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Swinney defends EU nationals' votes

Plans to give up to 60,000 EU nationals living in Scotland a vote in the independence referendum have been defended by the country's Finance Secretary.

John Swinney said the proposed approach would mirror that taken in past votes, such as last year's Holyrood elections or the referendum which led to the creation of the Scottish Parliament. He said many EU nationals have lived in Scotland for decades and "make a contribution" to the country.

The Scotland on Sunday reported that 58,004 people from European Union nations would be allowed to vote in the independence ballot.

The newspaper said the figure was revealed to MPs by Conservative Scotland Office minister David Mundell.

Launching the Scottish Government's consultation on the referendum on January 25, First Minister Alex Salmond said the people who "live, work and bring up their families in Scotland" should be the ones taking the decisions about the country's future.

On the BBC's Sunday Politics show in Scotland, Mr Swinney was asked whether such a situation was reasonable when 750,000 Scots living south of the border would not be able to vote in the referendum.

The Finance Secretary, who did not dispute the figures, told the programme: "The franchise issue is an important one for the referendum and the approach that we've taken is to essentially mirror the franchise that elected the Scottish Parliament in May of last year, the franchise that led to the referendum in 1997 which established the Scottish Parliament, which is essentially the local government and Scottish Parliament franchise.

"That does include the 60,000 EU nationals that are living in Scotland.

"But many of these individuals - I can think of constituents of my own who are EU nationals - have been living in Scotland for 10, 20, 30, 40 years, creating opportunities and wealth in our communities. This is very much their home, so they're able to make a contribution to Scotland.

"Of course, the one difference that we would put forward in the franchise is that we would want to extend the franchise to 16 and 17-year-olds to make sure that young people whose futures are entwined with the issues around the independence referendum have an opportunity to express an opinion."


From Belfast Telegraph