3 The evidence we heard |
14. The Secretary of State for Scotland made it clear
to us that the United Kingdom Government's view was that there
should be a single, clear and decisive question which should be
put to the voters. He said:
We are clear that our preference is for a single
question. Let us not lose sight of the fundamental issue at stake
here. We are going to decide whether Scotland stays within the
United Kingdom or not. This generation of Scots will determine
the most important decision in 300 years.
Many of our witnesses agreed with this approach.
For example, the devolution campaigner Nigel Smith said, "I
have absolutely no doubt, even though I am a devo-maxer, that
I want a binary referendum."
15. Some witnesses, however, did take a slightly
different view. Since opinion poll evidence suggested that Scottish
opinion was divided between the status quo, a desire for more
devolution (loosely referred to as "devolution-max"
or "devo-max") and a desire for separation, they suggested
that a referendum which appeared to polarise the choice between
the status quo and separation would not put before the voters
an option which many of them, on the face of it, favoured.
16. Professor Vernon Bogdanor, of King's College,
London, put the point this way: "The fundamental argument
for the third option is that it seems from opinion poll evidence
that this is the option which most Scots favour."
Professor John Curtice, of Strathclyde University, thought that
"A referendum is less likely to resolve an issue if it fails
to encompass (and specify fairly) what are widely regarded as
all of the key policy alternatives."
Professor Iain McLean, of Nuffield College, Oxford, thought that
"providing that devolution max can be defined to the
satisfaction of the Electoral Commission it would be desirable
to have it as a ballot option."
17. On the face of it, these may seem like attractive
arguments, but the evidence we heard (including from those
witnesses who tended to support having a third option) showed
very clearly that this was nothing like as simple and straightforward
a proposition as it might seem at first glance.
Is there a scheme for further
devolution which could be put to electorate?
18. A repeated theme in our evidence was that if
any scheme of further devolution, beyond the provisions of the
Scotland Act 2012, were to be put to the voters, a detailed proposition
would have to be developed. This is the point made by the Royal
Society of Edinburgh in response to the Scotland Office consultation:
that the extent and nature of any proposed scheme of further devolution
would have to be presented and explained to the voters. Those
witnesses whom we heard who favoured putting a wider range of
choices in front of the electorate all agreed with this. For example,
Professor Bogdanor said "an option for Devo Max should not
be put on the ballot paper just as an aspiration."
19. Professor McLean had a similar view:
I am clear that no proposal for devo-max should
be on a ballot paper unless somebody has defined it. If nobody
defines it, it should not be on the ballot paper because people
would not know what they were voting for.
20. Professor Curtice agreed:
An ideal situation would be that what went on
the ballot paper was something that the current UK government
] had indicated in advance that they supported and would
be willing to implement.
21. It was clear from our evidence that the only
scheme of further devolution that had been developed in detail
was the Scotland Act 2012. (During the course of our enquiry the
Scotland Bill completed its legislative process and was agreed
between Parliament and the Scottish Parliament.) The First Minister
of Scotland has referred to ideas of "full fiscal autonomy"
which he appears to equate to "devolution max". The
fact that these ideas have been mentioned, however, does not mean
that they are schemes which could be put into practice. In evidence
to us, Owen Kelly of Scottish Financial Enterprise put it this
way: "Devo-Max can be all things to all people."
Similarly, Martin Boon of ICM Research said:
If the people proposing devo-max are not capable
of defining exactly what it is, why should anybody expect the
public to understand what it is about?
Andrew Hawkins, the chairman of Comres, the polling
organisation, was equally blunt: "the only way it could work
would be if we knew what the options are and what they actually
meanwhat devo-max means."
22. None of our witnesses was able to point to any
such scheme, or indeed to anyone developing such a set of proposals.
(In their consultation paper, the Scottish Government referred
to papers produced in their "national conversation"
before 2007, so as to give the impression that these papers contain
a workable scheme of "devolution max" which could be
put into practice if it were agreed. Even the most superficial
reading of these papers, however, demonstrates that this is not
the case.) We note that this also appears, now, to be the view
of the Co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party, Patrick Harvie
MSP, who has been quoted in the press as saying that no second
question should be added to the referendum as no coherent proposal
for further devolution exists. He stated:
To be legitimate, a second question needs to
be clear and it needs to represent a meaningful mandate. Now a
couple of organisations have tried to define what 'devo max' or
'devo plus' might look like. I don't think they've achieved the
clarity that's needed. People don't know what they're voting for.
