REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 18 JUNE 2010

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 18 June 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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Economy

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Spending cuts: Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander announced yesterday that the UK Government had cancelled or frozen £10.5bn of projects proposed by the previous Labour administration. The suspension of a £7 billion contract to provide a new generation of search-and-rescue helicopters across Scotland and the rest of the UK was by far the biggest cut in a list that includes roads, libraries, sports funding, court buildings and education scholarships.

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Scottish Secretary Michael Moore warned that the £155 billion deficit would mean “real cuts” for Scotland’s quangos, health boards and police forces. Scottish Government advisers have warned that cuts of up to £35 billion will be required over the next 15 years, and next week’s emergency Budget will spell out the cuts to be made (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Times page 1, Sun page 2, Bill Jamieson in the Scotsman, Herald page 7, Telegraph page 1, Jeff Randall in the Telegraph, Courier page 13, Press page 5, Financial Times page 2, Guardian page 1, Record page 2, Daily Mail page 6, Express page 15, Mirror page 7).

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Public sector: According to the Policy Exchange think tank, public sector workers enjoy better pay, better pensions, shorter hours and more sick leave than their private sector counterparts. The report found that, over their lifetimes, people in the private sector worked 23 per cent more hours, or 9.2 years extra work, because of their later retirement, shorter holidays and lower likelihood of going on strike (Telegraph page 12, Daily Mail page 1, Sun page 35).

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The minimum wage for public sector workers in Scotland is also set to increase to a minimum of £7 an hour beginning in August (Scotsman page 10, Courier page 11, Press page 9).

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Meanwhile, the Adam Smith Institute has reported that by cutting 270,000 public sector jobs, the coalition UK Government could save almost £60 billion a year without affecting frontline services (Herald page 7).

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Child tax credits: A change to the current child tax credit system could mean that more than two million middle-class families will lose their entitlements. Currently, parents can claim child tax credit if they earn up to £58,000, or £66,000 if the child is under the age of one. The Government is considering restricting the benefit to parents with a combined income of no more than £30,000, or possibly as low as £25,000 (Telegraph page 1, Daily Mail page 2, Express page 1).

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Immigration cap: The Prime Minister’s pledge to bring net immigration down to 1990s levels is expected to reduce economic growth and cost families around £300 a year in higher taxes or lower public spending (Financial Times page 1).

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Tourist attractions strike: Staff at Culture and Sport Glasgow will picket this weekend outside the veterans’ UK Swimming Masters at Tollcross, with union members also threatening to disrupt the Super 8 UK Athletics Championships scheduled for Scotstoun Stadium in July, which features world and Olympic champions. Plans are also being discussed which would result in Kelvingrove, the Burrell Collection and the Gallery of Modern Art (Goma) being shut for days at the height of the tourist season, dealing a blow to the venues’ catering and commercial outlets as well as to the city’s reputation in the tourist market (Herald page 5).

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Justice

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Legal representation: Lawyers have demanded an urgent meeting with the Lord Advocate over new guidelines on giving suspects access to a solicitor when they are being questioned by the police. Currently according to Scots law, police can question suspects before formal arrest without automatic access to legal representation; a situation different from that in England and Wales where an accused person has a legal right to a lawyer (Scotsman page 2, Herald page 1).

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Child victims of crime: According to the Home Office, almost one in four children aged ten to 15 has been a victim of crime in the past year. However, they warned the figures may overstate the level of crime among young people as the research included incidents such as playground fights and theft of toys (Scotsman page 16, Mirror page 6).

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Health

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Tea drinking: Researchers have warned that drinking a lot of tea increases the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. A study on more than 76,000 women found consuming tea raised the risk while drinking coffee had no impact. While those who had more than four cups a day had the highest risk – being 78 per cent more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than those who drank none, drinking any amount of tea increased the chance by 40 per cent (Scotsman page 20, Telegraph page 13, Record page 22).

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Education

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Higher education: There is further comment on Reform Scotland’s recent report ‘Power to Learn’ which argued that Scottish students should contribute to the cost of their university education through a deferred fee, but only once they were earning more than the average Scottish salary (John McTernan in the Scotsman, TESS page 2). 

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Independent schools: Martin Stephen comments on the problems with the culture of shame surrounding independent education in the UK. (Martin Stephen in the Telegraph).

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Politics

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Devolution: Professor James Mitchell comments on the importance of responsible self-government for Scotland (James Mitchell in the Herald).