Page last updated at 19:23 GMT, Thursday, 17 November 2011

Scotland Bill Committee 2

The Scottish Secretary Michael Moore told the Scotland Bill Committee the UK government had no plans to lay down rules for a referendum on independence in the Scotland Bill, on 17 November 2011.

But, when pressed by committee convener and SNP MSP Linda Fabiani, he sidestepped demands for an absolute assurance that ministers would ensure that such rules would be excluded from the bill if, for example, they were tabled by backbenchers.

Mr Moore also told MSPs the borrowing limit set out in the proposed legislation was a "floor not a ceiling", on 17 November 2011.

The UK government has said the Scotland Bill will give Holyrood ministers £12bn of financial powers.

But the Scottish government has said greater tax and borrowing powers must be devolved, to give Scotland the economic levers it needs to boost recovery and growth.

Mr Moore told the committee the borrowing powers limit had been sculpted to reflect the current financial situation during this spending review period and could be increased at a later date.

Scottish Green MSP Alison Johnstone asked the cabinet secretary whether he believed the bill as it stood sufficiently reflected the will of the Scottish people.

Mr Moore responded saying he was satisfied the bill had been drawn up during a "fully engaged process."

He told MSPs he acknowledged the victory of the SNP in the Scottish elections in May 2011 and recognised the Scottish government's six proposals for changes to the bill.

Since the election, the Scottish government has called for the following additions to the Scotland bill:

• greater borrowing powers

• greater devolution of broadcasting

• devolution of corporation tax

• devolution of the administration and revenues of the Crown Estate

• devolution of excise duties

• stronger voice in Europe

Mr Moore told the committee the UK and Scottish governments were in "dialogue" and would try work towards agreement.

He said politicians owed it to the people of Scotland to have all proposals scrutinised and well thought through.

Mr Moore ended his evidence by saying he was "optimistic" that after listening to all the points put forward by the committee a bill could be produced that would be "acceptable to the people of Scotland."

The Scotland Bill Committee will now go on to consider its draft report on the bill.

In the first part of the committe Finance Secretary John Swinney and Parliamentary Business and Government Strategy Secretary Bruce Crawford gave evidence which can be viewed below:

Scotland Bill Committee 1

Scotland Bill Committee membership


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