Individual Event Reports

Individual Event Reports

5th March 2014: United Kingdom(s)? Scotland's Referendum and Britain's Future.

Read the summary report on Scotland's Referendum and Britain's Future

Held at the British Academy, this forum discussed the historical, legal and constitutional issues that will arise in the aftermath of the referendum on Scottish independence. The intention of this forum was to discuss the possible constitutional framework of a newly independent Scotland, the legal ramifications of this, as well as the impact on Scotland’s membership of the EU. Other key issues discussed were the historical arguments for and against greater autonomy.

The event was hosted by Professor Neil Walker FBA and chaired by the BBC's Sally Magnusson.
The speakers were:

  • Professor Michael Keating FBA FRSE (Aberdeen)
  • Professor Adam Tomkins (Glasgow)
  • Professor Vernon Bogdanor CBE FBA (King’s College London)
  • Professor John Curtice FRSA FRSE (Strathclyde)

29th January 2014: Currency, Banking and tax

Read the summary report of the discussion on Currency, Banking and Taxation

The issues surrounding currency, taxation, banking and regulation in the event of major constitutional change in Scotland following the 2014 Referendum have already generated much interest and argument.   As part of their 'Enlightening the Constitutional Debate' Series, the RSE and the British Academy held a private seminar on these issues in London in July.  A report of that seminar is available on the RSE website. On 29 January 2014 the RSE hosted a public seminar examining these issues in a forum that allowed for debate and discussion.

The seminar discussed questions concerning banking and financial services, the currency options that would be available to an independent Scotland, the implications for fiscal rules and financial regulations, and the implications for taxation and public expenditure.

20th November 2013: Enlightening the Constitutional Debate: Welfare and Public Services

Read the summary report from the Enlightening the Constitutional debate series on Welfare and Public Services

On 20 November 2013 the RSE held, in Glasgow, a public discussion seminar examining Welfare and Public Services

Most aspects of welfare policy and spending are currently  the responsibility of the United Kingdom parliament.  This discussion seminar was not designed to identify or advocate any policies relating to the welfare agenda.  It was intended to provide information and expert commentary about the welfare related issues which the people of Scotland may wish to consider when deciding on 18 September 2014 if Scotland should be an independent country.

Social security spending is set to continue rising as a proportion of all public spending, with pensioners being protected in relative terms and the pressures being most keenly felt by those in the working age groups and those with children. Attitudes to welfare reform in Scotland and the rest of the UK will be explored, including whether there are options for further devolution of welfare powers if Scotland remains a part of the United Kingdom, and the significant issues which would arise should Scotland become an independent country. The seminar also took account of some international comparators which may be relevant for Scotland.

The welfare system and public services are inextricably linked, and responsibility for many of Scotland's important public services are already devolved to the Scottish Parliament - such as education, the National Health Service, housing and policing.  The seminar did not cover these matters in any great depth, but inevitably touched upon them within a wider welfare context.

17 October 2013 at the University of Aberdeen. 6.30pm

Read the summary report on Science and Higher Education

On 17 October 2013 the RSE held a public discussion seminar at the The King's College Conference Centre Auditorium, Kings College, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, on the possible impacts of constitutional change upon Science and Higher education.

This seminar examined the possible affects of Scottish independence upon the ability and ease with which students are able to cross the border to take up Higher Education opportunities, and how this might affect the accessibility of Higher Education for those in the UK and those in Scotland. The seminar also looked at Research Funding, particularly funding for research in the sciences, and asked how UK Research Councils will decide to allocate funding in the event of Scotland leaving the UK.

25 September 2013 at the Royal Society of Edinburgh. 6pm

Read the summary report of the debate on Borders, Immigration and Citizenship

On September 25 2013 the RSE hosted a public discussion seminar on the impacts of constitutional change upon borders, immigration and citizenship.

The seminar examined how constitutional change might affect the citizenship rights and status of those living within and outside independent Scotland, including the relationship of residence to nationality, questions of dual nationality, and freedom of movement within the British Isles and the wider European Union. It also considered the relationship between citizenship and cultural identity in a new Scotland.


