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The Electoral Commission should put the Question
Posted on 09 May 2012
Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael has backed calls from the Westminster Scottish Affairs Committee for the Electoral Commission to be given responsibility for ruling on the question put to Scotland at the independence referendum.
Mr Carmichael was commenting after the publication of a report from the Scottish Affairs Committee which found that the question proposed by the Scottish Government is biased in favour of separation.
Independent experts quizzed by the Committee told MPs that the Electoral Commission was the appropriate body to rule on the legitimacy of the referendum question. The report also argued against the approach suggested by the Scottish Government for regulating the poll, which would have seen SNP Ministers create a one-off commission that would report to the Scottish Parliament.
Commenting, Mr Carmichael said:
‘Although some might suggest that arguing over the phrasing of the referendum question is simply splitting hairs it is clear that changing the way we ask a question can have a significant impact on the answer. In the UK we already have an independent body that has the expertise and credibility to run a referendum. That body is the Electoral Commission and as the experts suggested, they need to be the ones to rule on the wording of the referendum question.
‘UK government Ministers have made clear throughout this process that what we need is a referendum that delivers a clear, unambiguous and binding result for the people of Scotland. Allowing the Electoral Commission to oversee this process rather than the SNP would be one means of ensuring that we elevate the debate beyond party politics and focus on the issues.
‘Once the question of whether Scotland wishes to remain as part of the UK is settled discussions over the future of devolution and the transfer of additional powers to Holyrood can continue.’
Posted on 09 May 2012
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