Past Publications

Britain's Decision: Facts and Impartial Analysis for the EU Referendum

The book is edited by Ray Perman, former Director of the David Hume Institute and Charlie Jeffery, Professor of Politics at the University of Edinburgh and a Fellow of the Centre on Constitutional Change. It also contains chapters from Professors Michael Keating, Laura Cram, David Bell, Nicola McEwen and Aileen McHarg, among others. It also has a contribution from Andrew Wilson & Kevin Pringle, making the case to remain and from Brian Monteith, putting the case for Brexit.

The David Hume Institute has teamed up with The Hunter Foundation and the Centre on Constitutional Change to produce a free ebook to answer voters’ questions before the EU referendum on June 23. Britain’s Decision – Facts and Impartial Analysis, involves scholars socialising in European affairs from leading universities. They have identified 19 key questions that underpin the debate and they offer objective, independent analysis of these issues. The book is also available as a free download from and The Hunter Foundation

Elitist Scotland

Rt. Hon. Alan Milburn Chair, Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission

This report looks at the social background of the people who run Scotland, following up an earlier study carried out by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission looking at this issue for Great Britain as a whole. In partnership with the David Hume Institute and with the support of postgraduate researchers at the University of Edinburgh, we have examined the background of almost 850 leaders in politics, business, the media and other areas of public life in Scotland.

Alan Peacock dissenting…

In the year of the 30th anniversary of the David Hume Institute, it is a deep disappointment to be celebrating without the company of its founder, Sir Alan Peacock, who died last year at the age of 92. On the evidence of the friends and former colleagues who have contributed essays in his memory to new book about his life and work, he would have added culture and humour as well as intellectual stimulation to the occasion.

In the paper he wrote in 1983 proposing the foundation of a new institute he acknowledged that there was no shortage of such bodies already – both inside and outside universities. The gap in the market, he believed, was for an institute which would be independent of government funding, located outside London so that it could take a distinctively non-metropolitan view and unafraid to challenge established thinking.

In proposing that the new institute have ‘a firm intellectual foundation in the study of the links between economics and the law,’ he was not seeking to limit its scope. Indeed, as this book makes clear, his own interests were extraordinarily wide. He was a difficult man to categorise. He started his adult life as a Liberal, but quickly lost sympathy with the Liberal Party. He was an adviser to Labour ministers, but scathing about those who were unwilling to modify their views in the light of the evidence.

He was chosen by Mrs Margaret Thatcher to chair a committee looking at the financing of the BBC, but came back with an answer she neither expected nor wanted. Coming up with the ‘wrong answer’ was something of a Peacock specialism. He characterised the criticism of the cost of one study he undertook as ‘the survey would have been cheap at the price if it had come to the right conclusion.’ He refused to be a ‘gun for hire.’

He chose to name the institute after David Hume because he hoped it would live up to the principles of the great Enlightenment philosopher in ‘proportioning its beliefs to the evidence.’ Thirty years later we aspire still to live up to that principle and also to the standards of Alan Peacock.

The book, Alan Peacock dissenting… contains essays on Alan Peacock’s life and his work as an economist in government, on the constitution, civil justice, the arts, heritage and broadcasting and his role as an academic leader and mentor. A paperback edition is available to members of the David Hume Institute for the special low price of £4 (inc. p&p).

An electronic version can be downloaded free of charge here.

A Kindle version is available from Amazon.

Second Chamber Scottish Parliament

Hector L. MacQueen

This paper is a revised and updated version of an earlier one prompted by an interview with the then Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, Sir David Steel (now Lord Steel), published in The Scotsman on Boxing Day 2002. He indicated that he had, “in the light of experience”, come to favour having a form of second chamber in the Scottish Parliament.

Constructing Future Scotland: Rethinking Infrastructure Policies.

Professor Duncan Maclennan

Scotland has a good record in the way it procures big infrastructure projects – but that does not mean it can’t be improved. The long approval, planning and procurement cycle can mean that projects get bunched – leading to feast and famine and making it difficult for companies to plan and build up a skilled workforce.

Internationalising Business

Alf Young

Scotland likely to miss export target, but could learn lessons from the international success of Scotch Whisky

The Scottish Government has virtually no chance of meeting its target to increase exports by 50% by 2017, given the rate of progress to date, the weakening in 2013 and 2014 of Scotch Whisky exports already reported by the industry and the multiplying adverse and unpredictable headwinds blowing through the global economy.

This is one of the findings of a study on internationalising Scotland’s industry written by Alf Young, Visiting Professor, International Public Policy Institute, University of Strathclyde. The paper was commissioned by the David Hume Institute, sponsored by the Scotch Whisky Association, although the views expressed are Professor Young’s.

Inequality: What can the Scottish Government do?

David Bell and David Eiser

Inequality is now an issue of global interest. It is widely believed that inequality is increasing and that it is both a bad thing in itself and presents an obstacle to economic growth. This topic also played a key role in the election campaign. The Scottish Government has argued that additional fiscal powers will present it with the opportunity to slow down, or perhaps reverse, recent trends in inequality. This lecture explored the potential for the Scottish Government to influence patterns of inequality in Scotland, drawing on the worldwide debates on this issue. It presented new evidence on trends in inequality in Scotland and also placed Scotland’s policy options within the context of the differing approaches to dealing with inequality that are emerging.

