A draft independence referendum Bill has been published that will give people in Scotland the right to decide their future, once the current health crisis is over.
Constitution Secretary Michael Russell MSP said the draft Bill is being brought forward to offer Scotland the choice of who is best placed to lead the country’s post-pandemic recovery – the people who live here or a government based in Westminster.
The draft Scottish Independence Referendum Bill publication sets out a number of key issues for a vote including:
The timing of a referendum should be a matter for the next Scottish Parliament to decide. Ministers have made clear it should take place once the public health crisis is over
The question “Should Scotland be an independent country?" is the same one used during the 2014 referendum and it will be tested by the Electoral Commission
Voting eligibility will be extended to match the franchise at Scottish Parliament and local government elections.
The draft Bill has been published on the Scottish Government’s website.
Mr Russell said:
“Our top priority will continue to be dealing with the pandemic and keeping the country safe, but we are optimistic that, because of the incredible efforts of people across Scotland, better times lie ahead.
“The Scottish Government believes it should be the people living in Scotland who have the right to decide how we recover from the pandemic and what sort of country we wish to build after the crisis.
“If Westminster maintains its control, recent history shows what Scotland can expect; an economic recovery hindered by a hard Brexit that is already taking a significant toll and the continued, systematic undermining of devolution, which is weakening our parliament’s powers to maintain food and environmental standards and protect the NHS from post-Brexit trade deals.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP added:
“If there is a majority in the Scottish Parliament after the forthcoming election for an independence referendum, there is no democratic justification for any Westminster government to block it.
"Giving or even lending both your constituency and your list vote to the SNP at the election on 06 May is the only way to secure an independence referendum that can help take Scotland forward to be the best country it can be – fairer, more equal and more prosperous. Vote SNP with both your constituency and List vote on 06 May."
Read the draft Scottish Independence Referendum Bill publication
Last year, the Scottish Parliament passed the Referendums (Scotland) Act 2020 which sets out detailed conduct and campaign rules that can be used for any referendum.
The 2020/21 Programme for Government contained a promise to publish, before the end of this Parliament, a draft bill for an independence referendum.