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Live Reporting

By Craig Hutchison and Louise Wilson

All times stated are UK

  1. 'Automatic second referenda are not required'

    Mike Russell

    Mike Russell says the intention of this bill is to set a framework for any future referendum and it does not seek to prescribe different processes for different types of referendum.

    "Automatic second referenda are not required," he argues, such as if there was a massive majority for an outcome.

    It might be required where the information provided to voters was flawed or when circumstances have changes, he says.

    Jackie Baillie insists major constitutional issues must be put back to the people, adding she would much rather risk voter fatigue than take forward a result without consent.

    The committee does not agree to the amendment with two votes for it and nine against.

    There are joking calls for a confirmatory vote on this, however the committee convener declines to do so.

  2. Harvie argues requirement for confirmatory referendum redundant

    Patrick Harview

    Patrick Harvie says the fact the 2016 referendum ended up in an utter mess does not mean we can't have referendums with some clarity.

    The Scottish Green Party co-leader expresses concerns about the amendment and its requirement for a confirmatory vote where the referendum has been clear and delivered a result.

    He says another vote on Brexit is required due to the fact it was a mess and confused, not the fact the first vote was a referendum.

    That's why he backs a second EU referendum and giving the vote back to the people, Mr Harvie says.

  3. Labour MSP calls for confirmatory vote on any constitutional issues

    Jackie Baillie

    Finally, Jackie Baillie speaks to her amendment on requiring confirmatory referendums on constitutional matters.

    We voted in 2016 based on a myriad of reasons but there was no detailed prospectus of what leaving the EU would mean she suggests.

    It's not surprising that there is a call for a People's Vote or confirmatory vote on EU membership, the Labour MSP adds.

    She argues there is a need for a consistent position on all constitutional issues and calls for a second confirmatory vote on any plan brought forward.

  4. Minister calls for withdrawal for amendment which duly occurs

    Mike russell

    Mr Russell thanks Adam Tomkins for his amendment which is prompting a useful discussion.

    The constitution secretary says the current Tory manifesto proposes a constitution and democracy commission which he expects the worst from, but he adds any good from it would come from examining issues like this.

    He argues in the future we may see referendums emanating from a citizen's assembly, citing the Irish position where votes have not been binding.

    The minister says he can't support this particular amendment as it would bind members in the parliament after a referendum.

    Mr Tomkins says he won't press his amendment, however he explains its purpose is to prevent "neverendums" and bring some clarity.

  5. Question needs further debate says Harvie

    Patrick Harvie says there is no timescale involved in this amendment and he also argues there is a difference between pre-legislative and post-legislative votes.

    This is something which needs further debate on but I do not think we are in a position to pass it at the moment, he says.

  6. What do we mean by saying a referendum is merely advisory or binding?

    Adam Tomkins

    Adam Tomkins turns to his amendment relating to a requirement to implement decisions made by referendums.

    The Tory MSP says it relates to the acceptance of the result of a referendum.

    He wants to think more about decisions made by referendums and he thinks we have made a bit of a mess of this in the UK.

    Mr Tomkins says we don't always know what to do with referendums results when they happen, arguing the relationship between direct and representative democracy is untidy.

    He adds while referendums decide things and the decisions may not be binding, there is a constitutional obligation to seek to implement them.

    What do we mean by saying a referendum is merely advisory or binding, he asks.

  7. Committee agrees longer period to lodge legal challenge on results

    Ballots being counted

    Labour MSP Jackie Baillie says the purpose of her amendment is to allow eight weeks for deliberation instead of six when seeking a judicial review of ballot papers counted or votes cast.

    Mr Russell accepts this amendment, agreeing people should be given longer to consider bringing forward legal challenges.

    The committee agrees to the amendment.

  8. Minister willing to look at changes to widen consultation required

    Mr Russell says they are pretty close to agreement in this section and it is just fine tuning that is required.

    The constitution secretary welcomes Mr Tomkins's amendment 71, but he cannot support the others in this group.

    He thinks one would make it more difficult to use the framework, while another is unnecessary.

    The cabinet secretary explains his amendment, relating to the requirement for ministers to consult with the Electoral Commission before laying a statutory instrument, would be a better route.

    He accepts his amendment should perhaps be drawn more widely to include consultation with other bodies and he says he is willing to consider that.

    MSPs agree amendment 71 and 72, while Mr Tomkins withdraws his others.

  9. Amendments limit powers of ministers

    Turning to the grouping on "powers to modify Act by regulations", Tory MSP Adam Tomkins explains his amendments seek to prevent this part of the bill being overly broad.

    It currently gives ministers extraordinary powers, he says.