Scotland’s Decision – 16 Questions to to think about for the referendum on 18 September

Charlie Jeffery, Ray Perman 2014

Should Scotland be an independent country? Choosing an answer to that question, as Scotland’s electors will on 18 September 2014, is a choice of huge significance. So how will we come to a decision? Many voters know more or less by instinct. Plenty of us are convinced that being independent is right and good for our country and not being independent is wrong. Plenty of others believe the opposite: that what is right and good is staying as part of the UK.

But there are more still – probably the biggest single group – who don’t have such conviction either way and are puzzling their way through what voting Yes or No might mean for them and their families. This book is for them. We have taken sixteen questions, which seem to us to be central to the referendum debate, and asked impartial experts to look at them. We do not aim to provide definitive answers – and we certainly do not intend to tell anyone how to vote – but rather to enable readers to better judge the claims that are made by either side.

HOP 99. Scottish Independence Issues and Questions : Regulation, Supervision, Lender of Last Resort and Crisis Management

HOP 99. Scottish Independence Issues and Questions : Regulation, Supervision, Lender of Last Resort and Crisis Management

Brian Quinn


A paper by the former acting Deputy Governor of the Bank of England considering a range of issues facing an independent Scotland including currency options, financial regulation, bank supervision and crisis management.

HOP 98. Outstanding Students and Philanthropic Contributions in Scottish Education

HOP 98. Outstanding Students and Philanthropic Contributions in Scottish Education

Lindsay Paterson


This research paper investigates ways in which outstanding students in all fields of study within the Scottish school education syatem could be identified and mentored. It examines how diverse sources of funding could be sought to help to change Scotland’s educational culture to once again have the reputation of not only providing opportunitites for everyone but also of fostering true individual excellence.

HOP 97. A New Union for Today’s World

HOP 97. A New Union for Today’s World

David Steel


Lord David Steel’s presidential address to the Instituteof 21 March 2013.At this fascinating stage in the constitutional development of Scotland and the UK what kind of union is in prospect? What kind of union is optimal? Lord David Steel, our Honorary President and a man with many decades of highly relevant experience spanningScotland, the UK as a whole, Europe, the Middle East, China and indeed most parts of the world, will outline his thoughts on the best form of balancing autonomy and devolution.

HOP 95. Instinct or Analysis; are they Choices for Scotland?

HOP 95. Instinct or Analysis; are they Choices for Scotland?

Ian Byatt

2012 Annual lecture by Sir Ian Byatt. This lecture brought together Sir Ian’s decades of experience as an influential economist with his respect for Hume and Adam Smith. In sum ‘My plan is to use my lifetime experience of practicing economics in government, in the Treasury, in other Government Departments, and as a water regulator, to draw out lessons, and tips, to guide those applying economics to issues of public policy, especially the issues facing Scotland today.’

HOP 94. Further Education, the Scottish Labour Market and the Wider Economy

HOP 94. Further Education, the Scottish Labour Market and the Wider Economy

Kristinn Hermannson, Ewart Keep, Patrizio Lecca, Jeremy Peat, Lesley Sutton, J Kim Swales

Three research papers on the role of Further Education colleges within the Scottish labour market and wider economy. Includes analysis of the College sector, finance vs benefits and the role of incentives.

HOP 93. Public Sector Remuneration in Scotland

HOP 93. Public Sector Remuneration in Scotland

David Bell, Stephen Boyd, Alex Bryson, Bob Elliott, Eddie Frizzell, Alastair Hatchett, Bill Howatt, David Londsdale,Jeremy Peat, David Watt

A collection of essays put together by Bob Elliott of Aberdeen University and David Bell of Stirling University covering the current and prospective position for decision making across components of the sector.

HOP 92. Performance Differences Across Local Authorities

HOP 92. Performance Differences Across Local Authorities

Lesley Sutton


“If the average UK public service provider was as efficient as the top quartile, there would be a 20% to 30% saving in the £250bn cost of most public services.” This paper explores the scope for improving the average performance across local authorities with practical examples of how this is achieved already with a KPMG case study.

HOP 91. Dialogues Concerning the Banking Crisis

HOP 91. Dialogues Concerning the Banking Crisis

Alistair Darling


Alistair Darling’s views on the banking crisis, the economic problems that ensued and their implications; including a Scottish perspective. As the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time of the crisis, he is ideally placed to provide an informed view. Given that we are now at some distance from the immediacy of the crisis, and it is a year since Mr Darling remitted office, the time is right for him to provide a considered view of events and their implications – for Scotland in particular – and the way forward.

HOP 90. Higher Education in Scotland: a critical topic

HOP 90. Higher Education in Scotland: a critical topic

David Bell, Anthony Cohen, Andrew Cubie, Ian Diamond, James Fraser, Jim Gallagher, Alan Langlands, Chris Masters, Gavin McCrone, Iain McMillan, Andrew Miller, Anton Muscatelli, Teresa Rees, Joan Stringer, Stewart Sutherland

A key topic in the campaign leading up to the Scottish Parliament elections in May 2011 there is growing concern that higher education in Scotland needs reform and is at risk as a result of the changes to funding in England and other parts of the UK. These 16 essayswhose authors include economists, university principals and other informed parties cover a broad spectrum of issues and proposals not only the question of funding.