Scottish independence: Law Society calls for answers in referendum campaign

Saltire and European Union flag and The Law Society of Scotland has called for more information on what would happen to the economy, currency and EU membership after the referendum vote

Important questions on Scotland's future remain unanswered ahead of the independence referendum, the Law Society of Scotland has said.

The professional body for solicitors called on pro-independence campaigners to provide more information on the economy, currency and EU membership.

And it pressed the main pro-UK parties to spell out when more powers would be devolved to Scotland.

The Society said it had a "firmly non-partisan role in the debate".

Law Society president Alistair Morris said: "It is essential that everyone is equipped with the right information so each person can make up their mind and collectively deliver a decisive result.

"Yet despite much debate, a major White Paper, devolution commission reports, analysis papers and a draft Independence Bill, many of us believe important questions on Scotland's future remain unanswered.

Joint declaration

"There continues to be uncertainty on fundamental issues including the currency we would use, EU membership, how our economy would succeed and what taxes we would pay.

"There are also questions over how further devolution can and would be delivered in the event of a 'No' vote."

In November 2013 the Scottish government published a White Paper setting out a blueprint for an independence Scotland.

It followed this with proposals for a draft constitution last month.

Meanwhile the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats have set out individual proposals to devolve more powers to the Scottish Parliament if voters reject independence.

The parties made a joint declaration that more powers would be devolved but have not agreed a common position on what those powers would be.

In its own paper on Scotland's future, the Law Society argued that many questions remain to be answered by all sides in the debate, including:

  • What would independence mean for Scotland's membership of the EU and international organisations?
  • Would the UK government support an application by an independent Scotland to join the EU?
  • What contingencies does the Scottish government propose if negotiations are not concluded by their proposed independence day of 24 March 2016?
  • What timescale for further devolution would be proposed by the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties?
  • To what extent are the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties prepared to agree a joint programme for additional powers?
  • What contingency plans exist if the UK government does not agree to share the pound with an independent Scotland?

The Law Society also called for more information on how independence might affect Scotland's legal system and the legal profession.

The Scottish government has insisted that EU membership can be negotiated from within the UK before Scotland became independent 18 months after a "Yes" vote, while UK ministers have argued that membership would not be guaranteed and could take several years.

The finance spokesmen of the main UK parties have all said they would not share the pound in a currency union with an independent Scotland, while Scottish ministers insist their UK counterparts are bluffing.

Lib Dem MP and QC Sir Menzies Campbell, commenting on behalf of the pro-Union Better Together campaign, said: "Respected organisations, like the Law Society of Scotland, are seeing through the paper thin case for separation.

'Found wanting'

"On the facts and the big questions the nationalists have been found wanting - on currency, the EU, jobs and pensions.

"The only way to keep the pound and to continue to enjoy the benefits of being together is to say 'No Thanks' to separation in September."

Joanna Cherry QC, from pro-independence group Lawyers for Yes, said: "In the White Paper and the Scottish Independence Bill and consultation on an interim constitution for Scotland, the Scottish government have provided considerable detail on their proposals.

"This is in contrast to the UK government's refusal to engage in any meaningful contingency planning, its bullying tactics over the currency and its scare stories over a range of issues.

"In many areas, such as the currency and EU membership, we believe that the outcome of negotiations will be as much a matter of realpolitik as of law and is likely to favour the position taken by the Scottish government once there has been a 'Yes' vote."

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  75.  
    07:50: Cameron up for debates

    Prime Minister David Cameron says he's in favour of televised debates before the General Election and describes them as "a good thing".

    David Cameron on Breakfast

    The SNP, UKIP, the Greens and the Welsh nationalists are to be included under new proposals from broadcasters.

    The DUP and Sinn Fein are upset at not being asked to take part, while the Respect MP George Galloway is threatening legal action for being omitted.

    Mr Cameron suggested the Northern Ireland parties ought to be included.

     
  76.  
    07:47: Working capital Alasdair Lamont BBC Scotland

    Rangers are to borrow up to another £10m from the Newcastle owner Mike Ashley to remain afloat - £5m will be available as immediate working capital, but also to repay a £2m loan made by Ashley on 27 October.

    The entire loan is interest-free but in return Ashley gets security over the club's training ground Murray Park as well as the club's registered trademarks and other properties, but significantly not Ibrox Stadium.

    Rangers

    Additionally, Rangers are giving Ashley a further 26% of shares in Rangers Retail Limited (49% was already owned by Ashley), while any shirt sponsorship proceeds from 2017/18 will be for the benefit of RRL.

    The second tranche of £5m will only be drawn down if required and only after due diligence by Sports Direct.

     
  77.  
    07:40: Warnings over abuse care cuts Lucy Adams BBC Scotland

    Scottish Women's Aid (SWA) has warned that thousands of women and children are to lose specialist domestic abuse support.

    Generic image of domestic abuse

    The two Women's Aid groups in West Dunbartonshire have already lost their support funding.

    SWA also raised concerns about the three groups in North Lanarkshire and others in North Ayrshire and Fife.

    The Scottish government says it has allocated nearly £35m since 2012 to support services for women who have been subjected to violence.

     
  78.  
    @bbctennis Boy Wonder Down Under BBC Tennis

    Andy Murray's record against Australians...

    Andy Murray
     
  79.  
    Good Morning Scotland

    Bill Whiteford (@Billwhiteford): Coming up on #gms @BBCRadioScot after 8: holocaust memorial day. The story of Henry Wuga, who survived Nazi Germany to end up in Scotland

     
  80.  
    07:36: Your Views

    What do you think of the latest developments at Rangers? Will Andy Murray progress to the last four at the Australian Open?

