Russell Vallance suggests Westminster controls the Act of Union (Letters, February 5).
There is no act. There was and is a Treaty of Union 1707.
In 1707 the independent nation states of England and Scotland entered into a treaty. The two nations shared the same monarch who simultaneously held the two separate crowns of two separate nation states. Once the treaty was signed both the English Parliamentarians and Scotland's Commissioners (MPs) agreed that to establish equality a new Parliament should be prorogued at Westminster Hall and the national parliaments of Scotland and England should go into mutual suspension in abeyance ad interim and so the national parliaments of England and Scotland remain so to this day, awaiting their next meeting.
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When the new Parliament was prorogued one of its first agreements between equals was to refer to itself as "The Parliament of Great Britain and The United Kingdom". This was the first time this terms had been used to establish equality of the two founding nations sharing the same Parliament while sharing the same monarch who held simultaneously the separate crowns of two separate nations now sharing the same Parliament, it was the beginning of Britishness.
Any different aspect being applied to the treaty of 1707 is down to the non legitimacy of unintended consequences in the intervening years of compounded errors. It is important that during our national debate we get our history right. "Facts are chiels that winna ding!"
Westminster is a Parliament of equals and cannot of itself dissolve the Treaty of Union to which it was not of itself a progenitor. That is the prerogative of the suspended national parliaments of England and Scotland which will require to be recalled from suspension "in abeyance ad interim" where they legitimately reside at the present time. Only the recalled national parliaments of Scotland and England may re-negotiate the 1707 Treaty of Union. To do that, the suspended parliaments require re-call.
John J G McGill,
25 Wallace View,
I am well aware of the difference between an international treaty and an act of Parliament, and am careful never to conflate the two as others sometimes do.
The Treaty of Union was a negotiated agreement between representatives of the Scottish and English parliaments to establish one unified Parliament within one united Kingdom by the name of Great Britain. Each of the existing parliaments then passed separate Acts of Union confirming their agreement to the terms and ratifying the treaty, before agreeing to suspend their separate parliaments indefinitely.
That is why the Scottish Parliament was simply "re-convened" on July 1, 1999, as Winnie Ewing famously stated. The English Parliament has never been re-convened but in theory it still exists. The Westminster Parliament is categorically not a continuation of the English Parliament, as it often behaves and many seem to think. Nor is the current Scottish Parliament merely a "satellite of Westminster", as Bill Brown mischievously suggests.
In many ways a treaty is rather like a marriage contract, where either the husband or wife can seek to end it by divorce and the other party cannot ultimately prevent this.
What happens is that, before or after the formal divorce, the two parties must negotiate and agree the division of the assets and liabilities of the marriage and the sharing of joint responsibilities such as mortgages and other contracts in joint names. On a much larger scale, exactly similar negotiations will have to take place if next year's referendum produces a Yes vote.
Iain AD Mann,
7 Kelvin Court, Glasgow.
I INTENDED to write in support of the letter by Iain AD Mann and agree that the English do not understand the Union at all (Letters, January 30).
The point I wanted to make was that when the churches reformed their ecumenical councils in the early 1990s, the English simply did not get it. There was to be the Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CCBI) with national councils for Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The English did not think they should have one. Likewise, with devolution, when Scotland and Wales were given their own parliaments, the English did not think they should have one then either. They seem not to understand themselves as a nation within the Union.
What finally made me overcome my lethargy and write this letter was watching the Calcutta Cup rugby match between England and Scotland last Saturday. I have no complaint about the result, though I thought our boys did well, but I do have two other complaints.
The first was the arrogant singing of "God save our gracious Queen" as if it were the English national anthem.
The second was the ignorant wrapping of English supporters in the Union flag, as if it were their national flag. Do they not realise if Scotland votes to leave the Union, there will be no Union, and thus no Union flag?
I should say I am not a Nationalist and am unlikely to vote Yes, but I do understand it is the way Westminster has dealt with Scotland ever since the Second World War and it has fed the demand for independence.
Rev John Harris,
68 Mitre Road,