There should be more sortition in Scotland. This is what the Citizens' Assembly on the Future of Scotland recommends in its citizens' report published on 13 January 2021. The participants randomly selected from all walks of life in Scotland for the Citizens Assembly of Scotland recommend, among other things, the holding of more citizens' assemblies and the establishment of a randomly selected parliamentary chamber.
Future citizens' assemblies should be used to gather people's views and ideas on issues important to the country, the report says. There should be an independent body to make the decision on when and on what topics when politicians cannot come to agreement, and to ensure accountability for follow up.
Citizens' assemblies to scrutinise legislation
Citizens' assemblies should be able to review existing legislation in key areas and propose simplifications or reviewing. The government and parliament should work with mini assemblies on issues that affect everyone, including all under-represented groups. These should be called at the start of each parliamentary session and be set up to examine specific issues. Their recommendations must be debated in Parliament before the assemblies are disbanded.
The country's first citizens' assembly also calls on the government and parliament to set up a ‘house of citizens’ to scrutinise government proposals and give assent to parliamentary bills. Membership should be time-limited and representative of the population of Scotland, similar to the way this Citizens Assembly of Scotland was selected. There should be an oversight body to ensure this.
Citizens' Committee in the Parliament
The government and parliament ar called to set up a citizens' committee in Scottish Parliament. This would be a randomly selected body, with members being encouraged and supported to take part. It would offer advice and opinions on government proposals, review the work of parliament and hold the government to account. It would be for a fixed term with members receiving a gift of thanks.
Last but not least, the Citizens' Assembly recommends to establish community-based citizens' assemblies to assess what is happening in the communities, identify gaps and recommend actions, including through digital technology, that can bring people together and make the communities more inclusive.
100 randomly selected citizens
The Citizens' Assembly of Scotland was an assembly of 100 citizens from across Scotland. The Citizens' Assembly was composed according to the rules of stratified sampling so that it was broadly representative of the adult population (16 and over) in terms of age, gender, socio-economic class/educational qualifications, ethnic group, geography and political attitudes. The Assembly had met four times in face-to-face meetings and four times online due to the Corona pandemic to deliberate and make recommendations on the future development of Scotland. To this end, the participants had listened to a number of experts and discussed the individual topics together.
In addition to citizens' assemblies, the recommendations also cover global trade, the economy, democracy, immigration, taxation, education, minimum wage, poverty, health, energy supply, digital infrastructure, young people and the environment.
More information: Citizens' Assembly of Scotland