Call for Citizens’ Assembly to report to Holyrood, not ministers

Scotland new Citizens’ Assembly should report to MSPs at the Scottish Parliament – not SNP ministers, according to the head of the body.

David Martin is seeking to underline the new body's independence from political interference

Former Labour MEP David Martin, below, has suggested the move as he seeks to underline the body’s independence from political interference.

The Scottish Government is yet to decide how the new body of 120 randomly selected Scots will report on its final recommendations.

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But Martin told a meeting last week that the findings should not go to ministers.

“I personally don’t think it should report back to the Government, but I think it should report back to the Scottish Parliament,” he said.

“It should be for the Scottish Parliament to decide what it does with the recommendations.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We will shortly publish proposals on a remit and terms of reference for the Citizens Assembly, which will include proposed reporting arrangements for its recommendations.”

The current broad themes for the body is to consider the kind of country Scots are seeking to build, dealing with the challenges of Brexit and the work needed to help Scots make “informed choices” about their future.

The Assembly will begin its deliberations in October and hold six meetings from then until next spring. But the Tories and Liberal Democrats have already boycotted the body, fearing it is a Nationalist “stitch-up” to pave the way to a second referendum on independence. Scotland in Union has also urged its 26,000 members not to get involved.

But the Greens and Labour have given their qualified support to the process, which was used in Ireland to address issues like abortion.

Martin, who will co-chair the Assembly, insisted it would not be deciding on the issue of independence and said he had received “unequivocal assurances” from Constitution Secretary Michael Russell that the body would be independent from ministers.