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Scottish Covenant: Wikis


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The Scottish Covenant was a petition to the United Kingdom government to create a devolved Scottish Parliament. The Covenant was written in 1949 by the Scottish Convention, a pressure group which evolved into the Scottish Covenant Association, and was signed by around two million Scottish people between 1947 and 1950.[1] In the UK national census in 1951, the population of Scotland was 5.1 million.[2]

The Scottish Covenant, however, had little political impact and it was not until 1979 that proposals for a Scottish Assembly became a serious political prospect.[1] The current Scottish Parliament was created in 1999.

The name of the Covenant is a reference to the Solemn League and Covenant which established the rights of the Church of Scotland in the 17th century. An Ulster Covenant was also made in 1912, opposing the idea of Home Rule in Ireland.

Text of the Covenant

"We, the people of Scotland who subscribe to this Engagement, declare our belief that reform in the constitution of our country is necessary to secure good government in accordance with our Scottish traditions and to promote the spiritual and economic welfare of our nation.

We affirm that the desire for such reform is both deep and widespread through the whole community, transcending all political differences and sectional interests, and we undertake to continue united in purpose for its achievement.

With that end in view we solemnly enter into this Covenant whereby we pledge ourselves, in all loyalty to the Crown and within the framework of the United Kingdom, to do everything in our power to secure for Scotland a Parliament with adequate legislative authority in Scottish affairs."


The Labour government of the time dismissed the Scottish Covenant. In answer to a question in the House of Lords in May 1950 put to Her Majesty's Government, Labour Peer Lord Morrison objected both in principle to Home Rule and stated that the matters involved were 'much too complicated' to be put to referendum.[3]

In 1955, Colin Thornton-Kemsley MP for North Angus and Mearns pointed out that despite the Covenant only one of the 71 MPs representing Scottish seats could be said to support devolution, that one member being Jo Grimond, Liberal MP for Orkney and Shetland.[4]


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