What is the Citizens’ Assembly?
The Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland is a group of Scottish citizens who will come together to consider and help find consensus on the future of Scotland. They will consider the following broad questions set out in the Terms of Reference for the Citizens' Assembly:
- what kind of country are we seeking to build?
- how best can we overcome the challenges Scotland and the world face in the 21st century, including those arising from Brexit, and
- what further work should be carried out to give us the information we need to make informed choices about the future of the country?
The Assembly will comprise a minimum of 100 members broadly representative of the adult (aged 16+) population of Scotland.
How will it work?
The Assembly will be conducted according to the following principles:
Independence from government: including through the appointment of an impartial and respected convener or co-conveners, an arms-length secretariat, and expert advisory groups.
Transparency: at all levels of the operation of the Assembly, from the framing of the questions, to the selection of members and expert witnesses, through to proactive publication and live-streaming of deliberative sessions and clarity about what the outputs will be used for.
Inclusion: extending not just to those invited to take part as members, but also to the operations of the Assembly itself.
Access: the wider public must be able to see and comment upon the work of the Assembly, and stakeholders must feel that they and their interests have a route into the Assembly.
Balance: the information used to build members’ (and the wider public’s) learning must be balanced, credible and easily understood.
Cumulative learning: embedded into the design of the Assembly, to ensure members develop a rich understanding of the issues considered and have time to do so.
Open-mindedness: the Assembly will be a forum for open-minded deliberation between participants, ensuring the public see it as a genuine process of enquiry, and to help ensure that it receives an open-minded response from the parliament and government.
The Assembly will meet for six weekends.
The first meeting will be held in Edinburgh over Saturday 26 October and Sunday 27 October. The next five meetings will take place in Glasgow over the weekends of 29 November to 1 December; 17 to 19 January; 21 to 23 February; 27 to 29 March and 24 to 26 April.
The Scottish Government have published the remit and terms of reference for the Citizens' Assembly.
Conveners have agreed a Memorandum of Understanding with Scottish Government setting out the arrangements in place to allow the Citizens' Assembly to deliver on it's remit independently.
Kate is a third sector leader who has trained in fine art. She has worked for arts organisations across Northern Ireland and Scotland since 1990.
Currently Kate is the Director of North Edinburgh Arts, which provides opportunities for individual and community development through contact with the professional arts. The organisation is active in the local regeneration process, advocating the role of the artist and creativity as positive forces within the dynamic of a community in flux.
She is also Chair of Scotland’s Regeneration Forum (SURF) and sits on the boards of Tinderbox Orchestra and North Edinburgh Childcare. Previously she led Edinburgh’s Capital City Partnership Arts For Inclusion programme.
Kate is particularly interested in how art can change the public realm and public imagination, working with artists whose practice takes them beyond the boundaries of the institution, studio or theatre.
David was a Scottish Labour Member of the European Parliament for 35 years (1984-2019). He was the longest serving UK MEP and longest serving Vice President (1989-2004), gaining extensive experience of the political systems in Scotland and Europe and effective forms of engaging with the public. As Vice President of the Parliament, David was responsible for budget and strategic oversight of the institution.
Based on this experience, he was appointed Professor of Public Policy at the University of Glasgow. In 2013 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of the Punjab for services to EU-Pakistan relations.
David is a member of the First Minister’s Standing Council on Europe which provides advice to the First Minister on Brexit and the European Union. He holds a BA (Hons) in Economics and an MA in European Management and Employment Law.
The Conveners are responsible for:
Stewarding the Assembly, by overseeing the planning arrangements in order that the Assembly delivers its remit.
Convening meetings of the Assembly, by hosting them and contributing to them.
Representing the Assembly, in the media and in public, and speaking on their behalf.
You can read the Conveners blog
Read the Scottish Government News Release for more about the appointment of the Conveners.
You can find out more about recruitment here.
Members will meet to discuss and deliberate on Scotland’s future. The Assembly will comprise a minimum of 100 members of the adult population (aged 16 and over) of Scotland who are randomly selected to serve. They will be broadly representative of Scotland’s adult population in terms of socio-demographic variables and political attitudes/views.
Elected or appointed representatives (including MSPs, MPs, MEPs, councillors and Members of the House of Lords), the staff of political parties, public appointees and senior public and civil servants and the representatives or officials of relevant advocacy groups will all be ineligible to be Assembly members.
Recruitment will be undertaken by Mark Diffley Consultancy and Research Ltd. over the course of the summer, 2019. This contract has been awarded following a competitive tender process.
A Secretariat has been established to help the conveners ensure the efficient running of the Assembly. The Secretariat is staffed by a mixed team of civil servants and people with direct experience in running Citizens’ Assemblies. You can read more about the role of the Secretariat.
A range of advisory groups will also be established.
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Michael Russell MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations
“Citizens’ assemblies are becoming an established way for mature democracies to engage with complex and contested issues on an inclusive, informed and respectful basis. That is what we want for Scotland.”
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