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REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 9 AUGUST 2010

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 9 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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Free milk: The Coalition Government has abandoned plans to scrap free milk for under-fives after criticism from Labour and the SNP. The proposal was put forward to save about £60 million a year. (Herald page 1, The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 2 and page 13, The Guardian page 4, The Financial Times page 2, The Times page 5, The Daily Telegraph page 4, The Press and Journal page 1, The Courier page 13, Daily Mail page 6, Daily Express page 5, Daily Mirror page 7, Daily Record page 2, The Sun page 2) 

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Election polls: Polling organisation TNS-BMRB has asked over 1,000 people who they would vote for at the next Scottish parliamentary election. The study found that the support for the Conservatives in Scotland has decreased, while the Labour party is holding on to a strong lead over the SNP. (The Herald page 1 

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Second home profits: A Facebook group has been set up to urge MSPs to give the profits they made from the selling of their second homes to charity or to parliament. The campaign is targeting Alex Neil, SNP minister for Housing and Communities, who made a net profit of £90,000 when he sold his flat in Edinburgh. (Sunday Herald page 4) 

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Al-Megrahi: Leading experts on cancer treatment have claimed that those who freed the Lockerbie bomber failed to spot a red flag which meant he was likely to live for up to six times longer than the expected 3 months. Cardinal Keith O’Brien has said that the decision by Alex Salmond not to send his ministers to a hearing in the US was the correct course of action as he believes Scottish ministers should be held to account by the Scottish people rather than those in the US. (Scotland on Sunday page 1, The Sunday Times page 5)

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Respect agenda: The Scottish Government has criticised the UK Government for failing to consult them or give warning over the axing of UK public bodies. This has now left bodies such as the Sustainable Development Commission, the Food Standards Agency and the Health Protection Agency uncertain about their future. (Sunday Herald page 11) 

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The Scottish Futures Trust: The Scottish Futures Trust (SFT), the main body responsible for public building projects, has been called ‘a pointless waste of money’ by Mike Rumbles MSP, after it signed a 10-year lease for an office in one of Edinburgh’s most expensive neighbourhoods even though it may be scrapped next year. (Sunday Herald page 17)

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National Trust: A review by George Reid states that in order to survive the financial crisis The National Trust for Scotland has to sell some properties and review the way it manages others. (Scotland on Sunday page 5) 

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Economy

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Economic recovery: The Purchase Manager Index (PMI) report published by Bank of Scotland reported that Scotland’s private sector economy was showing signs of a subdued recovery. Furthermore, a survey from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) claims that recovery in employment has stalled as increasing numbers of bosses seek to lay off staff. (The Scotsman page 35, The Herald page 26, The Daily Telegraph page 2, The Press and Journal page 8 and page 8, Daily Express page 10) 

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RBS deal: It has been reported that in May 2007 Alex Salmond wrote to Sir Fred Goodwin to offer ‘assistance’ with the bid RBS was making for ABN Amro.  Although Sir Fred Goodwin did not take up the offer, it has led to renewed criticism that Mr Salmond was too close to RBS. (Sunday Herald page 4).

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Scottish Water: Alex Salmond has been in talks with Scottish Water over an idea to sell Scottish Water to drought-ridden countries over the coming century. (Scotland on Sunday page 1)

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Fire Service: Consideration is being given as to whether Scotland’s fire service should start charging for false alarms in order to deal with the economic downturn. Similar action has already been taken by other brigades in the UK as the London Fire Brigade charge £260 on the 10th lift release from the same building in a year, after it was estimated it cost them £4million a year to rescue people from lifts (Sunday Herald page 9)

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Budget cuts: Finance secretary John Swinney has vowed that there will be openness and transparency on future cuts. The Scottish budget is forecast to shrink by £3.7 billion in real terms over the next four years. As public funding is cut, economic recovery, public services and reducing emissions will be prioritised. Commenting on the economic review, Brian Monteith argues in The Scotsman that MSPs should focus on increased fiscal responsibility. (The Scotsman page 2 and page 29, The Times page 11, The Press and Journal page 9) 

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BBC spending: Under the Coalition Government, the BBC’s expenditure is expected to rise from £3.5 billion in 2009-10 to £4.3 billion by 2015-16. (The Sunday Times page 2)

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Minimum wages: Scottish ministers have raised the minimum wage for civil servants to £7.15 an hour, more than 20 per cent above the national rate. Business leaders and taxpayers’ groups have criticised the move, arguing that it is an example of public sector profligacy while the rest of the country is struggling. (The Times page 9) 

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Justice

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Fraud cases: According to the “fraud barometer” produced by the management consultant KPMG the number of fraud cases in Scotland has halved during the past year. However, experts warn that the figures may not tell the whole story, as recession takes its toll. (The Scotsman page 10, The Herald page 8, The Press and Journal page 9, The Courier page 9)

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Transport police: Video evidence recorded from cameras worn on the bodies of British Transport Police officers, in a pilot scheme on Glasgow Subway, can now be used as evidence in court. (The Herald page 4)

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Police numbers: Police chiefs have warned that front line officers will have to be cut if their forces are to cope with the security bill for the Pope’s visit to Britain next month. (SundayTimes page 13)

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Transport

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Trams: The publicly-owned company Transport Initiatives Edinburgh (TIE) responsible for Edinburgh’s tram project paid around £13,000 in bonuses to its staff who worked on the Edinburgh Airport Rail Link (EARL) project, a project that was never completed. This sum makes up part of the £1.1 million bonuses the company has paid to its staff since December 2006. (Sunday Herald page 24)

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Bus lanes: Councils in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow have called for the right to install cameras in bus lanes and issue fines to drivers who use them to escape gridlock. Currently, monitoring of the bus lanes is done by the police, but they rarely fine drivers for using them. (The Scotsman page 6 

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Health

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Smoking ban: In The Scotsman, Lesley Riddoch argues that the smoking ban advocated by NHS Grampian is doomed to fail, and that it is not fair to expect the hospital staff to be role models. (The Scotsman page 27)

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Education

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Graduate tax: Ministers in Scotland are open to the idea of a Graduate tax, which would end the era of free university education in Scotland. Scotland’s universities have set up a task force to investigate options, including the reintroduction of charges once students find work. (The Sunday Times 2) 

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Results: The number of students calling a helpline set up to deal with worries about results and getting into university has more than doubled since last year (Sunday Herald page 21)

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Post-Graduate degrees: It has been revealed that some public bodies are spending millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on post-graduate courses for their senior staff with little benefit for the public. (Sunday Herald page 25)