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Scottish leaders go head-to-head

Credit: PA

Political leaders in Scotland went head-to-head in the country's first televised debate ahead of this year's election last night.

The programme featured the leaders of the four major Scottish parties: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon from the SNP; leader of the Scottish Labour Party Jim Murphy; Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson; and Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Willie Rennie.

They debated the economy, public services, and devolution in front of a live audience of 200 people in Edinburgh.


Leaders gear up for Scottish debate

Credit: PA

Tonight will see the leaders of Scotland's four main political parties go head-to-head exactly a month before the general election.

Scotland Debates, which will be broadcast on ITV Border Scotland from 8pm tonight, will feature First Minister Nicola Sturgeon from the SNP; leader of the Scottish Labour Party Jim Murphy; Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson; and Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Willie Rennie.

The debate, which will be in front of an audience of 200, will be moderated by STV’s political editor, Bernard Ponsonby, and will be broadcast live from The Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh.

7 million people tuned into the ITV Leaders' Debate on Thursday.

Independence Bill provides "appropriate foundation for referendum"

As set out in the Bill, the vote will take place on September 18th 2014.

People will be asked to answer 'yes' or 'no' to the question "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

"While the committee identified some issues that require clarification or amendment ... the whole committee was able to agree that the Bill provides an appropriate foundation for next year's referendum.

Indeed, the Electoral Commission told us it was 'a strong piece of legislation' able to deliver a referendum 'that truly puts the voter first'."

– Bruce Crawford, Convener

The Bill also sets out spending limits for the two main campaign groups, Yes Scotland and Better Together, and the rules surrounding the referendum's purdah period which prevents government from announcing any new legislation.

MSPs have already agreed to extend the franchise to 16 and 17-year-olds.


Holyrood Thatcher debate postponed

A debate on the legacy of Baroness Thatcher, due to be held at Holyrood tomorrow, has now been postponed until Thursday (18th April).

The Green Party, along with independent MSPs, wanted to coincide the debate with Baroness Thatcher's funeral.

However, at this morning's meeting of the Parliamentary Bureau, other parties agreed with The Scottish Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats that it should be postponed until the following day.

The Scottish Conservatives said that holding the debate deliberately alongside the funeral would have been provocative and insensitive:

“I’m glad all parties involved have reached a sensible compromise, which will see the debate take place on Thursday instead.

“Staging this at the same time as the funeral would have been provocative, disrespectful and extremely upsetting for many people across Scotland and the UK.

“That would have reflected badly not only on those behind the debate, but the Scottish Parliament as a whole.

“This is a positive outcome for the Scottish Conservatives and the wider Parliament.

“We have absolutely no problem taking part in this debate.

“Our only issue was the timing, and that has now been resolved.”

– John Lamont MSP, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire

Calls for rail franchise debate

A south Lakes MP is calling for a Parliamentary debate on the future of the West Coast main line railway and any future franchise award.

The new franchise will run for 14 years until introduction of the first phase of the high speed rail line in 2026.

Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron says he wants a debate to ensure prices are not increased while services reduced.

He said: "I am prepared to back the bidder who offers the best deal for our area.

"I am calling for a parliamentary debate on the matter so we can make sure local residents are heard loudly and clearly in Westminster."