23. Others have since expressed the same view. We
agree. From the evidence we have heard and read, "devolution
max" is little more than a phrase.
24. One witness, however, did argue for more devolution,
if not for "devo-max", and was developing plans for
it. A former member of the Scottish Parliament, Jeremy Purvis,
of the Devolution Plus group, which is supported by the think
tank Reform Scotland, explained the plans he and his colleagues
were developing for extending fiscal devolution in Scotland. The
work of his group was not yet complete, but it would make a case
for the further devolution of taxes. He explained that they sought
to divide taxes into those which should be Scottish, those which
could be shared between the Scottish and UK levels, and those
which should be wholly retained by the UK. Although he hoped to
move towards a situation where the Scottish Parliament was responsible
for more or even most of the revenue it needed, he did not advocate
a system akin to the First Minister's notion of "full fiscal
autonomy" under which all taxes raised in Scotland would
be the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament.
25. He did not, however, propose that the scheme
which his group developed should be placed on the referendum ballot
paper alongside the decision whether Scotland should remain in
the United Kingdom. He explained:
That is why we have the position that we are
neither pressing for nor calling for a separate question, a separate
referendum, or any particular type of process, for the strong
reason that we believe many of our proposals could be implemented
in the normal statutory manner as the Scotland Act has been delivered.
26. We agree with this conclusion. Just as the Scotland
Act 2012 emerged from commitments in party manifestos in the General
Election, it would be equally legitimate for further development
of devolution to be decided on in this way. Indeed, the Scotland
Act 2012 already allows for the extension of tax devolution by
means of secondary legislation if both Parliaments agree (just
as the Scotland Act 1998 makes provision for the devolution of
legislative and executive powers by agreement as well). It
is hard to avoid the conclusion that there are some in the SNP
and the Scottish Government looking for schemes of further devolution
to be added to the referendum on separation, as an insurance policy
against the verdict of the Scottish electorate.
27. Of course we do acknowledge the evidence that
there are many people in Scotland who do not support separation,
but are attracted to further devolution. Professor Curtice, for
example, drew our attention to opinion poll evidence which suggests
that a majority of Scots want as many domestic decisions as possible
taken in Scotland, though only a relatively small minority want
the Scottish Parliament to discharge the traditional functions
of a nation state, such as foreign affairs or defence. Two considerations
must, however, be borne in mind when looking at this evidence.
28. First of all, the evidence indicates that, as
Professor McLean put it, in polling, voters are offered a "menu
That is to say, when answering pollsters' questions, voters have
not had the opportunity to consider detailed proposals which would
set out the costs as well as the potential benefits of changes
of this kind. In response to such questions respondents have a
natural tendency to express support in the abstract for more decentralisationwhether
from London to Edinburgh, from Edinburgh to different parts of
Scotland or even from Glasgow to Govan. The second consideration
relates to the fact that contrasting the status quo with further
devolution is now misleading.
Plans for further devolution
29. During the period of our inquiry, the Scotland
Act 2012 was passed by Parliament, with the agreement of the Scottish
Parliament, and has received Royal Assent. As is well known, the
Act puts into effect recommendations of the Commission on Scottish
Devolution, chaired by Sir Kenneth Calman. The Calman Commission
was set up by the Scottish Parliament and the UK government, with
the agreement of all the main political parties except the SNP.
It concluded that devolution was both successful and popular,
and that it should be developed by extending the taxation and
borrowing powers of the Scottish Parliament so as to strengthen
its fiscal accountability. Taking forward the Calman recommendations
featured in the manifestos of all the main parties in the 2010
General Election, and a Bill to implement them was introduced
into Parliament in November 2010. It was subject to extensive
scrutiny in Parliament and at Holyrood, which then voted over
overwhelmingly in support of it.
