programme for Government published in September 2021 and other government publications, such as the Covid Recovery Strategy and the draft Framework for Tax. Some recommendations raise similar issues across themes, notably the need for readily available and comprehensible public information.
The response also sets out the government's intention to develop further participative democracy, including the Citizens' Assembly model – one of the key recommendations of the report. Scotland's Climate Assembly has already reported and other assemblies are planned. Some recommendations raise fundamental questions about the scope and structure of public engagement in Scotland's governmental and Parliamentary institutions, and accountability within the system, which will require further work with the Scottish Parliament and others.
The vision set out by the Assembly for the future of Scotland is ambitious and inspiring. Successfully realising this vision for Scotland will be a long term project, beyond the scope of a single Programme for Government or even Parliamentary term. It is a challenge set by the Assembly to the Scottish Government, the Scottish Parliament and all parts of Scottish society and requires all to do politics differently.
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