WILLIAM Durward (Letters, September 7) disputes whether, on Scottish independence, “legally, all pensions for which people had paid their contributions would continue to be paid as before".

The issue of legality is quite straightforward – it is a relationship between the contributor (to National Insurance for the state pension) and the Westminster Government. Place of residence on retirement has no bearing on this at all. Were it otherwise, would the UK pensioners who have moved to Spain still be getting their pensions (and I believe the cold weather allowance)? Or perhaps someone who has come to the UK to work, spending their entire career here, but, on reaching pensionable age decide to return home to retire. Can anyone doubt they would still get their pensions? Why would anyone in Scotland be treated differently?

Location could though be relevant when we turn to the issue of who pays. As contributions have gone to Westminster it is hard to see why their responsibility would transfer to an independent Scottish government merely because of independence. The determining factor for entitlement is contributions made, not where you live.

During independence negotiations, the UK’s many liabilities would have to be apportioned. Pension liabilities are only one category of these. Assets too would be apportioned, except the precedent is not optimistic. In 2014 Westminster made clear it wanted to be the continuing state, and that Scotland would be seceding from the UK. As such the UK would retain all the assets, but the other side was they would also retain all the liabilities, which would include pension entitlements.

It is of course possible during negotiations Scotland would take on agreed liabilities in return for an agreed share of assets. This, though, may prove difficult as in 2014 we were told we couldn’t expect to “cherry pick” from defence assets, and that the BBC was an “institution, integral to the UK state”, notwithstanding the eye-watering value of its back catalogue alone. A few beads and trinkets then?

The “take home” message, is though that the default position is that as long as Westminster insists on being the continuing UK state, it will be obliged to continue to pay pensions to the extent it has taken contributions, and consistent with the rules of its own scheme. In that regard Mr Durward’s trademark Unionist dystopian view of a future independent Scotland is of no relevance.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.

ROBERT IG Scott (Letters, September 8) appears content that Scotland's future should be in the hands of Westminster governments Scotland never voted for, and presumably he has no problem with Scotland being forced to leave the European Union despite voting strongly to remain. Mr Scott claims "that it is totally unacceptable for the SNP minority administration at Holyrood to attempt to try to undermine the political scene within the UK", but I would remind Mr Scott that the SNP won the majority of Scottish seats at the UK General Elections in 2015, 2017 and 2019, and is the third-largest party at Westminster.

In September 2014 Scotland was told that only a No vote could secure Scotland's place in Europe. In September 2020 opinion polls are indicating that a majority of Scottish voters would vote for independence. Scotland is not a prisoner of the UK and there has never been anything printed on any ballot paper which said that Scotland could not change its mind. Given the significant and material change of circumstances which has been imposed on Scotland against our will, it is right that the Scottish electorate should be given the opportunity to decide Scotland's constitutional future, and have the choice of staying in an increasingly dysfunctional Union which does not meet our needs and aspirations, or to take our place as a modern, outward-looking European nation, with Scotland's future in Scotland's hands.

Ruth Marr, Stirling.

ROBERT IG Scott lists a selection of political and historical facts, and concludes that it is “therefore” unacceptable for the Scottish Government to pursue the aim of independence. Despite his “therefore”, however, his argument is a non sequitur. Neither the fact that the UK is a unitary state nor the fact that the 2014 referendum resulted in a vote to maintain the Union entails the corollary that independence should not be actively pursued now. The constitutions of states can be, and often have been, modified when governments or peoples see fit; and decisions taken under a specific set of circumstances can be re-visited when the circumstances change. And there could hardly have been more radical changes in the circumstances affecting Scotland than those that have taken place between 2014 and today.

Finally, there is little point in Mr Scott’s describing the Scottish Government’s moves towards independence as “unacceptable”. He has no choice but to accept them, because they are just as much “facts” as the facts he cites.

Derrick McClure, Aberdeen AB24.

ROBERT IG Scott asks: "If the SNP had achieved a majority in the 2014 referendum, would it have consented to a second vote?"

The answer is simple and straightforward: if Yes had achieved a majority in the 2014 referendum, Scotland would have become an independent country with a new independent government elected in Holyrood very soon thereafter.

If that government, democratically elected by the Scottish people, with a majority in the Scottish Parliament, believed that a majority of the Scottish people wanted to rethink their 2014 constitutional choice, they would have had the democratic right to call a referendum offering the constitutional choice of re-entering what would by then be rUK. Just how rUK would feel about that is open to speculation.

Mr Scott may observe this democratic process in action after the re-election of a majority of independence-supporting MSPs to Holyrood on May 6, 2021 and thereafter. If the UK Government attempts to block this referendum, he will see other democratic processes in action, of a more direct nature.

Peter Curran, Kirkliston.

YOUR correspondents Alan Fitzpatrick and Robert Scott (Letters, September 8) have joined those people desperately suggesting ways of manipulating any independence referendum.

The early protagonists of rotten boroughs and gerrymandering would surely have been proud of the ingenuity of their successors.

Despite the view of the Electoral Commission, the only historically accurate and honest question would be: "Should Scotland become an independent nation again?"

Dr Peter Dryburgh, Edinburgh EH10.

I CANNOT believe that the Scottish Government in the guise of John Swinney has said that it is not in the "public interest" to explain how £500,000 of public money was lost during the investigation into the allegations against Alex Salmond ("Swinney refuses to share files with MSPs", The Herald, September 8).

What has happened to the vows of promoting Government transparency espoused by Nicola Sturgeon? Surely the Government is accountable to explain how our money is spent? The sum in question would have been better spent on hiring more nurses, teachers and police officers. The whole investigation by MSPs is fast becoming a sham with the Scottish Government controlling what information is being given to the Holyrood inquiry.

How can the public have confidence when our political representatives are investigating themselves? Surely a matter which could have constitutional ramifications would have been better examined by a Supreme Court judge with powers to seize documents and compel witnesses?

Bob MacDougall, Kippen.

Read more: Letters: The pensions issue must be resolved once and for all