Independence paper contains 'no significant commitments', says minister

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon set out the document at Bute House on Tuesday.

Independence paper contains ‘no significant commitments’, says Scottish Government minister George Adam Scottish Parliament TV

A Scottish Government minister has said that the first of a series of papers published making the case for independence contains “no significant commitments or announcements”.

It comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon set out the document at Bute House on Tuesday.

The SNP leader said that the document contained “more thought”, “more evidence” and “more clear planning” in it than there was in the entirety of the Brexit campaign.

And she dismissed comparisons between the Brexit referendum to Scottish independence.

She added: “Constitutional change is not something that is unknown in the world. What matters is the way in which that is planned and the integrity and the honesty of the platform on which it is built.

“And in that sense, there could not be more difference between the case for independence and the case for Brexit.”

Speaking at Holyrood, Scottish Labour MSP Neil Bibby stated that he made clear at a meeting of the Parliamentary Bureau that government announcements should be made to the Parliament, with press conferences taking subsequently.

Scottish Conservative chief whip Stephen Kerr suggested that the Parliament had been treated with “nothing but contempt” by the Scottish Government.

George Adam, the Scottish Government’s minister for parliamentary business, told MSPs that the statement did not make any “significant” policy commitments.

“With regards to today’s statement, the publication of that statement is a scene-setting and comparative analysis paper and makes no significant policy commitments or announcements regarding our proposals for an independent Scotland,” he said.

Holyrood’s presiding officer Alison Johnstone also made clear that significant announcements should not enter the public domain before being communicated to Parliament.

In a statement, she said: “Yesterday afternoon, significant news that should have been announced in this chamber as a matter of courtesy and respect to the Parliament was reported by national media, trailing a media event this morning.

“Long established good practice guidance on announcements by the Scottish Government states that announcements by Government on matters of importance should not enter the public domain before or without being communicated to the Parliament. 

“Where the subject matter relates to matters on which members of the public would have a clear interest there’s a strong expectation that the ministerial statement would be scheduled with appropriate notice and where that ministerial statement has been programmed, the details of that statement should not be released to the media before the statement is made.

“Now, it is not possible to square the Government’s actions on this matter, with respect for this guidance which is designed to ensure that this Parliament is given its proper place.

“It is my role to represent this Parliaments’ interests and in doing so I take account of all members’ interests equally.

“The Government is in no doubt that I do not regard this as acceptable and in these circumstances the Parliament’s time is used best by moving straight to questions.”

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