John Major has said he doesn‘t believe constitutional questions are a talking point in the constituencies around Britain. but Linlithgow MP Tam Dalyell is rnakirtg sure that. in Scotland at least. they could be.
By resurrecting his famous ‘West Lothian question’ — which argues that Scottish MPs in Westminster can't expect to inﬂuence English policies if a devolved parliament is established irt Edinburgh — Scotland‘s constitutional position looks likely to beconte a big
issue irt Westminster during 1995. if so,
the announcement of constitutional reform group Chatter 88‘s ‘Citizens‘ Enquiry' begins to look like neat timing.
The proposed Citizens’ Enquiry. which will be launched in Edinburgh. Glasgow and London next week. is intended to focus the public's mind on the idea of a Bill of Rights. Throughout I995 it aims to canvas opinion on devolution. justice. government accountability and electoral reform. with individuals and special interest groups encouraged to contribute by ﬁlling out detailed questionnaires. The views will be incorporated into a Great
Public t be polled on written consition
The Citizens’ Enquiry: stimulating a consitutional debate
Reform Programme. a document that Chatter 88 has ambitioust likened to
the Magna Carta of 1215. which would be ltanded to the nest (ioverrttttent as the basis for introducing a written constitution.
‘hi the past any sort ofdiseussion about the constitution has been frortt the top down.‘ says lidinburgh group organiser Andrew Burns. ‘We're trying to do it from the bottom tip so we can come w ith practical solutions. There will be no block on political involvement bttt we don't want it to be hi-jacked by politicians.‘
The idea has been two years iii the planning. but the co-ot‘dinator reckons that Tam Dalyell's intervention artd 'l'lte (iuanlian's recent debate about Britain as a post-rttonarchy ‘New Republic'. has pttt constitutional issues at the top of the agenda for the new year.
breakouts between prison service and Home Secretary, will also be emphasising dttring the Citizens‘ linqttiry. ‘We‘re hoping that we cart build on the upsurge in opinion going
this way.‘ says Burns. ‘The Government‘s credibility problems and the growth of quangos are coming to the fore. We hope that if we can get mass involvement this can become a
3 major issue iii the run-up to the next
Adding weight to the idea that constitutional questions in Scotland should be kept separate from party politics will be the first meeting of the
Scottish Civic Senate in Edinburgh in
March. Converted by the Coalition for Scottish Democracy, the Senate is
intended to ‘act as a voice for civic
society in Scotland’ by representing trade unions. businesses. community groups. Local Government and the Church. Westminster MPs. however. will be confined to the sidelines. (Eddie Gibb) .
. The Citizens' [inquiry is launched in (‘oncern over lack of accottrttability of ' quangos. highlighted by shuffling of responsibility over the l’at‘khurst
Glasgow on Wednesday 25 January at the Meeting House. 38 [Slinbank
: Creseent at 7.30pm. The Edinburgh launch is on 'l‘lrarsday 26 January at
the Friends Meeting House. 7 Victoria 'l'erraee at 7. 30pm. Details of Cltarter
: 88 groups can obtained on 017/ 833 3 58/3.
Sex, pies and dinner plates
Ben Elton, that chronicler of communal living, once did a sketch about sharing a flat with a couple.
While you’re on your third Cup-a-Soup'
of the day the flat couple are sitting down to ‘really together’ meals like spag bol. When they’re finished, the left-overs go into a bowl which is covered in Cling-Film and popped into the fridge.
Is that the reality of chowing down as a couple? As part of a nationwide study of the nation’s eating habits, researchers at Glasgow and Edinburgh universities have set about finding out. But first they need to find some couples who have just started living together so they can study changes in eating habits and the significance food has in a relationship.
‘We’re interested in changes in diet and the mechanisms behind change,’ explains research sociologist Dr Deborah Kemmer. ‘Logically, if you have two adult individuals whose eating habits are already established,
«S i a; v’ ‘
when you get them eating together,
there are bound to be changes.’
The research project will also look at changing eating habits among the Pot Noodle generation. ‘Do people still think that unless you have meat and two veg in the evening meal then you’ve not eaten properly?’ asks Kemmer. ‘And snacking too. Is it just
Snack attack: dinner chez Ilesbitt teenagers who are into snacking and, when people settle down, do they become all grown up and start having proper meals?’ (Rory Weller)
Couples planning to start living together from April who would be interested in taking part in the study should contact Deborah Kemmer on 031 2281484.
l Glasgow gallery proposal The consultation period for the proposed National Gallery of Scotland in Glasgow is now underway. lfyou're reading this in Glasgow on Tlturs 12 Jan. then you might still have time to get down to the Bute Hall. Glasgow University. University Avenue for a public meeting which starts at 7pm to discuss the various options. The Trustees of the National Galleries of Scotland are looking for public input into the consultation process and have produced an ‘Options Brochure‘ which is available from them at 13 Heriot Row, Edinburgh. EH3 6HP. or phone 0131 229 2844. All comments on the options brochure should be with the Trustees by Wed 1 Mar. The Trustees are also willing to talk with any interested bodies in Edinburgh.
I Pollok Free State With Wirnpey Construction holding back from entering the construction site of the proposed M77 extension. the battle for Pollok Free State is in the phoney war stage. Taking their brief from the various Non-Violent Direct Action (NVDA) campaigns such as Twyford Down last year. the Free Staters are preparing themselves for action. NVDA training sessions take place at the Pollok Free State every Sunday and there is a Women's Action planned for Sat 14 Jan. People are needed to be at the proposed construction site every day. Contact Jake Hunter on 014] 636 1924 for further details. or contact the camp direct on their mobile phone: 0860 728 244. Pollok Free State is opposite the National Savings Bank on Barrhead Road irt Glasgow.
I Kill The Act The Coalition Against the Criminal Justice Bill (sic) — the Bill becante an Act last year — is holding a protest march in Edinburgh on Sat 21 Jan. Meet at Kings Stables Road at
l lam. ln Glasgow. the Scottish Alliance Against the Criminal Justice Bill holds meetings every Tuesday at 7pm at the City Chambers. George Square — enter by the side entrance. The Alliance can be contacted on ()141 552 1179.
I International Women’s Day Engender Glasgow is producing a programme of the events taking place in the city to mark International Women's Day on Wed 8 Mar. Anyone wanting an event included in the programme should contact Engender on 0141 424 3105 or 0141632 4486 as soon as possible. 30,000 copies of the programme will be produced with funding from the Glasgow City Council's Women's Unit which also has money available to fund events.
I If you have news of any events or courses which you want publicised in this column, please forward them to ‘Action’ at The List, 14 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1TE and include a day- time phone number.
For the best porky
prime cuts of 1995, read The list’s year ahead preview page 14.
The List 13—26 January 1995 5