REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 26 AUGUST 2010

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 26 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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Scottish Parliament job cuts: Holyrood\’s chief executive Paul Grice warned staff and MSPs that he has been charged with finding at least 15 per cent savings from the Holyrood budget of £78.7 million which means that he is likely to have to reduce costs by £11.8m.  Mr. Grice warned that at least three of 11 staff in the most senior positions at the parliament will have to go and up to 75 members of staff could be lost (Scotsman page 1, P&J page 9).

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Labour leadership: The campaign for the leader of the Labour party is reaching a climax as the ballot opens next Wednesday and most people are expected to cast their votes in the first 48 hours. Tension between the Miliband brothers has intensified as the two Labour leadership front-runners recently stated their proposals for the party. Meanwhile, David Miliband returns to Scotland for the third time during the leadership contest with visits to Glasgow, Ayr, East Kilbride and Airdrie to shore up support for his campaign, which has been backed by Senior Labour MPs Jim Murphy and Douglas Alexander (Scotsman page 2, Herald page 6, Financial Times page 2, Times page 9, David Aaronovitch in the Times, Guardian page 1, Michael White in the Guardian, Mail page 2, Express page 2).

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MP expense watchdogs: Although MPs agreed to independent oversight of their expenses after widespread abuse of the old system was exposed, many ministers remain angry at the way the new regime works. A detailed account of encounters between MPs and staff from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) reveals that staff running parliament\’s new expenses system have been verbally abused by MPs frustrated by the tough new rules (Scotsman page 8, Times page 9, Telegraph page 1, Guardian page 4, Express page 2). 

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Budget: The Institute for Fiscal Studies has conducted a study of the Government’s emergency budget and concluded that the poorest six-tenths of households were hit harder than wealthier households in all but the richest 10% as a result of the budget’s tax and welfare changes.  The study reports that pensioners and families will suffer most due to the increase in VAT as well as changes to the benefit system. The analysis contradicts the Treasury’s official projections.  Nick Clegg has defended the emergency budget by arguing that the study did not take into account moves to get people off benefits and into work.  The Deputy Prime Minister insisted that the UK Government was committed to fairness, and that other changes, including an upcoming £1000 rise on the point at which income tax is paid, will protect the poorest in society (Herald page 6, Financial Times page 1, Courier page 14, P&J page 14, Times page 5, Telegraph page 6, Mail page 2, John McTernan in the Scotsman).

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Economy

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Hewlett-Packard: Computing giant Hewlett-Packard plans to create 700 jobs by establishing an IT centre at its Scottish base in Renfrewshire. The site is currently home to the multinational company\’s sales and customer support operations. Last year HP cut 700 manufacturing jobs in order to transfer production to the Czech Republic. The announcement to create these 700 IT jobs follows a £7 million grant from government agency Scottish Enterprise. First Minister Alex Salmond said the firm’s decision to invest highlighted Scotland’s strengths as a first-class destination for technology. However, politicians and unions have criticised the Scottish Government for giving a technology firm £7 million to create 700 jobs just over a year after it announced it was cutting the same number of posts through the closure of its manufacturing operation (Scotsman page 9, Herald page 7, Times page 15, Record page 2).

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Banning pubs: Some of Scotland’s most popular nightlife haunts face a ban on any future pubs, clubs or off-sales under new plans to be in force by the end of the year. Authorities in Glasgow are calling for a moratorium on any future licences being issued in areas considered to be at saturation point for venues selling alcohol. The ruling could affect supermarkets and smaller licensed grocers which plan to open in the areas (Herald page 4).

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Justice

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Drug testing: Brigadier Hugh Monro, Scotland’s chief inspector of prisons, has warned that drug testing needs to be tightened to reduce re-offending on release. He argues that there should be mandatory tests for all people arriving at and leaving prison, with random surprise tests for current inmates. Currently, prisoners are tested if they admit to having a problem, or if prison staff suspect they do, and mandatory tests take place during two months of the year (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 10, P&J page 4, Times page 13).

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Education

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Teacher incompetence: A teacher from Fife has become the third in Scotland to be fired for incompetence under new rules for the profession. Previously she would have been entitled to move to another council area for work, but since the change in legislation, the General Teaching Council may now fire a teacher for incompetence as well as for criminal proceedings or misconduct.  However, a survey has revealed that only two of Scotland’s 52,000 teachers have been sacked for incompetence by local authorities in the past three years, and just 14 teachers have been sacked for incompetence in the past decade (Herald page 2, Courier page 1, P&J page 3).