Scottish independence: Currency demands 'should be set out'

sterling notes and coins The SNP wants an independent Scotland to retain sterling as its currency

The Scottish government should explain what conditions it would accept in order to secure a sterling currency union after independence, a committee of MPs has said.

The Scottish Affairs Committee said it was concerned the SNP administration's aim was not set in stone and could be refused by the UK government.

But the SNP described the committee's report as "shoddy".

It said the No campaign was "probably embarrassed" by the committee.

The committee's call came after Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond was criticised by Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont at Holyrood for failing to set out a plan B if no deal could be struck for a currency union with the remainder of the UK after independence.

The SNP has said that, in the event of a "Yes" vote in the independence referendum on 18 September next year, Scotland would retain sterling as part of a currency union.

Labour MP Ian Davidson, chairman of the Scottish Affairs Committee, raised the currency issue again as part of wider demands on the quality of the Scottish government's formal report, or White Paper, on its plan for independence, which is due to be published on 26 November.

Start Quote

The No campaign are probably embarrassed by what Mr Davidson's committee is churning out, and no one is going to regard it a serious piece of work”

End Quote Angus Robertson SNP

He said: "The Scottish government has already shown great willingness to misrepresent or disregard the many inconvenient truths that do not support the case for separation.

"Of course a case can be made for separation, and its proponents must be allowed to make that case as well as they can, but they must not simply promote a party view with public money in a government document.

"A government White Paper must be, and be clearly seen to be, totally above reproach. It must lay out the facts, the truths, about all the possible scenarios the day after a Yes vote, and it cannot ignore or gloss over the risks and uncertainties that exist, the biggest of which is what the United Kingdom government and others can reasonably be expected to agree to in the negotiations."

Mr Davidson's committee, which is pro-Union in membership, has held a number of inquiries into questions raised by the referendum debate.

The committee's sole SNP member has refused to take part.

Legal remit

The committee report called for all the "true risks" and costs of independence to be set out clearly, and accused the Scottish government of a "propensity to mislead" on the likely outcome of negotiations, including on EU membership advice.

The report also claimed the Scottish government had "travelled outside" its previous devolved legal remit by gaining the power to hold a referendum.

Angus Robertson, SNP leader at Westminster, criticised the report as shoddy and said: "It is simply bizarre and undemocratic to suggest that the elected government of the day in Scotland is acting illegally by promoting our constitutional policy.

"The SNP gained the strongest possible mandate from the people of Scotland at the Scottish Parliament election. And if committee members want to make this point, it is frankly laughable for them to make no similar comment or criticism about how the entire Whitehall operation is working to support a No vote.

"The No campaign are probably embarrassed by what Mr Davidson's committee is churning out, and no one is going to regard it a serious piece of work, worthy of the public money that was wasted in its production."

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