THIS PAMPHLET contains details of two broken treaties: the Treaty of Northampton (1328) which arranged for the return of the Stone of Destiny to Scotland, and the Treaty of Union of 1707, never ratified by the Scots Parliament who were afraid of a rioting populace.
The Union of Parliaments of Scotland and England in 1707 was forced through by English threats of armed action. England was involved in the War of the Spanish Succession. Weighted textbooks by men like Richard Pares make much of the Treaty opening English colonies to Scots trade. But England’s colonies of that time were few and impermanent. Scottish transatlantic cargoes are poorly documented, but the Union probably facilitated Scotland’s share in running slaves from Africa to the West Indies in exchange for rum and tobacco. It also allowed Scotsmen to register for the polite form of piracy known as privateering. Incisive minds like James Grahame in the cormorant passage of a poem written in 1806 and an English poet Erasmus Darwin have told us what they thought of that traffic.
The treaty of Union of Scotland and England is a disgraceful commercialist document. It should never be regarded as a Scottish “constitution.” It is so bad that some later alterations were actually improvements. No one ever defended Article XXII which gave Scots only 45 M.P.s in the House of Commons against the present 71 . Nevertheless the majority of the amendments to the Treaty have ridden roughshod over Scottish wishes.
The privileges of the Royal Burghs were secured under Article XXI, but in 1929 the smaller Burghs were subordinated to the more reactionary County Councils. At the same time moneyed men in many larger Burghs obtained a say in rural affairs which upset the customary Scottish balance between town and country. Again as W. H. Marwick points out in his Fabian pamphlet on “Scottish Local Government,” administration is passing into the hands of permanent officials. It is difficult to find independent personnel for the enlarged County Councils. Most Scottish Nationalists complain of concentration of power in Westminster and Whitehall; but, in the offices of local authorities and at Saint Andrew’s House in Edinburgh, Scotland has a too powerful bureaucracy with no representative bodies adequate to see that they do the will of the Scottish people.
IS THE UNION OF 1707 VOID?
An increasing number of Scots regard infringements of the Treaty of Union as having reached the stage where they annul the Union between Scotland and England. We should like to take the matter to the International Court of Justice at the Hague, but we are prevented from doing this on the ground that it is a matter of internal concern in Britain. It is also pointed out that it was a Scot, Ramsay MacDonald, as Prime Minister, who allowed the Local Government (Scotland) Act of 1929 to reach the Statute Book. It was the same Ramsay MacDonald who, in 1933, made a pact between Britain, France, Nazi Germany, and Fascist Italy, which left the small nations of Eastern Europe wide open to attack by Germany. John A. Lukacs has told the story with excellent documentation. Scotland and the small nations of Europe must get together against such centralisation. The International Court at The Hague should be prepared to discuss, if only in an advisory capacity, conflicts of principle as well as legalistic problems.
The many breakages of the Treaty of Union include: collective fines on the burgesses of Edinburgh, in 1736, after inequitable Customs regulations had provoked the Porteous Riots; the discontinuance of the Scottish Mint; re-introduction for a long period of lay patronage in the Church of Scotland; excessive taxation of Scots industries like linen and whisky; unfair subsidies to certain English crops such as wheat; transference to England of the trials of Scottish Jacobites like Dr. Archibald Cameron; removal of spies captured in Scotland to England for trial; introduction of the English law of Treason into Scotland; by-passing of the Scottish Lord Advocate by an English Government Department in the recent lifeboat disaster inquiry; designation of British monarchs by erroneous numerals, e.g. William IV, Edward VII, Edward VIII, and Elizabeth II, as if Scotland had fallen under subjection to Edward I who tried repeatedly to conquer Scotland and who was responsible for expelling the Jews from England in 1290; enforced use of Scottish soldiers outside Scotland; press-gang for the Navy; grant of extra-territoriality to American soldiers under the United States (Visiting Forces) Act, 1942; appointment till some years ago of Justices of the Peace in Scotland by the English Lord Chancellor.
Out of the original twenty-five articles of the Treaty, nine have been wholly repealed by the Westminster Parliament, and, five have been materially altered. In a book published in 1956, however, Professor T. B. Smith takes up the position that it would be “academic” to go to international arbitration at The Hague concerning Elizabeth Windsor’s wrong numeral in the E II R crest as used by the British Post Office in Scotland. See also “The Scotsman,” 3-5-1957, for his general views.
[British Newspaper Archive appears to only have the Scotsman up to the year 1850.]
After the destruction of her Parliament in 1707, Scotland, because of England’s wars, lost most of her trade with European countries. It was a time of poor harvests and risky foreign investments. But, in face of many hardships, the Scots concentrated on agricultural improvements and new industries were established based on coal, iron, wood, salt, ammonia, etc. Unfortunately the new capitalists often failed to pass on their profits to the workers, so that, though wealth was increasing, there was more social inequality than in preceding centuries.
– “Adapted from part of an article in ‘Europa Ethnica,” Vienna, vol. i, no. 1 (1958).”