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REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 13 AUGUST 2010

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 13 August 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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Government spending: The release of the Department of Communities and Local Government expenditure figures revealed details of a £314 million bill notched up during the last year of the previous administration. Civil servants spent thousands of pounds of taxpayers\’ money on luxury hotels, M&S lunches, away days and staff massages. The documents were published online as part of the UK Government\’s public spending disclosure (Scotsman page 4, Guardian page 3, Telegraph page 4, Express page 7). 

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Spending review: David Cameron has appointed Sir Philip Green, the billionaire owner of the Topshop fashion empire, to lead an efficiency review into the Government’s £700billion annual spending bill (Scotsman page 2, Herald page 6, Times page 5, Telegraph page 1). 

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Alcohol pricing: David Cameron’s comments about minimum alcohol pricing have sparked a political debate at Holyrood. The SNP claims that David Cameron’s support for a bylaw that would make it illegal for pubs to sell alcohol for less than 50p per unit in Greater Manchester makes the Scottish Tories opposition to the controversial Alcohol Bill untenable.  However, Conservatives at Holyrood claim that Mr Cameron’s words have been twisted for political gain and that although he did approve of measures to stop supermarkets in Manchester from selling alcohol at deeply discounted prices, the Prime Minister did not agree with a national scheme to bring alcohol prices up to a minimum level (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 6, P&J page 9, Courier page 7). 

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“The Big Society”: Gerry Hassan defends a Scottish version of David Cameron’s “Big Society” in which there is a decrease in concentrated power and an increase in individual choice (Gerry Hassan in the Scotsman). 

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Welfare reform: Jeff Randall argues that radical change is needed in order to stop discouraging employment in the UK (Jeff Randall in the Telegraph). 

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Time change: “Double summertime” proposals are due to be debated in the Commons later this year. The plan, which would mean lighter evenings but darker mornings, is being backed by Conservative MPs, road safety campaigners and environmentalists. It is opposed by many in Scotland, where darker mornings would have a greater effect (Telegraph page 3, Daily Mail page 8, Express page 1). 

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Economy

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Airport Strike: Thousands of travellers face major travel disruption during one of the busiest holiday periods of the year after staff at Scotland’s main airports voted overwhelmingly to go on strike. The walkouts will hit Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow airports. No dates have yet been set but an announcement is expected next week. CBI Scotland assistant director David Lonsdale urged the unions to negotiate, arguing that the strikes will damage Scotland’s fragile economy (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 11, Times page 9, Guardian page 1, Telegraph page 1, P&J page 1, Courier page 1, Financial Times page 2, Mirror page 10,Sun page 6, Daily Mail page 1, Express page 2). 

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Housing: Fewer people in Scotland are expected to lose their homes through repossessions than in other parts of the UK this year, according to new Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) figures. Nevertheless, they warn that homeowners still face pressure from potential rises in interest rates and unemployment (Scotsman page 12, Times page 40, Telegraph B2).          

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Meanwhile, Simon Wolfson argues that the market, not central planning, would be better suited to address the “pent-up demand” in the housing market (Simon Wolfson in the Times) 

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Tourism: David Cameron said that the £115bn-a-year tourism sector was "fundamental" to rebuilding the UK\’s struggling economy, and urged Britons to spend more on holidaying at home (Times page 9, Guardian page 13). 

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Health

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Healthy diets: Researchers in Aberdeen are working on an "intelligent diet" which allows people to enjoy eating and feeling full, but still lose weight, by investigating how food interacts with the stomach and brain (Scotsman page 4, Herald page 1). 

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Additionally, researchers at Imperial College London have suggested that cholesterol-lowering statins should be offered along with condiments in fast food outlets to compensate for the risk of heart disease. The idea was criticised by leading doctors who said the study could encourage ill-health by prompting even greater consumption of junk food (Guardian page 14, Telegraph page 9, P&J page 10, Daily Mail page 11).

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Education

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Overseas students: Foreign students studying in Scotland bring £15 million into the economy each year, according to a new study by Santander. The study found that the 10,025 overseas students at Scottish universities spend an average of £93 a week on shopping, bars, restaurants and travel in local communities. This personal spending is in addition to the £105 million in tuition fees that overseas students pay to universities across the UK (Scotsman page 15). 

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Student debt: Students beginning university this year can expect to graduate with £24,700 of debt, £1,500 more than students now in their first year of university, according to The Push Student Debt survey conducted recently (Guardian page 8). 

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Loan delays: Students have been warned they may not receive their full loans in time for the start of the new university term, as the Student Loans Company (SLC) deals with a backlog of forms, fuelled by a record number of university applications (Telegraph page 1).