Scotland's future: Your 10 independence questions

With less than a year to go until the Scottish independence referendum, there are many questions about what a "Yes" vote might mean.

  • For more on the Scottish independence referendum go to the BBC's Scotland's Future page.

BBC news website readers have been telling us the kind of things they want answered ahead of the poll on 18 September 2014.

Here are 10 of the most frequently asked questions........

1. Alex O'Brien asks: "I recently renewed two UK passports for my wife and I. Will I require a new one if the vote is 'Yes'?

The Scottish government intends to bring in a separate Scottish passport under independence, but says Scots would be free either to retain their British passport, or hold both.

Finding the answers

The Scottish government says it will answer "all your questions" when it publishes its vision for independence on 26 November.

That said, UK Home Secretary Theresa May says the Westminster government may not allow Scottish dual citizenship, adding that the issue will be considered along with SNP policy on citizenship, and membership of the EU.

Current UK Border Agency policy states that British subjects can keep their British passport, as long as the country in which they want to hold another passport (which in this case would be an independent Scotland) allows dual nationality.

2. Iain Morrison asks: "What is envisaged as the national anthem for a new independent Scotland? As someone born of Scots parents in England, I am proud of my Scottish inheritance but I feel that the lyrics of the current anthem 'Flower of Scotland' are far too nationalistic."

Scotland does not currently have its own official national anthem, but it seems certain that, under independence, the nation would seek to adopt one.

Want to know more?

The SNP-run Scottish government has already been outlining what it wants to happen in the event of independence. So, what do we already know about the Nationalist vision?

God Save the Queen is the national anthem for the whole United Kingdom, but tunes such as Flower of Scotland and Scotland the Brave have long been used as an unofficial Scots anthems, especially at sporting events.

There have been numerous suggestions over the years to find Scotland's national song, from adopting one of the above to coming up with a brand new one - although the SNP's policy of retaining the Monarch under independence means God Save the Queen could still have its place.

3. Jim Green asks: "What will be the proportion of votes needed to favour independence for the result to be declared a 'Yes'?"

The result of the independence referendum will be decided by a simple majority.

That means a "Yes" vote of "50% plus one" would be enough to gain independence.

There is no turnout requirement for next year's vote - unlike the 1979 devolution referendum, in which the "Yes" vote had to exceed 40% of the total electorate.

4. Geoff Parry asks: "Assuming a 'Yes' vote for separation in 2014, would Scots be able to vote in a UK election if that were held between the date of the referendum and the date in 2016 when the' Yes' vote would take effect?"

If the September 2014 referendum returns a "Yes" vote, the SNP says it would take 18 months to prepare for full independence - that's March 2016.

Differing views

The UK government has been publishing a series of papers on why it believes the Union should remain intact.

The next UK election, due to happen in May 2015, would come in the middle of that - but Scotland would still then be a member of the UK, so it is likely Scots would still be able to vote for their local MP.

However, in the event of a "Yes" vote, the question is - would anyone stand for election to one of Scotland's 59 Westminster seats, in the knowledge they faced redundancy the following year?

5. Len Loullis asks: "If Scotland attains independence, will it still be a member of the EU?"

Nobody has seriously suggested that an independent Scotland cannot or would not be a European Union member - the argument has centred around how long it might take.

SNP thinking in the past few years has gone from saying membership would be "automatic" to a position that Scotland, having been part of EU member state Britain, would negotiate its position "from within".

Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney is confident there would be enough time in the 18-month window for the process to be completed, but opponents have said such talks could be lengthy and very complicated.

6. Anne MacDonald asks: "I work in the NHS and am close to retirement age. What will happen to state pensions in an independent Scotland? And, does Alex Salmond propose to keep age changes in the state pension?"

The Scottish government says benefits, tax credits and state pensions would continue to be paid from the first day of independence, with the same level of protection that currently exists.

Scotland's future: Viewpoints

The BBC news website has been publishing a number of webcasts on the Scottish independence debate. They can be found on our Scotland's Future website.

Pensions expert David Davison, from actuarial firm Spence & Partners, says the challenge would be the transition of schemes from one administration to another.

On the policy front, the SNP - if it became the party of government in an independent Scotland - says that, from 2016, new pensioners would get £160 a week, making them £1.10 better off than those in the rest of the UK. It has also pledged to set up a commission looking at what level the state pension age should be.

7. Gary Woolton asks: "What would happen to in Scotland? As no longer part of the UK would Scottish-based business, individuals using addresses still be entitled to use them or would a new domain be set up? What would the cost to business be if this was the case"?

Plans for an optional .scot domain have been accepted by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), following a campaign by not-for-profit company Dot Scot Registry and have passed the initial evaluation process. This means the domain could be ready to go live in January 2015, regardless of the referendum result.

All domains are administered by UK registry Nominet, which says the domain names they manage are not currently subject to any geographic restrictions. Therefore the status of registrants and prospective registrants should not be affected by Scotland becoming an independent country.

Nominet has consulted on proposals that, post-independence, Scottish companies wishing to keep or apply for a .uk domain would have to nominate a UK address of service to which legal papers could be served.

8. Lorrie Godwin asks: "Will Scotland have a second chamber and if so will it be elected?"

Scottish devolution was seen as a chance to do things differently from Westminster and its single-chamber setup, backed up by Holyrood's cross-party committees, is regarded as a system which works well and is not likely to change.

The campaigners

Both sides of the Scottish independence debate have well established campaigns with well established websites - Yes Scotland is for independence and Better Together is pro-Union.

There has been some support for a second chamber - from nationalist-leaning commentator Michael Fry for one - but the SNP's continued dominance in Scottish politics would keep it off the agenda, given the party's opposition to the UK House of Lords.

Apart from anything else, the Scottish Parliament may need to build an extension to make it happen.

9. Derek McAllister asks: "What percentage of the UK national debt will be transferred to an independent Scotland?"

This would have to be negotiated, but the SNP has touted a figure of £92bn, based on population, while they also argue Scotland's share of the national debt should be lessened because of the high contribution to the UK's coffers by oil and gas from Scotland's shores.

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research says Scotland's debt could be 86% of national income- significantly lower than the 101% calculated for the rest of the UK.

There is also an argument that, with no track record of servicing debt, the new independent nation of Scotland could face a higher borrowing cost - between 0.72% and 1.65% above UK borrowing costs for 10-year debt.

10. Ian Thompson asks: "Would the UK still be called the UK after Scottish independence? Wales is not a kingdom, neither is Northern Ireland. Would the UK just refer to its other title of Great Britain?"

It could be assumed the term "UK" might continue to stand for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, given it is a term people know and that the Union of the Scottish and English crowns would continue under independence.

The term UK is not synonymous with Great Britain.

Britain refers to England, Wales and Scotland, while the UK also includes Northern Ireland. Therefore, using the title Great Britain to refer to the Union of England, Wales and Northern Ireland would be incorrect as it would include Scotland, which in the event of independence would no longer be part of this union, and exclude Northern Ireland which would remain part of the Union.

Technically speaking Northern Ireland is a province and Wales although formerly a principality, was officially reclassified as a country in January 2012 by the International Organisation for Standards (ISO).

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