  10. Harvie withdraws his amendments

    Mr Harvie says defamation is there for the individual but it doesn't tackle the political consequences of the false claim and indeed can make things worse in that regard.

    The Scottish Green Party co-leader argues there is a gap in elections and referendums that needs to be filled.

    He says the courts are capable of telling the difference between an objective and a subjective claim.

    Mr Harvie says the presence of similar law in constituency campaigns has helped prevent bad behaviour.

    However he seeks to withdraw his amendments and return to this issue at Stage 3.

  11. Amendment could curtail freedom of speech

    Constitutional Relations Secretary Mike Russell says he cannot support these amendments because they do not take us to the position we want to be in.

    "The norms of politics, just as the norms of the constitution, are in the process of being trampled on in a fairly contemptuous way by the UK government."

    Such matters are normally self-policed and scrutinised by the media but this has broken down, he says, agreeing there needs to be proper consideration about truthfulness in elections and campaigns.

    Constitutional Relations Secretary Mike Russell
    Image caption: Constitutional Relations Secretary Mike Russell

    But we're not in a position yet where we can come to a conclusion and bodies such as the Law Commission should be asked to look at it, Mr Russell adds.

    "Regulating the truthfulness of campaign statements cannot be done effectively at this stage or by these amendments, regrettably."

    He expresses concern these amendments would cause a severe curtailment on freedom of speech because people would be more hesitant in campaigning.

  12. Labour MSP backs principle of amendments

    Alex Rowley

    Labour MSP Alex Rowley thinks the principle in this is something we need to look at.

    We are seeing more lies and outright lies, he says, which he contends is actually damaging to democracy.

    The Labour MSP finds it difficult to see how it would be implemented, however.

  13. Concern about whether offence would be enforceable

    Tory MSP Murdo Fraser

    Tory MSP Murdo Fraser says creating a new criminal offence would be a "robust approach" to false statements.

    But he points to concerns about what is and is not a demonstrably false statement, and how the courts would test this.

    I admire Patrick Harvie for bringing this forward, but I cannot understand how this is enforceable from a legal perspective, he concludes.

  14. Referendums in Scotland should be held to a higher standard

    Mr Harvie says if someone said young people or English people were told they could not vote in the referendum they would fall foul of his proposed offence.

    Legitimate opinions and claims would not be affected and it would be for the courts to decide on this, he adds.

    He pivots to his amendment that would allow the Court of Session declare a referendum result was not valid due to false campaign statements.

    The Scottish Green Party co-leader's amendment states: "A person who was entitled to vote in the referendum may petition the Court of Session to declare the result of the referendum not to be valid."

    He says the 2016 EU referendum result would not have survived the same scrutiny as other elections.

    Mr Harvie says future referendums in Scotland should be held to a higher standard.

  15. Amendment seeks to make 'deliberate falsehoods' illegal

    Green MSP Patrick Harvie highlights existing law which makes it illegal to make false statements about a candidate in elections, but says there is not equivalent legislation for referendums.

    We are conscious across the whole system about the impact of deliberate falsehoods in campaigning, he says.

    Green MSP Patrick Harvie

    Tory MSP Adam Tomkins says the law refers to constituency campaigns rather than national media campaigning, suggesting this amendment is an "inexact analogy".

    Mr Harvie accepts this, saying the amendment is broadly trying to cover false statements in relation to issues.

  16. And we're off.....

    Committee

    We begin with amendments relating to the offence of making false campaign statements.

  17. Here's how the vote went on indyref2 question testing last week........

    MSPs back indyref2 testing compromise amendment
    Image caption: MSPs back indyref2 testing compromise amendment
  18. Here's what we're looking at today...

    Groupings of amendments
    Image caption: Groupings of amendments

    These included:

    • outlawing malicious and false statements being made by parties and candidates during elections
    • provision for challenges to the validity of results
    • a legal requirement to implement referendum results
    • confirmatory referendums (in other words, creating a two-part process for constitutional questions)
  19. MSPs will shortly return to Stage 2 of the 'indyref2 framework bill'

    Saltire ballot box

    The Finance and Constitution Committee will shortly return to debating and voting on Stage 2 amendments to the Referendums (Scotland) Bill.

    To follow this session you'll need the following:

  20. Welcome to Holyrood Live!

    Indyref

    Welcome to Holyrood Live's coverage of the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday 3 December 2019.

    • 10 am: The Finance and Constitution Committee continues scrutiny of the indyref2 'framework' bill
    • 2 pm Portfolio Questions: Environment, climate change and land reform ministers are in the hot seat, then it’s the turn of their contemporaries in the rural economy department
    • 2.40-5 pm: Scottish Government Debate: Achieving a Fairer Scotland
    • 5.05pm: Members’ Business:Gail Ross – Unfair Delivery Charges