Page last updated at 11:30 GMT, Thursday, 8 November 2012

Referendum Bill Committee 1

Professor Alan Trench, from the Constitutional Unit at University College London, , said the Edinburgh Agreement "in effect changes nothing" in relation to the legal position of the independence referendum as that would only change once the section 30 order is made.

The secion 30 order will give the Scottish Parliament the legislative powers to hold the referendum.

Professor Trench was giving evidence to the Referendum Bill Committee on the section 30 order of the Scotland Act 1998,which will be laid in the United Kingdom and Scottish Parliaments to allow a single-question referendum on Scottish independence to be held before the end of 2014, on 8 November 2012.

A deal setting out terms for a Scottish independence referendum was signed in Edinburgh on 15 October by Prime Minister David Cameron and First Minister Alex Salmond.

The agreement has paved the way for a vote in autumn 2014, with a single Yes/No question on Scotland leaving the UK.

Labour MSP James Kelly said a view had been offered by the First Minister, Deputy First Minister and Lord Advocate that the Edinburgh Agreement was a legitimate trigger in order to release or authorise the release of legal advice.

Mr Trench said: "I am personally rather sceptical about the effect of this agreement in relation to that because the agreement, in a sense, changes nothing.

"The legal position will change once the section 30 order is made.

"I can't see that the agreement itself meaningfully acts as a change in circumstance."

Professor Aileen McHarg from the University of Strathclyde, also giving evidence, said ""I am not saying it is necessarily wrong but it seems a strange argument to say that it was impossible to seek legal advice until this point."

The second part of the debate can be viewed below:

Referendum Bill Committee 2

Referendum Bill Committee

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