REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 26 JULY 2010

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 26 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: Documents have revealed the full extent of BP’s lobbying of the British Government over the release of the Lockerbie bomber, the records stating that BP had at least five meetings with the former Labour Government. Meanwhile, the US Government is urging Alex Salmond not to approve the release of secrets letters sent to the Scottish Government, detailing its position on the release of Al Megrahi. The Sunday Times revealed that Barack Obama’s administration reportedly secretly advised the Scottish ministers that it would be “far preferable” to free the Lockerbie bomber. (Scotland on Sunday page 1, Sunday Herald page 1, Sunday Times page 1, The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 5, The Times page 9, The Press and Journal page 1, The Daily Telegraph page 1, The Courier page 1, The Scottish Daily Mail page 10, The Daily Express page 2.)

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Calman plans: Scottish Secretary Michael Moore has affirmed that the Calman plans for reform are the only realistic proposals available, despite the Liberal Democrats more radical proposals for fiscal reform. The treasury has been told to work out the fine details of the proposal, in a move to make the Calman proposals reality. However, the UK Government’s Office of Tax Simplification says that the revised tax system is too complex and could therefore take two years to set up and cost several million. (Scotland on Sunday page 2 and page 16, The Herald page 8, The Times page 14, The Daily Telegraph page 5, The Courier page 3.)

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AV referendum: Ron Gould, an international election examiner and adviser to the United Nations (UN), has warned that the plans to hold the referendum on voting reform on the same day as the elections in the devolved administrations could damage the democratic process. The Labour leadership contender David Miliband has also joined the protest against the date and argues that Nick Clegg’s decision is “high-handed and arrogant.” (Sunday Times page 2, The Herald page 6.)  

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Devolution: The Toscafund, a well known hedge fund, said that the general election has created a political chasm between London and Edinburgh. The fund predicted that it will widen during the next years, in the end leading to an improved mandate for the SNP. (The Financial Times page 4.) 

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Economy

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Economic recovery: Ernst and Young report that the planned public spending cuts in the UK will slow down the economic growth for the next two years, but will not obstruct recovery in 2013. Another report, a survey made by the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC), revealed that businesses are generally positive towards the budget cuts, but fear that their profits will decrease due to the cuts. (Scotland on Sunday page B1, The Scotsman page 37.)

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Public sector cuts: The Independent Budget Review, set up by Finance Secretary John Swinney in February, will deliver its report on Thursday. Thousands of Scottish public sector workers’ fate could therefore be sealed this week as ministers are advised where to make savage cuts, with departments facing reductions up to 20 per cent. Andrew McKie comments in the Herald that the public sector unions need to “bite the bullet and accept the cuts”, especially since the private sector has already endured far more extensive cuts. (Sunday Herald page 16, The Herald page 13.)

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Wind turbines: UK Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has signalled a move to significantly increase the number of wind turbines in the UK. However, the placement of the turbines is under question as planners warn that a section of the north-east Scotland is under threat of becoming too crowded. (The Herald page 6, The Press and Journal page 7, The Guardian page 19, Scottish Daily Mail page 25.)

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Transport 

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Airport drop-off fee: The arrival of the new head of Edinburgh airport, Kevin Brown, brings hope up among politicians, who believe that the change of leadership might lead to a scraping of the proposed airport drop-off fee. (The Scotsman page 9.)

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Health

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Fertility treatment: NHS Lothian Health Board announced a funding of £300,000 to improve fertility treatments, amid complaints of “postcode lottery” deciding the waiting times. (The Scotsman page 10, The Herald page 10, The Press and Journal page 6, The Daily Record page 2.)

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Hospital rooms: Scotland’s Chief Medical Adviser Doctor Harry Burns has told health chiefs that all multi-bed units must be scrapped. The move is a part of the Scottish Government’s efforts to prevent the spread of infections such as MRSA and C difficile. (The Scotsman page 24.)  

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Education

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PE lessons: The SNP has been accused of “throwing in the towel” over its manifesto promise to give pupils more specialist PE lessons. Mike Russell has revealed that there as been no government attempt to compile detailed statistics on PE provision for five years.  (Sunday Herald page 4, The Courier page 9.)

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Innovation scheme: Leading Scottish universities have argued against the plans for a cut in the £21 million fund set up to ensure innovative research in higher education, fearing that it ‘will block good ideas for Scottish business.’ (Sunday Herald page 11, The Courier page 10.)

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New school: The new James Gillespie High in Edinburgh is being built following the demands of the new Curriculum for Excellence that will be introduced in August. The curriculum takes a different approach to learning, which will become more interdisciplinary and the new school will reflect this, with more flexible class rooms and learning spaces. (The Scotsman page 10.)