Scottish Affairs CommitteeFurther written evidence submitted by Rt Hon Michael Moore MP, Secretary of State for Scotland

Scotland’s Constitutional Future: a Consultation Document on Facilitating a Legal, Fair and Decisive Referendum

Today the Government published a consultation document to seek views on facilitating a legal, fair and decisive referendum. I have provided a copy of the consultation document to you and to all members of the Scottish Affairs Committee.

The consultation document sets out the Government’s clear view that it is not within the powers of the Scottish Parliament to legislate for a referendum on independence. It is our view that any referendum on independence brought forward by the Scottish Government would be likely to be challenged in court and that the Scottish Government would lose.

The consultation document makes clear our view on the legal position. However, we are equally clear that we will honour our commitment not to stand in the way of a referendum.

Our consultation document sets out the options for legislating on a referendum. We make clear that our preference is to provide the Scottish Parliament with the powers to hold a referendum that is capable of inspiring the trust and confidence of people on either side of the independence debate. To do this we must first ensure the legal basis for a referendum. Secondly, we must ensure that is conducted in a fair way and, finally, we must ensure that a referendum is decisive, to end the current uncertainty that is damaging Scotland.

This document is relevant to the two inquiries of the Scottish Affairs Committee related to the Referendum on Separation for Scotland and I look forward to engaging with the Committee on this document further.

January 2012

Prepared 4th May 2012