Independence: what you need to know

Information about Scotland's future.

Constitution and democracy

The Scottish Government’s policies for an independent Scotland at a glance

  • an independent Scotland should have a written constitution – a set of rules and laws that determine how a country works – created with the help of the people in Scotland
  • a new, temporary, constitution would be in place on day one of independence, and would make sure people’s rights are protected
  • a permanent constitution would be created with help from people across Scotland

A temporary constitution

An interim constitution, or ‘rule book’, would be in place from the first day of independence in Scotland. This would help to make sure everything that’s needed for running the country – government, parliament, courts and local councils, for example – is in place and working properly. It would stay in place until a permanent constitution is voted for by the people of Scotland.

This government believes Scotland’s interim constitution should also include the protection of fundamental rights. Without independence, the UK Parliament can, at any time, change the powers of the Scottish Parliament or change the laws made here. Some of these rights include:

  • the rights contained in the European Convention on Human Rights
  • recognition of the NHS in Scotland: the right to access a system of healthcare, free at the point of need
  • protection for employment rights, including the right to strike
  • stronger protections for human rights and equality, for example the right to an adequate standard of living, food and housing
  • protection for island communities and the languages and cultures of Scotland
  • protection of the rights of children, women, minority ethnic communities, disabled people and refugees
  • the right to a healthy environment

The temporary constitution should also set out:

  • the role of the monarchy, with His Majesty the King remaining as Head of State for as long as the people of Scotland wish
  • how and when the armed forces would be brought into action
  • a duty to begin the process of removing nuclear weapons from Scotland

A permanent constitution

An interim constitution, or ‘set of rules’, for Scotland would remain in place until people in Scotland vote for a permanent one.

Creating the permanent constitution would be done with  input from people from across Scotland. Everyone would be given the opportunity to help shape and build a better country by giving their views and ideas on what a constitution should look like. After it’s drafted, a referendum would be held to enable people to decide the permanent constitution.

Public information and education would help everyone in Scotland understand the importance of the constitution, their rights and protections and how they can hold organisations to account.

A permanent constitution would include arrangements for it to be adjusted, for example, by the decision of the people in a referendum or by a two-thirds majority in the Scottish Parliament. It could not simply be amended by a majority in the Scottish Parliament. This would mean the constitution can protect rights in a way that is not possible in the Westminster system.

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