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Government accepts all Electoral Commission recommendations

30/01/2013

The Scottish Government today confirmed it will accept all of the Electoral Commission recommendations on the referendum question and campaign spending limits.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was delighted with the recommended question - ’Should Scotland be an independent country? Yes/No’ – and confirmed that it will be this question that is put before the Scottish Parliament.

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The question to be asked

The Deputy First Minister also said she was satisfied with the recommended spending limits as they provide a level playing field for both sides of the debate.

In line with established practice in referendums throughout the UK, the Scottish Parliament will take the final decision on the wording of the question and campaign spending limits as part of its consideration of the Referendum Bill, which will be introduced in March.

Ms Sturgeon also welcomed the Electoral Commission’s calls for clarity around what a ‘No’ vote will mean for Scotland and its recommendation that the Scottish and UK governments work together to give clarity to the process that will follow a 'Yes' vote. She called on the UK government to accept these recommendations.

Ms Sturgeon said:

“I would like to thank the Electoral Commission for the work they have done on testing our proposed referendum question and giving advice on campaign spending limits. I am pleased to confirm we will accept their recommendations in full.

“I am particularly delighted with the conclusion the Electoral Commission has reached on the question. While its view is that our proposed question was clear, simple and easy to understand, I am nevertheless happy to accept their recommended change.

“Their advice is based on rigorous testing and we will submit the Electoral Commission’s recommended question – ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’ – to the Scottish Parliament as part of the Referendum Bill.

“I am also pleased with the spending limits proposed by the Electoral Commission - they deliver a level playing field and will allow a fair and balanced debate on both sides.  I am also pleased that the Commission has modified the position set out in their response to our consultation in March, as this would have resulted in an imbalance between the two sides of the campaign.

“We have always said that Scotland’s referendum will be run to the highest international standards of fairness and transparency, and the Electoral Commission plays a vital role in that.

“The Scottish Parliament will take the final decision on the wording of the question and campaign spending limits as part of its consideration of the Referendum Bill which reinforces that this is truly a referendum made in Scotland.

“I also welcome the Electoral Commission calls for both the Scottish and UK Governments to clarify what process will follow the referendum if most voters vote ‘Yes’ or most voters vote ‘No’ vote.  The Electoral Commission rightly point out this is in line with the Edinburgh Agreement. 

“I have been calling for the UK Government to enter discussions to allow the voters to be better informed, but so far they have refused.  This would not be pre-negotiation on the terms of independence but vital information for voters that will allow them to make an informed choice in autumn 2014.  Given the Scottish Government is accepting all recommendations from the Electoral Commission I would hope that the UK Government is prepared to do the same.”