First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of denying the opportunity for proper scrutiny over what question should be asked in any second Scottish independence referendum.
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard challenged Ms Sturgeon over the need for the Electoral Commission to run the rule over any future ballot on breaking up the Union.
He noted Electoral Commissioner for Scotland Dame Sue Bruce’s evidence to the finance and constitution committee, where she said the Commission “strongly believe” it should be asked to test the question to provide “confidence and assurance” for voters.
Constitution secretary Mike Russell has said he is “against… retesting in circumstances that don’t require it”, saying there is no need to test the question if it is the same as in the 2014 poll.
But the Electoral Commission argued the question needs to be tested “regardless of whether the Commission has previously published views on the question proposed”.
At First Minister’s Questions, Mr Leonard asked Ms Sturgeon: “What have you got to hide, or are you simply trying to rig this process?”
He said it was “not just about the integrity of this process” but “about the integrity of your government”.
Ms Sturgeon said the only people she knows who think the 2014 question was anything other than clear and understandable are “politicians who seem to be running scared of the verdict of the Scottish people”.
The SNP leader described Mr Leonard’s question as “progress” as she said it appeared to show he now believes a second independence referendum is inevitable.
Meanwhile, Mr Russell ruled out setting a threshold above 50% in any second poll, claiming it would leave democracy in “tatters”. Unionist campaigners recently tabled a petition calling for at least a two-thirds majority to secure independence.