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EDITIONS
Monday, 16 September, 2002, 16:22 GMT 17:22 UK
SNP takes aim at the monarchy
The Queen in Edinburgh
The SNP wants a poll to decide the Queen's role
A referendum on whether or not the Royals have a place in Scotland would be held if the SNP ever came to power, the party has said.

The Scottish National Party, on Monday, published a draft written constitution for an independent Scotland, with the promise of a vote on whether to keep or dump the monarchy.

The paper, called A Constitution for a Free Scotland, guaranteed a referendum during the first term of an independent parliament.

The document sets down the basic rights for all Scots post-independence, including voting rights for people aged over 16 and the right to speak Gaelic and Scots as well as English.

Neil MacCormick
The paper was written by Prof Neil MacCormick

The draft constitution allowed for Queen Elizabeth and her successors to continue as head of state after independence.

But it also stated in the preface the blueprint could "operate with either a hereditary head of state or an elected one".

The SNP has been committed to a post-independence referendum on the monarchy since its 1997 conference in Rothesay.

The constitution would be presented to the public by an SNP administration in its first term of office and in advance of an independence referendum.

If the public backed independence in that vote and broke away from the UK the SNP would then begin preparations for the referendum on the monarchy.

The document's author Professor Neil MacCormick MEP said it would give people "the right of control over those who govern them and an opportunity to appeal against unconstitutional acts to the courts".

He added: "So it's a framework for democratic self-government and we very much recommend it."

Prof MacCormick, who is a lawyer, defended the proposal to allow two-fifths of the parliament to delay legislation for one year even though this would be more likely under the proportional representation voting system used at Holyrood.

SNP supporters
The SNP has been committed to a poll since 1997

He said: "It effectively means you can have a one year delay on a proposal if a very substantial minority in the parliament wished to have it.

"I think if there are serious reservations about an important proposal a bit of time to reflect is an important thing to have."

He said some observers had warned about the dangers of a having a single chamber Parliament as envisaged in the draft constitution because there would be no other body to "put the brakes on".

He conceded that many of the principles set out in the constitution were already embodied in the devolved Scottish Parliament through the Scotland Act.

But he said a written constitution was necessary because "we still have the final step to take".

A spokeswoman for the Labour Party said: "The SNP can spend as much time as they like in constitutional navel gazing.

"Labour is more interested in delivering on the priorities of the people of Scotland - jobs, health, education, crime and transport - than on debating whether we want to ditch the Queen as the head of state."

See also:

15 Sep 02 | Scotland
02 Jan 00 | Scotland
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