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Your Scotland, Your Voice
First Minister Alex Salmond today published the Scottish Government's White Paper - Your Scotland, Your Voice - which paves the way for the people of Scotland to be given the right to choose their constitutional future in a referendum.
Scottish Ministers believe that independence delivers a new 21st century partnership of equals between Scotland and England - including giving the Scottish Government and Parliament the responsibilities needed to fight recession, support jobs, and maximise the opportunities that will come with recovery.
As well as setting out the case for independence in more depth and detail than ever before, the White Paper also examines the other constitutional options open to Scotland: the status quo, the proposals of the Calman Commission on Scottish Devolution, and maximum devolution including fiscal autonomy.
Mr Salmond said:
"Following a decade of devolution and the reconvening of the Scottish Parliament, there is now a clear and consistent demand for further constitutional progress for Scotland and extending the powers of the Parliament.
"The vast majority of people want to expand the responsibilities of the Parliament, so that we have more powers to do more for Scotland - the economic and financial clout to fight recession and support recovery, the right to speak up for Scotland in Europe, and the ability to remove Trident nuclear weapons from our soil.
"The National Conversation has spearheaded that process, and engaged all those who want to move Scotland forward - both in terms of more responsibilities, and a complete extension of powers with independence. It culminates in this White Paper, paving the way for a Referendum Bill early next year to give voice to the democratic demand of Scotland.
"The debate in Scottish politics is no longer between change or no change - it's about the kind of change we seek, and the right of the people to choose their future in a free and fair referendum.
"The White Paper examines the options open to Scotland: no more powers under the status quo, a few more powers with Calman, a lot more powers through maximum devolution, and the complete extension of the powers of the Scottish Parliament with independence - the policy of the Scottish Government. This historic document sets out the case for Scottish independence with unprecedented depth and clarity.
"Popular opinion in Scotland has moved far beyond the status quo. And Calman has also been shown to fall behind the needs of the people - with the UK Government refusing to make any progress on important issues such as air weapons this side of the election, and substantial doubt as to what if anything will happen afterwards.
"This White Paper charts the route to progress for Scotland - and we are calling on people of all parties and none who want real and substantive additions to the powers of the Parliament to rally to the referendum campaign. That is why we are open to including the option of such powers on the referendum ballot paper, alongside independence.
"It's time for the people to have their say on Scotland's future."
Constitution Minister Michael Russell said:
"The National Conversation has been the most extensive engagement with the people of Scotland on the future of our nation. Today's White Paper is a broad and detailed assessment of where Scotland stands today and the options for our nation's future.
"The people of Scotland have expressed their hopes, views and aspirations through the National Conversation. Their voice must be heard in a referendum, and no politician should seek to stand in their way."