THE Scottish Government has “no plans” to hold a referendum on whether or not Holyrood should be given the powers to legislate for independence, MSPs have been told.

On Wednesday, Independence Minister Jamie Hepburn told the Holyrood chamber that the Scottish Parliament had a “clear mandate” to hold an independence referendum, but was being blocked by Westminster.

Alba’s Holyrood leader and only MSP, Ash Regan, quizzed Hepburn on Scottish Government support for her party’s bid to pass legislation that would expand the powers of Holyrood.

It would require the Scottish public to be polled on whether or not to extend Holyrood’s powers.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon Covid Inquiry: Live updates as former FM gives evidence

It comes after polling from the party showed the majority of Scots back the parliament having powers to negotiate and legislate for independence from Westminster.

During Wednesday’s afternoon session, Regan asked Hepburn what the Scottish Government’s position is on “whether it could hold a referendum on the powers of the Scottish Parliament”.

“This parliament has a clear mandate to hold a referendum on independence from the last election,” Hepburn said.

“Last year this parliament passed a motion calling on the UK Government to respect the rights of people in Scotland to choose their constitutional future.

The National:

“The UK Government should respect both the 2021 election result and the position of this Parliament.

“At this stage, we have no plans to hold any other referendum on the powers of the Scottish Parliament.”

In response, Regan pointed to the polling, released last week, that showed Scots backed the party’s plan and put support for independence at 52%.

She added: “If the Scottish Government doesn't want to back a bill that can unblock the constitutional roadblock, which is what the minister has just described, how then do they propose to move Scotland forward towards independence in this session of the parliament?”

READ MORE: SNP reject claims of Nicola Sturgeon 'burner phones' in Covid lockdown

Hepburn said: “Well, it was no surprise to me that of course people in Scotland do expect and do believe that it should be this parliament that has responsibility for these matters and indeed the manifesto on which I stood and indeed the member both stood on, is that people in Scotland should be provided the opportunity to have their say in the future of this country.

“The UK Government should respect that.

“What I am also committed to doing and derived from the manifesto on which I stood and the member stood, is to continue to provide the people of Scotland the information they need to make an informed decision.”

Hepburn referenced the nine papers published so far in the Building a New Scotland series, adding: “We debated one of those papers just yesterday on the European Union.

"We saw the Tory, Labour, Liberal Democrat members voting against the simple proposition that Scotland is best served by being part of the EU, further evidence as to why Scotland is best served by being an independent country.”

The National: Ash Regan (centre) with Alba's Westminster leader Neale Hanvey (left) and deputy leader, Kenny

The National previously reported that MSPs backed a motion saying Scotland's future is “best served” by being part of the EU.

Alba has proposed that the ballot on Holyrood powers should be undertaken on the 10th anniversary of the previous vote held in September 2014, with Regan intending to put forward a members' bill.

However, the plan has struggled to gather support, with only one Scottish Government minister reportedly in favour of backing the plans, who has not been named by Regan.

The initial proposal needs cross-party support from 18 MSPs to progress.