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REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 4 AUGUST 2010

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 4 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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Budget deficit: David Cameron and Nick Clegg have written to their Cabinet colleagues to make it clear that cutting Britain\’s deficit is "the most urgent issue facing Britain", following a series of inter-departmental spats over the scale of budget cuts required to reduce it. The Prime Minister and his Deputy issued the letter as a "reminder" as departments prepare for a summer of intense bargaining with the Treasury over cuts in their budgets for the next three years. The letter warns them to ditch the "short-term gimmicks, top-down diktats and wasteful subsidies of the past" and instead focus on the long-term goal of boosting Britain\’s economic recovery. (Scotsman page 6) 

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Minimum alcohol pricing: The minimum price that ministers want to impose on alcohol is to be announced within a month. Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish Government would name the price before the next stage of the Alcohol (Scotland) Bill. She made the announcement ahead of a cross-party meeting with opposition politicians at Holyrood today. (Scotsman page 7, Herald page 6)

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Scottish Water: Peter Jones comments in the Scotsman on the future of Scottish Water after yesterday’s disclosure that it is likely that it will be taken out of government control. (Scotsman page 33)

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Economy

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Housing market: Hopes have been raised for a sustained recovery in the beleaguered Scottish housing market after figures revealed rocketing sales in the last quarter helped to stoke growth of more than 17 per cent on this time last year. The latest report from the Registers of Scotland showed there were 19,004 residential house sales north of the Border between April and June, compared with 14,662 between January and March – a rise of 29.6 per cent. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Telegraph page 3, Press and Journal page 8)

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RBS fine: The Royal Bank of Scotland has been hit with a £5.6 million fine for breaking rules brought in to prevent money laundering and stop financial institutions lending cash to terrorist groups. The penalty, the largest of its type ever imposed, was handed out by banking regulator the Financial Services Authority after RBS Group (RBSG) failed to do enough to ensure customers and their transactions could not be linked to terrorism. (Scotsman page 6, Telegraph page B1, FT page 2) 

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Scottish stock exchange: A think-tank has today called for the re-establishment of a Scottish stock exchange after Business Secretary Vince Cable floated the idea of establishing new regional exchanges across the UK in a paper last week. The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) argued that the creation of self-regulated stock exchanges in Scotland and English regions would allow companies to raise cheaper finance than on the more heavily regulated London Stock Exchange (LSE) and would also support its call for lighter touch regulation of the finance sector. (Scotsman page B1, Herald page 11)

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Justice

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Crime rates: Scotland has some of the highest levels of violent crime in the developed world, but sends fewer people to jail than many developed countries, according to newly released figures. The analysis of United Nations figures by think-tank Civitas shows Scotland\’s murder rate is the fifth-highest of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, behind Mexico, the United States, Turkey and South Korea. Scotland also has the sixth-highest rate of serious assaults, with 127.5 per 100,000 people, almost four times the rate of 32.2 in England and Wales. (Scotsman page 11) 

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Missing criminal records: An official review of the Police National Computer discovered that the results of more than 35,000 court cases in 2007 have yet to be recorded in the criminal system and thousands more from subsequent years. (Telegraph page 1)

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Transport 

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Direct trains: Direct trains linking the north and north-east of Scotland to London could be scrapped as part of drastic cost-cutting measures being considered by the UK Government. Expensive plans to replace all of Britain’s ageing high-speed intercity rolling stock were put on hold by the former Labour government in February after the deal ran into financial problems. New Transport Secretary Phillip Hammond is expected to decide on the 800-carriage scheme in October – but it has emerged that a major review of the project has targeted Inverness, Aberdeen and Dundee as areas where money can be saved. (Press and Journal page 1) 

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Health

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Cancer: Scottish scientists have made a breakthrough in the search for the causes of testicular cancer in young men. The team from the University of Edinburgh were able to grow human testicular tissue in mice, allowing them to focus on the changes that occur before birth which may lead to cancer in later life. They will now use the method to test which factors, such as environmental chemicals and obesity in pregnant women, might influence changes in the cells. (Scotsman page 25, Herald page 8) 

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NHS Workload: NHS staff must not be burdened with "excessive workloads" as thousands of jobs disappear in the service, union leaders have warned. Unison chiefs will meet with health secretary Nicola Sturgeon, NHS board heads and the British Medical Association (BMA) as part of a scrutiny group set up to examine the impact of reduced staffing levels. Ms Sturgeon told MSPs in June that more than 4,000 jobs would go in the NHS this year – including 1,500 nurses and midwives – but pledged there will be no compulsory redundancies. (Herald) 

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Smoke-free hospitals: NHS Grampian is to give patients and staff more say on controversial proposals to extend the smoking ban in hospitals, after they were branded “unenforceable” yesterday. Health chiefs have delayed a decision on plans to prohibit smoking in all of the board’s grounds and car parks, including hospitals, doctors’ surgeries and clinics, by 2012. A leading patients’ group criticised the move last night, accusing the health board of avoiding making tough decisions for the region’s health. At a meeting of NHS Grampian’s executive committee, board members expressed fears over how the plans would be implemented and policed. (Press and Journal page 7) 

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Education

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Fixed term contracts: Education leaders should consider giving fixed-term contracts to heads and moving teachers from school to school to keep them fresh, it has been claimed. A report by Her Majesty\’s Inspectorate for Education (HMIe) to the Donaldson Review, which will ultimately advise the Scottish Government, has highlighted the difficulty faced by experienced teachers in finding new challenges in the education system. (Scotsman page 6)