Professor John Curtice FRSE, Professor of Politics, University of Strathclyde

Speakers (to view speaker notes click on speaker name below):

Professor Jo Shaw, Salvesen Chair of European Institutions, Dean of Research and Deputy Head, College of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Edinburgh

Professor Christina Boswell, Professor of Politics at the University of Edinburgh

Ms Sarah Craig, Lecturer in Public Law, University of Glasgow and Co-Convenor, GRAMnet (Glasgow Refugee Asylum and Migration Network)

Professor Bernard Ryan, Professor of Migration Law, University of Leicester

24 August. Culture and Broadcasting

Read summary report of sixth event in the Enlightening the Constitutional Debate series: Culture and Broadcasting

On 24 August 2013 the RSE held a public discussion seminar on the impact of constitutional change on the culture of Scotland. It posed questions on whether Scotland’s artistic, literary and cultural contribution will be enhanced should people choose independence, or whether there is strong evidence that during the three hundred years of the Union Scotland has maintained a vibrant and distinct cultural identity.

It also examined the impact that there might be on the media in Scotland, whether broadcasting, the traditional printed media, or new outlets that have emerged in recent years through the rapid growth of digital communications.


Mr Magnus Linklater, former editor of the Scotsman and also the Scottish edition of the Times

Speakers (to view speaker notes click on speaker name below):

Mr James Boyle, Chairman of the National Library of Scotland and former Head of Radio Scotland and Controller of Radio Four

Mr David Elstein, Chair, Open Democracy

Ms Ruth Wishart, Journalist and Commentator

Rt Hon Brian Wilson, Former MP, Former Minister for Energy and the Founding Editor and Publisher of the West Highland Free Press

Currency, Banking and Financial Services.  24 July 2013

Held at the British Academy, this forum discussed questions surrounding banking and financial services in the aftermath of the referendum on Scottish independence. The forum discussed the currency options available to an independent Scotland, and implications for fiscal rules and financial regulation. Read summary report of Currency, Banking and Financial Services.

The forum was hosted and chaired by Professor Tim Besley FBA. It included presentations from a panel of speakers:
   Professor John Kay FBA
   Emeritus Professor Charles Goodhart CBE FBA, London School of Economics
   Jan Fidrmuc, Brunel University
   Frances Ruane, The Economic and Social Research Institute
   Dr Gary Gillespie, Chief Economic Adviser, Scottish Government

20 June. The Real Economy

Read the summary report - Enlightening the Constitutional Debate - The Real Economy

On 20 June 2013 the RSE hosted a public discussion on “The Real Economy”. This examined how the various constitutional options, whether devolution as defined in the Scotland Act 2012, further devolution as being discussed by various parties, or independence as proposed by the Scottish Government, are likely to influence the future economic performance of Scotland.

Much of the debate on independence in particular has concentrated on fiscal and monetary policy. In the “Real Economy” discussion it examined the likely impact of those on key sectors of the economy such as energy, tourism, food & drink, manufacturing, infrastructure & transport, discussing the economic levers that are appropriate to enabling these and other sectors of the economy to flourish, and the effects on trade and labour of the constitutional options.


Mr Douglas Fraser, Business and Economy Editor, BBC Scotland

Speakers (to view speaker notes click on speaker name below):

Mr Stephen Boyd, Assistant Secretary, Policy and Campaigns Department, Scottish Trades Union Congress

Professor Jeremy Peat OBE FRSE, Director of the David Hume Institute

Professor Gordon Hughes, Professor of Economics, University of Edinburgh

Mr Brandon Malone, Chairman, Scottish Arbitration Centre

29 May. Defence and International Relations.

Read the summary report on Defence and International Relations

In May 2013 the RSE  hosted a public discussion seminar, in Edinburgh, on how Scotland and the UK’s defence and international relations might be affected in the event of constitutional change.

The seminar examined questions around how the UK’s role within NATO and on the UN Security Council might be affected by constitutional change, and whether Scotland could expect to retain a role within these organisations in the event of a ‘Yes’ vote in the forthcoming referendum, and what its defence options might be. The seminar  also examined how the UK’s position on the international stage might be affected by constitutional change, and what the implications of attempting to separate the Scottish military from the UK military might be. Questions about the future of the UK’s nuclear deterrence, given the SNP’s anti-nuclear policies, were also addressed.

Taxation and Spending after the Scottish Referendum - 17 April 2013

A discussion forum held at the British Academy, chaired by Professor Lord Paul Bew, with presentations from a panel of speakers including:
Paul Johnson, Institute for Fiscal Studies
Gerald Holtham, former Chair of the Independent Commission on Funding and Finance for Wales
Paul Doyle, HM Treasury

Read the summary report of the discussions on Taxation and Spending

Scotland and the EU - 13 March 2013

A public discussion seminar on the legal, political and economic issues around Scottish membership of the European Union in the event of a Yes vote in the referendum

Read summary report on Enlightening the Constitutional Debate - Scotland and the EU


Follow Us: