Scottish independence: constitutional implications of the referendum - Constitution Committee Contents


The House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution, chaired by Baroness Jay of Paddington, is beginning an inquiry into the constitutional implications for the remainder of the United Kingdom of the transition to independence for Scotland in the event of a "yes" vote in the referendum on 18 September 2014. The committee invites interested organisations and individuals to submit written evidence as part of the inquiry.

In November 2013 the Scottish Government published their white paper Scotland's Future: Your Guide to an Independent Scotland. This sets out a timetable, if there is a "yes" vote on 18 September 2014, for full independence for Scotland from 24 March 2016, ahead of the scheduled Scottish Parliament election in May 2016.

Independence for Scotland would have a significant constitutional impact on the remainder of the UK. The committee will be seeking to inform debate on these matters through its inquiry and report.

The committee is seeking written submissions on the following questions, which are predicated on there being a "yes" vote:


Is the timetable of independence by 24 March 2016 realistic?

Who would negotiate for the remainder of the UK? To whom would they be accountable?

What impact would the timing of the UK general election in May 2015 have on negotiations?

What happens if the two negotiating teams cannot reach agreement on an issue?

Assets and liabilities, and shared services

What legal principles should apply to negotiations on the apportionment of assets and liabilities that are currently UK-wide?

What are the constitutional implications of maintaining services shared between Scotland and the rest of the UK (for example, the Bank of England and those services listed on page 364 of the Scottish Government's white paper)?


What would the position of MPs for Scottish constituencies be from May 2015 to March 2016?

What impact would independence have on the House of Commons if the MPs for Scottish constituencies left it in March 2016?

What impact would independence have on the membership of the House of Lords?

What legislation (or other measures) would the Westminster Parliament have to pass in order for Scotland to become independent?

The committee's inquiry is focused. It will not cover the issue of an independent Scotland's membership of the European Union nor other aspects of its international relations. Nor will the committee examine the internal constitutional arrangements of an independent Scotland or the constitutional implications of a "no" vote (for example on devolution). The committee may turn to these or other related matters in due course.

The committee understands that under public international law institutions of the United Kingdom would, in the event of Scottish independence, become institutions of the remainder of the UK. The UK's assets and liabilities would fall to be apportioned equitably between Scotland and the remainder of the UK, subject to negotiations. An exception to the latter point is that Government assets fixed in Scotland would become assets of the new Scottish state. The committee invites those giving written evidence to comment on the above.

Written evidence is sought by 28 February 2014. Public hearings are expected to be held in March 2014. The committee aims to report to the House, with recommendations, around Easter 2014. The report will receive a response from the Government and is expected to be debated in the House of Lords.

You need not address all the questions. The committee would welcome other relevant views which you think the committee should be aware of.

You may follow the progress of the inquiry at:

previous page contents

© Parliamentary copyright 2014