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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 March 2007, 12:48 GMT 13:48 UK
SNP reveal independence question
SNP leader Alex Salmond
SNP leader Alex Salmond has outlined his referendum plans
The SNP has revealed the wording of the question it would pose in an independence referendum if it gains control at the Holyrood elections.

It comes as the party clarified its timetable for holding a referendum.

Voters would be asked if they wanted to negotiate a new settlement with the UK Government so that Scotland becomes a sovereign and independent state.

It would be near the end of a four-year term and could cost about 7m. Labour called the proposal a ticking tax bomb.

SNP leader Alex Salmond revealed his plans for the referendum in a Sunday newspaper.

The Scottish Parliament should negotiate a new settlement with the British government, based on the proposals set out in the white paper, so that Scotland becomes a sovereign and independent state
The responses would be 'Yes I agree' or 'No I disagree'

He confirmed to the Sunday Herald that the Nationalists would aim for a ballot at the end of an SNP-led administration.

He told the paper: "I'm persuaded the key argument is about the SNP building up credibility in government, which is the essential requirement to win an independence referendum.

"The referendum would be close to the end of the four-year term."

It is understood the process for a vote would see a white paper being laid before Holyrood in the first 100 days after this May's parliamentary election, followed by a bill giving the choice of independence, leading to a referendum to be held by 2010.

Mr Salmond confirmed that a draft question had been agreed asking voters whether they backed the creation of a sovereign and independent Scotland.

A Yes vote would begin the process of Holyrood negotiation to end the 1707 Treaty of Union.

Independence 'cost'

Mr Salmond added: "That is the argument to transfer full political and economic control to Scotland, not to interfere with either the monarchy or social union between England and Scotland.

"The two countries will be independent but with the same head of state."

On the question of expense, the SNP estimate that the referendum would cost about 7m, which they say is comparable to the devolution referendum cost of 5m in 1999.

Labour MSP Andy Kerr MSP said: "By pledging to break up Britain, the SNP have set the timer on their massive ticking tax bomb.

"The SNP have today proven they do not come without independence and we all know that independence does not come without a cost."

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