2 Unanswered questions |
4. While this list is not exhaustive, it indicates
the scale and complexity of the issues which need to be resolved.
Many relate to specific policy areas- where the answers would
most likely vary according to which political party or parties
formed a Government in a separate Scotland. While it is fair to
raise these questions, as they will be crucial to voters in determining
which party they might vote for in any Scottish General Election
post- separation, the main structural and institutional issues,
which will form the constitutional architecture of a post-separation
Scotland, are more pressing in terms of enabling the electorate
to make a choice on how they would vote in a referendum on Separation,
and will therefore be our focus.
5. While questions relating to the process and
mechanics of the referendum itself are the subject of a separate
inquiry, several of the submissions we received raised questions
in relation to the referendum- which are worth noting here. Correspondents
1) Should there be more than one question on
the ballot paper?
2) Should there be a minimum threshold for voter
3) If the referendum is a mandate to negotiate,
would a second referendum be required in order to allow the Scottish
people to accept/ reject the package?
6. Many questions were raised in relation to
finance: both in terms of the costs of establishing a separate
Scotland, and what the potential fiscal and monetary policy of
a separate Scotland would be. Key questions include:
1) What is Scotland's share of the national debt?
2) How would North Sea oil revenues be defined
3) Would Scotland retain the use of Sterling?
If so, would it be fiscally independent?
4) Would there be a Scottish Central Bank?
5) Can the population of Scotland produce sufficient
tax revenue to sustain a separate Scottish economy?
6) What would be Scotland's credit rating?
7) What is the income derived from Scottish exports,
and how much does Scotland pay for imports?
8) What is the potential impact, in both the
immediate and longer term, of constitutional uncertainty on inward
investment into the UK as a whole, and Scotland specifically,
in the period before a referendum?
7. In addition to these major economic issues,
many questions were also raised concerning specific policy issues
in relation to fiscal policy, for example, whether the Scottish
Government would meet existing UK Government state and public
sector pension commitments. A range of questions were also raised
in relation to potential levels of income tax, national insurance
contributions, corporation tax, road tax, fuel duty, VAT and welfare
benefits in a separate Scotland.
8. The primary focus of concern expressed in
relation to the defence of Scotland was the question of whether
Scotland would have separate armed forces, and if so, how they
would be constituted, configured, funded and equipped. Correspondents
were specifically concerned about jobs, contract and defence procurement.
Questions were also raised in relation to the type of role Scottish
Forces would have. A further issue raised was whether Scottish
citizens would, or could, continue to serve in English, Welsh
and Northern Irish regiments, and vice versa. Scotland's position
in relation to international organisations, for example, NATO
and the United Nations, also remains unclear.
9. Uncertainty was expressed as to how the scale
and nature of any Scottish defence estate would be established.
Would the Scottish defence estate be configured on the basis of
a proportion of the UK's defence estate, or based on another formula?
Questions were also raised as to how Trident would be managed
- and what the future might hold for Faslane and Coulport. Finally,
correspondents raised issues around Scottish border controls and
10. The main constitutional issues raised related
to the Monarch's status as the Head of State, and whether Scotland
would be a Commonwealth country. Questions were also raised as
to the practical nature of the relationships between Scotland
and the remainder of the UK:
1) Will a passport be required to travel?
2) Will Scottish citizens have free access to
NHS services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and vice
The broader issue of the consequences of the Separation
of Scotland for the constitutional status of the remainder of
the 'UK', and specifically whether the constitutional relationships
between England, Wales and Northern Ireland would need to be re-configured,
was also identified.
11. Many correspondents raised questions as to
the future of existing UK wide institutions in Scotland. For example,
there was uncertainty as to whether the BBC would remain as the
main public broadcaster in Scotland. Similar questions were raised
in relation to other organisations such as the Royal Mail and
the NHS, and shared standards and regulatory bodies.
12. Finally, a number of questions were raised
in relation to Scotland's relationship with the European Union:
1)Would Scotland automatically become a Member of
the EU, or would it have to apply through the normal membership
procedures for candidate countries?
2) Would adopting the Euro and Schengen be conditions
3) Would Scottish membership of the EU (and potentially
the Euro), be subject to a referendum?
13. Having identified these
key questions, we will shortly begin a series of evidence sessions
which will explore these issues in greater depth - and will report
on each of these in due course. We recommend that, as a matter
of urgency, the Secretary of State for Scotland, first; takes
responsibility for clarifying the UK Government's position on
appropriate matters, by co-ordinating work across the Cabinet,
and second; undertakes to work with the Committee to provide a
joint provision of factual and unbiased information to the people
14. We also recognise that other Select Committees
might wish to examine possible impacts arising from the break-up
of the United Kingdom. While they will mainly, and properly, be
concerned with the departmental and policy consequences of Separation
upon the rest of the United Kingdom, we would welcome their help
both in identifying issues which will need to be resolved as part
of any 'divorce' settlement, and in identifying those matters
which we may have overlooked. Accordingly, we will approach the
Liaison Committee to ensure that any such inquiries are established
in as helpful and constructive a manner as possible.
15. Similarly, in a spirit of mutual respect
and co-operation, we would expect the Scottish Government to provide
such answers as it has already formulated to the questions that
have been raised and to work with us, and others, to shed light
upon knowns, unknowns and all variations thereof.
16. The people of Scotland will soon be invited
to make a historic decision. We recognise our role and duty, as
the Select Committee responsible for all matters Scottish, to
work on behalf of Parliament, our electorate and the Scottish
people, to ensure that the choices are clear, the vote is fair
and the issues are understood.