Uk Government Referendum Consultation Response

ODN is a not for profit organisation registered in Scotland with the following Mission Statement :-

One Dynamic Nation believe in the United Kingdom of Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. We believe each country within this union is unique and contributes its distinct cultural blend equally to our nation. We believe each part of this union brings strength, diversity and drive to the whole nation. We are One Dynamic Nation and we will campaign to save our Union.

We have canvassed our members and encouraged them to make separate representation to you on this. We have however garnered common concerns and comments based on the responses that we have received and detail these below.

 

Q1

What are your views on using the order making power provided in the Scotland Act 1998 to allow the Scottish Parliament to legislate for a legal referendum in an Act of the Scottish Parliament?

 

The issue of independence has profound implications for the rest of the UK. In general we are concerned that such an issue is being looked at as a purely Scottish matter. The entire issue requires full UK wide debate.

 

Q2

What are your views on the UK Parliament legislating to deliver a referendum on independence?

 

Scotland is currently a part of the UK. Any referendum should follow the process set out in current UK legislation. This would not be Westminster interference. It is correct and legal process as things stand.

 

Q3

What are your views on whether the Scotland Bill should be used either to:

i) give the Scottish Parliament the power to legislate for a referendum or

ii) deliver directly a referendum

 

If this is the course to be followed then -“No”. This is an immensely important issue. Including the power in the Scotland Bill might detract from that Bill which still needs full debate on a variety of issues. This could force too rushed a timescale for its approval in order to accommodate the timing of a referendum..

 

Q4

What are your views on the oversight arrangements for a referendum on Scottish independence?

 

The oversight of such a referendum should be undertaken by the Electoral Commission. Even if the powers to run a referendum are devolved, it is still a legal process within the UK and consequently the Electoral Commission is the correct legal entity to oversee it. The Electoral Commission has a great deal of experience and their oversight would ensure that the referendum is legal, fair and decisive. It has experience in overseeing referenda. Setting up a Scottish Commission is unnecessary and a waste of money and open to challenges of bias.

 

Q5

Do you think the Electoral Commission should have a role on overseeing a referendum on Scottish independence?

 

Yes

 

Q6

What are your views on which people should be allowed to vote in a Scottish independence referendum.

 

The existing devolved legislature and local government franchise would be the most suitable; however there will be questions/concerns from those of Scots birth who are currently living in other parts of the UK. Current electoral law allows citizens to register to vote in the district where they reside with a “considerable degree of permanence”. This phrase is not defined in law. Some might feel that their future lies “in Scotland” and might consider themselves disenfranchised if they are not given the opportunity to vote.

 

Q7

What are your views on the timing of referendum

 

This needs to be as soon as practicable to end the uncertainty. 2014 seems late but if that is the earliest that a fair, legal and decisive referendum can be set up to be run then this would be acceptable.

 

 

Q8

What are your views on the question or questions to be asked in the referendum?

 

A single straightforward question, agreed with the Electoral Commission with a simple, unbiased and unambiguous yes/no response invited. The current question strikes of bias and is an attempt to appeal to emotions. A more straightforward and unbiased question would be “Do you want Scotland to remain a part of the United Kingdom?”

 

Q9

What are your views on the draft Section 30 Order?

 

This is not the complete draft that would be made as some clauses would be dependent on the outcome of this consultation. It is however fit for purpose in the areas that it covers if it is decided to use this vehicle.