Scottish Independence: SNP Attack 'Pejorative And Embarrassing' Westminster Report

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The SNP have attacked a Westminster report on Scottish independence as 'pejorative'
The SNP have attacked a Westminster report on Scottish independence as 'pejorative'

The SNP has attacked a Commons committee report that raised concerns about Scottish independence as a "pejorative" and out of date attack on plans for a referendum.

A Commons committee has called for clarity on the "unanswered" questions of Scottish independence.

A report by the Scottish Affairs Select Committee, which is dominated by pro-Union party MPs, said details are needed on bank regulation, pension payments, the national currency, membership of international organisations, Scotland's defences and the "cost of separation".

The inquiry asked what the share of national debt will be, how North Sea oil revenues will be defined and what the credit rating will be.

MPs also asked if Scottish citizens could access NHS treatment south of the border and whether a passport will be required for travel.

Other avenues included the status of the monarch and whether Scotland should remain in the Commonwealth.

The inquiry began in October last year, with an aim to look at the potential impact of independence, following a ballot due to be held in autumn 2014. A second inquiry was set up to look at the process and mechanics of holding the referendum.

The committee will hold more inquiry sessions on the themes of the report.

MPs also want Scottish Secretary Michael Moore to help provide "factual and unbiased information to the people of Scotland".

The SNP branded today's report "predictably pejorative" and an embarrassment to the authors, arguing that the inquiry has been overtaken by events.

Submissions were received by November 11, about two months before First Minister Alex Salmond and Prime Minister David Cameron launched their own public consultations on the referendum.

Committee chairman Ian Davidson said responses to the inquiry showed "confusion" about the terms of what he called a divorce settlement.

Some written responses from members of the public asked about policies which would have to be decided by future Scottish governments, for example on tax and immigration. Most submissions were concerned about the impacts of leaving the UK while some favoured independence, with one saying it would remove a layer of government.

Mr Davidson said: "Questions that may seem trivial at first actually show just how this issue permeates through every aspect of life: from the television you watch, to how you travel round the world.

"The purpose of this inquiry is to set out from the start some of those questions and begin to explore their answers, with the aim of helping to make this process as clear and fair as possible.

"You cannot ask a big question about separation, however you construct it, without first asking and answering all these questions about how it will affect every aspect of every life, in Scotland and the UK as a whole.

"There are also questions here for other select committees, and we are aware that some may conduct their own inquiries."

Stewart Hosie MP, the SNP's chief whip at Westminster, said: "This report is an embarrassment to its authors.

"Firstly, it talks about separation for Scotland, when Scottish Government policy is for independence, not separation.

"But apart from its predictably pejorative approach to the issue of Scotland's constitutional future, this shoddy report from the anti-independence parties has been totally overtaken by events.

"It raises questions which have been dealt with in detail by the Scottish Government's white paper published way back in 2009.

"The issues it raises include the currency of an independent Scotland, which is now widely accepted will be Sterling, with even Scottish Secretary Michael Moore accepting that Scotland will keep the pound after independence.

"Even more embarrassingly for the Unionist parties, this report raises the issue of international credit ratings just as the prospect of a downgrade of the UK's triple-A status has been raised by a major ratings agency."

He said the Scottish Government's consultation on the independence referendum had attracted a larger response.

Scottish Conservative constitution spokesman David McLetchie said: "Whether it's on defence or what currency a separate Scotland would have, Alex Salmond has continually refused to provide detailed answers on what a separate Scotland would look like."