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REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 20 JULY 2010

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 20 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: Labour leadership contender David Miliband has denounced the decision to release the Lockerbie bomber as clearly wrong, signalling a dramatic change in his previous position. The SNP have criticised Mr Miliband’s U-turn and argued that it will damage his creditability. Allan Massie argues in the Scotsman that the US senators are ignorant of the Scottish legal system. Mr Al Megrahi was released due to the Scottish provision for “compassionate release”, which had nothing to do with BP or the UK Government. (The Herald page 1, The Scotsman page 29, The Times page 1 and page 8, The Daily Telegraph page 12, Financial Times page 1, The Daily Mail page 12, The Daily Express page 2.)

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Scottish Conservatives: Annabel Goldie has pledged to put David Cameron’s Big Society plans at the heart of the Scottish Conservative Party’s Holyrood election manifesto. (The Times page 16.)

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Economy

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Taxes: Chancellor George Osborne will today reveal plans for a tax review, headed by the new Office for Tax Simplification (OTS). The independent body’s task will be to help businesses by tearing up tax regulations, which are believed to holding the recovery back. There was a guarded welcome from SNP Treasury spokesman Stewart Hosie, who hopes that this will move tax reforms on more quickly. (The Scotsman page 1 and page 30, The Daily Telegraph page 4, Financial Times page 4, The Guardian page 20.)

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Defence: Labour and the SNP have joined forces to demand clarity over the planned cuts in the defence budget. Fears have been raised that Scotland could end up bearing a large part of the cutbacks. (The Herald page 6, The Scottish Daily Mail page 1.)

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Employment: The number of young Scots who are neither employed nor in higher education soared between 2008 and 2009 from 31,000 to 36,000. This has raised fears about a “forgotten generation.” (The Scotsman page 2.)

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Bio-mass power: Calum Wilson, managing director of Forth Energy, will lodge his first planning application next month, with the hope of receiving permission for a plan to build a large bio-mass plant in Scotland. The plans have been met with opposition from those who argue that there is not enough fuel in the UK to support another bio-mass plant. (The Scotsman page 14.) 

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Right to buy: The Centre for Housing Research has examined the right to buy policy, which gave council tenants the right to buy their homes thirty years ago. It is the first analysis of its kind and claims that the policy has given many households access to home ownership, but not to better housing. Furthermore, many former council tenants feel “trapped” in their homes. (The Scotsman page 23, The Press and Journal page 9, The Courier page 7.)

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Recession: New figures from the Scottish Government have revealed that the Scottish recession was “shallower” than for the rest of the UK. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Scotland fell by 6.1 per cent, while it fell by 6.2 percent in the UK as a whole. (The Scotsman page B1, The Press and Journal page 7, The Courier page 8.)

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Justice

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Overdraft charges: Business Secretary Vince Cable has accused banks of “ripping off” customers with high charges for unauthorised overdrafts. The accusation has led lawyers, acting for customers fined thousands of pounds by lenders, to take the Scottish Government to the European Court of Human Rights. The lawyers argue that the Scottish civil justice authorities have failed to ensure a fair hearing for customers. (The Scotsman page 20, The Herald page 10, The Press and Journal page 1 and page 5.)

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Transport 

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Transport projects: The chief executive of Edinburgh’s tram project, Richard Jeffrey, has urged politicians not to be “frightened” by large, long-term projects. The city council firm is currently attempting to solve the conflict with its main constructor, which has slowed down construction. (The Scotsman page 12, The Herald page 9, The Courier page 6.)

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Airport drop-off fee: The Greens have rejected the plans for a drop-off fee at Edinburgh airport, arguing that the £1 fee is too low to change drivers’ behaviour. (The Scotsman page 15.)

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Health

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Junior doctors: A lack of hospital staff could be looming after a big fall in the number of applicants for junior doctor posts in Scotland. About 100 positions remain unfilled after the last round of medical recruitment. (The Herald page 4.)