Scottish Government
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Discussing Scotland's future

Alex Salmond today challenged the recently formed constitutional commission to put forward the proposals they develop to be included in a referendum on Scotland's constitutional future.

The First Minister laid down the gauntlet to the review's members as he launched the second phase of the Scottish Government's National Conversation, where he welcomed representatives from Scotland's civic institutions to an in-depth discussion about the implications of constitutional progress for life in Scotland.

Mr Salmond welcomed representatives from Scotland's voluntary sector, universities and colleges, trade unions, from the legal system, business sector and from churches and faith groups to the debate on Scotland's future constitutional and stressed the important role the Scotland's civic institutions in shaping Scotland's future.

The National Conversation was launched in August 2007 with the launch of Choosing Scotland's Future, a document built on the premise that the people of Scotland are sovereign and should be allowed a referendum to decide how they are governed.

Continuing the dialogue, Alex Salmond said:

"As First Minister of Scotland, it is my responsibility to lead discussion and debate on how we can build a more successful Scotland. This Government believes that independence for Scotland - where we are equal partners with the other nations of these islands - offers the best prospects for growing prosperity in our nation.

"However, I also recognise there is a range of other views in our country, and represented in the Parliament, and believe that these should continue to be debated as part of the National Conversation. That's why I have set out a challenge for the constitutional review to develop their proposals so they can be included in a referendum.

"We in the Scottish Government believe that sovereignty lies with the people, and that the people have the right to decide how they are governed. That's why we launched a national dialogue, allowing everyone to participate in the progress of our constitutional future.

"The National Conversation has spread far and wide. People across the country are having their say on the big ideas that have been generating debate on Scotland's future. With over 314,000 hits on the National Conversation website and the white paper attracting 26,000 views, there is no doubt that there is a real appetite from Scots to put forward their views...

"This second phase of the National Conversation is focussed on extensive engagement with Scotland's civic institutions who have developed and preserved our society for over 300 years. We have the chance to shape the future of the nation - and it is important that civic Scotland plays a central role.

"We need to find the best way of achieving Scotland's ambitions in the modern world. Already I've been impressed by the energy and insight that the representatives of Scotland's great institutions have to offer the dialogue. Their contribution will be pivotal in helping Scots choose the right path."

The public are invited to join the National Conversation by logging onto a dedicated website where they can add comments to a Blog which begins today.

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