First Minister Alex Salmond told MSPs the independence referendum "should meet the highest standards of fairness, transparency and propriety", during a ministerial statement on the referendum consultation on Wednesday 25 January 2012.
Mr Salmond said the consultation on the referendum, "Your Scotland, Your Referendum" would deliver the "most important decision by the people of Scotland in 300 years" which "must be beyond reproach".
The first minister revealed the question his government intends to put to the Scottish people: "Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?".
He did not rule out a second question on the ballot paper: "If there is an alternative of maximum devolution which would command wide support in Scotland then it is only fair and democratic that option should be among the choices open to the people of Scotland."
The SNP has set a referendum date of autumn 2014, with other parties calling for the vote to be held sooner.
Mr Salmond told Holyrood that Scots aged 16 and 17 should get to vote in the referendum and the Electoral Commission should be appointed to regulate it.
Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont said she regretted that the first minister continued to decline her call for all party talks on the referendum.
Ms Lamont told the chamber the "majority of Scots" did not want separation.
Mr Salmond replied that he would be "delighted to hold talks with Johann Lamont and any other leader within or out with the chamber" and stressed the importance of consultation with civic Scotland too.
The leader of the Scottish Conservative party, Ruth Davidson, called for a "fair, legal and decisive referendum to be held as soon as possible".
Ms Davidson said both governments and both parliaments should resolve the issues of process and then engage in the real debate.
Willie Rennie, the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, asked if 99% of the voters opted for devolution max, would the government accept the "will of the people".
Mr Salmond pointed out that high profile Scottish Liberal Democrats, like Lord Steel, had argued "passionately" for a multi-option referendum in the past.
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