Scottish Affairs CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by Rt Hon Michael Moore MP, Secretary Of State For Scotland

We welcome the decision by the Scottish Affairs Committee to open its inquiries into a possible independence referendum and the implications if Scotland were to leave the United Kingdom.

The Government agrees with the Committee that Scotland separating from the rest of the UK would be a major step and that both the proposals for a referendum and the implications of leaving the United Kingdom warrant full, open and detailed investigation.

This Government believes it is for the people of Scotland to decide their constitutional future, but we also believe that Scotland is best off as part of the United Kingdom. We share a common heritage, outlook and set of values, whilst at the same time retaining our distinct cultural traditions. Our partnership delivers economic security, international influence and better prospects for Scotland. The United Kingdom is a successful enduring partnership which delivers stability and prosperity to all of its constituent parts.

The Government believes that there are a considerable number of issues to be resolved before the Scottish public could be asked reasonably to decide on the future of Scotland within the United Kingdom. As your call for evidence acknowledges, in my speech to the David Hume Institute I highlighted six important areas where people in Scotland should be given clarity:

1.What regulation would be applied to our banks and financial services and who would enforce it?

2.Which currency would Scotland adopt and how could entry and influence be guaranteed?

3.How would Scotland’s membership of international organisations—including the EU—be assured?

4.What would be our defence posture and the configuration of our armed forces?

5.How many billions would Scotland inherit in pension liabilities and who would pay for future pensions?

6.How much would Independence cost—what is the bottom line?

These are six important questions, but there are many others for the Scottish Government to answer before we have anywhere near the clarity on what an independent Scotland would look like.

The Government believes that devolution within the United Kingdom offers the best arrangement for people in Scotland. As the Government is demonstrating through its delivery of the Scotland Bill, we are committed to strengthening devolution in Scotland. The Scotland Bill will result in the largest transfer of fiscal powers since the creation of the United Kingdom, bringing real financial responsibility and accountability to the Scottish Parliament. The measures in the Scotland Bill are significant; they will take detailed work and engagement from both the UK Government and the Scottish Government to deliver them successfully.

The Government is committed to engaging with the Committee’s important work on this issue and looks forward to providing detailed evidence once the Committee has clarified its areas of focus.

November 2011

Prepared 4th May 2012