The legal position on banning prisoners from voting in the independence referendum is "perfectly clear", the Deputy First Minister has said.

The Scottish Government is against extending the franchise for the 2014 vote to those serving custodial sentences, and has taken account of all legal considerations surrounding this, Nicola Sturgeon said.

She was giving evidence to Holyrood's Referendum Bill Committee when she was asked about prisoners voting.

The committee has received evidence from a Holyrood legal adviser warning that the ban could breach human rights and be open to legal challenge.

At present, prisoners are not entitled to vote in elections in the UK.

The Scottish Government's Referendum (Franchise) Bill states: "A convicted person is legally incapable of voting in an independence referendum for the period during which the person is detained in a penal institution in pursuance of the sentence imposed on the person."

Green Party co-leader Patrick Harvie urged the Government to consider whether prisoner voting could be part of the rehabilitation process and whether there is a moral case in favour of it.

Ms Sturgeon told the committee that the legal position is "perfectly clear" in terms of what is outlined in the European Convention on Human Rights and in terms of case law.

"I accept there is an argument that can be made, the argument that Patrick Harvie has just put forward. I don't agree with it and the Government doesn't agree with it.

"The Government is very clear that we don't think convicted prisoners who are serving a prison sentence should be able to vote in a referendum process.

"We are at the start of a parliamentary process. It is entirely right and proper and appropriate for (Patrick Harvie) or any other member to put forward the alternative view.

"If people want to vote in the referendum and want to make absolutely clear that they don't lose their right to vote, there seems to be a pretty simple way of ensuring that's not the case."

Conservative MSP John Lamont questioned what legal advice the Government has received.

"You say the legal position is clear. I just wonder if the Government has taken legal advice about the possibility of a prisoner who is prevented from voting challenging the outcome of the referendum, and whether that is advice you would make available to us?"

Ms Sturgeon replied: "Let's just say we've taken account, in coming to the position we've come to in this Bill, of all the legal considerations and arguments."

Ms Sturgeon was also asked about placing a duty on local authorities in the Bill to provide information about the referendum as part of young voters' education.

The Franchise Bill sets out provisions for 16 and 17-year-olds to be allowed to vote.

Ms Sturgeon said: "I certainly would have to give that consideration, but I would say at this stage that the Electoral Commission will have a statutory responsibility to raise awareness and understanding of the registration process."

Commenting on accessibility of information about the issues surrounding independence, the Deputy First Minister said: "The main publication that the Government will produce is the White Paper which will be the case for Scotland becoming independent and we will, as the Government, try to ensure there is as wide an appreciation and knowledge and understanding of the White Paper as possible. And that includes everybody who is entitled to vote in the referendum."