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REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 5 AUGUST 2010

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 5 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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Cabinet meetings: Alex Salmond came under fire today after claiming that the chance to play golf at one of Scotland\’s top courses was a factor in the decision to hold a meeting of his Cabinet in the area. The comment in a golfing magazine was dismissed as a "light-hearted remark" by the First Minister\’s spokesman, who insisted the event in Dornoch was about taking the Cabinet around Scotland. Mr Salmond told the current edition of Bunkered magazine, in an interview before last week\’s meeting in Dornoch, that ministers would be promoting the local hotel and good causes in the Highlands. (Scotsman page 3, Herald page 6, Times page 10, Telegraph page 7, Daily Record page 6, Daily Mail page 7)

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Budget: George Kerevan comments in The Scotsman on Holyrood’s failure to reach a consensus on the budget. (Scotsman page 29) 

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Calman: Ben Thomson, spokesman for the Campaign for Fiscal Responsibility, argues in The Scotsman that the Calman Commission proposals are a political compromise that will prove unsatisfactory and do not offer genuine fiscal responsibility. (Scotsman page 30) 

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Ted Brocklebank: Ted Brocklebank is the latest MSP to announce his departure next year. The list MSP’s decision will see the departure of one of Holyrood’s most media-savvy operators. Five of the SNP’s 47 MSPs have announced they are departing next May, as have five of Labour’s 46 MSPs – three of whom are leaving for Westminster, two to the House of Commons and one to return to the House of Lords. Two Conservatives are also departing Holyrood out of a total of 16, with an identical number of Liberal Democrats – two out of 16 – also following suit. (Herald page 8, Courier page 3)

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Papal visit: Pilgrims attending the Pope’s Mass in Glasgow are reportedly being expected to pay four times as much as those attending his prayer vigil in London. While organisers continued to deny that a suggested £20 donation for the Bellahouston appearance was a charge to go to Mass, it has been announced the charge for his prayer vigil in London’s Hyde Park has been cut to just £5 after complaints. Some 100,000 people are due at Glasgow’s Bellahouston Park on September 16 to see Pope Benedict XVI, and they are expected to pay the £20 donation to cover transport and the cost of a pilgrim pack with a CD and an information booklet. However, 130,000 pilgrims going to London will only now pay £5 instead of £10 for their pilgrim pack admission. Edinburgh City Council estimates the cost to it of hosting the Pope’s visit to the capital ahead of the Bellahouston Mass as up to £400,000. (Herald page 12) 

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Economy

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Bank of Scotland: Bank of Scotland is to stop paying interest on the current account balances of its small business customers. The bank has written to businesses across the UK telling them of the decision. Although the UK base rate of 0.5% means business customers do not currently receive interest on their current accounts, it will cost them millions of pounds in total when interest rates rise. (Herald page 1) 

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Lloyds Banking Group: Lloyds Banking Group, the owner of Bank of Scotland, has warned it will make further job cuts even as it surges back into profit. The bank, which received a £20 billion bail-out from the taxpayer during the credit crunch, posted a pre-tax profit of £1.6bn for the first six months of the year after a £4bn loss for the same period of 2009.  It benefited from a massive fall in bad debts and burgeoning profits from mortgages. Lloyds has shed 16,000 posts since snapping up Edinburgh-based HBOS in a rescue deal in January 2009. (Herald page 32, Daily Mail page 6) 

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Justice

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Edinburgh fire deaths: The deaths of three young children whose bodies were found after a fire at a flat in Edinburgh are being treated as suspicious, police said. The primary school children were found after a blast in a block of flats in Edinburgh\’s Slateford Road at around 3pm.  It was at first thought that the children died in a gas explosion but Lothian and Borders Police later said there was no fault with the supply. A police spokesman said: \’\’A criminal investigation is currently under way and nothing more can be said at this time about the circumstances which led to their deaths.\’\’  A woman, believed to be the children\’s mother, is being treated in the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Neighbours said she had jumped from the third floor balcony of the modern terrace block. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Telegraph page 1, Times page 1, Guardian page 6, Daily Record page 1, Daily Mail page 1, Courier page 1, Press and Journal page 1, Sun page 1) 

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Health

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Minimum alcohol pricing trial: Nicola Sturgeon yesterday made a final attempt to save her plans for minimum pricing of alcohol by offering to introduce the measure for a trial period. During cross-party talks on Scotland’s binge drinking epidemic, the Health Minister said she was willing to include a ‘sunset clause’ in legislation introducing a minimum price. (Telegraph page 7, Press and Journal page 7) 

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NHS ring-fencing: Scottish ministers have held back from offering a cast-iron commitment to maintaining or increasing spending on the NHS next year, when Scotland\’s public services will be hit by cuts of nearly £2 billion. Finance Secretary John Swinney has warned the NHS will face "serious financial challenges" come next April, and has reportedly ruled out any ring-fencing to protect the health service from cuts. In June, Mr Swinney had said it was ministers\’ "crystal clear" position to either maintain or grow health spending next year. (Scotsman page 6) 

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Cholesterol research: Scottish scientists have discovered new genes linked to high cholesterol, paving the way for tests to predict a person\’s risk of heart disease. An international team of researchers, including experts at Edinburgh University, studied the genetic make-up of more than 100,000 volunteers to help to pinpoint genes which might have an impact on cholesterol levels. The scientists said the study showed for the first time that it was possible to predict who was likely to develop high cholesterol using a genetic blood test. (Scotsman page 11) 

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Education

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Highers: Tens of thousands of pupils across Scotland have received their exam results, with record numbers passing their Highers. More than 35,300 people received their school and college results a day early yesterday by e-mail and text message and the remainder of a record 160,745 candidates across Scotland will receive certificates through the post today. (Scotsman page 9, Herald page 2, Times page 9, Telegraph page 7, Courier page 11) 

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Fixed term contracts: Joan McAlpine comments in the Scotsman on the latest HMIE suggestion to have fixed term contracts for teachers. (Scotsman page 31)