Independence can wait, says Salmond

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Alex Salmond has dismissed fresh attempts at the Scottish Parliament to force an early referendum on independence.

The First Minister insisted he will stick to his plan and put the question to a ballot in autumn 2014.

The highly-charged constitutional debate shifted back to Edinburgh from London following days of wrangling between the UK and Scottish governments.

Mr Salmond has already rejected Prime Minister David Cameron’s offer to grant MSPs the temporary power to hold an earlier “legal” referendum.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) leader, who won a majority at Holyrood last May, wants a specially-created body to oversee the referendum, which would be open to people as young as 16 north of the border.

He said: “The people of Scotland spoke in the election and their voice was very clear indeed.

“A referendum which is organised in Scotland, built in Scotland, for the Scottish people, discussed with civic Scotland and then brought to the people in 2014 for a historic decision on the future of this nation.”