Process begins to establish Citizens’ Assembly in Scotland

The process to establish a new Citizens’ Assembly in Scotland has begun.

Plans for the assembly, which will seek to explore some of the major challenges facing the country, were announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in April.

Three broad issues will be considered by the Assembly; What kind of country Scotland should be, how Scotland can overcome challenges including those arising from Brexit, and what further work is required to enable people to make informed choices about the future of Scotland

The Assembly will comprise of 120 members of the public being selected at random to serve, with meetings held on six weekends between the autumn and spring of 2020.

A contractor is currently being sought to select members, with the intention that those serving are broadly representative of Scotland’s adult population in terms of age, gender, socio-economic class, ethnic group, geography and political attitudes.

Members will be given £200 per week to thank them for their time and contribution to the Assembly, whilst travel, accommodation and other reasonable costs, such as child care, will also be covered.

MSPs, MPs, MEPs, councillors and members of the House of Lords, political party staff, public appointees and senior public and civil servants will be ineligible to sit on the Assembly, as will representatives and officials of relevant advocacy groups.

Constitutional Relations Secretary Michael Russell said: “This is the first time a Citizens’ Assembly has been used in Scotland and will bring together a wide range of ordinary people from across our country in a genuine attempt to reach consensus on the issues that we face.

“Similar models have been used successfully in countries including Ireland, Canada, Australia and Poland.

“It is a bold idea and one I hope everyone, whatever their political view, can embrace.

“I believe we all want the best for Scotland and if we have learnt anything from Brexit it is the need to make space for people to engage with information and to exchange different views.”