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The proposed date of next year's independence referendum could be confirmed by the Scottish Government this week, the Deputy First Minister said.
The SNP administration will propose at a meeting of Holyrood's Parliamentary Bureau on Tuesday that a statement on the referendum is made on Thursday March 21.
This would include First Minister Alex Salmond telling MSPs the planned date in Autumn 2014 for when the referendum will be held.
It has already been confirmed that the proposed question to be put to voters will be ``Should Scotland be an independent country?''.
Last week, the Scottish Government formally lodged proposals to lower the referendum voting age to 16, under the Scottish Independence Referendum (Franchise) Bill.
Politicians at Holyrood will determine the arrangements, as agreed in Edinburgh last year between Prime Minister David Cameron and Mr Salmond.