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Your Scotland, Your Voice: A National Conversation

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FOREWORD

The Rt Hon Alex Salmond MSPMP, First Minister of Scotland

The Rt Hon Alex Salmond MSP MP, First Minister of Scotland photoOver the last two years more than 15,000 people have taken part in the National Conversation on the future of Scotland: at public meetings, in print and online. There have been other significant contributions: from experts, academics, journalists and think tanks on a range of subjects such as fiscal autonomy, energy and the environment, and Scotland in the world.

Two things are clear. First, that there is a demand in Scotland to consider and debate our national future. Second, that the current arrangements do not meet the ambitions of our nation. Ten years on from devolution, almost all agree that it is time to expand the responsibilities of our Parliament.

Ten years ago Donald Dewar said the Scottish Parliament was "a new voice in the land, a voice to shape Scotland, a voice above all for the future". He was right. But our Parliament is incomplete, unfinished. Its voice is muted or silent in many areas vital to our nation.

I believe that Scotland cannot fully flourish until it takes responsibility for itself: for its economy, taxes, and spending; for its rich and its poor; for its natural resources and its waste; for its old and its young; for its roads and its seas; for its place in the world, for peace and war, for ties of friendship and common interest with the other nations of the earth.

These are the matters with which normal, independent countries deal every day. They know the challenges and opportunities that come with that independence, as well as the responsibility.

Scotland and its people are more than capable of doing so, too. We would benefit from the opportunities. I believe it is time that Scotland reclaimed its place among the nations of Europe and the world. Other people have different views. It is now time for the voice of the people to be heard - in the referendum on Scotland's future we intend to hold in November 2010.

The Rt Hon Alex Salmond MSP MP, First Minister of Scotland signature