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Referendum Bill passes

15th November 2013

Scotland Referendum.
Historic Parliament vote endorses independence choice.

The Bill to allow the people of Scotland to choose whether Scotland should be an independent country has been passed by Holyrood.

MSPs voted in favour of the Scottish Independence Referendum Bill following a final debate on the legislation this afternoon.

The Bill confirms that:

The people of Scotland will vote in a referendum on September 18th next year on the question: Should Scotland be an independent country?
The vote will be run to the highest international standards and will be overseen by the independent Electoral Commission.
The vote will be preceded by a 16-week formal campaign period.
The referendum will be conducted under the direction of a Chief Counting Officer responsible for appointing local Counting Officers to run the poll in local areas.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

This is a truly historic moment in Scotlands national story. It means that in September next year the people of Scotland will be asked whether they want this country to be independent.

This Government believes independence will benefit everyone in this nation, and that having decisions taken here by the people who live and work here will help us create a fairer and more prosperous society.

Later this month, we will publish the White Paper on independence, outlining in great detail the benefits and opportunities of having decisions made here in Scotland, for Scotland.

The Edinburgh Agreement confirmed that next Septembers referendum should be legislated for by the Scottish Parliament and that it should be conducted so as to command the confidence of parliaments, governments and people.

With todays vote, Holyrood has fulfilled that objective. It is a strong message that, whatever our political differences, we have agreed the rules and the procedure to be followed in the referendum. I hope we can continue in this spirit as we make our case for either outcome by committing to engage in a constructive and respectful debate.

People want to know what the gains of independence will be for their families and communities. We already take decisions here on a wide range of devolved issues, and these have led to real gains for communities all across Scotland. Independence is the next logical step in Scotlands Home Rule journey, and the passing of this Bill will allow people to have that choice.

Independence is not about this administration but about the right of the people of Scotland to choose a Government of our own.

Historic legislation will put Scotlands future in Scotlands hands.

The Bill to allow the people of Scotland to vote in a referendum on whether Scotland should be an independent country will today reach its final stage in the parliamentary process.

MSPs will vote on Stage 3 of the Scottish Independence Referendum Bill following a final Holyrood debate on the legislation this afternoon.

If passed, the Bill will confirm that the people of Scotland will vote in a referendum on September 18th next year on the question: Should Scotland be an independent country?

The Bill also confirms that, as previously outlined, the vote will be run to the highest international standards and will be overseen by the independent Electoral Commission.

The legislation follows the Edinburgh Agreement signed by both the Scottish and UK Governments which confirmed that it was for the Scottish Parliament to introduce the Bill, which sets out the details of how the referendum will be organised and regulated.

Speaking ahead of the Stage 3 debate, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

This is a historic moment in Scotlands Home Rule journey.

If passed by MSPs today, the Referendum Bill will put Scotlands future in Scotlands own hands for the first time in more than 300 years.

It is a special moment for any country to be given the opportunity to decide its own future in the peaceful democratic way we are doing now in Scotland, and that is something worth pausing and reflecting on as we reach this stage of the process.

This referendum will give the people of Scotland the power to decide what future we want for Scotland. It is the opportunity for all of us across Scotland to decide whether we want to make decisions on things like the economy and welfare here in Scotland and whether we represent ourselves and speak with our own voice in the wider world or have those decisions taken in Westminster.

In passing this Bill, we will be meeting our commitment in the Edinburgh Agreement to design and deliver a referendum in Scotland, for Scotland.

This is Scotlands referendum. And today is a truly historic moment in the history of our nation and in the story of Scotlands journey of self-determination.

The Edinburgh Agreement and the subsequent Section 30 order (agreed in the Scottish and Westminster Parliaments) confirmed that Holyrood had the power to hold a single question referendum on Scottish independence.

The legislation confirms that the referendum will be:

preceded by a 16-week formal campaign period, during which limits will apply to the amount of money any registered participant may spend on campaigning, aimed at ensuring a level playing field for both sides of the debate
overseen by the independent Electoral Commission, responsible for regulating the campaign rules, informing the public about the referendum and reporting to the Scottish Parliament on the conduct and administration of the referendum
conducted under the direction of a Chief Counting Officer responsible for appointing local Counting Officers to run the poll in local areas.

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