Lords report says Westminster power prevails

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SCOTTISH voters should be asked a single question on independence in the referendum, a new report from a House of Lords committee has said.

The report also challenges the SNP Government’s legal right to take charge of the vote and says that there is a “compelling case” for the involvement of the Electoral Commission in overseeing the referendum to act as an “important constitutional check on executive power”.

The House of Lords Constitution Committee report – Referendum on Scottish Independence – also said that the “UK government is correct” in insisting that the Scottish Parliament does not have the legal power to stage an independence referendum without the assistance of Westminster.

It went onto say that all UK voters had the legal right to a say over devo max – or full economic powers for Holyrood – and said that the SNP could not include it as separate option in the referendum,

The report said: “There should be a single referendum question on independence. Whereas both the UK government and the Scottish Government have recognised that independence is a Scottish question, ‘devolution max’ is not.

“Proper constitutional process requires that negotiations involving all parts of the United Kingdom precede any referendum on an agreed scheme of ‘devolution max’.”

Labour’s shadow Scottish secretary, Margaret Curran, said the report “ups the pressure on the SNP” to clearly set out the terms of the referendum vote.

She added: “We need to settle the legality and procedures for the referendum as quickly as possible and move on to debate the real issue of substance, which is about whether or not it is in Scotland’s national interest to be a part of the United Kingdom.”

A spokesman for the First Minister said: “It is ridiculous that unelected peers in the House of Lords should try to dictate the terms of Scotland’s referendum – the issue of whether an additional powers option is included in the independence referendum is one to be determined by people in Scotland, through the Scottish Government’s consultation.”