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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 April 2006, 12:21 GMT 13:21 UK
SNP's independence referendum bid
SNP leader Alex Salmond
Alex Salmond said there was "all to play for" before the 2007 election
Plans to hold a referendum on Scottish independence have been launched by the Scottish National Party.

The proposal was unveiled in a draft bill at the party's spring conference in Dundee on Saturday.

SNP leader Alex Salmond said a vote on Scottish independence was a "non-negotiable" part of any coalition deal involving his party.

The bill, he said, would have to be introduced to the Scottish Parliament within four years.

However, Mr Salmond conceded that any coalition partner may seek to delay this so that it did not take place immediately after the 2007 election.

We have a clear and powerful message linking freedom for our nation with a new culture of independence for ordinary Scots
Alex Salmond
SNP leader

The bill, which the SNP would introduce if it wins power in Holyrood, was drawn up following a consultation which prompted responses from more than 250 people.

It would ask all adult residents in Scotland if they agree that: "The Scottish Parliament (led by executive ministers) should negotiate a new settlement with the British Government so that Scotland becomes a sovereign and independent state."

Mr Salmond said there was "all to play for" with just over a year until the next Scottish election.

Election target

"We have a clear and powerful message linking freedom for our nation with a new culture of independence for ordinary Scots - giving people a bigger say over their lives just as we want Scotland to have full responsibility for its own future," he said.

Mr Salmond has set a target of 20 constituency seats for the 2007 election.

In the 2003 Scottish Parliament election, Labour won 50 seats, 46 of them in the local constituency contests.

By contrast 18 of the 27 Nationalist members elected to Holyrood won their places as list MSPs, elected through the second, regional top-up vote.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See events at the SNP conference



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