Independence: Wheelhouse urges Borderers to have say

MSP Paul Wheelhouse.
MSP Paul Wheelhouse.
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South Scotland MSP Paul Wheelhouse is urging constituents in the Scottish Borders to have their say on a draft Bill which will set out how an independent Scotland will be governed.

The draft Scottish Independence Bill is now open for public consultation.

It includes details on how an independent Scotland could prepare a permanent written constitution in a participative process led by the people through a constitutional convention, autonomous from the Scottish Government.

The Bill sets out immediate arrangements for independence – such as the role of government, human rights and the rule of law – and would form the interim written constitution.

The interim constitution proposes an obligation to advance towards nuclear disarmament, the strengthening of human rights protection, the safeguarding of the wellbeing of children and protection for the particular needs of local government and island communities.

Mr Wheelhouse, the Scottish Government’s environment secretary from Ayton in Berwickshire: said: “From my experience to date the debate about Scotland’s future is engaging and enthusing people across the Scottish Borders.

“It is an impassioned debate and I am delighted that the opinion polls are showing an increasing number of people are coming to appreciate how independence can improve the lives of people in Scotland.

“Currently, we don’t have a written constitution, because the UK remains the only country within the European Union or the Commonwealth that does not have a written constitution or a Constitution Act.

“However, on September 18th, for the 15 hours during which time the polling stations are open, and for the first time since prior to the Act of Union in 1707, the people of Scotland will be sovereign as they make the decision on Scotland’s future. Only with independence can we then keep that power over our own destiny.

“In the Yes campaign we are ambitious for Scotland and Scotland’s people and we believe that the people of Scotland should be sovereign, rather than our parliament. We also believe that principle should be written into the basic building blocks of an independent Scotland, the constitution, which will underpin how our country is organised and run and, crucially, how it protects and empowers its citizens.

“I also believe it is a unique opportunity, as set out in the consultation, to enshrine protection of the environment in the constitution of an independent Scotland.

“This is a very exciting time and an, indeed, an exciting chapter we are writing in Scotland’s long, proud history. One day, in years to come, children will read at school of this being a defining moment for Scotland.

“I have met so many people from across the South of Scotland who have already engaged in the process and who have strong opinions on the referendum and even opponents of independence must concede it has been hugely invigorating for our democracy. I would encourage everyone who believes in Scotland’s future to have their say on the Bill.

“The opportunity, through the Bill, to establish a written constitution is an exciting, inspiring and unique opportunity to shape our nation, celebrate and protect our shared values and commit ourselves and future generations to come to building the better country we know Scotland can and should be.

“This is about Scotland’s future and I for one believe our best days are in front of us.”