An independent Scotland’s position in the world will continue to be examined by the European and External Relations Committee on Thursday. Immigration and asylum plans, international offices abroad, border controls, and membership of NATO are all part of the Committee’s consideration of Scotland’s proposed international future.
Committee Convener Christina McKelvie MSP said:
“Almost five months ago we began an inquiry into the Scottish Government’s proposals for an independent Scotland. During this inquiry, it has become obvious to us that the people of Scotland wanted even more information on some of the issues we were touching upon, before they cast their vote.
“We know immigration, border controls, NATO membership and how Scotland would represent and promote itself overseas matter deeply to voters. So we are bringing together more expert witnesses to focus in on these topics. We want to move the debate forward and help voters understand some of the potential international and domestic implications of their decision on 18 September.”
Deputy Committee Convener Hanzala Malik MSP said:
“Should Scotland vote for independence, how Scotland choses to conduct itself on the world stage will have an enormous impact on our economy and the fabric of our society. It is only right that our Committee devotes more time exploring these important subjects.
“Whilst our Committee may not agree on which way to vote on 18 September, we all agree it is our role to help people develop informed opinions on the impact of the proposals from the Scottish Government before they cast their vote. I am sure the contributions from the experts we are bringing together will be invaluable in this.”
Today’s evidence session will explore issues of citizenship and immigration, including border controls and asylum. Taking part in the round table will be:
- Professor Robert Wright, Department of Economics, University of Strathclyde;
- Gary Christie, Acting Chief Executive, Scottish Refugee Council;
- Professor Alison Phipps, and Sarah Craig, Co-Convenors, Glasgow Refugee Asylum and Migration Network (GRAMnet);
- Peter Grady, Legal Officer, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) (Representation to the United Kingdom);
- Clarissa Azkoul, Chief of Mission, International Organization for Migration (IOM) UK.
On 1 May, the focus was an independent Scotland’s international development policy, exploring aid, debt relief and the commitment of a ‘do no harm’ policy (stating that the Government’s work would seek to not undermine international development aims and ideally contribute to international development success). (Link to official report: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/28862.aspx?r=9146&mode=pdf)
On 12 June, the spotlight moves to international policies including membership of international organisations, the importance of human rights and tackling climate change. The Committee will also explore issues of representing Scotland abroad, including embassies, and the experiences of other small countries in working together
On 26 June, the Committee will hear from the Scottish Government on the issues raised during the evidence sessions.
All sessions are open to the public and will be webcast on the Scottish Parliament’s website. To keep up to date with the Committee, you can follow them on Twitter @SP_Europe