Constitution Secretary Mike Russell told MSPs on Wednesday that he still planning on bringing the legislation to the Chamber before dissolution on March 25 for the election campaign.
Answering a question from Scottish Conservative MSP Jeremy Balfour on the Bill’s timing, Mr Russell confirmed the Scottish Government “will publish a draft independence Bill as announced in the programme for government, before the election recess begins”.
Mr Balfour said the Bill was “completely irresponsible” and urged Mr Russell to focus on “Covid recovery and getting businesses back on their feet, supporting people into work and investing in our schools to help children catch up with so much lost teaching time”.
But Mr Russell said his “urgent priority” was to make sure Scotland recovered from the pandemic, but “that has to be done by what the Scottish people choose rather than what Boris Johnson chooses – that’s the big difference”.
"I would rather rebuild Scotland in a way that’s commensurate with the people of Scotland’s urgent necessities rather than Boris Johnson’s obsessions,” he said.
Scottish Labour’s Colin Smyth asked if Mr Russell believed the priority was to focus on Covid recovery, why he believed a referendum could be held this year.
Mr Russell replied: “The urgent necessity is for Scotland to build forward to give Scotland a sustainable future. That cannot be done by a UK Government and I’m disappointed the Labour Party still believes it can.”