REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 12 JULY 2010

Reform Scotland

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 12 July 2010

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.

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

Politics

AV referendum: First Minister Alex Salmond has rejected claims that holding the AV referendum and the election on the same day will save £17 million. He insists that the government will spend £100 million on the referendum and that the referendum has a risk of undermining the Scottish elections. The Scottish Secretary, Michael Moore, argues that Mr Salmond is underestimating the intelligence of the Scottish people, since it is a simple yes or no vote. (The Scotsman page 4, The Herald page 8, Sunday Herald page 9, The Press and Journal page 9, The Daily Telegraph page 2, The Daily Express page 11, The Courier page 8.)

MP expenses: Scotland’s only Conservative MP, David Mundell, is facing a possible inquiry after allegations that he has omitted £681 from the cost of his campaign and instead listed it within an earlier period. This would mean that the he has exceeded the permitted expense limit which is punishable with a fine. (The Scotsman page 13, Sunday Herald page 4, The Press and Journal page 8, The Times page 6, Scottish Daily Mail page 25, Daily Express page 10.)

Scottish Conservatives: Amid the discussions about possible name changes for the Tories in Scotland, Kenny Farquharson argues that maybe the Conservatives have to face the fact that their only role in Scottish politics today is on the fringes. (Scotland on Sunday page 16.)

Civil service chief: Senior Scottish mandarins have reportedly criticised the decision by Whitehall to appoint a new head of the Scottish civil service without an open competition. The position of permanent secretary went to Sir Peter Housden from London; insiders point out that there was no potential candidate at St Andrew’s House with the necessary experience. (Scotland on Sunday page 4.)

Devolution: The House of Commons Scottish select committee will investigate the impact of devolution on education, justice and health. Gillian Bowditch argues that this could be a valuable investigation as the benefits of devolution are yet to withstand the “winds of the budget cuts.” (Sunday Times page 18.)

Succession: The Catholic Church in Scotland has criticised David Cameron’s decision to backtrack on his commitment to scrap the law that bars Catholics from the throne. (The Sunday Times page 1, The Times page 16, Scottish Daily Mail page 26, Daily Record page 4, The Daily Express page 11, The Courier page 7.)

Economy

Recovery: Research released today by the Bank of Scotland shows that Scotland’s economic recovery stalled last month. The gap between the manufacturing and service sectors increased; with the industrial sector’s good fortunes contrasting with the ‘near stagnation’ in service sector activity. (The Scotsman page 37, The Herald page 26.)

Small firms: Official survey figures from the Scottish Government show that 34 per cent of small and medium enterprises in Scotland are dependent on credit cards. Nearly two years after the height of the financial crisis they are still facing difficulties with accessing credit from the big financial institutions. Small firms also face another setback as non-domestic rates (NDRs), which are reassessed every five years based on the rateable value of the business premises, have increased, in some cases by over 400 per cent. The Chambers of Commerce urge firms to appeal to local assessors. (The Herald page 1, Scotland on Sunday page B2.)

Scottish Enterprise: In a bid to ease criticism for spending too much of taxpayer’s money on salaries, the quango Scottish Enterprise will axe 20 senior managers. (Scotland on Sunday page 1, Sunday Herald page B12, The Times page 16, Scottish Daily Mail page 10, The Daily Express page 15.)

Banking sector: One in six bank jobs in Scotland were lost last year as Lloyds and RBS slashed their official head counts by more than 7,000. (Sunday Herald page 1.)

Justice

Police education: Amid the budget crisis in the police forces, more of the training of new police recruits will be done on the streets than in class rooms. Probationer training at the Scottish Police College is to be cut from 15 to 10 weeks; instead the recruits will be taught by a tutor out on the streets of their force area. (The Herald page 4.)

Stun gun scheme: The chief constable of Strathclyde police, who decided to arm his frontline officers with stun guns, faces a legal challenge from the senior members of the Strathclyde Police Authority (SPA). They argue that it is a breach of human-rights laws. (The Sunday Times page 11.)

Transport 

Infrastructure: Bill Jamieson argues that a reform of infrastructure spending may ease the need for budget cuts. (Scotland on Sunday page B4.)

Local Government

Steven Purcell: The former leader of Glasgow City Council, Steven Purcell, reportedly helped arrange access to top officials for two Labour-supporting property developers. Later, they gave Mr Purcell a position within their charitable foundation. (The Sunday Herald page 5.)

Health

Personal care: Former First Minister Henry McLeish, who introduced free personal care for the elderly in Scotland, calls for the policy to be protected from the budget cuts and insists that it will remain affordable. (The Scotsman page 1, Scotland on Sunday page 4, The Scottish Daily Mail page 10.)

Stillborn births: The charity Sands has complied a study among NHS trusts, indicating that parents whose babies are stillborn or die shortly after birth are facing indignity. Only half of the health trusts have a quiet room, while more than half of the trusts do not have a dedicated midwife trained in bereavement. (The Scotsman page 12.)

NHS cuts: Ayrshire and Arran health board faces criticism after first axeing nursing posts and then sending eight senior staff to Boston for an event on patient safety. (The Sunday Herald page 15.)

Education

PE target: The SNP Government’s pledge that all school children should receive two hours of physical education each week is not being met; only 35 per cent of primary schools and 23 per cent of secondary schools have reached the target. MSP Bill Butler, Labour’s sport spokesman, who obtained the figures after a freedom of information request, condemned the SNP for “failing to act.” (The Scotsman page 17.)