MPs demand clarity on Scottish divorce

By Graham Fahy

Divorce from Scotland should be fair and equitable, parliamentarians have urged.

An inquiry by the Scottish affairs committee into the breakup of the union with Scotland has demanded answers to how resources, rights and responsibilities would be assigned should England and Scotland separate.

MPs and peers said complex questions on banking, pensions, currency and national defences were clouded in confusion and concern.

"The purpose of this inquiry is to set out from the start some of those questions and begin to explore their answers, with the aim of helping to make this process as clear and fair as possible," Ian Davidson, chair of the committee, said.

"You cannot ask a big question about separation – however you construct it – without first asking and answering all these questions about how it will affect every aspect of every life, in Scotland and the UK as a whole.

"There are also questions here for other select committees, and we are aware that some may conduct their own inquiries".

The committee highlighted the costs of separation, Scotland's defences and membership of international organisations as areas for clarification by Scottish secretary Michael Moore.

Economic issues such as bank regulation, pension payments and the future national currency of Scotland also need to be resolved.

The committee called on Mr Moore to urgently take responsibility for clarifying the government's position, while working with the committee to provide factual and unbiased information to the people of Scotland.

A referendum on the future of the union is expected to take place in 2014. Recent polls suggest that between 32% and 38% of Scots favour full independence.