    Share your views on these or any other stories/issues that tickle your fancy via text using 80295, tweet #ScotlandLive or email newsonlinescotland@bbc.co.uk

    And you can visit the BBC Scotland News Facebook page, which is back up and running after suffering an international "outage".

    Scotland Live
     
  81.  
    07:32: Rangers loan

    Rangers say they have accepted a £10m loan from Mike Ashley's Sports Direct retail company to relieve the "perilous" financial state of the club.

    Sports Direct will receive 26% of the share capital in Rangers Retail Limited and the proceeds of future shirt sponsorship for loan's duration.

    Mike Ashley

    The loan is secured against the Murray Park training ground and other assets.

    However, Ibrox Stadium is not included in the deal, Rangers supporters having launched protests against such a move.

     
  82.  
    Email: newsonlinescotland@bbc.co.uk Rangers loan - Your views

    John Daly: Mike Ashley is loaning Rangers money so they can repay a loan to... Mike Ashley? Am I reading that right?

     
  83.  
    @BBCTravelScot Travel update BBC Scotland Travel Latest

    Very slow westbound #edinburghcitybypass A68 to Sheriffhall RBT- 10mins to get to southbound A90 FRB from Admiralty junction of M90.

     
  84.  
    07:24: Hospital 'mall' Eleanor Bradford BBC Scotland Health Correspondent

    The new South Glasgow University hospital campus will be the biggest hospital in the UK when it opens this spring. There are 1,100 adult beds in their own rooms, it is designed to feel more like a shopping centre than a hospital. It has 14 stories on top of the building there's a heli-deck, it has 29 operating theatres and the whole complex will be serviced by robot trolleys.

     
  85.  
    07:21: Archbishop recovering The Evening Times

    Archbishop Philip Tartaglia arrived back in the city early yesterday evening from Spain.

    The 64-year-old was rushed to hospital on Thursday last week after falling ill in the Spanish city of Salamanca.

    He had gathered there with other bishops for an annual winter meeting.

    A spokesman has confirmed he will now take some time to recover before returning to his duties.

     
  86.  
    07:20: Holocaust Memorial Day

    Candles will be lit across Scotland as part of events to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

    The sign "Arbeit macht frei" at the main gate to the Auschwitz concentration camp Holocaust Memorial Day takes place on 27 January to mark the liberation of Auschwitz

    Victims of the Nazis and people killed in genocides since World War Two will be remembered.

    Events are taking place from Stornoway in the Outer Hebrides to Langholm in Dumfriesshire.

     
  87.  
    07:13: Breaking News

    Rangers say they have accepted a £10m loan from Mike Ashley's Sports Direct retail company to relieve the "perilous" financial state of the club.

     
  88.  
    @RichwilBBC Rangers latest Richard Wilson BBC Scotland

    RIFC board decide to take £10m loan from Mike Ashley's Sports Direct

     
  89.  
    @BBCScotWeather Snow on the way... BBC Scotland Weather Latest

    Tomorrow: Frequent snow showers across the country, 5-10cm at low levels, 10cm+ high ground. Drifting & blizzards in strong/gale force winds. Met Office yellow warning issued for snow across the country tomorrow, tomorrow night and Thursday. Details here: bit.ly/1bKtGsm

     
  90.  
    07:10: Tune in...

    Good Morning Scotland has more on this morning's top stories, including details of the latest weather warnings for the rest of the week.

    Good Morning Scotland

    Listen live to the programme here.

     
  91.  
    Email: newsonlinescotland@bbc.co.uk Your Pictures

    Jacqui Gray captured this image of the Ochils from the top of the Wallace Monument.

    Ochil hills from Wallace monument

    Email your pictures to newsonlinescotland@bbc.co.uk

    You can also tell us what you think of this week's pictures on the BBC Scotland News facebook page.

     
  92.  
    @BBCScotWeather 07:05: Weather update BBC Scotland Weather Latest

    Quite a mild start, but cloudy, with patchy rain - mainly in the West - and there'll be little change throughout the day. There'll be a few spots of rain over the Borders first thing, this soon clearing.

    During the afternoon, a narrow band of rain will push into north-eastern Aberdeenshire. Otherwise, most of eastern Scotland will be dry today, with a few bright spells and even some hazy sunshine. Across western Scotland, it'll stay cloudy with patchy rain, this mainly affecting Argyll, the West Highlands and the Western Isles.

    South-westerly winds will freshen, becoming strong in the Northwest.

    Temperatures will be a degree or two above the late January average, at 8C.

     
  93.  
    07:03: Murray watch

    Andy Murray is preparing for his Australian Open quarter-final encounter with Nick Kyrgios.

    Kyrgios will be roared on by a partisan home crowd on on Rod Laver Arena but Murray will be buoyed by news that the winner will face Tomas Berdych, after the Czech toppled the mighty Rafael Nadal.

    Andy Murray

    "I've played a lot of matches," said Murray. "I've played in the French Open against French players where the crowd can be very difficult. I've experienced it before, so hopefully I'll deal with it well."

    Murray's match will get under way at 08:15 GMT and we'll provide updates on how the Scot fares.

     
  94.  
    07:02: University Hospital campus to be handed to NHS

    Scotland's largest hospital is being officially handed over to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

    South Glasgow Hospitals Campus

    The new South Glasgow University Hospital campus cost more than £800m to build and will have more than 1,300 beds.

    The health board said it had been delivered under budget and ahead of schedule and the facility will open to patients in May.

     
  95.  
    07:00: Rise and shine Thomas McGuigan BBC Scotland News

    Good morning and a warm welcome to Tuesday's Scotland Live.

    Andy Murray is gearing up for this morning's quarter-final clash against local hero Nick Kyrgios at the Australian Open.

    So, stick the kettle on and prepare to roar Andy on...

     

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