Page last updated at 15:06 GMT, Thursday, 29 November 2012

Backbench business debate: Scotland

On 29 November 2012 MPs discussed Scotland's future in the United Kingdom in a backbench business debate.

The motion tabled by Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem MPs argued that "Scotland is better off as part of the UK and the rest of the UK is better off together with Scotland".

In October, Prime Minister David Cameron and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond agreed the terms for a referendum on Scottish independence.

The referendum will be held in 2014, when Scottish residents will vote on a single "yes or no" question on independence.

Introducing the debate, Conservative MP Eleanor Laing said the matter was not about nationalism or independence but about "separation" and "drawing artificial lines that we don't need".

"We are stronger and better to go forward together as one United Kingdom," she argued.

The SNP tabled an amendment to the main motion stating that an independent Scotland would enjoy a "special relationship" with the UK similar to other Commonwealth countries.

Pete Wishart, SNP MP for Perth and North Perthshire, argued that Britishness was an "invention and a social construct" and said Scotland would "make a success of independence".

"The political union has failed Scotland, we no longer want to be tethered to a failing UK state; we can be better, we can walk tall in the world, we can make decisions on our own," he told MPs.

Labour MP for Glasgow Central Anas Sarwar said he believed the people of Scotland were creative enough and innovative enough to be successful in the UK.

David Mundell, a minister for the Scotland Office, said that if Scotland separated from the UK it would undo everything that had been "achieved together over the past 300 years".

"Partnership is what the UK is all about but they [the SNP] want to rip it up," he told MPs.

MPs went on to approve the main motion by 334 votes to 5, a majority of 229; the SNP's amendment was rejected by a 316-majority.

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