House of Commons Library

Claim of Right for Scotland

Published Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Opposition Day debate on the Claim of Right for Scotland: 4 July 2018

Opposition Day debate allocated to the SNP on the Claim of Right for Scotland in the Commons Chamber on Wednesday 4 July 2018.

The debate will be on the motion: 

That this House endorses the principles of the Claim of Right for Scotland, agreed by the Scottish Constitutional Convention in 1989 and by the Scottish Parliament in 2012, and therefore acknowledges the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of government best suited to their needs.

The Claim of Right

‘A Claim of Right for Scotland’ was a document drafted by the Campaign for a Scottish Assembly in 1988. It declared that the people of Scotland were sovereign and demanded a devolved Assembly or Parliament for Scotland. At a subsequent meeting of the cross-party Scottish Constitutional Convention on 30 March 1989, the document was signed by all of Scotland’s Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs (with the exception of Tam Dalyell) together with several other leading politicians and civic leaders.

The text of the 1989 Claim of Right was:

We, gathered as the Scottish Constitutional Convention, do hereby acknowledge the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of Government best suited to their needs, and do hereby declare and pledge that in all our actions and deliberations their interests shall be paramount. We further declare and pledge that our actions and deliberations shall be directed to the following ends: To agree a scheme for an Assembly or Parliament for Scotland; To mobilise Scottish opinion and ensure the approval of the Scottish people for that scheme; and To assert the right of the Scottish people to secure implementation of that scheme.

In written evidence submitted to the House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee in October 2012, Professor James Mitchell observed that the Claim of Right embodied ‘a political rather than justiciable claim’ to the ‘sovereignty of the Scottish people’.

Westminster Hall debate

In Westminster Hall on 6 September 2016, Patrick Grady MP moved the motion ‘That this House has considered the Claim of Right for Scotland’.

The Debate Pack prepared for the debate includes a list of the signatories to the 1989 Claim of Right.

Scottish Parliament debate

On 26 January 2012, Nicola Sturgeon MSP led a debate on the Claim of Right with the motion:

‘That the Parliament acknowledges the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of government best suited to their needs and declares and pledges that in all its actions and deliberations their interests shall be paramount.’

 

Commons Debate packs CDP-2018-0171

Author: David Torrance

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