30. As a consequence, the Scottish Parliament will
now gain substantial tax and borrowing powers, including a new
Scottish Income Tax and other Scottish taxes. These powers are
planned to come into effect after the date of the proposed referendum.
The Act also makes provision for further taxes to be devolved
by Order, just as further legislative and executive powers already
can be. This changes the context of the debate. It is no longer
right to contrast the "status quo" with "more devolution".
Unless Scotland votes to leave the UK, there will be more devolution
under these plans. The initial extent of more fiscal devolution
has already been set out by the Government. It will involve about
30% of the current expenditure of the Scottish Parliament being
financed by devolved taxes. Further fiscal devolution will depend
on agreement between the UK and Scottish Governments. More devolution
and, in particular, more devolution of tax powers, is therefore
the option against which any proposed change must be compared.
The status quo, in the sense of a Scottish Parliament with only
the very limited tax-raising powers it was given in 1999, has
The difference between separation
and more devolution
31. Another issue which emerged in our evidence was
the qualitative difference between a decision on separation, and
a decision about more devolution. It was widely acknowledged by
our witnesses and others involved in the debate that if the Scottish
people voted to separate from the rest of the United Kingdom,
that would be a legitimate choice which should be respected. It
was the exercise of self-determination. As Professor Bogdanor
put it in his written evidence:
The issue of independence is one for the Scottish
people alone [
] It is now generally accepted that if it
is the settled wish of a particular part of the United Kingdom
that it wishes to secede it should be entitled to do so.
32. There was extensive discussion among our witnesses
as to whether it would be better for a referendum on separation
to be held after the terms of separation had been negotiated.
In oral evidence, Professors Bogdanor, Curtice and McLean, and
Professor Peter Kellner, of the YouGov polling organisation, all
agreed that it would be better if the terms of a potential separation
were discussed and agreed before the Scottish people took a decision
on it. They recognised however, that there was a choice. Professor
You can either do all the negotiations ahead
of time, with the downside risk that some of the people will not
accept it, or you do none of the negotiations ahead of time.
33. The issue of the terms of any break-up of the
United Kingdom is one to which we will return in future Reports,
but, for the purposes of this Report, what is important is that
witnesses agreed that it was possible (even if the distinguished
political scientists who appeared before us thought it less than
desirable) for a referendum on separation to be held and for the
Scottish people to take a decision to leave the United Kingdom,
and negotiate the terms of separation with the rest of the United
Kingdom subsequently. By contrast, none of our witnesses thought
it was at all sensible for a vote on more devolution to be held
without the scheme of devolution being negotiated with the United
Kingdom government in advance.
34. Our witnesses agreed that more devolution was
not something which could be unilaterally decided by the Scottish
people, but rather something which had to be negotiated with the
rest of the United Kingdom. None of them agreed with the idea
that Scotland had a "right" to decide on further devolution.
Professor Bognador thought simply that "the issue of further
devolution is one for the United Kingdom as a whole for it alters
the terms on which Scotland remains within the Union."
Professor McLean agreed: "Several of us have been writing
that Scotland could declare its independence unilaterally, but
as Vernon [Bogdanor] has just said, it could not declare devo-max
35. This view was not confined to the academic community.
Ian McMillan, of the Confederation of British Industry, told us:
If Scotland secedes from the Union, that's it;
there will be secession negotiations and we will go our separate
ways. By that, we mean that a devolved Scottish Government cannot
impose its will on the UK Government or Parliament by saying,
'We want these matters devolved'. It can only be done by agreement.
That is why our members believe that needs to be outside the scope
of the referendum.
36. None of these witnesses was arguing that more
devolution required a referendum across the United Kingdom. Professor
Bogdanor, for example, drew attention to the difficulties which
might arise if Scotland voted for more devolution but the rest
of the United Kingdom voted against it. Rather, they were making
the point that those who represent the interests of the rest of
the United Kingdom (the UK Government and Parliament) had to be
satisfied that a scheme of devolution to Scotland was acceptable
from their point of view. This was, of course, precisely what
happened in 1997, and again on the proposals in Scotland Act 2012.
