Scottish Independence: Modest Progress With Westminster Being Made, Alex Salmond Says

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Alex Salmond held talks with Scottish secretary Michael Moore in Edinburgh today
Alex Salmond held talks with Scottish secretary Michael Moore in Edinburgh today

Alex Salmond said "modest progress" has been made in talks with the Westminster government about the Scottish independence referendum.

The Scottish first minister discussed how a vote could be staged when he met Scottish secretary Michael Moore in Edinburgh on Monday morning.

Afterwards, Salmond said there were still two key issues of disagreement between his Scottish National Party (SNP) administration and Westminster.

These, he said, were whether or not the ballot should also give Scots the option of backing greatly-enhanced powers for Holyrood - dubbed devo-max - and whether 16 and 17-year-olds should be entitled to vote.

The Scottish government has said it wants the vote to take place in the autumn of 2014 but Moore said he still wanted it to be "sooner rather than later".

"We still don't agree on the timing, we are still discussing who should be able to vote and how many questions there will be," Moore said.

But Salmond said the objective was to have the referendum in the timescale that he had indicated.

"Hopefully the voice of the people will prevail upon the politicians to find common ground on these matters," he said.

"You wouldn't have expected us to come out with complete agreement, it's modest progress."

The SNP also want to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in the referendum but the Westminster government is less keen, despite lowering the voting age being a Lib Dem policy.

"The is a debate round the role of 16 and 17-year-olds," Moore said. "But you can't impose a new condition for the convenience one particular referendum."

The talks between the two men had been scheduled to last about an hour but ended up going on for approximately 90 minutes.

Salmond will also hold talks with David Cameron on the referendum on Thursday when the prime minister visits Scotland.

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