MSPs of all parties urged to restate Claim of Right for Scotland

By staff writers
26 Jan 2012

SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon today urged MSPs of all parties to restate the cross-party Claim of Right and to commit themselves to the principle of Scottish sovereignty.

A Claim of Right for Scotland was drafted by the Scottish Constitutional Convention in 1988, prior to the successful bid for devolution, declaring the sovereignty of the Scottish people.

The document was launched at the General Assembly Hall, on the Mound in Edinburgh, on 30 March 1989.

The Claim was signed by 58 of Scotland's 72 Members of Parliament, seven of Scotland's eight MEPS, 59 out of 65 the Scottish regional, district and island councils, and numerous political parties, churches, civic organisations and trade unions.

Ironically, the claim was opposed at the time by the SNP, who in 1989 did not think it went far enough, and also by the Conservatives, who opposed an devolutionary measures.

The document has never had any legal force, and remains a statement of popular opinion, but some have interpreted it as having constitutional significance for Scotland.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament on 26 January 2012, Ms Sturgeon declared: "Today's motion states that 'This 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'."

She continued: "That one sentence is charged with historical resonance for everyone in this chamber, and for everybody in Scotland. It reaffirms the ancient principle that in Scotland, the people are sovereign. Monarchs and parliaments are the servants of the people."

"It is a principle which has its origins in the Declaration of Arbroath, was refined by George Buchanan in the late 16th century, and was restated in Scotland’s first Claim of Right in 1689," said Ms Sturgeon.

"Three hundred years later a new Claim of Right was proudly proclaimed by the Scottish Constitutional Convention, as it began the work which led ultimately to the establishment of this Parliament," she explained.

"The founding principle of that Claim of Right is one that all parties which have taken their place in this Parliament should be able to subscribe to. And there has never been a more important moment to recommit ourselves to the guiding principle of the claim of right – that the people are sovereign," concluded the deputy SNP leader and Scottish Government deputy and health secretary.

The SNP, Greens, some smaller left-wing parties, independents and public figures across the spectrum are going to be urging a 'yes' vote in the referendum on Scottish independence, which is likely to be held in 2014.

The Claim of Right reads in full:

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.

[Ekk/3]

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