REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 21 JUNE 2010

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 21 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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Budget: The Chancellor has confirmed the broad shape of the emergency Budget to come tomorrow which could see £40 billion in public spending cuts and £10 billion in new taxes. While refusing to go into the detail of individual cuts or taxes, he confirmed there would be a ratio of around 80:20 between the demand for savings and the need to raise more income if the UK deficit is to be curbed. He is expected to make deep cuts in the defence budget, and increase the taxes on tobacco and alcohol. Tax credits will also be tackled, and he urges unions to accept pay restraints. The expected VAT raise has been criticised by Ed Balls who says that it is deeply unfair and would harm the recovery. (Herald page 1, Telegraph page 1, page 4, Guardian page 1, Press and Journal page 5, Courier page 1, FT page 1, Daily Mail page 12, Daily Mirror page 11, Daily Express page 5, The Scotsman page 8-9, The Times page 8, David Smith in the Sunday Times page 20, Sunday Herald page 12)

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The Scottish Government has made its final pitch to the Chancellor ahead of tomorrow’s emergency Budget, with a plea for economic growth over public spending cuts. Finance Secretary John Swinney has written to the Chancellor, saying: “The best way to tackle the deficit is through providing the right conditions for economic growth. “If the recovery does lose momentum this will have a significant impact on future tax revenue and the overall fiscal position. “It is therefore essential that all areas of government are focused on supporting the economy, and that the recovery is not damaged by premature fiscal tightening.” Mr Swinney makes a special plea that any public sector pay restraint takes account of those on lowest incomes, while making specific reference to a number of distinctly Scottish issues, such as the ability to spread the cost of the Forth Replacement Crossing over a longer period or the granting of borrowing rights to fund it. Tax incentives for the video gaming industry, avoidance of any discrimination against Scotch whisky, and a system to help rural communities facing high fuel prices are all on the Scottish Government’s wish list to George Osborne. (Herald page 6, Courier page 14)

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Defence cuts: Scotland will be hit with its biggest defence cuts since the end of the Cold War as part of measures to save cash by the UK Government, it was claimed last night. Defence experts believe Scotland’s military facilities will be hit hard as Westminster officials draw up huge cutbacks to the armed forces in their struggle to reduce the £155 billion national debt. Cuts are expected across all areas of the military in Scotland, with manpower being reduced by 20 per cent and a reduction to the Navy’s submarine fleet. (Daily Express page 4)

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The closure of the RFA bases Kinloss and Lossiemouth would incur large economic problems for the community Moray. The number of people employed by the RAF bases is around 4,500. However, it is estimated that this number could be more than doubled because of associated employment. (Scotland on Sunday page 4)

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Tennents: Tennent’s, the Scottish brewer, is to relocate jobs from eastern Europe to its Glasgow headquarters and invest £7 million in modernising its back office system.

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The plans have been financed by C&C, the Irish cider company that acquired Tennent\’s last summer from Anheuser-Busch InBev in a £185 million deal. Scottish Development International, the Scottish government agency, helped secure the latest investment with a £245,000 support package. Tennent\’s will move 23 jobs in areas such as credit control and management accounts from Prague and Budapest to Glasgow. Another 37 telesales roles will transfer from InBev to Tennent\’s. (Scotland on Sunday page 1)

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Utilities: Scottish Water has now received 54 individual fines, the amount of which exceeds £280,000, making it the most prosecuted institution in Scotland within the last decade. (Scotland on Sunday page 10)

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Politics

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Fiscal powers: Chairman of Reform Scotland Ben Thomson has a letter in The Herald on the Campaign for Fiscal Responsibility and why it is necessary to devolve control over most current taxes to the Scottish Parliament which would change the culture in Scotland and the nature of the political debate for the better. (Herald page 15)

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Conservative Leadership: Annabel Goldie is reportedly preparing to resign as the leader of the Scottish Conservatives. Sources close to the party leader claim she intends to leave after next year’s Scottish parliament election. However, some Tories would like her to quit as soon as next month in an attempt to reduce the likelihood of another embarrassing defeat in the Holyrood election. (Sunday Times page 1)

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Justice

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Ownership of law firms: MSPs have voted to restrict external ownership of law firms to 49 per cent, the latest step in the debate around alternative business structures. The Liberal Democrats’ spokesman Robert Brown argue that this would provide ‘further protection against outside control’ which was ‘of concern to many solicitors.’ (The Scotsman page 48.)

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Judicial system: Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill will today meet Law Society representatives to discuss a potentially catastrophic crisis in the judicial system over a human rights case. The fall-out from the case could lead to up to 100,000 appeals from convicts, who could argue they were denied immediate access to a lawyer before police began questioning them during the initial six hours of permitted detention before formal arrest. The Salduz case in Turkey established the principle before the European Court of Human Rights, but last year a bench of seven Scottish judges ruled that the system here, with its six-hour detention limit and other safeguards such as the need for corroborative evidence, included sufficient safeguards to be human rights compliant. (Herald page 4, Press and Journal page 9 The Scotsman page 48 and page 10, The Times page 19, Sunday Herald page 1)

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Local Government

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SPT expenses: The Labour leader of North Lanarkshire is under pressure to sack one of his councillors from Scotland’s biggest transport quango over expenses claims. Jim McCabe was last night urged to end David Fagan’s £11,000-a-year role as vice-chair of Strathclyde Passenger Transport (SPT). Mr Fagan is the last surviving member of a trio of Labour councillors in charge at SPT during a scandal over expenses. Alistair Watson, from Glasgow, and Davie McLachlan, from South Lanarkshire, quit as chair and vice-chair respectively in February after an investigation into the transport body. Chief executive Ron Culley also stepped down. (Herald page 5)

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Steven Purcell: Former Glasgow City Council leader Steven Purcell has said there is no chance of a return to frontline politics after he ­admitted taking cocaine. However, the man who was once tipped as a future First Minister said he wanted to continue to work for the Labour Party in a voluntary role. The 37-year-old shocked colleagues when he unexpectedly stepped down from his post in March this year. He also resigned as councillor for the city’s Blairdardie ward, citing stress and exhaustion. It later emerged he was being treated in a private clinic specialising in drug and alcohol dependency. Earlier this year he said he had taken cocaine a handful of times, after first being offered it at a party. He also said he had problems with alcohol before he decided to step down. (Herald page 10, Scotsman page 19.The Times page 14.)

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Health

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Health cuts: Dr Harry Burns, the Chief Medical Officer, says health boards will be tempted to prioritise emergency care as budgets tighten, potentially leaving public-health staff who are working on long-term programmes to prevent illness feeling exposed. But he suggests trying to stop health problems before they develop is more vital as a health-service priority. He said: “In difficult times, there will be a temptation for the health service to focus on acute services and therefore people in public health will inevitably feel a bit threatened when financial stringencies are applied. “My own view is that it’s even more important that we concentrate on these upstream determinants of health. So don’t be disheartened but think hard about the science underlying the discipline, because that is what convinces folk to invest money.” (Herald page 1)

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Education

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Roseburn primary: Roseburn Primary in Edinburgh will reduce its primary classes from the expected two to one. This has led a group of parents to take legal action. (Scotsman page 22.)