Philip Rycroft on Brexit and the Union: what next for Scotland in the UK?

Philip Rycroft on Brexit and the Union: what next for Scotland in the UK?

Philip Rycroft, recently retired Permanent Secretary of DExEU, the Department for Exiting the European Union, gave a lecture at the David Hume Institute on “Brexit and the Union: what next for Scotland in the UK?”. 

Philip Rycroft worked at DExEU between March 2017 and March 2019, from October 2017 as Permanent Secretary. He was responsible for leading the department in all its work on the Government’s preparations for Brexit. From June 2015 to March 2019 he was head of the UK Governance Group in the Cabinet Office, with responsibility for advising ministers on all aspects of the constitution and devolution. 

The text of his lecture is available for download here:

An audio recording of the event will be uploaded here later this week.

First Minister's Reading List 2019 Launch

First Minister’s Reading List 2019 Launch

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The 2019 First Minister's Reading List was announced by Sally Magnusson and Jane-Frances Kelly at the Borders Book Festival.

The David Hume Institute is delighted to present its 2019 First Minister’s Summer Reading List. Bringing together some of the best recent writing from Scotland and beyond, the list is intended as a fresh way to stimulate debate about the state of the nation and the world. While the Institute does not endorse every view expressed in the books, they are all good reads, based on evidence and with something of significance to say. We hope the First Minister – or indeed any Scot – will find them thought-provoking and an enjoyable addition to their summer break. The publication can be downloaded below and explains the reasons behind the list and why we chose the specific books on this year’s list. We hope they provide some enjoyable, thought-provoking reading for your summer. 

2019 David Hume Lecture

2019 David Hume Lecture

The 2019 Annual David Hume Lecture was given by Darren McGarvey, Scottish writer, activist, social commentator and rapper ‘Loki’.

Darren grew up in Pollok, where he experienced the effects of extreme poverty and addiction, and was part of the Poverty Truth Commission hosted in Glasgow in 2009. He is also a community activist, encouraging young people to explore important issues through music and language. In 2015 he was the first ever ‘Rapper-in-Residence’ with Police Scotland’s Violence Reduction Unit.

Darren has written for the Scotsman, Holyrood Magazine and is a regular contributor to the BBC, STV and other national media. In 2018 he won the Orwell Prize for Poverty Safari, which also appeared in the David Hume Institute’s 2018 First Minister’s Summer Reading List.

This event was held in partnership with the University of Edinburgh Business School.

Please see below for the audio recording of this event.

Scotland's Evolving Fiscal Landscape

Scotland’s Evolving Fiscal Landscape

Dame Susan Rice, Robert Chote and Alyson Stafford spoke about how the Scottish Fiscal Commission and the Office of Budget Responsibility work both individually and together and the setting in which these institutions exist and operate.

Robert Chote has been Chair of the Office for Budget Responsibility since 2010, having been reappointed for a second five-year term in 2015. He also chairs the OECD’s network of parliamentary budget offices and independent fiscal institutions, as well as the external advisory group of the Irish parliamentary budget office. Previously, Robert served as Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies from 2002 to 2010, as a senior advisor at the International Monetary Fund from 1999 to 2002, as Economics Editor of the Financial Times from 1995 to 1999, and as a writer at the Independent and Independent on Sunday from 1990 to 1994. Robert is chair of the Royal Statistical Society’s advisory group on public data literacy. He is also a member of the Finance Committee of the University of Cambridge and the advisory committee of the ESRC Centre for Macroeconomics, and is a governor of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR).

Dame Susan Rice DBE has been Chair of the Scottish Fiscal Commission since 2014 and was reappointed for a further four years from July 2018. A Chartered Banker, Susan is, inter alia, Chairman of Scottish Water, President of the Scottish Council of Development and Industry, a non-executive director of J Sainsbury and the Banking Standards Board, and a lay member of Court of Edinburgh University. Susan is a published medical researcher and has previously served as senior Vice President at NatWest Bancorp in New York, dean at Yale and Colgate Universities, Chairman and Chief Executive of Lloyds TSB Scotland plc and Managing Director of Lloyds Banking Group.

Alyson Stafford CBE is Director General Scottish Exchequer, with responsibility for the overall Scottish Budget including tax, spending and measuring performance, and for advice, support and systems on finance and procurement. Alyson joined the Scottish Government in 2005, previously serving as Director General Finance and Director of Finance. Prior to joining the Scottish Government, Alyson led strategic, operational and corporate services in the Health Service in England and Scotland as a Chief Executive and Director of Finance.

