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Daily Political Media Summary: 1 October 2009

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Media Summary: 1 October 2009

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All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions. Where there is a link to a newspaper’s website, the relevant page reference is blue and underlined.

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Economy

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Bank Bonuses: Britain’s five biggest banks have signed up to new reforms to crack down on the multi-million-pound bonuses pocketed by senior executives. Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group, which includes HBOS, were among those to agree to a new set of principles that will crack down on the irresponsible risk-taking associated with the banking crisis. (Scotsman page 1, FT page 1, Guardian page 26, Press & Journal Page 15)

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Glasgow Shopping Schemes: Glasgow’s new planning blueprint is to impose a moratorium on new shopping mall developments outside its centre. An official report estimates that any further shopping developments would reduce turnover in Glasgow city centre by 11 per cent. (Herald Page 1)

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RBS: The investment arm of RBS could be moved to London, a committee of MSPs was told yesterday. (Times Page 13)

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Scottish Enterprise: Scottish Enterprise, the economic development agency, has appointed Lena Wilson as its chief executive. Ms Wilson, who is currently chief operating officer of the organisation became embroiled in a row over her reported salary of £200,000 a year. Ms Wilson will also qualify for an annual bonus of up to £20,000.  Her pay package would mean that she is not only one of the highest salaried women in Scotland, but is better paid than the Prime Minister, who receives £197,689. While she will be paid the same as her male predecessor, critics pointed out that Scottish Enterprise has been significantly scaled down in recent years. (Scotsman page 9)

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Scottish Futures Trust: A new spending row has broken out over the cost of the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) after it emerged it has paid £120,000 to consultants since June. The SFT was set up by the SNP Scottish Government to drive the country\’s infrastructure programme as a funding body and has been given a co-ordination role in a new school building programme. A written answer to Labour MSP Bill Butler stated six consultants received a total £118,976, including Hays Recruitment, which received nearly £50,000 for its role to "assist in the recruitment of seven senior Scottish Futures Trust staff". (Scotsman page 8)

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Spending Cuts: A leading economist has said Scotland will be cushioned from the severe spending cuts expected in the coming years because of its place in the UK. Stirling University\’s Professor David Bell has said cuts north of the Border will not be as tough as in England or Wales because of the Barnett formula, the system that decides the level of the Scottish block grant. In a report to Holyrood\’s finance committee, he pointed out that a future squeeze on spending will see Scotland\’s money reduced by its population share of 8.4 per cent rather than its funding share of 10.3 per cent. (Scotsman page 21)

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Public Sector Pensions: Recently published accounts show £577 million was allocated to the generous public sector pension scheme for Scottish Executive, quango and some health staff last year. The accounts for the 2008-09 financial year cover core Scottish Executive departments, 13 quangos, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and NHS bodies responsible for some aspects of health care. They show £35 million was spent on ‘core’ staff pensions and £542 million on those working for quangos and agencies. This is a 4.3 per cent increase on the previous year, while civil servants and ministers benefit from a generous scheme whereby they receive a guaranteed pension worth a proportion of their salaries when they reach 60. (Telegraph page 1)

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Crime

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Drink-Drive Policeman: A policeman who diluted his urine sample to beat charges of drink-driving was spared jail time because he had lost a pension worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. Sheriff Ian Abercrombie yesterday fined Sergeant Ewan McHardy £6,000 and said jail time or community service would add further costs to the taxpayer. (Herald Page 3, Press & Journal Page 8)

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Scottish Court System: The most far-reaching reform of Scotland\’s civil justice system in nearly two centuries has been proposed as part of a landmark review of the country\’s court system. Scotland\’s second most senior judge yesterday outlined plans to make what he called "failing" courts better, quicker and cheaper to run. Brian Gill, the Lord Justice Clerk, laid out detailed and radical proposals that he believes will make it easier for Scots to obtain justice in anything from a simple housing dispute to a major corporate lawsuit. The report has been welcomed by the Scottish Government, which is now likely to implement the changes over the next five years. (Scotsman page 4, Daily Express page 2, Times Page 16, Herald Page 9, Press & Journal Page 9)

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Transport 

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Edinburgh Trams: Edinburgh’s tram system is up to £200m over budget and will not be completed until 2013, an MSP claims, prompting a row with the council-owned company overseeing the project.  (Herald Page 2, Daily Express page 6, Scotsman page 12, Courier Page 6)

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Rail Improvements: More than two years after the high-speed train crash on the West Coast Main Line, almost a third of the recommendations for improvements have not been made. (Herald Page 5)

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Local Government

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Holyrood Security: MSPs have been told that £2m is being spent to improve security at the Scottish Parliament. Green MSP Patrick Harvie dismisses the proposed security measures as “security theatre.” (Herald Page 3, Courier Page 6)

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Health

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Child Protection Registers: Amid growing public concerns about child welfare, the number of children placed on the child protection registers in Scotland has increased by almost a third. Labour claims there is a crisis in the system whilst Children’s Minister Adam Ingram states these figures suggest Scotland has the most robust inspection regime in the UK. (Herald Page 10,Times Page 28, Courier Page 6, Press & Journal Page 6)

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Education

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University Applications: The number of university applicants soared this year due to a lack of job opportunities amid the recession. It follows a dip between 2006 and 2007, when the number of students in higher education in Scotland fell 2.5 per cent. Entrants fell by 3.5 per cent over the same period. However, in the two years since, the number of students has increased, according to figures from University admissions body Ucas. A government spokeswoman, said: "While today\’s statistics show a slight fall in the number of students participating in higher education, since then there has been a 10 per cent increase in Ucas acceptances for entry in 2009-10 compared to 2008-9." (Scotsman page 9)

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Politics

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Labour and the Media: Gordon Brown\’s frustration at his failure to imprint his message on the British public spilled out into the open yesterday when he launched a furious tirade on air. During a bad-tempered interview with Sky TV, the Prime Minister branded its political editor Adam Boulton a "political propagandist", and complained repeatedly that he was not being allowed to make his case. Mr Brown\’s fury comes after months of resentment felt by both the Prime Minister and his wife Sarah over what they see as the overwhelmingly negative coverage being meted out by the British media. Additionally, relations between Rupert Murdoch\’s News International and Labour disintegrated today during 24 hours of recriminations over the move by its flagship paper, the Sun, to switch allegiance to the Conservatives. (Scotsman page 6, Telegraph page 1, FT page 4, Guardian page 1, Sun page 1, BBC, STV)

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Afghanistan: Black Watch soldiers have dismantled one of the largest insurgent strongholds in southern Afghanistan. They uncovered explosives factories, medical supplies, communications equipment and weapons including two motorbikes rigged with explosives for suicide bombers.  (Herald Page 2, Courier Page 1, Press & Journal Page 1)

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First Minister: First Minister Alex Salmond spoke out against UK immigration laws which he claims do not reflect the ‘values’ of Scotland. Mr. Salmond reprimanded Baroness Scotland, recently accused of breaking the law on the employment of illegal immigrants, and highlighted recent cases in which immigrants to Scotland had fallen foul of UK legislation. (Herald Page 6, Courier Page 7)