Page last updated at 12:56 GMT, Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Cameron: SNP want a 'neverendum', not a referendum

Prime Minister David Cameron has called on the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) to speed up negotiations on the referendum on Scottish independence.

He told MPs during prime minister's questions on 11 January 2011 that "too many in the SNP are happy to talk about the process" and accused the Scottish government of avoiding discussion on the substance of the issue.

"It's not a referendum they want, but a 'neverendum'," Mr Cameron told MPs.

His comments came in response to Labour leader Ed Miliband, who urged the prime minister to make the case for the union, telling MPs: "We are stronger together and weaker apart."

Mr Cameron agreed, but said the legal position on the referendum had to be clarified first, adding that the UK government had offered to devolve powers to the Scottish parliament to resolve the issue.

The process "must be clear, it must be legal, and it must be fair", Mr Cameron said.

But the SNP's Westminster leader Angus Robertson accused the UK government of interfering in Scotland's affairs, adding that the Conservative Party "has less members of Parliament that there are giant pandas in Edinburgh Zoo".

Mr Cameron insisted that he wanted to give power to Scotland to hold a binding referendum.

Earlier in the session, Mr Cameron and Mr Miliband clashed on the issue of rail fares, with Mr Miliband accusing the government of allowing train companies to introduce large increases in rail fares.

The prime minister rebuffed the suggestion, telling MPs that the power to raise rail fares had been given to train operators by the last Labour government; something Mr Miliband denied.

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