Big questions still need to be answered

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In response to the Scottish Government’s white paper, the Law Society of Scotland recently published a paper which highlighted the views, opinions and remaining questions on Scotland’s constitutional future.

In the 55-page document, the phrase “thought would need to be given to” arises 42 times, and at least 27 other questions which draw attention to points of uncertainty not yet answered by the Yes campaign are posed by the society.

A particularly worrying issue concerns the appeals procedure and what might replace the present UK Supreme Court (UKSC, formerly the House of Lords) as the final court of appeal in civil cases. This system, improved over the years since 1707, and now also influenced by the European Convention on Human Rights, ensures that the Supreme Court of the UK at Westminster includes Scottish justiciaries who bring Scottish experience when considering Scottish appeals.

It is illuminating to learn that the outcomes of nearly half of the 11 Scottish cases decided by the Inner House of the Court of Session in Edinburgh and considered by the UKSC in 2013 (and one in three considered so far in 2014) were overturned by the UKSC.

Historical analysis over the past 300 years also throws up many examples of the important role played by the House of Lords as our final court of appeal.

For example, a Scottish decision overturned by the House of Lords in 1932 led to the development of the modern law of negligence.

Although there will be differing opinions on whether or not appeals to the UKSC always produce the correct outcomes, the UKSC provides a tried and tested appeals process to which the Scots have contributed and to which we deserve continued access.

Let’s not lose it and have it replaced by a piece of tartan-packaged fudge manufactured “on the hoof” by the First Minister and his team during the 18 months before their hoped-for Independence Day on 24 March, 2016.

The continued silence from the Yes campaign, a product of their profound uncertainty over this and other important issues, is one of the main reasons why I will be voting No.

Charles Buchan Ritchie

Chairman, Score Group of Companies

Like others, I am having trouble accepting the case for voting Yes. The Nationalists say we should be better off if we take our own decisions. Yet they want Scotland to join the EU, which would then write many of our laws.

And they wish to use the English pound, making Scotland’s economy the slave of the much larger one down south. This is incoherent and hard to fathom – unless we suppose they are wrapping the risky in the familiar to make it less daunting.

The final shape of independence – currency, Europe, nuclear weapons, pensions – remains unclear.

We shall have no further vote on it, but must have faith that our leaders are clever enough to secure all the best deals.

Alas, my faith in politicians had difficulty outlasting my time in short trousers, and the cherry-picked “facts” and easy “promises” from both sides in this debate have done nothing to restore it.

George Byron

Comely Bank Avenue

Edinburgh

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