Professor Curtice said:
That is why I said in response to an earlier
question that we would have to reach the situation where there
was a developed package behind which then seemed to be a degree
of head of steam be it a version of devo max or plus or whatever
] The referendum will only work if, at the end of the day,
somebody comes up with the proposition that everybody else is
willing to agree should be on the ballot paper.
37. We agree, and consequences flow from this: any
scheme of devolution which may be proposed must have the consent
of the rest of the United Kingdom, and in practice that means
being agreed beforehand with the UK Government and Parliament.
Although the witnesses did not draw attention to this, this is
not a one-way constraint. A scheme of devolution could not be
proposed by Westminster with a view to imposing it on the Scottish
Government and Parliament without their agreement. That is illustrated
by the Sewel Convention, and explains why there was a very careful
process of negotiation and agreement of the provisions of the
Scotland Act 2012.
38. A scheme of further devolution could properly
be put to the Scottish voters only if voters could be confident,
that if they supported it in a referendum, it would be agreed
and implemented by both the Scottish Parliament and the United
Kingdom Parliament. Holding a referendum on a scheme which could
not be implementedwhether because the UK Parliament did
not agree it, or because the Scottish Parliament did notwould
be a fraud upon the voters and little more than a political device
to put pressure on whichever Parliament which had not agreed.
Is it possible to hold a referendum
with more than two options?
39. The evidence we heard has convinced us that no
scheme for further devolution exists which could properly be put
on the referendum ballot paper. No-one has developed a scheme,
still less a scheme agreed by the UK and Scottish Governments,
which, if it were voted on, could and would be implemented. But
we have nevertheless considered whether, if there was such a scheme,
it would be sensible to put it on the ballot paper alongside the
choice on separation. In our inquiry, we heard a great deal of
evidence about whether it was possible for a referendum to be
held in which the voters were given more than two options. This
raises a number of quite complex technical issues, but they are
of great importance, and, even if the possibility is only a theoretical
one, they deserve to be considered fully.
40. All the referendums which have hitherto been
held in the UK have been binary choices. Typically, the choice
was between the status quo and some proposed constitutional innovation.
The recent referendum on more devolution for Wales, for example,
offered the voters the choice between the Welsh Assembly with
its present powers, and a Welsh Assembly with greater legislative
powers. The referendum on the Alternative Vote system offered
them a choice between that system and the present first-past-the-post
41. A binary choice has advantages of clarity, simplicity
and decisiveness. In its consultation paper on the referendum
on separation for Scotland, the UK Government laid much emphasis
on the need for a separation referendum to be clear and to settle
decisively the question of Scotland's future inside the United
Kingdom. The paper said:
On an issue as important as whether Scotland
remains part of the UK, the arguments must be presented clearly,
to allow people in Scotland to make an informed decision.
42. The Secretary of State for Scotland made his
view clear: "It seems to me important that we have that in
a straightforward and simple way, and that means a single question
as far as I am concerned."
We agree that it is of the greatest importance that the referendum
decides whether or not Scotland should remain a part of the United
Kingdom. Uncertainty is bad for Scotland and is bad for the rest
of the UK.
43. Our expert witnesses had differing views on whether
a three-option referendum was wise, and, if one was held, on how
the results might be interpreted. A number of witnesses raised
the question of how the results of a three-option referendum ought
to be calculated. For example, Professor Adam Tomkins, of the
University of Glasgow, in his written evidence asked:
What would be the consequences of the following
vote, for example: on a 65% turnout, 35% of those voting vote
for the status quo, 40% of those voting vote for full fiscal autonomy,
and 25% of those voting vote for full independence?
44. A number of witnesses asked essentially the same
question: if more than one option in a three-option referendum
secured majority support, which would win? As Professor Kellner
The flaw in the First Minister's proposal can
be illustrated as follows. Suppose the first question-status quo
or devo-max-produces 65-35% in favour of devo-max. Suppose, because
of his very successful campaigning, he converts what is now a
minority in favour of independence into a narrow majority. The
second question-independence versus status quo-is 51% for independence
and 49% for status quo. Both questions have produced a majority
for change, but which change then should take place? I imagine
the First Minister in those circumstances would say, "51%
want independence; so Scotland should have independence."
