Committee welcomes Scottish Government’s change of position on referendum question

31 January 2013

The Scottish Affairs Committee today welcomes the decision of the Scottish Government to accept the recommendation made by the Committee.

The decision, to drop the leading “do you agree” from the beginning of the question for the referendum on Separation, was also endorsed by the Scottish Electoral Commission.

The Committee had argued that the Scottish Government’s proposed question, “Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?" was biased in that it would tend to lead people to a "yes" answer. The Electoral Commission’s proposed question “Should Scotland be an independent country?" is inherently fairer.

The Committee is also pleased that the Scottish Government in taking this step appears to be recognising the Electoral Commission’s proper role as honest broker in the run up to the referendum, as the Committee has recommended.

Ian Davidson MP Chair of the Committee said;

“I am pleased that the Electoral Commission has endorsed the conclusion of the Scottish Affairs Committee that any question beginning "do you agree..." is a biased question, and that the SNP have finally accepted this. it's a pity it took so long for them to do so, but Scots can now move on from these arguments about process to consider the real choice facing us: separation or staying within the UK. The sooner we can make an informed, fair choice the better.

“We are also pleased that the Scottish Government has reversed its previous position and accepted the Electoral Commission’s recommendations on funding the referendum campaign. These are not exactly as we would have recommended but we have always said that the recommendations of this neutral body must be accepted by all sides.

“We welcome the Electoral Commission’s recommendation that voters should have as much info as possible about the consequences of Separation. It’s up to the Scottish Government to set out what they believe it would really mean for the Scottish people and we hope the UK Government will also provide the voters with this information.”

“We are inviting the Electoral Commission to give evidence on these matters.”

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