The David Hume Institute is an independent, non-partisan, evidence-based policy institute that has been operating at the heart of Scottish policy debate for over 30 years.


Events that are open to all

We host thought-provoking events which bring together expert speakers and an informed, interested and engaged audience. Our speakers come from across the political spectrum, both nationally and internationally.


Research on some of the country’s most pressing challenges

We aim to produce original research with a strong emphasis on economic and education policy issues. Our research is independent and evidence-based and we share our ideas with policy makers from all sides of the political spectrum.

We take the perspective of the Scottish public rather than that of any interest group. To safeguard our independence, we receive no government funding and do not undertake commissioned work. We are rigorous in obtaining the best available evidence from our own data analysis and from published work.



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Jane-Frances Kelly


Jane-Frances Kelly returned home to Scotland after a nine-month secondment to Australia in 2004 evolved into an eleven-year stay. Based in Melbourne, she worked for the Victorian and Queensland Governments, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, and as senior adviser to the global public sector practice of the Boston Consulting Group. In 2010, Jane-Frances helped set up the Grattan Institute, which quickly established itself as Australia’s most prominent policy think tank. From 2010 to 2015 she directed Grattan’s Cities Programme, where her work resulted in substantial policy change at local, state and federal levels of government. Prior to Australia, Jane-Frances worked at the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit, where she provided evidence-based policy advice to the British Prime Minister and Cabinet. She holds a first class honours degree from Oxford University, a Masters in Public Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.




Sir John Elvidge, Chair of Trustees

Sir John is chairman of Edinburgh Airport Limited and holds a range of non-executive roles in the charitable and academic sectors. He is an Adjunct Professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University and an Associate of the Institute for Government. He does work as an expert adviser with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, as well as advisory work with several individual governments in Europe and elsewhere. His previous career was in the civil service and he was Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government from 2003 – 10.


Professor Alan Alexander

General Secretary of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Emeritus Professor of Public Sector Management, Strathclyde Business School. Founding Director, Scottish Local Authorities Management Centre, University of Strathclyde. Chair, Waterwise. Former Chair, Scottish Water and West of Scotland Water. Former Chair, Postwatch Scotland. Former Chair, DistanceLab Ltd. Former member, Commission on Local Government and the Scottish Parliament; Accounts Commission; Economic and Social Research Council.


Stephen Boyle

Director of Economics at RBS and a director of the Bank’s main pension fund. This is his second spell at RBS, having been Head of Business Economics from 1996 to 2001. He established FutureSkills Scotland in 2001.


Kyla Brand

Kyla Brand was until 2014 the Office of Fair Trading Representative for Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland. Previously she had a varied civil service career in (then) DTI, and roles in market research in the Gulf, and in corporate social responsibility. She is a Trustee of the Mental Health Foundation.


Laura Dunlop, QC

She has practised at the Scots Bar for 24 years abd been involved in a number of Public Inquiries, including Dunblane and the Fraser Inquiry into the cost of building the Scottish Parliament. Since 2005, she has held office as Procurator to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. At the beginning of 2009, Laura was instructed as Senior Counsel to the Penrose Inquiry into HIV and Hepatitis C from blood and blood products. Since November 2009, she has served as a part-time Law Commissioner, with responsibility for a project on adults with incapacity.


Owen Kelly, OBE

Owen Kelly is a doctoral researcher in philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, where he is also Director of Engagement at the Business School. From 2008 to 2015, he was Chief Executive of Scottish Financial Enterprise, the representative body for Scotland’s financial services industry. Before that, he worked for 20 years as a civil servant in London and Edinburgh. His key policy specialisms in government were EU and international relations; and communications. He spent 2 years in Tokyo in the 1990s, promoting Scotland as an investment location. Owen joined the government service in 1988, shortly after graduating from Shandong University with a diploma in Chinese language and from Edinburgh University with an honours degree, also in Chinese. He was awarded an OBE in 2016


Professor Donald MacRae, OBE, FRSE, FCIOBS

Former Chief economist Lloyds Banking Group Scotland and a past director of TSB Bank plc. Donald was appointed to the Board of Scottish Homes in 2002 and to the Board of Scottish Enterprise in 2004 where he chaired the economic policy committee until 2010. He has a visiting chair at the University of Abertay, Dundee and is a member of court of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Donald is a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, a board member of Interface and joined the board of Highlands & Islands Enterprise in 2014. He is an independent member of the Skills Committee of the Scottish Funding Council and Skills Development Scotland and a board member of the Social Growth Fund of Social Investment Scotland. He was awarded the OBE in 2012.


Jenny Stewart

Partner leading KPMG’s public sector and infrastructure businesses in Scotland. Jenny is also a member of the firm’s UK government business leadership team and its Global Infrastructure Group. Over the last 20 years, she has advised on complex financial advisory; change and infrastructure projects. Her early career was spent in the civil service on policy development in Whitehall and in Scottish Government. She has worked on secondment to the European Commission in Brussels. A Board member of the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh since 2009, she was previously Board member of Volunteer Development Scotland from 2008 – 2014 and a member of the CBI in Scotland’s public sector group from 2010 – 2013. Jenny is a fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA) and an affiliate member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.