Constitutional review must 'explore all options' for Scotland’s place in union, argue Labour peers

A group of more than 20 Labour peers have called for a new Constitutional Convention to be established to explore "all options" for Scotland's place in the union.

Labour peers want a UK Constitutional review to 'explore all options' for Scotland's place in the union
Labour peers want a UK Constitutional review to 'explore all options' for Scotland's place in the union

Former Scottish secretaries Lord Des Browne and Baroness Helen Liddell are among the signatories to an open statement today, along with former defence secretary Lord George Robertson and ex-Scotland Office minister Lord George Foulkes.

Although they don't back a second independence referendum or more devolution, they say nothing should be "off the table" in a top-to-bottom review of the way the UK is governed.

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The joint statement has been partly prompted by recent polls which suggest the SNP will win a majority at next year's Holyrood election, heightening demands for a second referendum on independence, with a majority of Scots now also wanting to leave the UK.

The peers state: “In Scotland we believe that the issue is not whether there should be a second referendum on independence, but the wider question of how Scotland relates to the United Kingdom as a whole, with all options open for consideration.”

The statement has been issued on the anniversary of the Calman Commission being established in 2007 to look at the transfer of additional powers to Holyrood. The signatories say recent events now demand a fresh look at constitutional arrangements.

Former Welsh secretary Peter Hain and ex-Home Secretary Lord Blunkett have also signed up.

They warn the response to the Covid pandemic, with differences between the nations and dissent in the regions of England, has reinforced the need for an "urgent reconsideration" of how the UK's nations and regions are governed.

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“We believe there should be a debate throughout the whole of the United Kingdom, England as well as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, on how the daily lives of our citizens are governed," the statement adds.

“Not just on disease control, but also support for commerce and industry, the creation of employment, management of public services, poverty eradication action to prevent the disaster caused by climate change and many more matters are in urgent need of action to ensure they are dealt with effectively.

“We believe consideration is needed as to how the right balance can be struck between where decisions are better made closer to home and where there must be co-operation throughout the UK.

“We therefore support proposals which have been put forward for a review through a UK Constitutional Convention or similar body, which would consult widely and make recommendations, but make no presumption on what might be the outcome of such an exercise.”

The statement calls on the UK Government to take urgent action to review the Constitution. Should it refuse to do so, the peers call on Labour leader Keir Starmer, as Leader of the Opposition, to take such an initiative.

Full list of signatories:

Baroness Kay Andrews

Baroness Joan Bakewell

Baroness Pauline Bryan

Lord David Blunkett

Lord Des Browne

Lord Neil Davidson Q.C.

Lord Alf Dubs

Lord George Foulkes

Baroness Llin Golding

Baroness Mary Goudie

Lord Peter Hain

Lord Simon Haskel

Lord Alan Haworth

Baroness Helen Liddell

Lord Roger Liddle

Lord John Maxton

Lord Hector McKenzie

Lord Kenneth Morgan

Baroness Meta Ramsay

Lord George Robertson

Lord Jeff Rooker

Lord Clive Soley

Baroness Joyce Quin

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