Meeting of the Parliament 01 March 2012
Scottish Executive Question Time
The Cabinet Secretary for Parliamentary Business and Government Strategy (Bruce Crawford): We are consulting the people of Scotland on the nature of the referendum on independence. We are happy to listen to the views of the United Kingdom Government on that and we are ready to work with it to agree a clarification of the Scotland Act 1998 that would put the referendum effectively beyond legal challenge through an order under section 30 of the 1998 act.
However, the referendum on independence will be made in Scotland and therefore for the UK Government to attach any strings to it is not acceptable.
Gil Paterson: This week, another organisation was established to campaign for additional powers for the Parliament as a substitute for independence. Others said that there are lines in the sand that they would not cross, only to find them blown away with wind from the south. Is the Government open-minded about including such proposals in the forthcoming referendum should further detail on them be provided?
Bruce Crawford: We believe that it is right that the people of Scotland are able to determine the form of government that is best suited to their needs. That is why the Scottish Government’s consultation paper, published on 25 January, seeks views on the inclusion of a second question in the referendum.
As we have consistently said, the Scottish Government’s preferred policy is independence. However, we are willing to consider including a question about further devolution if there is sufficient support for such a move. It is simply a matter of listening to the democratic and sovereign voice of the people of Scotland.
Gil Paterson implies that the line in the sand has washed away. Alex Fergusson said this week that the line was meandering. Whichever it is, it is the Tories’ line in the sand. I see that Murdo Fraser is the only Tory here today—probably the Tory who, more than anyone else, supports more powers for the Scottish Parliament. I apologise to Mary Scanlon, who has just come into the chamber.
Patrick Harvie (Glasgow) (Green): Does the cabinet secretary agree that if an option such as devo plus were included on the ballot paper and endorsed in a referendum, the Scottish Government would find itself in a very weak negotiating position if the UK Government had not previously supported that devo plus or devo whatever option? In those circumstances, would the Government not find itself forced to compromise on a wide range of issues?
Bruce Crawford: Patrick Harvie raises an interesting point, but as we have made clear all the way through the process, what is important here is the voice of the people of Scotland, their sovereignty and what they want the future of Scotland to be. That is how we will decide what is on the ballot paper. That should be the determining factor at the end of the consultation process, depending on what the consultation says and on the contributions from other stakeholders. I will bear in mind Patrick Harvie’s point, though.
Tyre Dumping (Rural Areas)
Yourth Employment (Education and Training)
Economic Activity (Rural Areas)
Fire and Rescue Service (Location)
Carer Information Strategy (Funding)
Business Rates Incentivisation Scheme (Aberdeen)
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Meetings)
First Minister’s Question Time
Scottish Executive Question Time