A Bill to pave the way for a vote on Scottish independence is part of a "historic package" of new legislation, the First Minister has said.
Alex Salmond announced 15 Bills to be introduced to Holyrood over the coming parliamentary term, including a Bill to legalise same-sex marriage and one which is claimed would give families the greatest level of free childcare in the UK.
Mr Salmond also announced that £18 million will be spent on "high-quality, co-ordinated and accessible" support for families.
The legislative programme, announced on the day MSPs returned from their summer recess, includes two Bills setting out the Scottish Government's proposed replacements for stamp duty and landfill tax in Scotland - the Scotland Act handed powers over these to Holyrood from 2015.
Other legislation is aimed at improving the integration of health and social care, to improve support available for victims and witnesses, to reform post-16 education and to bring bankruptcy law into the 21st century.
The First Minister recalled some of the Scottish Parliament's previous achievements such as "world-leading" climate change legislation, the ban on smoking in public places and a minimum price for alcohol. The legislative programme will "add to that record", he said.
"It will lead to the best childcare provision anywhere in the UK. And it paves the way for Scotland's most important decision in 300 years. It is a historic package of measures."
In the programme for government, the SNP administration is "continuing to invest in human capital as well as our physical capital", Mr Salmond said.
"Independence is crucial to creating a fairer Scotland, as well as a wealthier Scotland."
On the subject of the referendum, the First Minister said he expects to meet Prime Minister David Cameron in the next few weeks to conclude talks over how the vote will be held.