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REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 19 JULY 2010

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 19 July 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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Al-Megrahi: Foreign Secretary William Hague is to hold talks with US senators in a bid to deal with claims in Washington that the release of the Lockerbie bomber was linked to oil deals with Libya. Conservative MP Daniel Kawcynski has urged David Cameron to hold an investigation into the Scottish Government’s decision to release the Lockerbie bomber last year. On the other side of the Border, Alex Salmond told US senators that they should direct their questions to the former Prime Minister Tony Blair. The Scottish Government’s Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill, who freed the bomber, is still waiting for a summons from Washington. (Scotland on Sunday page 1, Eddie Barnes comments in Scotland on Sunday page 11, Sunday Times page 1, The Scotsman page 6, The Herald page 1, The Times page 7 and page 14, The Courier page 7, The Press and Journal page 1.)

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David Mundell: More discrepancies have reportedly been found in David Mundell’s election expenses, increasing the pressure on Scotland’s only Tory MP to step aside from his Government duties. (The Herald page 6, The Times page 16.)

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Fiscal powers: Former MSP Brian Monteith argues that Scotland needs to “change its political culture so that its participants are connected to the costs of their actions and have a vested interest in improving the outputs and inputs.” He argues that this is best done by increasing the tax raising powers of the Scottish Parliament. (The Scotsman page 25.)

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Economy

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Exports: In the past year the value of Scottish exports has dropped by more than £220 million, which is a 6.7 per cent fall. This contrasts to the 11.5 per cent rise seen over the UK as a whole. Relying on other figures, the Scottish Government states that Scottish exports outperformed the rest of UK. (The Scotsman page 13, The Press and Journal page 8, Daily Mail page 2, Daily Express page 10, Daily Record page 2.)

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Scottish Water: The Scottish Futures Trust (SFT), set up by the Scottish Government to deliver value for money in the public sector, reports that taking Scottish Water partly out of state ownership could raise £3.5 billion. Last night John Swinney, the Finance Secretary, stated that the Scottish Government had no plans to privatise the company. Therefore, the Labour Party has demanded that the future ownership of Scottish Water must be made clear by the Government. (The Herald page 6, The Daily Telegraph page 7.)

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Labour market: A labour market barometer from the Bank of Scotland reported a deterioration in the labour market last month. While the demand for both permanent and temporary workers increased, it did not meet the strong rise in the number of people looking for employment. (The Courier page 11, The Press and Journal page 8, Daily Mail page 11, The Sun page 2.)

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Wind farms: Scotland’s wind farms have produced only around half the amount of power they were expected to this year. The government blamed the low generation levels on unusually calm weather, but critics said the figures showed the danger of becoming too dependent on renewable energy. (Scotland on Sunday page 1, The Daily Telegraph page 3, Daily Express page 4.)

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Nuclear power: John McTernan argues that the First Minister Alex Salmond is destroying job opportunities in Scotland due to his prejudice against nuclear power. Scotland has long been a leader in nuclear power, but now the construction of nuclear plants will instead be directed to England. (The Scotsman page 27.)

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Justice

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Organised crime: MSPs are considering the possibility of establishing secret tribunals to deal with criminal gang leaders and their associates. The Scottish Government wants to halt money laundering in Scotland and has also become increasingly alarmed by organised crime’s venture away from their traditional business models of using taxis and security firms as fronts for their crime. (The Herald page 1.)

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Transport 

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Car insurance: Car insurance premiums have rocketed, in some cases up to 33 per cent, due to companies countering the cost of fraudulent claims. (The Scotsman page 2, Daily Express page 5.)

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Glasgow’s subway: SNP MSP Bob Doris urges the Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson to support a £300 million scheme, by the Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, towards modernising the subway in Glasgow. (The Herald page 10.)

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Education

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University funding: The debate on graduate tax continues following Vince Cable’s announcement last week. Geoff Mawdsley, Director of Reform Scotland, is quoted in the Sunday Herald. Dr Andrew Cubie, who led a review of university funding in Scotland a decade ago, states that the Scottish Government should keep the option of tuition fees on the table. However, Education Secretary Michael Russell has declared that tuition fees are not under consideration. Liam Burns argues in The Scotsman that Vince Cable’s point that Scottish higher education is “free” is wrong. Some students are forced to take out commercial loans to fund their living costs or work on the side, especially since student support in Scotland is lower than in England. (Sunday Herald page 24, BBC, The Scotsman page 11 and page 26, The Herald page 6.)