Second helping

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The Scottish Government is proposing that the parliament in an independent Scotland will have one chamber. This is a significant constitutional issue that has attracted little attention in the independence debate so far.

No doubt a respectable case can be made for the parliament having one chamber. Several small, successful countries have unicameral legislatures.

In addition, a parliament with one chamber would reinstate the Scottish position until 1707. It would also mean that government cost less.

Yet a case can also be made for a parliament with two chambers. A second chamber would create a system of checks and balances in relation to oppressive or reckless legislation.

It would allow an extra level of scrutiny for proposed legislation by lawmakers not so involved in constituency business.

A second chamber, if constituted to allow regions with varying population sizes the same number of representatives, would also help protect the ­interests of areas such as the Highlands and Islands vis-à-vis those of the large urban centres.

As we ponder how to vote on 18 September, is this not a ­matter that should be actively discussed?

(Prof) Philip Esler, FRSE