Page last updated at 20:33 GMT, Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Scottish Parliament

MSPs unanimously passed the first stage of the UK government order which transfers powers to enable Holyrood to conduct a referendum on independence in 2014.

The Convener of the Referendum (Scotland) Bill Committee, SNP MSP Bruce Crawford led the debate on their first report on 5 December 2012.

Mr Crawford told the chamber he felt "the weight of history bearing down on me" as he commended the report to the MSPs and he praised the cross party consensus on ensuring the process of the referendum would be "beyond legal challenge".

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said with the passing of the Section 30 order, which will transfer the powers to Holyrood to hold the vote, the "substantive debate" could now begin.

Both Labour and the Conservatives welcomed the passing of the order and talked of the importance of agreement on the process by both Westminster and Holyrood.

The Referendum (Scotland) Bill Committee was established by the Parliament on 23 October 2012 to scrutinise the legislation that will provide the basis for the referendum on Scottish independence, expected to be held in autumn 2014.

A process of negotiation between the Scottish Government and the UK Government resulted in the agreement signed in Edinburgh on 15 October.

This commits the two governments to "work together to ensure that a referendum on Scottish independence can take place", and that it should have "a clear legal base; be legislated for by the Scottish Parliament; be conducted so as to command the confidence of parliaments, governments and people; and deliver a fair test and a decisive expression of the views of people in Scotland and a result that everyone will respect".

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