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Referendums (Scotland) Bill: Stage 1

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 7th November 2019.

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Photo of Colin Beattie Colin Beattie Scottish National Party

I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak in this debate on the Referendums (Scotland) Bill. First, I emphasise that the bill is not focused simply on holding another independence referendum, although I am well aware that some members may focus solely on that aspect. The bill would allow for a strong framework for future referendums of any nature in Scotland. While it would provide us with the power to allow referendums to be held, it would also give us a chance to format rules, questions and legislation that are strong and well intentioned and which would hold our Parliament to account.

We have an opportunity to put in place a robust structure that would provide the people of Scotland with a high standard for future referenda. We could avoid the catastrophic shambles of having a distorted and divisive referendum of a similar nature to the Brexit referendum, which has done little except to leave voters disengaged and disillusioned by the misinformation that was fed to them as a means to an end. The provisions in the bill for campaign rules, which are particularly prominent, would ensure that campaigns were both fair and transparent. We do not want any more campaigns in which incorrect information about the NHS is plastered on the side of buses by self-seeking politicians.