The Referendums (Scotland) Bill, which seeks to lay out a framework for how future votes in Scotland are carried out, has been passed by MSPs.

But opposition parties have claimed it is nothing more than a method of getting to a second independence ballot.

The Bill passed by 68 votes to 54, with two MSPs abstaining – Labour's Monica Lennon and Neil Findlay.

Speaking in Thursday's debate, Constitutional Relations Secretary Mike Russell said: "The rules by which electoral events are run should be clear, well understood and promote open and inclusive debate.

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"It's important that rules for any referendums held on devolved matters are specifically suited to Scotland and debated and agreed in this Parliament.

"This Bill therefore addressed a specific gap in the devolved legislative landscape.

"The purpose of the Bill is to put in place a standing framework of conduct and campaign rules."

The National:

Russell said the passage of this Bill, along with the Scottish Elections (Franchise and Representation) Bill - which is currently at stage two - will deliver an electoral system in Scotland which is "very much fit for purpose".

Patrick Harvie, co-leader of the Scottish Greens, said the Bill would "improve the practice, the process, the conduct" of referendums in the future.

He added: "I don't pretend we can solve every aspect of the challenges we're going to face as we approach the next independence referendum, which I believe is coming.

"But I do believe improving the legislation is something we can do today."

But Tory constitutional relations spokesman Adam Tomkins and Labour constitution spokesman Alex Rowley both argued the provisions in the Bill around the questions used in referendums were an attempt to "rig" any future vote by the SNP.

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The legislation allows for questions that have been approved by the Electoral Commission to be used again within the parliamentary term.

Tomkins said: "The SNP sometimes want to pretend that this is a framework Bill for a referendums in general ... we all know that it isn't.

"It's a paving Bill for a second referendum."

The National:

Tomkins conceded it was "sensible" to have a framework Bill for referendums but only if there were multiple different topics of referendums expected to come in the future.

He added: "The only question that Mr Russell is interested in putting to the people of Scotland in a referendum is the independence question.

"This is a framework Bill for a second independence referendum, which is in breach of promise."

Tomkins went on to attack the First Minister over her claims the 2014 vote would be "once in a generation".

Nicola Sturgeon has said she is advocating another vote because of a "material change of circumstances", namely Scotland voting against Brexit.

He said: "It doesn't really matter what this Bill says, because the SNP know - we all know - that this Bill would only be used for a second independence referendum.

"They'll note that the Queen's Speech ... made it perfectly clear that this people's Government will not allow a second independence referendum so it doesn't really matter what this legislation says.

"It's redundant already."

Labour MSP Alex Rowley said his party could not support the Bill, adding: "The Bill we are debating today is a Bill to pave the way for an independence referendum to take place next year."

Liberal Democrat MSP Mike Rumbles accused the SNP and Greens of using the legislation to try to rig the question in a future independence referendum.

He branded the Bill a "nationalist charade" and claimed: "The two nationalist parties have fixed the terms of this Bill for their own partisan advantage."