Almost everybody else would say, "It is as plain as a pikestaff
from those figures that devo-max is more popular than independence.
Professor Stephen Tierney, of the University of Edinburgh,
explained "I think the real controversy possibly on turns
on how you make the decision when you have more than two options.
That is the really tricky bit."
45. We were fortunate in receiving very full evidence
on this complex technical question from a number of experts. Peter
Kellner set out the main principles which lay behind the choice.
There are various ways in which a three-option
referendum could be held. And the choice of system could decide
the outcome. Here are five examples of different approaches to
46. The five different approaches which Professor
Kellner referred to were as follows:
- Alternative vote
- Two questions, version A
- Two questions, version B
- Condorcet voting
47. The two different versions of the "two questions"
approach related to which "gateway" question is asked
first. We explain this below. Other experts broadly agreed with
Professor Kellner's analysis. Professor Denis Mollison, of Heriot
Watt University, for example, in his written evidence, told us:
To be the clear winner of a three option referendum,
one of the options must have a majority over each of the alternatives.
The most general way of doing this, a method that works for any
set of three options, requires either preferential voting or asking
48. Professors Curtice and McLean agreed that the
best way to make a choice among three options, whatever they were,
was to ask questions which ensured that the "Condorcet winner"
was identified: that is to say, the option which when compared
to either of the other two options secures a majority.
All of our experts noted that it was in principle possible for
the distribution of voting preferences to be such that there was
no such option, but all regarded this as a highly unlikely outcome.
The concept of a "Condorcet winner", is an important
one, but is quite a complex idea. Professor McLean explained in
his written evidence that it was part of a wider disciple of electoral
3. The academic discipline known as "social
choice", that is, the mathematical study of the properties
of choice and election systems, has existed for over 200 years
and has a lot to say on the practicality of a 3-option referendum;
but it has not featured in policy discussions to date.
4. The most relevant result is that if opinion
is single-peaked, then any well-behaved choice system
will select the majority-winning option. I define these
5. Opinion is single-peaked if the options
can be arranged in some order such that nobody ranks the middle
option(s) lowest. Opinion on constitutional options for Scotland
would thus be single-peaked if, for instance, everybody whose
first preference was Scottish independence ranked devolution-max
above no change, and everybody whose first preference was no change
ranked devolution-max above Scottish independence.
6. A majority-winning option is an option
which wins a majority in straight comparisons with each (all)
of the other options on offer.
7. A well-behaved choice system is one
which always selects the majority-winning option when one exists.
There are rare circumstances, known as a "cycle", in
which no majority-winning option exists (ie, A beats B, which
beats C, which beats A). Although of great theoretical interest,
this possibility is probably not relevant to the Committee's current
inquiry. However, it must be considered by Parliamentary draftsmen.
49. As Professor Curtice explained in his written
evidence, the Condorcet winner is a "majority winning
option". He said:
It is often argued any winner of a multi-option
ballot should fulfil is that it represents the Condorcet winner.
The Condorcet winner is the option that is preferred by most voters
in all of the possible pairwise comparisons of the options on
the ballot paper. In other words, if there are three options on
the ballot paper, A is the Condorcet winner if more people prefer
A to B and more prefer A to C.
50. All the expert witnesses agreed on the principle
of using an electoral system which would identify the Condorcet
winning option, but none of them disagreed on the best voting
method to use to find it. Some concluded that, since it was likely
that, in a three-option referendum, the "middle option"
was likely to be the second preference of many voters, then the
full requirement of three questions or preferential voting could
be discarded. It would then be possible to ask a "gateway"
question, followed by a choice. A gateway question could be "Do
you prefer the status quo or change?", followed by the question,
"If there is to be change do you prefer independence or more
devolution?". This option was proposed by the Electoral Reform
Society in their written evidence, and had also been proposed
by the First Minister in the Scottish Government's 2007 consultation.
It attracted little support from those appearing before us.
51. Professor Bogdanor said, "As I understand
the Scottish Government's proposal, a voter would be able to vote
for two of the three options. I think that is quite wrong."
Professor Kellner noted, "I would point out that none of
us has supported the First Minister's particular proposal."
