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“Scotland’s Future”

Volume 575: debated on Wednesday 5 February 2014

7. What assessment he has made of the Scottish Government’s White Paper entitled “Scotland’s Future”; and if he will make a statement. (902345)

The Scottish Government’s White Paper shows that the case for independence is unravelling. They promised answers, but failed to address key referendum issues such as currency, costings and EU membership.

I thank the Secretary of State for his candid answer. Can he explain why there would be issues with the funding of pensions if Scotland were to become a separate state?

In that regard, the most pertinent intervention came from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland—not a political party or a body that has an axe to grind, but people who know what they are talking about. They told us what we already know: there are substantial questions on pensions and other areas, and the Scottish Government have still failed to answer them.

Surely one of the great weaknesses of the White Paper is on the future of the pound in Scotland. Surely the simplest way in which the people of Scotland can guarantee to keep the pound is to vote no in the referendum.

That is indeed the case and I am confident that they will do so, because the people of Scotland value having the pound sterling as their currency. They value having the Bank of England as a lender of last resort and they value the fact that, as a result, risks and opportunities are spread across the whole United Kingdom.

The White Paper has caused ripples. The polls are tightening and the Tories, with their Labour friends, are worried, but still the Prime Minister is afraid to debate with Alex Salmond, the First Minister of Scotland. This week the Financial Times tells us that an independent Scotland could expect to start with healthier state finances than the rest of the UK. Our GDP per head is higher than France’s and Italy’s. Will the Secretary of State use his position to ensure that people know these facts and stay away from scares and fears designed to stop them making the best decision for Scotland?

Indeed I will, because these are all things that we have achieved as part of the United Kingdom. It all demonstrates what is possible for Scotland as part of the United Kingdom. As for any question of debate, we have dealt with that already, but is it not remarkable that when Scottish National party Members could be answering questions, all they want to do is have a debate about the debate?