LORD Smith of Kelvin has obtained a pledge from the five political parties involved in his commission's search for Scotland's new Home Rule settlement that they will avoid the talks taking place in the glare of publicity and agree to seven far-reaching principles.

The political rivals emerged from initial talks yesterday in Edinburgh describing them as positive and constructive.

Lord Smith said: "I was pleased with our meeting today. We have good people round the table, each with their own deeply held views, who have committed to work together to achieve a positive outcome to this process.

"We had a constructive discussion and agreed some important principles, which will guide us towards an agreement on a package of substantial and cohesive new powers to strengthen the Scottish Parliament within the UK."

The next full meeting involving the SNP, Labour, the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Greens is likely to take place next Wednesday but the key yesterday was the agreement on the seven principles, which were accepted unanimously.

These are:

l A "substantial and cohesive package of powers, meaningful to the people of Scotland";

l Strengthening the Scottish Parliament within the UK, including its financial accountability;

l A "durable but responsive democratic constitutional settlement" within the UK, enhancing mutual co-operation and partnership;

l Not being conditional on other UK political negotiations - a coded reference to English Votes for English Laws;

l Not causing detriment to the "UK nor to any constituent parts";

l Causing neither the UK nor Scottish Governments to gain or lose financially;

l Being implementable, compatible with international obligations, including EU law; and with a broad understanding of the potential associated costs.

It was also agreed that all party nominees would make no substantive comment on the talks until they have concluded and the final report has been published.

It was also accepted that Lord Smith does not expect to announce agreement on any specific areas until there has been an opportunity to consider fully the submissions from the public and civic institutions, the deadline for which is October 31, and that the agreement would be announced as one package closer to November 30.

The Green negotiators are Patrick Harvie MSP and local councillor Maggie Chapman. Mr Harvie said it "was a good discussion" but added that it been agreed not to disclose details.

The SNP's MSPs, Linda Fabiani and John Swinney, the Finance Secretary, said the talks had been "constructive".

Professor Adam Tomkins and former Scottish Tory leader Annabel Goldie called the session "very encouraging."

The Labour team, former Scottish leader Iain Gray and MP Gregg McClymont, said: "It was about looking at principles regarding the desire of Scots for a durable settlement on further devolution."

At Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons, David Cameron said: "I certainly stand by all the promises I made in the run-up to that referendum campaign."