What would New Articles of Union look like?

by Elias Blum

I’m just wondering what a new Articles of Union between Scotland and the rest of the UK could possibly look like, if such Articles could be negotiated and agreed between the two Parliaments. This is my attempt to imagine possibilities. Constructive comments welcome.

1. The United Kingdom
(1) There shall continue to be a United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the ‘United Kingdom’).

(2) The United Kingdom is a democratic confederal Union consisting of two equal states:

(a) England, Wales and Northern Ireland; and

(b) Scotland.

(3) Each state regains its sovereignty, freedom, and autonomy, and every power, jurisdiction and right, which is not by these Articles delegated to the institutions of the United Kingdom.

(4) The United Kingdom under these Articles continues as a sovereign state in accordance with international law; it maintains all its existing treaty rights and obligations in accordance with international law.

2. Status of the Articles of Union
These Articles of Union shall be the supreme law of the United Kingdom; any Act of Parliament, treaty or other law that is inconsistent with these Articles shall, to the extent of inconsistency, be void.

3. European Convention on Human Rights
(1) Every person in the United Kingdom or subject to the jurisdiction thereof has the rights and freedoms set out in the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, agreed by the Council of Europe on 4 November 1950, and the protocols thereto to which the United Kingdom has acceded or shall hereafter accede (‘the Convention’).

(2) No law may be enacted by the Council of the United Kingdom or by either Parliament that is incompatible with the rights and freedoms set out in the Convention, and the public authorities of the United Kingdom and of the states must, in carrying out their functions, respect and comply with those rights and freedoms.

4. Head of State
(1) Her Majesty and Her heirs and successors shall continue to be Head of State of the United Kingdom.

(2) The powers, duties, functions, privileges and responsibilities of the Head of State in relation to the United Kingdom shall be determined by these Articles, and the powers, duties, functions, privileges and responsibilities of the Head of State in each state shall be determined by the Constitution and laws of that state.

(3) Any change to the laws of succession, regency and exclusion must be approved by both Parliaments (the Parliament of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the Parliament of Scotland).

5. Separation of the Parliaments
(1) The Union of Parliaments is dissolved. There shall be no Parliament for the United Kingdom.

(2) Upon the coming into effect of these Articles:

(a) the members of the House of Commons elected from Scottish constituencies and Scottish peers shall cease to hold office as such; and

(b) the members of the House of Commons elected from constituencies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and peers other than Scottish peers shall sit, according to the law and custom of Parliament, as the Parliament of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

(3) The Parliament of England, Wales and Northern Ireland shall have no sovereignty or legislative authority over Scotland.

(4) The Scottish Parliament shall have no sovereignty or legislative authority over England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

6. Council of the United Kingdom and Secretariat
(1) The United Kingdom shall be governed by a ‘Council of the United Kingdom’ consisting of:

(a) the Prime Minister of England, Wales and Northern Ireland (or some other senior member of the Government of England, Wales and Northern Ireland designed by the Prime Minister thereof), as President of the Council of the United Kingdom;

(b) The Prime Minister of Scotland (or some other senior member of the Government of Scotland designed by the Prime Minister thereof), as Vice-President of the Council of the United Kingdom;

(c) Four United Kingdom Secretaries of State:

(i) a Secretary of State for Foreign affairs;

(ii) a Secretary of State for Defence;

(iii) a Secretary of State for Finance;

(iv) a Secretary of State for Home Affairs.

(2) The United Kingdom Secretaries of State shall be appointed and removed by Her Majesty, in Her capacity as Head of State of the United Kingdom, on the joint advice of the President of the Council of the United Kingdom and the Vice-President of the Council of the United Kingdom.

(3) There shall be a Secretary-General of the United Kingdom, who shall be appointed by Her Majesty, in Her capacity as Head of State of the United Kingdom, on the advice of the Council of the United Kingdom.

(4) The Secretary-General of the United Kingdom shall keep the records and archives of the Council of the United Kingdom, prepare its business and correspondence, and perform such other duties as may be lawfully entrusted to him or her by the Council of the United Kingdom.

(5) The staff of the secretariat shall be seconded from the civil services of the two states in accordance with such regulations as the Council of the United Kingdom shall adopt.

