Scottish independence referendum: Michael Moore makes Commons statement
As the Westminster Government sets out its plans to give Holyrood temporary powers to hold a legally binding referendum on Scottish independence - which the Scottish National Party may reject - the political debate rages on.
• Scottish Secretary to make Commons statement on legal status of a referendum
• SNP to publish consultation document in response to “unacceptable” Westminster intervention
• Danny Alexander says the UK Government wants to avoid “legal wrangling”
• Click refresh for the latest updates
18.00: Mr Moore is still taking questions from MPs. Meanwhile, Alex Salmond has told Sky News that he sees the date of the referendum as 2014.
17.50: Mr Moore appears to rule out the case for Scots in England and elsewhere voting in the referendum: “It’s important that it’s the people in Scotland who have the vote.”
17.46: In response to a question about 16 and 17-year-olds voting, Mr Moore says that he finds it strange that the basis for the voting age in the UK and Scottish elections is not sufficient. But, he adds, “let’s have the debate”.
17.45: Mr Moore says that “only through the neutrality, the independence and the experience of the Electoral Commission” can the referendum take be seen to be above question.
17.40: The SNP’s Pete Wishart congratulates Prime Minister David Cameron for the “clumsy” way he handled the independence issue which was driving thousands more people to support the Nationalist cause.
17.39: Scottish Labour’s Anas Anwar says that it is no longer Alex Salmond’s or the SNP’s referendum but Scotland’s referendum, and calls on all of Scotland to get involved in the issue.
17.37: Mr Moore says he wants to get rid of the “uncertainty” over the Union and “get on with the debate”. He adds that there has been no definition over what devo-max may be.
17.35: Asked whether the English should have a say on the future of the Union, Mr Moore replies: “It is important that the people of Scotland get to decide on their place in the Union, and when they do I am confident that they will choose to remain within it.”
17.32: Mr Moore says that the public will not thank the two Governments for “playing politics” over the matter. He says he is looking forward to meeting Alex Salmond soon.
17.30: Angus Robertson, the SNP’s leader in the Commons, asks why the Westminster Government is seeking to dictate the date, the terms and other conditions of the referendum.
17.25: Menzies Campbell of the Liberal Democrats asks why Nationalists are “unwilling to countenance a referendum now”? “Is that the Bravehearts are not so brave any more?”, he adds.
17.20: Labour’s Shadow Scottish Secretary of State Margaret Curran says the Electoral Commission should be the body which oversees the referendum.
17.15: Michael Moore reminds the House that under the 1998 Scotland Act the matter of the Union is reserved and cannot be decided by the Scottish Parliament, and that the coalition sees the need to hand the legal powers over a referendum to Holyrood.
Mr Moore says a consultation begins today on the referendum, and “the future of Scotland must not be discussed behind closed doors”.
More than just “legal”, Mr Moore says the referendum must be “fair and decisive” and “demonstrably above board”. It should be regulated by a body such as the Electoral Commission.
16.30: The Commons debate over the high-speed rail link is currently delaying Michael Moore’s statement.
16.00: After a keynote speech on London’s South Bank this afternoon, Labour leader Ed Miliband has said he would “definitely” get out to campaign against independence and is planning to visit Scotland “very soon”:
“I think a cross-party campaign will be led by people of grit and steel right across the political spectrum, but there are also people in the Labour Party who will be prominently involved in the campaign, including me.
“It’s about our shared economic interests, as the financial crisis showed, because together we were stronger against that crisis.
“Second, our shared institutions, everything from the NHS to the BBC, and thirdly, something else, a shared set of values.
“Let me just put it this way, people who are middle class in London care about poor people in Glasgow and people who are middle class in Glasgow care about poor people in London.”
14.00: Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s The World At One, Alex Salmond has dismissed claims that he wants the referendum to coincide with the anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn as “stuff and nonsense”:
“Whatever else the date may be, we are not going to hold it on Bannockburn Day. Nobody in the Scottish National Party seriously believes that the anniversary of Bannockburn is going to be a decisive factor in the Scottish referendum.”
11.05: Alex Salmond has announced that the Cabinet meeting this afternoon will discuss the finishing touches to a consultation document setting out the Scottish Government’s referendum proposals. The document will be published later this month, and will be subject to the normal period of public consultation.
Mr Salmond said:
“The UK Government is in a state of total confusion. Overnight, yesterday’s 18-month sunset clause had disappeared into the sunset; the coalition is riven with tensions; and Westminster is backtracking in the face of the massive thumbs down from opinion in Scotland to Tory interference in the Scottish democratic process.
“The issue is not Section 30 of the Scotland Act. The issue is the entirely unacceptable Tory attempt to impose London strings on Scotland’s referendum, from a Westminster government with absolutely no mandate for these matters.
“In stark contrast to Westminster’s disarray, the Scottish Government will continue with the orderly process of bringing forward the referendum in the second half of this parliament. And this afternoon the Cabinet will put the final touches to a consultation document setting out the Scottish Government’s detailed proposals for the referendum, which will be published later this month.”
10.00: Writing in today’s Scotsman, Peter Jones says it’s time to address the issue of Scotland’s post-independence credit rating:
“Would an independent Scotland get a top notch AAA credit rating? This fascinating new angle on the independence debate, unearthed by Bill Jamieson last week, earned a drearily familiar chorus: oh no it wouldn’t, says the independent market analyst; oh yes it would, shout all the nationalists in the cheap seats.”
9.30: Speaking on the radio this morning, Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander said that the Government was bringing forward proposals now in order to avoid years of legal wrangling between Holyrood and Westminster:
“We want to be reasonable about it rather than waiting for them to come forward with a plan and then entering into years of legal wrangling of the sort that happens in other countries where they have separatist movements trying to break up their country,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
He acknowledged that the timing of the referendum would be an issue which the Government would want to see debated in Scotland: “I think that jobs, investment and growth in Scotland are much more important than waiting for the anniversary of a medieval battle as the key that determines your timing for a referendum,” he said.
9.00: Scottish Secretary Michael Moore will tell MPs later today that the Coalition wants the vote to be held “sooner, rather than later” but he will not set a previously expected deadline of 18 months on the vote, Government sources have confirmed. It follows warnings that uncertainty about Scotland’s future in the United Kingdom is having a damaging effect on its economy.
8.45: Writing on The Steamie, scotsman.com’s politics blog, commentator David Torrance sees the situation between David Cameron and Alex Salmond as “a giant game of constitutional poker”:
“Would Salmond really be prepared to tell not only his own supporters (many of whom want a single-question referendum) but also the Scottish people not to take part in a referendum he himself proposes, just at a different time? I’m not sure that would wash. This debate is a Holyrood/Westminster bubble issue and a highly technical one at that. I can’t help feeling that most Scots, come the crunch, won’t much care who’s “controlling” the referendum. But in this particular game of poker, Mr Salmond has yet to reveal his hand.”
8.30: The Scotsman reports that the SNP may block an attempt to give the Scottish Parliament the powers to hold a legal referendum on breaking up the Union. While the First Minister had gone to ground in his Aberdeenshire East constituency and was not giving interviews, his spokesman gave a strong hint that the SNP would use its majority in Holyrood to veto a section 30 handover of powers if it has a sunset clause.
More on the referendum debate:
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: North west