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REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 28 JULY 2010

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 28 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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Electoral Reform: Sir Malcolm Rifkind has added his name to more than 40 Tory MPs opposing plans to hold a referendum on voting reform on the same day as next year\’s Holyrood elections. The former Scottish secretary\’s name was among Tory MPs who yesterday signed a Commons motion calling for the date of the referendum to be changed, warning that issues "of fundamental national importance" should be dealt with separately.  

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The Labour shadow cabinet has decided to vote against a bill introducing reform to the voting system, raising the prospect of a Commons defeat for one of the governing coalition\’s flagship policies.(Scotsman page 8, Herald page 6, Times page 11, Guardian page 1, Financial Times page 2, Press and Journal page 8) 

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Defence cuts: The Treasury has warned MoD chiefs over forthcoming budget cuts, insisting that issues of local employment and the economy should be factored in when it comes to reducing the country\’s defence spending. Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander declared yesterday that when working out where to make cuts in Britain\’s defence budget, the "regional impact" will play a part in the decisions, along with military concerns. It follows fears that Fort George barracks near Inverness, the RAF bases at Lossiemouth and Kinloss in Moray and Leuchars in Fife and battalions of the Royal Regiment of Scotland are all threatened with budget cuts in the months ahead. (Scotsman page 2) 

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Nuclear Power: The coalition government set itself on course for a potential clash with Holyrood ministers and its own backbenchers yesterday as it announced a commitment to support the development of new nuclear power stations. UK Energy Secretary Chris Huhne said it was clear new facilities for nuclear generation should be permitted to proceed, a move that directly contradicts the SNP and Lib Dem policy that no such power stations should be built in Scotland. (Scotsman page 14) 

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Senate hearing: US senators last night announced that the senate inquiry into the release of the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing had been postponed due to a lack of witnesses. The move came after First Minister Alex Salmond, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill and former UK Justice Minister Jack Straw all declined a request to give evidence to the inquiry, which was scheduled to take place in Washington tomorrow. (Herald page 6, Times page 33)  

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UK-Scotland relations: The UK Government has said it wishes to have more positive ties with Holyrood after learning ‘significant lessons’ from the row over the Lockerbie bomber. (Press and Journal page 8, Courier page 7) 

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Economy

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Energy Prices: UK Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has said that UK households will face a £300-a-year rise in their gas and electricity bills and Scots could see a rise of £500 alongside cuts in energy usage if the UK is to meet its climate change targets.  He announced 32 measures including the use of smart metres and expanding renewable and nuclear energy. (Daily Telegraph page 1, Financial Times page 3, Daily Mail page 1) 

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BP: BP has admitted trading on its shares and is under investigation in the US after it announced a £10.9 billion loss in the second quarter and replaced its CEO Tony Hayward with Robert Dudley. Mr Dudley has promised to change the company’s culture to improve safety and reliability.   

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BP has insisted the company\’s lucrative North Sea operations will be largely spared from the £19.3 billion sell-off announced in an attempt to bolster its balance sheet. It said its oil and gas drilling operations in the North Sea, which support 3,000 jobs, remained part of its "core" business and, as such, were not part of plans to sell about 10 per cent of its production assets over the next 18 months. (Daily Telegraph page B1, Financial Times page 1, Press and Journal page 1, Daily Mail page 12, Press and Journal page 5) 

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Green Jobs: Alex Salmond has hailed the 5,000 jobs that could be created from the wind turbine manufacturing sites around the Scottish coast. (Press and Journal page 9, Courier page 8)  

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Justice

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Environmental Law: A mining firm has been fined £10,000 for ignoring strict measures protecting one of the nation\’s most important nature reserves. ATH Resources, one of the UK\’s largest coal producers, was penalised after failing to alert a heritage watchdog over plans to expand open cast mining at Grievehill, near New Cumnock, in Ayrshire. (Scotsman page 3) 

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Police Cuts: It is expected that the SNP pledge to deliver 1,000 extra policy officers will unravel within a year of next May’s elections due to spending cuts prompting recruitment freezes and not replacing retiring officers. The 1,175 police officers recruited since 2007 will be negated by the 1,500 retirements expected over the next four years. (Daily Telegraph page 8) 

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Health

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Hospital Beds: An NHS Scotland report has found that thousands of hospital beds in Scottish high dependency units and intensive care units are ‘blocked’ by people well enough to be treated elsewhere, thereby preventing more seriously ill patients getting beds in the wards. (Daily Telegraph page 1) 

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Breast cancer: Women living in the most deprived areas of Scotland are the least likely to come forward for vital breast cancer screening, official statistics have shown. As latest figures show screening rates across the country exceeded national targets, the NHS in Scotland revealed that the uptake appeared to be dependent on where women lived, with rates highest in the most affluent areas of Scotland. The figures showed that 77 per cent of all women between 50 and 70 were being screened, exceeding the national target of 70 per cent. (Scotsman page 9, Herald page 12) 

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Pregnancy Weight: The Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) has warned obese mothers who gained weight during pregnancy that slimming before having another baby is necessary to avoid complications during pregnancy. (Daily Telegraph page 6, Press and Journal page 11, Daily Mail page 2)  

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Education

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Rural schools: Scores of small schools across Scotland face the threat of closure after ministers refused to save a 52-pupil primary, ­campaigners warned last night. The Scottish Government has rejected an appeal to keep open Crossroads Primary, near Kilmarnock, despite an SNP manifesto pledge to protect against rural school closures. The Scottish Rural Schools Network said the move would give a green light to local authorities across the country that want to save money by shutting small primary schools. Sandy Longmuir, a spokesman for the network, said parents at many of the 600 Scottish primaries with fewer than 70 pupils will now have cause for concern. (Herald page 1) 

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Class Sizes: The Association of Head teachers and Deputes in Scotland has said plans to limit class sizes in the first year of primary school threatened the standard of education for older pupils because schools were forced to transfer teachers to meet the targets. (Daily Telegraph page 8)