First meeting of Citizens’ Assembly to take place in Edinburgh

The first meeting of the Scottish Government’s planned Citizens’ Assembly will take place in Edinburgh later this year, with members paid £200 for each session they attend, it has been revealed.

Wednesday, 3rd July 2019, 6:51 pm
Nicola Sturgeon and constitutional affairs spokesman Mike Russell ahead of a statement on a possible future referendum
Nicola Sturgeon and constitutional affairs spokesman Mike Russell ahead of a statement on a possible future referendum

The Assembly, made up of 100 members of the public, will be asked to look at a way forward for Scotland as SNP ministers set out plans for a second referendum on independence if the UK leaves the EU.

But the Conservatives have already branded the exercise a “Nationalist stunt”, while one pro-Union campaign group has called for its members to boycott it.

The impartiality of the planned body was further questioned when Joanna Cherry, a senior SNP MP, claimed the Assembly was “the perfect way” to advance independence.

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But constitutional affairs spokesman Mike Russell has insisted that the Assembly would be independent from SNP ministers as a key principle of its establishment.

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Pro-Union parties brand Citizens' Assembly a ‘Nationalist stunt’

The Scottish Government today published a revised tender document for a potential contractor who will be responsible for recruiting the 100 members required for the Assembly, along with 20 substitute members.

The document states that the Assembly “will bring together members of the adult population of Scotland to discuss and deliberate on Scotland’s future”.

The body will meet for six weekends between late October this year, one month later than originally planned, and late April 2020, with Assembly members required to attend every meeting.

According to the tender, members will receive “a gift of thanks” of £200 per weekend for their time and contribution. Members’ travel and accommodation and other reasonable expenses, such as child care, will also be reimbursed.

The first meeting will be held in Edinburgh, with subsequent meetings in Glasgow. Details of the venues have yet to be released.

David Martin, the former Labour MEP chosen to chair the group, has appealed for the Conservatives and Lib Dems to give it another chance after the parties announced they would not work with it.

Pro-Union group Scotland in Union warned the assembly could be “misused” by only promoting the idea of breaking away from the UK.