Halfway house option for Scots in pursuit of change

The referendum on whether Scotland should leave the United Kingdom may offer Scots a "third way" option of greater financial freedom without leaving the Union.

The Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond, will consult other parties about the ballot, including "fiscal autonomy" while remaining part of the UK, as well as full independence and a no-change option. Mr Salmond has promised a referendum on independence after the spectacular victory by his Scottish National Party in last week's elections to the Edinburgh parliament.

"Just because we got a majority in the Scottish parliament doesn't mean we've got a monopoly of wisdom," he told the BBC's Politics Show. "I will listen to what people have to say."

Mr Salmond dismissed calls by senior Tories for an immediate referendum, saying he would wait until "well into the second half" of the SNP's five-year term. "That's the plan we outlined to the Scottish people," he said. The timing of the vote threatens to divide the Coalition in London. David Mundell, the Tories' only MP in Scotland and a minister at the Scottish Office, said Westminster could get involved if an early referendum were rejected by the Scottish parliament. But Michael Moore, the Liberal Democrat Scottish Secretary, ruled out the Government's calling a snap vote. He said: "We will not be bringing forward a referendum ourselves. It's entirely a matter for the Scottish government."