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Background Info

The Scottish Red ensign was in use by Scotland’s merchant vessels until the Red Ensign with the Union Flag was approved by Queen Ann a few years after the union of 1707, however it was not immediately superseded at this time and continued to be flown by Scottish vessels for many years after this date. Red Ensign itself did not become the flag of the British merchant fleet until 1864, when all the ships of the Royal Navy moved to the White Ensign, until then they flew the Red, White and Blue ensigns depending upon their station in the world.

My proposal does not intend that the Red Ensign will be superseded or replaced as the maritime ensign for merchant vessels in this country by the Scottish Ensign however, if approved, Scottish vessels will have the option of flying either the Scottish Red Ensign or the Red Ensign.

In recent years flag etiquette amongst leisure and small vessels around our coasts has deteriorated to the extent that on any day at sea you will see yachts and fishing vessels flying the Red Ensign, the Scottish Red Ensign, the Saltire, the Royal Standard or the Skull and Crossbones.   Approval of an ’informal or voluntary’ Scottish Red ensign may restore that etiquette and a sense of pride in a flag which served our Scottish Merchant vessels for hundreds of years.

The Scottish Red Ensign is currently being flown abroad by yacht owners without any reports of objection, requests for removal, or questioning by foreign authorities.

The letter I received from the Department of Transport seems to indicate that UK Parliamentary time would be necessary to take the matter forward at Westminster level.   However the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 specifies that the matter is a decision of the ‘Queen in Council or of the Secretary of State.’   If this petition is endorsed, as a member of the Privy Council would our First Minister not be in a position to have the matter taken forward as a matter for discussion by the Privy Council with a subsequent recommendation to Her Majesty?   Additionally if the Secretary of State for Defence has authority to approve a warrant, he or she surely must have delegated authority from the government to undertake this task thereby negating the need for Parliamentary time to deal with the matter. 

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