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Newsnet Scotland's A-Z of independence - sorting myth from fact.

Questions and answers from the Scottish Government.

Video Q & A with Ian Carse of Yes Orkney

If you have questions for Yes Orkney, get in touch!

What are the implications for farming?

Better representation in Europe

Currently Scotland is not a Member State of the EU, and is represented by Westminster in key negotiations. The UK government has negotiated the worst CAP funding deal in Europe for Scottish farmers. It has withheld money awarded by the EU and caused farmers to lose out on 60 million Euros per year until 2020. Westminster is also failing to represent farmers well in areas such as coupled support and sheep EID regulation.

The current UK government intends to hold a referendum on EU membership in 2017. If the UK votes to leave, Scottish farmers will no longer be eligible for any support from the EU.

Upon becoming a full member of the EU following independence, the Scottish government will be able to deal with the EU directly. Scottish farmers face unique challenges. The EU recognises this, classing 85% of Scottish farmland as being in a "Less Favoured Area" and therefore eligible for support. With direct representation by a government that prioritises the rural economy, farmers will receive the support they are entitled to.

For more information visit www.farming4yes.com

How will the fishing industry benefit?

Higher priority. Better representation.

The Scottish fishing industry was decimated by the Conservative government of Edward Heath, which sacrificed it in 1973 in order to gain entry to the EEC. Successive UK governments have failed the industry and today Scotland receives 41% of the UK's European Fisheries Fund allocation despite landing around 87% of the total UK catch. Scottish fishermen account for 7% of Europe's total landings and 12% of aquaculture production, but receive only 1% of EU funding.

The seafood sector contributes £1 billion to the economy and supports over 14,000 jobs. This may be insignificant to a UK economy centred around financial services in London, but it is not insignificant to the Scottish economy. As a member state of the EU, Scotland's fishing quota would remain within Scotland, directly benefiting our economy.

EU markets are essential for the live shellfish industry on which the Orkney inshore fishery depends. It is also in the interests of fishermen from other countries (such as Spain) that Scotland remains part of the EU, or else they will lose the right to fish Scottish waters. Again, the current coalition government intends to hold a referendum on the UK leaving the EU in 2017.

Scotland needs to be able to directly influence decisions on fisheries, especially legislation such as reform to the Common Fisheries Policy, rather than rely on proxy representation via the UK government fisheries minister. As with farming, independence means Scottish fishermen will gain better representation in Europe. Currently, the Scottish Fisheries Minister is not even allowed to speak at the negotiating table.

Orkney stands to benefit from derogations from damaging EU regulations only available through direct influence in Brussels.

For more information see the following article by Richard Lochhead MSP, Scottish Fisheries Minister:

'Scotland’s fishing industry has suffered terribly under successive UK Governments'

Will Scotland keep the pound?

Yes

The current Scottish Government believes that a currency union is in the best interests of both Scotland and the remaining United Kingdom. Despite much scaremongering in the media, the Governer of the Bank of England Mark Carney made clear this is a realistic option, and one that even Alistair Darling has in the past decribed as 'logical' and 'desirable'.

In the unlikely event that a deal on currency union could not be reached following a Yes vote, other workable options were detailed by the Fiscal Commission and outlined in The white paper Scotland's Future. Regardless, Westminster cannot prevent Scotland from using the pound.

See Scotland's Future p110

How will the NHS be affected?

A Yes vote will safeguard NHS Scotland

NHS Scotland is a separate organisation, distinct from NHS Wales and NHS England. It is already fully controlled by the Scottish Parliament, which has thus far been able to shield it from the creeping privatisation taking place South of the border.

Currently NHS Scotland is funded from the block grant allocated to the Scottish Government by Westminster, which is calculated using the Barnett Formula. Many Westminster politicians, including David Cameron, are keen to scrap or reform the Barnett Formula on the incorrect assumption that Scotland receives more money than it contributes to the UK economy.

A Yes vote guarantees NHS Scotland stable funding, and is the best way to protect it from the consequences of ideologically-driven policies enacted by Westminster. In addition, with full financial powers the Scottish government will be able to prioritise addressing the poverty-related poor health and low life expectancy of the Scottish people.

http://www.yesscotland.net/answers/what-about-nhs-independent-scotland

What if I can't stand Alex Salmond?

You are not being asked to vote for him!

The independence referendum on September the 18th is not an election. It is simply a vote to decide whether or not the people of Scotland should run our own country. Following a Yes vote there will be a general election in 2016, at which you may vote for whichever party you prefer.

What about immigration?

Policy decided by elected government in 2016

In the immediate period following a Yes vote immigration policy will be unchanged. It will then be set by whichever government is elected in 2016.

The current Scottish Government has been very critical of UK immigration and asylum policy. The White Paper proposes a points-based system for non-EU immigrants designed to fill skill gaps in the population. As part of the EU, Scottish borders will be open to EU citizens, and vice-versa.

Scotland needs immigrants to counterbalance the ageing population and 'brain drain' effect of people educated in our world-renowned universities leaving the country.

More information.

Will students have to pay tuition fees?

No

Independence presents no threat to free tuition for Scottish students. On the contrary, the threat comes from remaining part of the UK. Any cuts to the block grant which the Scottish Government receives from Westminster will affect its ability to balance the budget and pay for services which are currently free.

On his visit to Orkney in June, First Minister Alex Salmond stated that the abolition of student tuition fees is one of the actions he is most proud of his government for. A long history of free education is what has allowed Scots to thrive in fields such as science, philosophy, and engineering. This will not change following a Yes vote.

More information

Is my pension safe?

Yes

According to the Department for Work and Pensions, independence will have no effect on State Pensions. Anyone who is entitled to a State Pension will continue to receive it. Private pensions will also be unaffected.

The value of existing State Pensions will continue to increase at whichever is the highest of average earnings, inflation, or 2.5%. People retiring after 2016 will move to a new "single-tier pension" in line with UK reforms.

When Gordon Brown was Chancellor of the Exchequer, he imposed a "pension stealth tax" which wiped at least £100 billion off the value of retirement funds. It is absolutely shameful to attempt to scare people into voting No with the misguided notion that their pensions are safer under the Westminster system.

www.yesscotland.net/answers/what-about-pensions-independent-scotland

Is the Distant Islands Allowance at risk?

No

Rumours that independence threatens the payment of Distant Islands Allowance are completely baseless.

Will I pay more tax?

It depends who wins the 2016 election

Following a Yes vote the Scottish Government intends for there to be as smooth a transition to independence as possible. Tax rates will be unchanged in the period leading up to the 2016 general election. Taxes will then be set by whichever government is elected by the Scottish people.

See Scotland's Future p118.