The Committee’s work on the proposed separation referendum will be at the centre of its timetable over the next weeks.
There will be two main strands:
Process of the referendum
The first will look at the process of the referendum: the relationship between the two Parliaments and the legal powers regarding a referendum; the question of the structure and content of any question or questions to be put in a referendum and the experience of other countries.
A key element of this first strand is establishing the framework for relations between the Scottish and UK Governments; establishing the role and mandate of each of the Westminster and Scottish Parliaments in making the arrangements for the referendum. The Committee expects to work closely with the Secretary of State for Scotland in this strand of the inquiry.
The exact details of evidence sessions will be announced shortly. Witnesses for the first strand of inquiry will include the Secretary of State for Scotland, the Electoral Commission, representatives of other countries where referenda have been held such as Canada and New Zealand and key constitutional experts.
Substance of the issues
The second strand will examine the substance of the issues which require to be clarified or determined before any meaningful decision can be made on separation: questions about currency, bank regulation, national defence, the costs of separation, national pensions, citizenship, and more.
The Committee has already undertaken a brief consultation, with the co-operation of the Daily Record, seeking views from people in Scotland as to the issues on which they require further information.
Next week, on Wednesday 15 February, the Committee will publish a short report laying out the questions to be addressed in this second strand of the inquiry. Media advances of the report can be obtained from Jessica Bridges-Palmer – 07917 488 489.
The Committee intends to hold a series of evidence sessions in Scotland and in Westminster. It has written to the Presiding Officer at Holyrood, requesting the use of rooms there for oral evidence sessions as appropriate.
The Committee is also seeking to meet with national broadcasters in England and Scotland, starting with the BBC, to discuss how to ensure fair and balanced coverage of the separation debate.
The committee will continue to progress its work on a series of other matters:
- The Crown Estate – it is hoped to launch this report in early March;
- Health and Safety in Scotland – work is underway in drawing up the final report, which it is hoped will be produced in April;
- A Robust Grid - the final evidence session will be held today and it is hoped a report will be produced within four weeks.
Committee Chair Ian Davidson MP said,
“This is a heavy workload for the Committee, but at such an interesting time for political and constitutional life in Scotland, it is essential that the Scottish Affairs Committee holds the Westminster Government to account on all these matters and participates fully in Scottish political debate.”
- Copies of the letter to to the Presiding Officer at Holyrood are available from Jessica Bridges-Palmer firstname.lastname@example.org or 07917 488 489.
- Advance media copies of the report will be available Tuesday 14 February 2012 from Jessica Bridges-Palmer email@example.com or 07917 488 489.
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