Professor Curtice added, "The truth is it is a dead horse.
It is not in the Scottish Government's most recent White Paper.
There was an implicit retreat from that proposal in the paper
that was published on 25 January."
52. Alternatively, the gateway question could be
"Do you prefer independence or remaining within the UK?".
It would be followed by a question like "If Scotland remains
within the UK, do you prefer the status quo or more devolution?"
(This is the second of Professor Kellner's 'version A' and 'version
B' of the two-question option.) This option was proposed to us
by Professor Curtice in his oral evidence. He argued that it offered
the clear choice that was needed on separation and that, because
a middle option was likely to be the second preference of many
voters who supported either the status quo or independence, there
was little chance of failing to identify a Condorcet winner by
asking only two questions in this case. Professor Mollinson's
analysis suggested the same.
53. Professor McLean argued, by contrast, that the
proper way to do this would be to have preferential voting, to
invite the voters to rank the options 1, 2 and 3, and then to
count the preferences so as to assess each voter's relative preference
of each clear options. This would identify the Condorcet winner
and would work whatever the distribution of preferences actually
was, making no assumptions about the views of voters. Professor
Bogdanor, on the other hand, favoured a "run off" referendum.
That is to say, that rather than ask two questions at once on
the same ballot paper, the second question should be asked some
weeks later after a period of reflection.
54. The experts who appeared before us were, however,
unanimous on one point. Given the apparent distribution of voting
preferences, the choice of voting mechanism could determine the
outcome as the following exchange shows:
Q313 Chair: I want to be clear on one
thing. Are you agreeing that, if there are three options available,
both the method of asking the questions and the method of counting
could affect the result?
Professor Curtice: Yes, absolutely; of course.
Peter Kellner: Not only could but almost certainly
Q314 Chair: Let me be absolutely clear
and make sure that I am phrasing this properly. If we have three
options available, you are saying to me that the way in which
the questions are asked and posed against each other and counted
could actually affect the result that comes out.
Peter Kellner: That is the burden of my paper,
to make precisely that point.
Professor Curtice: Absolutely.
55. A further issue about a three option referendum
arose in the evidence we heard about how to regulate a referendum.
Referendums in the UK are regulated by the Political Parties,
Elections and Referendums Act 2000, which gives the Electoral
Commission powers to regulate the campaign. It seems to be generally
agreed that the Commission will discharge that responsibility
for a separation referendum. However, the legislative and regulatory
framework is designed for a binary referendum and not for a multi
option one. When we first asked the Commission what thought had
been given to the implications of a multi-option referendum, Mr
John McCormick, the Commissioner with responsibility for Scotland,
described the possibility as a "hypothetical" one on
which he was unable to comment.
In later evidence, he added, "If you look at three questions
hypothetically there may be [...] numerous outcomes".
It might thought that as there were three options there might
be three campaignsbut as Lisa Klein of the Commission pointed
out, "if you are campaigning for option 1, you may also want
to campaign a bit for option 2. It is something complex. We will
need to be thinking about it when presented with the situation."
This is unsatisfactory. No plans exist to address this question,
and it is clear that no multi-option referendum could be decided
upon unless a fair system of regulation was agreed.
56. Our witnesses also drew attention to international
experience of referendums. Dr Matt Qvortrup, of Cranfield University,
who had made a special study of referendums worldwide, drew attention
to the comparative rarity of three-option referendums, especially
on national constitutional questions. He explained that they tended
to be avoided because they did not produce decisive results.
I favour [a binary referendum] strongly, but
then again I am just a little academic. There have been 222 referendums
since Napoleon dealing with national issues. Some, such as that
in Wales, deal with more power going to an area and others deal
with separation. Of those 222, there have only been three referendums
where there has been a genuine multi-option possibility. They
have been in Puerto Rico twice, unsuccessfully. They did not go
to war, but they did not result in separation, basically because
the voting basis was split. Then there has been the example in
Newfoundland. That was part of the UK. Then there was the option
of Newfoundland becoming independent, remaining with the status
quo or joining Canada. There was a first round with two options
and one was eliminated, and then there was a run-off phase [
as a general rule, the fact that there have not been many multi-option
referendums at all indicates that they are not a good idea.
