Scottish independence: Alex Salmond details constitutional rights

Alex Salmond believes an independent Scotland should have a written constitution

The right to a free education could be enshrined in the written constitution of an independent Scotland, First Minister Alex Salmond has said.

He also believes that people in Scotland should have a constitutional right to a home.

In a speech in London, SNP leader Mr Salmond was due to set out the pledges he believes should be guaranteed.

It comes as Westminster begins transferring the power to Holyrood to hold an independence referendum.

The Scottish government wants to hold the historic vote in autumn 2014 and ask the electorate in Scotland the single "yes/no" question: "Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?"

Westminster has control of constitutional matters, but a special section 30 order is set to be approved by the Commons and the Lords allowing the Scottish government to have legal authority to hold a binding referendum.

In an interview with BBC Scotland's political editor Brian Taylor, Mr Salmond said that the UK was out of step in not having a formal, written constitution.

He believed the issue would be remedied in an independent Scotland.

Start Quote

An independent Scotland will be a modern democracy and a modern democracy should have a written constitution”

End Quote Alex Salmond First Minister and SNP leader

The first minister had already signalled that a ban on nuclear weapons would feature in such a document.

But he has now put on record that the rules on military engagement should be included and social rights - such as housing and free education - should also feature.

Mr Salmond stressed that these were simply SNP ideas and that the constitution in an independent Scotland would be formed with the widest possible involvement of popular opinion.

He said: "Modern states have written constitutions, the UK is the exception. There are 27 countries in Europe, every single one has a written constitution protecting its citizens, apart from the UK.

"An independent Scotland will be a modern democracy and a modern democracy should have a written constitution.

"The set of ideas the SNP would contribute to a process which will engage all of Scotland, as well as all of Scotland's political parties, are things like a protection in terms of free education. Scotland pioneered free education hundreds of years ago.

"We have a policy that has restored free education, but it should be a constitutional protection.

"The right for every Scottish family to have a home, again we have statute on that, but shouldn't that be a constitutional protection?"

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