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."
More top news
A west Cumbrian man has been jailed for carrying out a knife attack.
Animal charity the Scottish SPCA is appealing for information after a dog suspected of being used for badger baiting was found abandoned.
A speeding motorist who caused the death of an elderly pedestrian in a Cumbrian town centre has been jailed.