Scotland's First Minister is expected to meet with the Prime Minister in the next few weeks to conclude the discussions about the terms of a vote.
He said independence would give Scotland the powers needed to promote jobs and growth.
He told MSPs, "I believe an independent Scotland is a fairer as well as weathier one."
A controversial bill on same - sex marriage will also be brought forward. It will be subject to a free 'conscience' vote in the parliament.
"No faith group will be required to take part in a same- sex ceremony unless they wish to do so. This is the apppropriate thing to do to respect religious and private beliefs, while ensuring equality."
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Over the next eight years the populations of all but nine local authorities in England will increase. Four of those are in Cumbria.
The Psychoactive Substances Act will come into effect tomorrow, and could see offenders jailed for up to seven years.