Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 9 September 2010
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.
Legislative Programme: Alex Salmond has issued a list of ten bills for the final session of the Scottish Parliament. The list includes the Budget Bill, which reveals £30 billion spending plans; the Scottish Water Bill, which outlines new targets for the publicly-owned body; and the Long Leases Bill, a reform which will give thousands of tenants on country estates the right to buy their homes. The First Minister framed the announcement in the context of devolution, claiming “the first age of devolution is over” and the country must decide if it is happy with its parliament becoming a “message boy for cuts”. Opposition figures have accused the list of avoiding key questions and running out of ideas (Scotsman page 4-5, Herald page 6, Times page 14, 15, Courier page 12, Daily Telegraph page 15, Sun page 2, Daily Mail page 6, Daily Express 2, Daily Record page 2).
Tory Boost: Plans to redefine constituency boundaries could increase the number of Tory MSPs in Holyrood, according to an analysis undertaken by Professor David Denver of Lancaster University. The study suggested that the proposed electoral map would have provided the party with three more representatives in the 2007 election (Scotsman page 7, Herald page 6, Courier page 12).
Shipbuilding: Up to 7,000 jobs have been threatened with the UK Government’s announcement that it may cancel two shipbuilding projects on the Clyde and at Rosyth. The aircraft carrier-contract, worth £5.2 billion, is at risk after BAe Chief Executive Ian King made the announcement yesterday. It is one of a number of possible scenarios as the Ministry of Defence tries to meet its target of 20 per cent savings, and may spell the end of British shipbuilding. Bernie Hamilton of the Unite union referred to the prospect as a continuation of Margaret Thatcher’s economic policies (Scotsman page 1-2, Herald page 1, 3, Times 22, Financial Times page 2, Daily Mail page 12, Daily Record page 4).
Unemployment: 22.6 per cent of households in Scotland have no adults in employment, according to statistics published by the Office for National Statistics. The UK-wide survey, found 3.9 million workless households across the UK, with the North East of England having the highest rates (24.3 per cent) and the South East the lowest (14.2 per cent) (Herald page 3, Times 41, Courier page 12, Daily Telegraph page 8, Daily Mail page 10, Daily Express page 1, 4).
Homecoming: A review of the economic impact of last year’s Homecoming found that its success was exaggerated and costs misquoted. The number of jobs created is said to have been overestimated by 70 per cent, while the cost of the celebrations came to £8.5 million rather than £5.5 million (Scotsman page 5, Herald page 3, Courier page 11, Daily Telegraph page 14, Daily Express page 10, Daily Record page 2).
Public Spending: The Scottish Government spent £160 million on public sector agency staff, according to an article published in The Scotsman. A government spokesman described the choice to use agency staff as “cost-effective”: "Use of agency staff often enables public bodies to recruit skilled staff for a time-limited period in a more cost-effective way, rather than incurring the substantial costs of recruiting permanently” (Scotsman page 16).
Pubs: Over 700 Scottish pubs have closed since the smoking ban was introduced in 2006, a report has found. The trend echoes the experience of Ireland, where 11 per cent of pubs closed in the four years after the ban (compared with 11.1 per cent in Scotland). The report suggested low alcohol prices in supermarkets was also a causal factor (Scotsman page 20-21, Herald page 13, Courier page 9, Daily Mail page 26, Daily Express page 7, Daily Record page 26).
Property Market: The average UK house price rose by 0.2 per cent last month, according to a report by Halifax. The increase has brightened prospects for first-time buyers, with the number of entrants into the market increasing by more than a quarter year-on-year (Herald page 1, 2).
Double Jeopardy Bill: Plans to abolish the historic double jeopardy law have been introduced by Alex Salmond among his list of bills. The 800 year-old law prevents people from being tried twice for the same offence (Scotsman page 4-5, Herald page 6, Times page 14, 15, Courier page 12, Daily Telegraph page 15, Sun page 2, Daily Mail page 6, Daily Express 2, Daily Record page 2).
Rail Efficiency: Network Rail is 34-40 per cent less efficient than its European counterparts a study has found. The report, published by the Office of Rail Regulation, also revealed the network was the most expensive in Europe. The rail company has attributed the efficiency gap to “years of underinvestment” (Scotsman page 15, Financial Times page 4, Guardian page 4).
Haymarket Station: Edinburgh’s Haymarket train station is in line for a major revamp aimed at turning it into a hub for the city’s train and tram network. The project, which will cost £50-100 million, is part of a £1 billion package addressed at reducing journey times between Edinburgh and Glasgow (Scotsman page 15).
School Statistics: The Scottish Government’s plan to scrap a series of statistics on schools has come under fire from a number of politicians and education figures who claim it would cause an information vacuum. Michael Russell, the Education Secretary, has defended the move as a means of reducing bureaucracy to ensure money is spent inside the classroom (Herald page 5).