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Holyrood parliament passes Scottish referendum bill

Staff writer ▼ | November 14, 2013
Legislation to hold the Scottish independence referendum has been passed unanimously by the Holyrood parliament.
Scotland Independence
Scotland IndependenceLegislation to hold the Scottish independence referendum has been passed unanimously by the Holyrood parliament.

The Scottish government's bill sets out the referendum rules, such as the question and campaign spending limits. On September 18, 2014, voters will be asked the yes/no question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

The Scottish Independence Referendum Bill was passed less than two weeks before the SNP administration publishes its detailed case for independence.

During a debate before MSPs approved the legislation, Deputy Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said discussion in the months ahead would be "passionate, at times heated", but urged all politicians to keep the quality high by presenting informed and constructive arguments to voters, reports BBC.

Ms. Sturgeon said: "I think we can be proud that we're passing legislation that will put Scotland's future into Scotland's hands - I hope that the people of Scotland will seize that opportunity, seize that future, seize that prospect of a better Scotland with a resounding 'Yes' vote.

Opponents of independence also backed the legislation.

The referendum itself is preceded by a 16-week formal campaign period, during which limits will apply to the amount of money registered campaigners can spend, to ensure a level playing field for both sides of the debate.

The vote is overseen by the independent Electoral Commission watchdog, which is responsible for regulating campaign rules and informing the public about the referendum.

The ballot is conducted under the direction of a "chief counting officer", who will be responsible for appointing local counting officers.

The UK government agreed to give temporary powers to Holyrood to hold a legal referendum, under Section 30 of the 1998 Scotland Act - the piece of legislation which set up the Scottish Parliament.