ALEX Salmond has said he is confident that Alba’s “fall back” plan on Scottish independence will be within Holyrood’s competence.

The former first minister told journalists at a press conference in Edinburgh on Thursday that the proposed member’s bill by Ash Regan is a “resoundingly good proposal” and cited legal advice from Aidan O’Neill KC.

Regan and Salmond launched a two-month consultation on their proposals that would allow a referendum to be held asking Scots the question: “Should the Scottish Parliament have the power to negotiate and legislate for Scottish independence?”

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Alba intends to hold this on the 10th anniversary of the 2014 referendum, which took place on September 18 2024.

The legislation would need the backing of 18 MSPs, and Regan admitted she had not spoken to any of her former SNP colleagues, adding that they had been sent the proposals when they were published on Thursday morning.

It comes after the Supreme Court ruled that the Scottish Parliament does not have the competence to legislation for an independence referendum, as the constitution is reserved to Westminster.

Alba’s proposals would ask Scots instead if Holyrood should be given more powers, a strategy Salmond said was his back-up plan during negotiations with former Tory prime minister David Cameron ahead of the 2014 ballot.

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Speaking to The National, Salmond said that he wouldn’t rule out a legal challenge to the plans if the legislation passed, adding that the courts are less likely to challenge an Act of Parliament.

However, Westminster did successfully challenge Holyrood’s UNCRC bill, which sought to embed an international treaty on children's rights into law.

The Alba leader added: “One of the problems with the [Supreme Court] decision last year was if you go to a court and say what do you think about this proposal, can we have your advice or your permission on doing something then there is no democratic imperative in that whatsoever.

“The courts are much more leery about challenging something that has been through the parliament and the democratic process.”

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He added that there were merits to the way the question is worded to allow it to be within competence.

“Inherently, as Aidan O’Neill points out, a proposal which talks about and consults the people on the extension of powers to the parliament is a much stronger proposal to be within competence than one that gives the impression de jure or de facto of actually enacting something.

“So that gives it an inherent strength, its other inherent strength is a democratic one.

“This is an initiative born in Scotland, born in the Scottish Parliament, putting power in the hands of the Scottish people in terms of moving forward on the constitutional way.

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“For all of these reasons, this is a resoundingly good proposal and certainly a breath of fresh air in the independence debate.”

Alba published part of the advice put forward by O'Neill, promising to release in full at a later date, that stated that holding a referendum on the question put forward in the bill “might well have political ramifications in terms of how the legitimacy of the Union is understood and experienced”.

Regan told journalists she believed the proposals were being put forward in a “practical timeframe” but admitted it will be a “little bit of a challenge”.

She added that the Scottish Government backing the proposals would be the most “straight-forward way to progress”, after earlier making an appeal to Humza Yousaf for his support.

She said: “In terms of the timing, we’ve got about a year, that is reasonable, you’ll all have seen bills going through the Scottish Parliament in much shorter time frames before, and I myself have taken a number of bills through the Scottish Parliament, I think about five now, so I’m very used to the legislative process, and I think this is practical.”

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Asked why Alba were putting forward the proposals now, when Salmond had formed them over a decade ago, the former first minister said “people were not aware of this initiative because it never needed to be made”.

He added: “It never required to be publicised because [an] agreement was reached on a Section 30. It was a fall-back position, that I think was very influential in securing the agreement of the Section 30, as it happens.

“Nevertheless it was never publicised for the people, and in that sense, it's new in this environment, and certainly as a means of breaking this log jam it is extremely welcome and extremely timely.”

Regan told journalists that she had consulted with the Non-Government Bills Unit in Holyrood who she admitted are “at capacity”.

“But because we are going to draft this bill ourselves and go through an extended period of consultation, I still think it's practical to be able to pursue it in the way I’ve set out,” she added.

The consultation on the member's bill is available here.