Patrick Harvie welcomes draft constitution proposals

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Green Yes, the Scottish Green Party’s campaign for a Yes vote in the independence referendum, today (16 June) welcomed the publication of a consultation on a draft interim constitution for an independent Scotland.

Patrick Harvie, Green MSP for Glasgow and Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, also questioned the credibility of the offers being made by the three political parties arguing for a No vote.

The Scottish Government’s proposed interim constitution, to be adopted in 2016, includes:

– Setting up an “inclusive and participative” constitutional convention in 2016 to draw up a permanent constitution
– Giving Scots the right to a healthy environment
– Committing the government to removal of nuclear weapons
– Prioritising the promotion of international peace
– Enshrining the principle of local government

Mr Harvie MSP said:

“I welcome this very clear statement of intent – that Scotland aspires to be a modern, compassionate democracy where power is held to account. It is essential that there is public involvement in drawing up our constitution, and in the event of a Yes vote we must capture the enthusiasm, engagement and ideas that the referendum debate is generating.”

On the political parties campaigning for a No vote, Mr Harvie said:

“The proposals from these parties must be considered against a backdrop of what Scotland wouldn’t get control over. Most of the welfare state would remain ripe for dismantling, we’d be unable to adopt a welcoming immigration policy, and we’d be stuck with offensive nuclear weapons in our waters.

“I view these offers as alternative ways of funding Holyrood, whereas a Yes vote offers a transformational opportunity to decide the full range of priorities. I believe undecided voters are more likely to respond to that big opportunity.”

Reacting to publication of the draft Scottish Independence Bill, Dr Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:

“This Bill proposes a written constitution which rules out nuclear weapons, and gives the highest possible legal status to protecting and enhancing the environment and acting on climate change.  This goes beyond existing duties to protect nature and deliver on climate change targets.  The proposal to enshrine the right to a clean environment in the constitution is a huge step forward.  Any future government which proposed to trash the environment or ignore our climate obligations would find itself in court in short order.

“In the case of a yes vote, we will be one of many organisations taking part in the full consultative process to produce a final written constitution for Scotland but the interim proposals in this draft Bill are a great start on the environment.  They will help keep Scotland on the straight and narrow during the process of becoming independent.

“A written constitution enshrining the importance of the environment is probably the single most powerful arguments in favour of a yes vote.  Those opposed to the independence need to show us how they would deliver something as powerful if Scotland stays in the UK.”

On the environment the draft Bill proposes:

Every person is entitled to live in a healthy environment.

Accordingly, and in recognition of the importance of the environment to the people of Scotland, the Scottish Government and public authorities must, in carrying out their functions, seek to protect and enhance the quality of the environment.

In particular, they must seek to promote—
(a)  the conservation of biodiversity,
(b)  measures to tackle climate change.

On Natural resources the draft bill says:

Scotland’s natural resources are to be used in a manner which is—
(a)  best calculated to be sustainable, and
(b)  of economic, social, environmental or other benefit to the people of Scotland.

On nuclear weapons the draft bill says:

The Scottish Government must pursue negotiations with a view to securing—
(a) nuclear disarmament in accordance with international law, and
(b) the safe and expeditious removal from the territory of Scotland of nuclear weapons based there.