57. Nigel Smith also had concerns about multi-option
referendums. He noted:
I think it is possible to have a fair multi-option
referendum, but you have to ask why, when so many political questions
have more than one answer, there are not more multi-option questions.
He also drew lessons from the experience of Puerto
Which has been wrestling with whether to become
a state of the union for 50 years. It has always gone down the
multi-option route. Finally, a presidential commission recommended
that it try a binary this time round. I do not know whether that
will produce an answer, because they are now talking about having
two binaries on the same day, which is another aspect of the problem.
58. The experience of Puerto Rico, which had a long
history of constitutional referendums on its relationship with
the United States, is instructive. Puerto Rico's relationship
with the United States is complex, and uncertain. It is not a
State of the Union, but US law applies there. The choices which
it has considered include seeking to become a full member of the
United States, or changing its relationship in some other way.
It has held in total five referendums on how and whether that
status should change: Most of these of these have included multiple
options. Obviously none of them has produced a decisive resolution
of the issue, as Puerto Rico continually has to ask the questions
again (perhaps not surprising as "None of the above"
appears to have been the victor in one referendum).
59. This review of the evidence has led us to the
conclusion that there is no definitively correct way of structuring
the questions and the aggregation of the results in a three-option
referendum. While, in principle, identifying the Condorcet winner
attracted support from almost all of our witnesses, there was
no consensus on the best way to do so: nor did any witnesses identify
examples of this being done elsewhere. In our view, it would be
wrong to adopt a system of voting which made assumptions in advance
about what the preferences of the voters were: any system should
work to deliver an outcome that reflects voters preferences as
they actually are on the polling day. The fact that virtually
all of our experts agreed that the particular choice of questions
and voting method could well determine the result suggests to
us that this approach is fraught with difficulty and danger. The
international experience bears this out: countries which adopt
three-option referendums do not readily lead to decisive outcomes.
Scotland should not go down that route, even if there were three
genuinely competing options to be put in front of the population.
10 The Referendum on Separation for Scotland: Oral
and written evidence, Session 2010-12, HC 1608, Q 130 Back
HC 1608 Q 848 Back
HC 1608 Q 282 Back
HC 1608 Ev 181 Back
HC 1608 Ev 178 Back
The Referendum on Separation for Scotland: Oral and written
evidence, Session 2010-12, HC 1608, Q 288 Back
HC 1608 Q 287 Back
HC 1608 Q 288 Back
HC 1608 Q 548 Back
HC 1608 Q 863 Back
HC 1608 Q 932 Back
"Scottish independence: Greens may push for single question",
www.bbc.co.uk, 9 July 2012 Back
The Referendum on Separation for Scotland: Oral and written
evidence, Session 2010-12, HC 139, Q 723 Back
The Referendum on Separation for Scotland: Oral and written
evidence, Session 2010-12, HC 1608, Q 289 Back
HC 1608 Ev 179 Back
HC 1608 Q 301 Back
HC 1608 Ev 179 Back
HC 1608 Q 286 Back
HC 1608 Q 568 Back
HC 1608 Q 283 Back
Scotland's Constitutional Future, p. 19 Back
HC 1608 Q 130 Back
HC 1608 Ev 157 Back
HC 1608 Q 282 Back
HC 1608 Q 254 Back
HC 1608 Ev 164 Back
HC 1608 Ev 223 Back
This term is used because the mathematics of the process were
first devised by a French aristocrat, Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas
de Caritat, Marquis de Condorcet, at the time of the French Revolution. Back
HC 1608 Ev 177 Back
HC 1608 Ev 182 Back
HC 1608 Q 282 Back
HC 1608 Q 311 Back
HC 1608 Q 312 Back
HC 1608 Ev 223-27 Back
HC 1608 Ev 180 Back
HC 1608 Qq 313-314 Back
HC 1608 Q 89 Back
HC 1608 Q 706 Back
HC 1608 Q 708 Back
HC 1608 Q 667 Back
HC 1608 Q 844 Back
HC 1608 Q 847 Back