Mapping Scotland's Constitutional Futures

If the constitutional options facing the people of Scotland are to be discussed and evaluated in a measured and comprehensive manner, a wide range of questions need to be asked and answered.  It is important to avoid the danger of public debate becoming excessively narrow, concentrating on a few high profile issues at the expense of others, and prematurely foreclosing potentially fruitful pathways to reform.  One of the key priorities for the SCFF is to map the wide-ranging terms of the constitutional debate – although we regard this as an evolving project, to be revised and expanded as the debate progresses.  Our intention is that, as far as possible, each of the topics we identify will be the subject of a seminar, discussion or other exchange hosted by the SCFF (alone or in collaboration with others).  This website also provides relevant materials and regular updates on the various topics.

The issues for debate fall into three categories:

  • The process of constitutional reform;
  • The various areas of policy included in or affected by potential constitutional change;
  • A variety of key institutional questions which arise in the design of our constitutional framework.


The process of constitutional reform will influence not only the quality of debate and the eventual outcome, but also the extent to which that outcome is treated as acceptable to all who are affected by it.  The stakes, therefore, are high, and that is why process questions have figured so prominently on the political agenda to date.  However, there are many different aspects of constitutional process, some of which have received more attention than others. The SCFF intends to take a broad approach.  Our topics will include:

  • framing the debate (which options are on the table, ranging from the status quo to independence,  and how many?)
  • models of constitutional reform (what alternative  reform processes are available?)
  • civil society participation (how can this be encouraged and optimized?)
  • stages and timetable of  constitutional reform
  • the European and international dimension (what are the implications of  the UK constitutional reform process for membership of the European Union and international organisations)
  • constitution-making after independence


The constitutional debate will focus upon a number of key policy sectors which define the basic profile of government.  These sectors are important and controversial in a double sense: not only is their content contested and likely to differ depending upon the general constitutional option chosen; in many cases responsibility for these different policy jurisdictions is also viewed – and contested - as a key boundary marker in formulating the various more or less ‘autonomous’ constitutional options in the first place.  Our topics will include:

  • currency
  • defence
  • borders, immigration and citizenship
  • social (or welfare) ‘citizenship’
  • energy
  • education, science and culture
  • environmental policy
  • security


Our constitution comprises not only the key policy areas which specify the nature of the polity but also the institutional arrangements through which policy is decided, administered, monitored and adjudicated.  Again, these matters are doubly significant.  On the one hand, the content of these institutional arrangements may differ depending upon the constitutional option chosen.  On the other, basic responsibility for these institutional arrangements may be unclear or controversial between different constitutional options.  Our topics will include:

  • courts and the administration of justice
  • mechanisms for ensuring transparency, accountability and redress
  • human rights protection
  • local government
  • civil service
  • parliaments
  • elections, representation and democracy