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House of Lords written question – answered on 10th July 2013.

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Photo of The Earl of Caithness The Earl of Caithness Conservative

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the remarks by Lord Wallace of Tankerness on 26 June (HL Deb, col 797), what are the “general principles of international law” relating to the allocation of national debt to which the minister referred.

Photo of Lord Wallace of Tankerness Lord Wallace of Tankerness Lords Spokesperson (Attorney General's Office), The Advocate-General for Scotland, Lords Spokesperson (Scotland Office)

There are a number of key legal issues that would underpin the formation of any independent Scottish state. The most important of these is the principle of continuity: that is, that the remainder of the UK would be the continuing state and an independent Scotland would be a new state. The first paper in the Government’s ‘Scotland Analysis’ programme deals with this issue in detail.

The question of the allocation of national debt would be informed by the principle of equity and international practice. On that basis, a new state would be expected to take its ‘equitable share’ of any national debt as accepted by the Scottish Government Finance Secretary in his evidence to the Lords Economic Affairs Committee.

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