By Marcus Leach

A referendum on Scottish independence should be held before 2014, according to Confederation of British Industry (CBI) members — and the business organisation’s Scotland council.

Iain McMillan, the CBI Scotland regional director, said member firms backed the council’s position - that the 2014 date preferred by Alex Salmond, above, the country’s first minister, was too late.

CBI member companies from a range of sectors gave their views at a meeting in Edinburgh today with Scottish Secretary Michael Moore.

"This was a broader turnout from membership, and the mood in that regard was very much at one with the position of the council of CBI Scotland - and that is that the referendum should be held sooner rather than later,” said Mr McMillan.

"All the issues around that were fairly clear in our own minds. We live in very difficult economic circumstances. At the moment we see some firms closing down, we see people losing their jobs.

"As I said in my new year message, we need our politicians of all the parties from both jurisdictions to focus their entire attention on getting people back to work and getting our economy back in good shape."

Mr McMillan added that legislation could be in place ready for a referendum in spring 2013, if parliaments agreed to move quickly.

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