Page last updated at 19:22 GMT, Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Scotland Act order part two

MPs have approved the formal transfer of powers to hold a referendum on Scottish independence to Holyrood.

The order was passed without a vote on 15 January 2013, after a day's debate in the House of Commons.

It will be reviewed by peers next week, needing the agreement of both Houses of Parliament to become law.

The order changes the Scotland Act 1998 to allow the Scottish Parliament to agree issues including the franchise, question and campaign finance for the independence referendum.

It follows the Edinburgh Agreement between Prime Minister David Cameron and First Minister Alex Salmond, setting out the terms for the referendum.

Ian Davidson, Labour chair of the Scottish affairs select committee, criticised the SNP's proposed drafting of the referendum question.

He said "the formulation 'do you agree' is deliberately designed to illicit a positive answer".

He added there was "no reason" why the SNP should not have committed themselves to accepting the advice of the Electoral Commission on the wording.

Conservative MP Elainor Laing said there was no point going through "all the rigmarole" and spending "hundreds of millions of pounds" on a referendum for such a "meaningless ... enormously biased question".

The SNP's Pete Wishart said the passage of the order marked the "last day "of the Westminster Parliament's "formal role" in the referendum process.

The Perth and North Perthshire MP said he hoped the Scottish and English would continue to be "friends and neighbours" in the event of a vote in favour of granting independence.

The referendum is expected to be held in the autumn of 2014.

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