The formation of a “House of Citizens” has been backed by 43% of Scots, a new poll suggests.
The idea, which would create a permanent citizens’ assembly at Holyrood – similar to a House of Lords-style second chamber – populated by members of the public selected by lottery, was supported by 83% of the attendees at Scotland’s Citizens’ Assembly last weekend.
The group, made up of 100 people and devised to be as broadly representative as possible, was tasked by the Scottish Government with exploring how Scotland could be improved.
The idea has been backed by 43% of respondents in a YouGov poll of 1,036 people in Scotland.
Just 17% opposed it, with 21% saying they don’t know and 19% of respondents expressing indifference to the idea.
A House of Citizens, as it has been named, was devised by pro-democracy groups the RSA, Common Weal, the Electoral Reform Society and the Sortition Foundation.
“Too often in politics people do not see people like them in power. A House of Citizens – made up to reflect all of Scotland’s wealth of experience and backgrounds – is one idea which could help change that,” said Willie Sullivan, a senior director at the Electoral Reform Society.
“We could ensure the public’s ability to properly scrutinise legislation and hold decisions to account – not just once every five years. This is an exciting idea that has real potential to revolutionise democracy here in Scotland.”
According to the groups, 73 people would be selected to serve two-year terms at a rate of pay “comparable” to that of MSPs, with the assembly taking on one of three possible roles in Scottish democracy.
The first would allow the members to be an advisory body to MSPs, weighing in at the first stage of legislation in Holyrood.
The second would increase the powers of the assembly, allowing them powers of review at the final stage of legislation, similar to that of the House of Lords at Westminster.
The third, the most powerful option, would allow members to introduce legislation.
The groups propose an initial three-year trial period where the new chamber would operate with the least amount of powers.
A spokesman for the groups added: “The old way of doing politics was that you pick a destination every five years – and there’s no getting off until the next election.
“A House of Citizens would bring together Scottish people from all walks of life, to lay down new tracks or update our destination along the way. That will get us where we need to be – a better future for everybody.”
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