Policy

Informing the debate on Scotland's constitutional future

Issue

The UK and Scottish governments have agreed to work together to give people in Scotland a referendum on Scottish independence by the end of 2014.

However, the UK government believes that Scotland is stronger in the UK, and the UK is stronger with Scotland in it. We will continue to make the positive case for how people in Scotland can have the best of both worlds: decisions on important issues taken in Scotland, within a strong and secure UK.

Actions

To inform the debate about Scotland’s constitutional future, we are undertaking a programme of analysis on Scotland’s place in the UK and how it contributes to and benefits from being part of the UK. We are publishing the Scotland analysis series.

The work will be informed by expert opinion, including a forum of independent legal experts and open to scrutiny when it is published. It will provide people in Scotland with the facts and figures that are currently unknown or taken for granted, and explain how the UK in its current form works.

The work will cover a number of important themes, including:

  • the UK’s position in the world
  • the protection of our citizens
  • the economic benefits of the UK

A number of government departments are involved in this analysis. We are also working with independent experts including think tanks, academics, economists, lawyers and specialists from different sectors and areas of expertise.

Our first paper, Scotland analysis: devolution and the implications of independence, examined the UK’s constitutional framework and the legal implications of independence, how it benefits Scotland and the implications if people voted to leave. It concluded that, should Scotland become an independent state, the UK would be the continuing state, and an independent Scotland would be a new state. The legal position is clear that bodies that support the UK now, for example the Bank of England, would continue to operate on behalf of the continuing UK on the same basis as before should Scotland vote to become a separate state.

Our second paper, Scotland analysis: currency and monetary policy, explores these issues in more detail and concludes that all of the alternative currency arrangements would be likely to be less economically suitable for both Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Our third paper, Scotland analysis: financial services and banking, analyses how the financial services sector currently operates across the UK, and considers the implications of Scottish independence on the financial system, the industry, and its customers across the UK.

Our fourth paper, Scotland analysis: business and microeconomic framework, considers the benefits of the UK’s integrated domestic market for goods and services, and the implications of Scottish independence on the UK’s shared regulatory and institutional framework; unified labour market, integrated knowledge base; and communications and transport infrastructure.

Our fifth paper, Scotland analysis: macroeconomic and fiscal performance, shows that Scotland’s economy has performed well as part of the UK. The paper analyses how the UK’s broader and more diverse tax base helps maintain stability of public spending in Scotland and smooth the impact of volatile sources of revenue, such as North Sea oil and gas. Looking at international comparators, the paper also considers the economic implications of putting a border between Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Our sixth paper, Scotland analysis: defence, considers the consequences which Scotland leaving the UK would have for the national security of both Scotland and the rest of the UK. The paper analyses the UK’s approach to defence and the potential consequences of Scottish independence. It also looks at the challenges which would face an independent Scottish state to establish, man and equip its armed forces and wider defence structures.

Our seventh paper, Scotland analysis: security, considers the impact of independence on security issues such as counter-terrorism, fighting serious and organised crime and protecting against cyber threats. The paper analyses the UK’s approach to identifying and managing threats to the national security of the UK and the implications for these arrangements of a vote for independence.

Our eighth paper, Scotland analysis: Science and research discusses the closely integrated and thriving research base between Scotland and the rest of the UK. Our research base is important to the UK’s, including Scotland’s, innovation and economic success. The paper investigates the consequences of Scottish independence for the UK research environment, including publicly funded institutions.

Our ninth paper, Scotland analysis: EU and international issues considers the impact of independence on Scotland’s place in the world and the continuing benefits and advantages they will enjoy through Scotland remaining part of the United Kingdom. The paper addresses Scottish Government claims on membership of the EU and the likely implications for Scottish taxpayers of losing the EU rebate.

Our tenth paper, Scotland analysis: borders and citizenship looks at the implications for borders and citizenship if people in Scotland were to vote for independence. It sets out how the current UK framework benefits the whole of the UK, including Scotland, explores the challenges which an independent Scottish state could face in assuming control of its borders, and considers the difficult choices that the people in Scotland would have to face on issues such as citizenship and nationality. It will be a choice between the continuity and security of being part of the UK, or the uncertainty and risk of leaving it.

Our eleventh paper, Scotland analysis: energy presents the UK Government’s analysis of the energy markets and the policy implications of the debate on Scottish independence. It reviews the benefits of the current GB and UK frameworks for managing energy policy which has been integral in ensuring secure, clean and affordable energy supply and that energy liabilities are dealt with safely. It also explores some of the potential implications, costs and risks to which an independent Scottish state may be exposed to ensure Scotland’s energy needs are met.

Background

In October 2012, the UK and Scottish governments signed an agreement about how they would work to provide a legal basis for the referendum and make sure it provides a fair and decisive reflection of Scottish people’s views.

More information about how we are doing this can be found in our policy on facilitating a legal, fair, and decisive referendum. Information about our work to strengthen and deepen the Scottish devolution settlement can be found in our policy on Scottish devolution.

Bills and legislation

The Scotland Act 1998 established the Scottish Parliament.

The Scotland Act 2012 devolved more tax-raising and other powers from the UK Parliament to the Scottish Parliament.

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