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REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 10 SEPTEMBER 2010

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 10 September 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 purple.

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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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MSP expenses: MSPs\’ expenses reached an inflation-busting record level in 2009-10 with Holyrood politicians spending £1 million more on wages for their researchers and assistants than they did in the previous financial year. The total claimed by the 129 members of the Scottish Parliament reached almost £11.7m, the highest figure recorded since devolution.
\r\nThe increasing cost of paying MSPs\’ staff largely accounted for the spiralling expenses bill with the amount claimed to cover researchers\’ salaries, pensions and national insurance contributions rising from £7,320,693 in 2008-09 to £8,395,460 this year. (Scotsman
page 8, page 30, Herald page 6, Telegraph page 10, Press and Journal page 13, Daily Express page 4, Daily Mail page 1) 

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Referendum: Alan Cochrane comments in the Telegraph on the First Minister’s decision to postpone the independence referendum until after the election and that ‘Alex Salmond will not be surprised by the fact that he received a complete caning from the opposition over his new legislative programme.’ (Telegraph) 

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Megrahi: One of America\’s most senior diplomats last night issued hard-hitting criticisms of the Scottish Government and a senior Catholic cardinal when he spoke in Glasgow last night. Louis Susman, US ambassador to the UK, strongly condemned justice secretary Kenny MacAskill\’s decision to release Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, and made the pointed remark that America was "not a vengeful nation" in reference to recent comments made by Cardinal Keith O\’Brien, the leader of Scotland\’s Roman Catholics. Speaking at a CBI dinner in Glasgow, Mr Susman said: "We have said repeatedly we respect the right of the Scottish Government to make the decision, but we felt that the heinous nature of the crime did not justify the release under any circumstances. (Scotsman page 2, Herald page 7) 

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Economy

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Carrier jobs: First Minister Alex Salmond and Labour leader Iain Gray have called a political truce in the fight to save the jobs of thousands of Scottish workers building two giant aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy. The rare show of unity broke out after Mr Gray questioned the First Minister over doubts about whether the Conservative- Lib Dem coalition at Westminster would press ahead with the £5 billion plan for the two ships. Mr Salmond said the Scottish Government had prepared a dossier spelling out the implications of the cancellation of one or both ships, which he would share with other political parties, unions and BAE, which is building the ships on the Clyde and at Rosyth. Mr Salmond said up to 10,000 jobs across Scotland could be lost if the carriers were scrapped. (Herald page 5, Telegraph page 1, Alan Cochrane page 8, Courier page 1, Press and Journal page 6, Daily Express page 2, Daily Record page 2) 

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Mackerel War: The Scottish and UK governments have joined forces to put pressure on Iceland and Faroe in the increasingly bitter row over mackerel quotas in the north-east Atlantic. First Minister Alex Salmond has urged European Union officials to take a strong stand against “irresponsible” moves by the two nations to boost their catch limits for the key species. The two countries have unilaterally increased their quotas for 2010, infuriating fishermen in Scotland and Norway, who say their livelihoods are now at risk. But Iceland and Faroe say failed international talks on stocks left them no option but to set their own quotas. (Press and Journal page 1)
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Pay-offs: Police forces are facing further financial crisis with an estimated £37 million needed for redundancy payments, but only £12m in their reserves Sources say they are looking at a £25m shortfall next year as they try to trim costs to cope with budget cuts. Police use their reserves for unforeseen emergencies, such as high-profile murder investigations, but will have to use at least some to pay off civilian staff. Officers cannot be made redundant, but sources expect many with more than 30 years\’ service to be forced to retire under regulation A19 of the Police Pensions Regulation Act 1987. (Scotsman page 6) 

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Double jeopardy: Lawyers have warned any changes to the double jeopardy rule should not be retrospective and used only in exceptional circumstances. The Law Society of Scotland believes double jeopardy should remain, unless there is "compelling" new evidence or an acquitted defendant subsequently confesses. Even then, it should not be used in cases heard before the bill has been passed. (Scotsman page 8) 

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Papal visit: The Pope’s visit to Britain will be met with an unprecedented police operation across the country, police chiefs said yesterday. South Yorkshire chief constable Meredydd Hughes, who is the UK police co-ordinator, said no previous state visit had involved so many different sites around the country. It is understood that up to 6000 police from Strathclyde and Lothian and Borders forces will be on duty for the Scottish part of the visit. It is believed to be the biggest security operation since George Bush’s appearance at the G8 Summit in Gleneagles, and that was estimated to have cost £72 million to police. (Herald page 11) 

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Health

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NHS fees: Patients should pay to stay in hospital and for each visit they make to see a doctor, a senior adviser to the Scottish Parliament has said, in a stark warning of the kind of radical measures that may be required next year to deal with budget cuts. In a paper published yesterday, Professor David Bell, adviser to Holyrood\’s finance committee, says ministers should consider charging hospital fees of up to £20 per visit, to raise as much as £300 million a year for the NHS in Scotland. (Scotsman page 1) 

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Education

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Glasgow University: Glasgow University is facing a major cash crisis, with its Principal warning it will run out of money by 2013 unless action is taken. The university has been thrust into one of the worst crises in its 550-year history after a stark assessment of its finances. Professor Anton Muscatelli said Glasgow and other universities could expect a real-terms cut in Government funding of up to one-quarter over the next four years. If this were passed on to all universities proportionately, it would mean a reduction of between 8% and 10% in Glasgow’s total income, he said. The cuts are expected to bring a wave of redundancies and have increased the likelihood of a cull in unpopular courses, as well as a sale of land and property. (Herald page 1)