Claim of Right 1989

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A Claim of Right for Scotland was a document crafted by the Campaign for a Scottish Assembly in 1988, declaring the sovereignty of the Scottish people. It was signed by all then-serving Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs, with the exception of Tam Dalyell (Labour),[1] a strident opponent of devolution. The list of signatories included several MPs who would later attain high office, including future prime minister Gordon Brown, future chancellor Alistair Darling, and future leaders of the Liberal Democrats Charles Kennedy and Menzies Campbell.

The Claim of Right was signed at the General Assembly Hall, on the Mound in Edinburgh - on 30 March 1989 by 58 of Scotland's 72 Members of Parliament, 7 of Scotland's 8 MEPs, 59 out of 65 Scottish regional, district and island councils, and numerous political parties, churches and other civic organisations, e.g., trade unions.

The Claim was part of a process which led to devolution of powers from the Parliament of the United Kingdom to a new Scottish Parliament in 1999.[2] Its title was a reference to the Claim of Right Act 1689, an Act of the Parliament of Scotland which limited the power of the Scottish monarch (at the time, William III and Mary II) in much the same manner as the English Bill of Rights passed the same year.

In October 2011 the Scottish Government announced that the Claim of Right would be brought before the Scottish Parliament to allow MSPs to re-endorse the claims of the sovereignty of the Scottish people.[1] The Claim of Right was debated in the Scottish Parliament on 26 January 2012.[3][4]

Text of the Claim[edit]

The Claim of Right reads-

We, gathered as the Scottish Constitutional Convention, do hereby acknowledge the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of Government best suited to their needs, and do hereby declare and pledge that in all our actions and deliberations their interests shall be paramount.

We further declare and pledge that our actions and deliberations shall be directed to the following ends:

To agree a scheme for an Assembly or Parliament for Scotland;

To mobilise Scottish opinion and ensure the approval of the Scottish people for that scheme; and

To assert the right of the Scottish people to secure implementation of that scheme.

Legal significance[edit]

The Claim of Right has never had or claimed any legal force.

Debate in the House of Commons[edit]

On 4 July 2018, the House of Commons debated the Claim of Right in an Opposition Day debate selected by the SNP, this motion noted that the people of Scotland are sovereign and that they have the right to determine the best form of government for Scotland's needs.[5]

This was a non-binding debate and did not create any legal recognition of the Claim of Right or have any legal significance.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "SNP confirms Claim of Right move". The Press Association. 26 October 2011. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
  2. ^ "Claim of Right passes to parliament". BBC News. BBC. 29 June 1999. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  3. ^ "SNP takes new Claim of Right approach". BBC News. 26 January 2012. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  4. ^ "Claim of Right". 26 January 2012. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  5. ^ "Claim of Right for Scotland". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). United Kingdom: House of Commons. 4 July 2018. col. 406 – via TheyWorkForYou.