The House of Lords Constitution Committee has backed the UK Government’s view on the Scottish Government’s ability to hold a referendum.
The group agreed that the Scottish administration do not have the power to call a referendum on independence as it related to the Union.
Baroness Jay, Chairman of the House of Lords Constitution Committee, said: “Having looked in detail at the consultation papers by both the UK and Scottish governments, and a significant amount of case law, it is clear that currently the Scottish Parliament cannot unilaterally call an independence referendum”
The Committee support the UK Government’s proposal that a section 30 order be made under the Scotland Act 1998 to allow for a referendum to be held. This would require the agreement of both the UK and Scottish Parliaments.
Following on from their previous report on referendums, the House of Lords committee advocated a referendum offering a straight choice between “full independence or the status quo”. According to the committee, “devolution max” should not be included as an option.
If “devolution max” is put on the ballot paper, the committee said it should not be decided by Scotland alone.
Baroness Jay said: “A third ‘devolution-max’ option is clearly something every part of the UK must have a say in as it has the potential to create different and competing tax regimes within the UK”
The committee also called for the Electoral Commission to decide on the intelligibility of any proposed referendum on Scottish independence.
“It is important that the Electoral Commission is involved to make sure that any proposed question is clear and unambiguous before it goes to the public vote” said Jay.
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