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REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 26 MAY 2010

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 26 May 2010

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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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In addition to the newspaper stories outlined below, further news coverage can be found online at BBC News Scotland, STV News and Sky News. 

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Politics

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Tax Powers: The UK Government announced its legislative programme based on freedom, fairness and responsibility in the Queen’s Speech yesterday. Among the proposals is the Scotland Bill to give Holyrood extra tax powers in line with the Calman recommendations with the details to be discussed in talks between the UK and Scottish Governments. Alex Salmond warns the Calman proposals have limitations and are a ‘mirage’ of extra power that would damage Scotland’s finances. Gerry Hassan in the Scotsman says that the tax powers recommended by the Calman Commission are ill-conceived and could be disastrous for Scotland, arguing we need either full fiscal autonomy or assigned revenues. (Scotsman page 4, Gerry Hassan in the Scotsman, Herald page 1, Daily Telegraph page 4, Times page 7, Press and Journal page 1, Courier page 1, Daily Mail page 2)  

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UK Government Priorities: David Cameron has used his first major speech in the Commons as Prime Minister to attack Labour’s 13 years of “recklessness” arguing the previous government left Britain bankrupt and broken. He pledged that the coalition government will focus on tackling the deficit at home and preventing Iranian nuclear proliferation abroad. (Scotsman page 1, Times page 6, Press and Journal page 9, Financial Times page 2, Daily Express page 5) 

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Homecoming: Alex Salmond has announced there is to be a second year of Homecoming in 2014, despite figures showing a lack of tourists from overseas in the first Homecoming. (Scotsman page 9, Herald page 7, Daily Telegraph page 11, Press and Journal page 11, Courier page 7, Daily Mail page 4, Daily Express page 11) 

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Labour Leadership: David Miliband joins his brother Ed as the second candidate in the Labour leadership race to secure the thirty-three nominations needed to run for the position.  Andy Burnham is struggling to secure his formal backing for the contest. (Herald page 6, Daily Telegraph page 8, Press and Journal page 5) 

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Voting Reform: Liberal Democrat cabinet members are pushing for a referendum on voting reform, fearing any delay may lead voters to reject change and punish an unpopular coalition. (Guardian page 1) 

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Economy

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Markets:  Britain’s blue chip shares fell 2.5 per cent – their lowest level in nine months – amid fears over European debt and tensions in Korea. World markets tumbled as the FTSE slumped below 5,000 points, the Dow fell below 10,000 and European markets slumped. Almost £2.5 billion was wiped off the value of Scotland’s ten largest companies, with the Royal Bank of Scotland losing more than £1.5 billion. (Scotsman page 2, Herald page 23, Daily Telegraph page 1 and page B1, Times page 10, Press and Journal page 16, Guardian page 22, Financial Times page 1, Daily Express page 1) 

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Economic Growth: The Office for National Statistics has revised the GDP estimate for the first quarter up from 0.2 per cent to 0.3 per cent, signalling Britain is recovering from the recession. This was due largely to a strengthening manufacturing sector but has not been matched by the service sector, which accounts for more than 70 per cent of GDP. (Scotsman page B1, Herald page 26, Daily Telegraph page B2, Times page 44, Financial Times page 4 

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Capital Gains Tax: A Treasury report released to coincide with the Queen’s Speech announced the coalition’s commitment to seeking ways of increasing capital gains tax on non-business assets that could signal a rise from 18 per cent to almost 40 per cent. (Daily Telegraph page 1) 

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Crime

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Drugs: According to the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey, 47 per cent of Scottish adults know a friend or family member that has taken illegal drugs, up from 41 per cent nine years ago. (Scotsman page 12, Herald page 7, Courier page 7) 

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Transport

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BA Strike:  Unite have said that the ongoing dispute between the union and British Airways could be resolved if Willie Walsh, the chief executive, stepped aside and proposed Keith Williams as a replacement. (Daily Telegraph page 19) 

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Trident Sinking:  An unpublished Government report has disclosed that the Trident trawler sunk thirty years ago had been so unstable it could have capsized in modest waves, eliciting an angry response from the families of the five men drowned in the accident. (Times page 1) 

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Health

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Abortion: The number of women having abortions in Scotland has fallen by 800, or 6.2 per cent, since 2008 and is at its lowest number since 2006. (Scotsman page 16, Herald page 10, Daily Telegraph page 12, Daily Express page 17) 

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Waiting Times: Official figures are showing improvements in Scottish hospital waiting times, with 99.5 per cent of patients for in-patient and day care treatment now being seen within nine weeks, well within the twelve week target set by the Scottish Government. (Scotsman page 16, Press and Journal page 7) 

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Smoking: The number of smokers trying to quit in Scotland rose by 35 per cent last year, but less than half said they were successful. (Scotsman page 16, Courier page 11) 

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Benefits Agency:  Citizens Advice Scotland is to release a paper raising concerns about the number of severely ill people being told they must find work following a benefit assessment for the Employment and Support Allowance. (Herald page 12) 

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Education

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Head Teachers: Head teachers in Glasgow are to gain more responsibility for the running of their schools and seven managerial posts at the City Council will be cut in an attempt to streamline the education service. (Herald page 2) 

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Music Lessons: The Educational Institute of Scotland has warned that cutting music lesson budgets will damage pupils’ education, as local authorities look to cut education spending. (Scotsman page 21, Press and Journal page 6, Courier page 7) 

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Student Loans Company: The Chairman and Chief Executive of the Student Loans Company have been forced to resign after a report warning that similar delays to last year’s loans could be repeated again. (Times page 21)