Rolf Alter on Public Sector Productivity

Rolf Alter on Public Sector Productivity

Rolf Alter joined the David Hume Institute in a conversation about public sector productivity, discussing its macroeconomic significance, (failed) approaches to measuring it and its public policy and governance implications.


Dr Rolf Alter, an experienced economist, is a Senior Fellow of the HERTIE School of Governance in Berlin, and a member of the Advisory Board of the WEF Global Risk Report. This follows over 25 years at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris. He was Chief of Staff to the current OECD Secretary-General and was appointed Director of Public Governance in 2009, when he built a team of 200 staff to support governments around the world in improving their public sector performance for inclusive growth and the competitiveness of their economies. Dr Alter has also worked for the IMF in Washington, and for the German Ministry of Economy in Bonn. 

Dr Alter has a strong interest in research of empirical evidence and good policy practice in all areas of public sector governance, including institutional and regulatory reform, productivity, innovation, results-oriented budgeting, transparency, leadership and integrity. 

Dr Alter has a doctorate degree from the University of Göettingen, Germany. In 2016 he was awarded the O.P. Dwivedi prize by the IASIA for outstanding contribution to public administration and policy in the world. 

2018 David Hume Lecture

2018 David Hume Lecture

The 2018 David Hume Lecture was given by Professor Peter Mathieson, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh.

Peter Mathieson read Medicine at the London Hospital Medical College and was awarded a PhD from the University of Cambridge. Peter was the foundation Professor of Renal Medicine at the University of Bristol, and was also Director of Research & Development for the North Bristol NHS Trust and elected President of the Renal Association. In 2008 he was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Bristol. Peter was President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hong Kong from 2014 to 2018.

This event was kindly supported by the Faculty of Advocates.

Unfortunately, due to technical issues, audio for this event is not available.

Productivity Research Launch: Wealth of the Nation

Productivity Research Launch: Wealth of the Nation

This event was the launch of the David Hume Institute's latest research into Scottish productivity. The report was joint-funded by the Scottish Policy Foundation and Baillie Gifford, with modelling undertaken by the Fraser of Allander Institute.

After outlining Scotland's productivity challenge, the report aims to bring fresh insights to the Scottish economic policy debate by detailing five evidence-based stories of what has worked in comparable places. We want to set expectations for what can be achieved here in Scotland, whatever our constitutional future, by showing how it has been done elsewhere.

The launch features Professor Josef Konvitz, former head of regulatory policy at the OECD, and Professor Graeme Roy from the Fraser of Allander Institute in conversation with the author of the report, David Hume Institute Director Jane-Frances Kelly. 

Jesse Norman MP on Adam Smith

Jesse Norman MP on Adam Smith

Every day we hear about the evils of modern capitalism, from bent markets to corruption, inequality and the encouragement of selfishness. And more than anyone else, these evils are attributed to Adam Smith. Yet Smith was the very opposite of these things in his personal life. And his ideas, far from spawning the excesses of capitalism, show us how to understand and combat them.

Our present world faces huge challenges, including how to generate and sustain economic growth, how to deal with problems of globalization and escalating inequality, and how to create moral understanding across different communities of history, interest and belief. To understand and address these problems today, we need to return to the Scottish Enlightenment, and to Adam Smith.

Jesse Norman MP studied at Oxford, before completing a Masters and PhD in Philosophy at University College London. Before entering politics, he ran an educational project in Communist Eastern Europe and was a Director at Barclays. He has also been an Honorary Fellow at UCL, a Governor of the National Institute for Economic and Social Research, and a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford. His previous books include a celebrated study of Edmund Burke.

This event was held in partnership with Edinburgh University Business School. 

First Minister's Reading List Launch

This event was the launch of the inaugural David Hume Institute First Minister's Reading List.

The David Hume Institute is delighted to present its 2018 First Minister’s Summer Reading List. Bringing together some of the best recent writing from Scotland and beyond, the list is intended as a fresh way to stimulate debate about the state of the nation and the world. While the Institute does not endorse every view expressed in the books, they are all good reads, based on evidence and with something of significance to say. We hope the First Minister – or indeed any Scot – will find them thought-provoking and an enjoyable addition to their summer break. 

The event explains the reasons for compiling the list and why the specific books on this year's list were chosen. 

Lord Kerr on Brexit

Baron Kerr of Kinlochard was Ambassador and UK Permanent Representative to the European Union from 1990 until 1995, and Ambassador to the United States from 1995 to 1997. He was then Permanent Under Secretary at the Foreign Office and Head of the Diplomatic Service from 1997 until 2002. A household name due to his authorship of Article 50, Lord Kerr is a Trustee of the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, Chair of the Centre for European Reform and Deputy Chair of Scottish Power.

This event was held in partnership with Edinburgh University Business School