I mentioned in my post this morning that I had written to Nick Clegg. Earlier today I received responses from him and the Secretary of State for Scotland, which I have attached below with a copy of my original letter.
- Letter from Nicola Sturgeon to Nick Clegg (pdf)
- Letter from Nick Clegg to Nicola Sturgeon (pdf)
- Letter from Michael Moore to Nicola Sturgeon (pdf)
I will be following up with the DPM and SoS on two issues:
1. The UK government should provide access to information on reserved issues. Clearly there is information held by the UK government on, for example, the detailed breakdown of welfare and defence spend in Scotland, that could and would inform debate. I want to clarify that when he says ‘we will not carry out financial modelling or allocate civil service resources to support plans for independence’, Michael Moore isn’t signalling that he’ll block access to information in reserved areas.
2. Preparation is not pre-negotiation. Having discussions now to develop an understanding of the issues that will require negotiation after a ‘yes’ vote, what approach we will take to these negotiations and what factual information will underpin them is not to pre-empt the outcome of the referendum – it is simply to ensure that if there is a ‘yes’ vote we can get to work quickly on resolving these issues and implementing the democratic decision of the people of Scotland. It’s an approach based on the same principle as the pre-election access opposition parties get to the civil service – to ensure that the groundwork is done to enable them to get to work quickly if they win.
Agreeing a framework on both these points doesn’t involve either government conceding any ground in the substantive debate – but it will help ensure that the debate is as informed as possible and that is surely in the interests of the Scottish people. As Nick Clegg rightly says in his letter, the referendum is the most important political decisions that people of Scotland will face in their lifetimes. So there should be a grown-up open discussion between governments, and with the people of Scotland.
POSTSCRIPT – look out for Alex Salmond’s speech tomorrow on one of the main opportunities of independence .