7. Defence and Foreign Policy
(1) The United Kingdom shall maintain a common defence and foreign policy.

(2) The Council of the United Kingdom, acting through the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, shall be responsible for:

(a) foreign affairs generally;

(b) relations with the European Union, NATO and the United Nations;

(c) diplomatic and consular services;

(d) the negotiation of treaties on behalf of the United Kingdom, provided that:

(i) no matter especially concerning either state should be agreed without the consent of the Prime Minister of that state (or other designated Minister of that state), who shall have the right to be present in such discussions; and

(ii) treaties and international agreements of the United Kingdom shall apply only if adopted into law or ratified by both Parliaments, or, in so far as they concern only one state, by the Parliament of that state.

(3) The Council of the United Kingdom, through the United Kingdom Secretary of State for Defence, shall be responsible for defence policy, and shall direct and command of the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom, of which Her Majesty shall be titular Commander-in-Chief.

(4) The raising, recruitment, organisation, discipline, pay and administration of the Armed Forces shall be determined by laws enacted by the two Parliaments.

(5) The regulation of territorial and civil defence troops, and of coastal and fisheries protection forces, shall be the responsibility of each State under its own laws.

8. Finance
(1) The United Kingdom shall maintain a common treasury and a common currency.

(2) The United Kingdom Secretary of State for Finance shall be responsible, in accordance with the regulations enacted by the Council of the United Kingdom, for the management of the common treasury and for preparation of the budget and estimates of the Council of the United Kingdom, which shall be adopted by a majority vote thereof.

(3) Each State shall be responsible for paying to the common treasury of the United Kingdom such sums as are authorized by the Council of the United Kingdom, based on distribution of burdens between the States according to their populations.

(4) The United Kingdom Secretary of State for Finance shall also be responsible, subject to such regulations as the Council of the United Kingdom may enact, for matters concerning the common currency, money supply and the regulation of the Bank of England.

9. Home Affairs
(1) There shall be freedom of movement within the United Kingdom, and the citizens of either State may live, work, vote, and hold office in their own State and in the other State.

(2) The Council of the United Kingdom may enact uniform laws throughout the United Kingdom with respect to citizenship and naturalization, immigration, extradition, asylum, passports and border security. The United Kingdom Secretary of State for Home Affairs shall be responsible for the enforcement and administration of these laws.

10. Co-operation
The Council of the United Kingdom may make proposals for co-operation on the following matters of mutual interest, subject to approval by means of parallel legislation passed by the two Parliaments:

(a) railways, roads and other forms of communication between the states;

(b) driver and vehicle licensing;

(c) postal, telephonic and internet services;

(d) harmonisation of tax rates;

(e) economic co-operation;

(f) scientific research;

(g) meteorological, oceanographic, coastguard and navigational services; and

(h) the joint funding of infrastructure projects.

11. Supreme Court

(1) In addition to any other jurisdiction conferred upon it by the constitution or laws of either state or by the Council of the United Kingdom, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom shall have appellate jurisdiction over all questions concerning the interpretation of these Articles or the validity of any law or treaty under the terms of these Articles.

(2) No alteration to the appointment, composition or tenure of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, or the privileges and immunities of the judges thereof, shall be made except by means of parallel legislation adopted by both Parliaments.

12. Internal Government of the States
(1) The internal government of ‘England, Wales and Northern Ireland’, subject to these Articles, shall until otherwise provided for by law be based on the existing statutes and other laws and conventions in effect.

(2) The internal government of Scotland, subject to these Articles, shall be conducted according to the Scottish Constitution, which shall be adopted by the people of Scotland in accordance with such provisions as the Scottish Parliament shall prescribe.

(3) Nothing in this Charter shall affect:

(a) the continuing existence or powers of devolved institutions in Wales or Northern Ireland; or

(b) the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement, 1998.

13. Secession
(1) Either state may leave the United Kingdom by a decision of the people of the state, by means of a majority of the votes cast in a referendum held in accordance with the constitution and laws of that state.

(2) If either state secedes, the United Kingdom shall thereupon be dissolved, and England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and Scotland, shall both be equal successor states.

14. Adoption and Amendment

(1) These Articles shall be adopted by parallel legislation passed by the United Kingdom Parliament and the Scottish Parliament and shall come into effect after having been approved by a majority of the votes cast in parallel referendums held in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and in Scotland.

(2) Any changes to these Articles shall be made only on the proposal of the Council of the United Kingdom, with the approval of both Parliaments, and subject to ratification by the people of both states in parallel referendums, to be held in accordance with the constitution and laws of each state.

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