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REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 15 OCTOBER 2010

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 15 October 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  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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Council Tax: The SNP has promised to freeze council tax for a further two years as the Nationalists officially launched their campaign for next year\’s Scottish election. In a challenge to Labour, which has said local authorities should be able to raise council tax, the SNP announced that the £70 million it will cost to maintain the freeze in 2011-12 will be included in the Scottish Government\’s budget to be published in the next few weeks. The party\’s election manifesto will also include a commitment to freeze the tax in 2012-13. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Times page 17, Telegraph page 1, Alan Cochrane comments page 15, Courier page 1, Sun page 2, Daily Mail page 1, Daily Express page 1, Daily Record page 2)  

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Defence cuts: US Secretary of state Hillary Clinton has raised serious concerns about the impact of defence cuts in Britain due to be announced next Tuesday by the Prime Minister. Her comments reflect wider fears that Britain\’s global role may be compromised by the Strategic Defence and Security Review, which was largely concluded yesterday. This comes as government sources have admitted that Scotland will have to wait to learn the full impact of defence cuts, even after they are announced next week. Questioned on whether plans to make cuts to the armed forces concerned the White House, Ms Clinton said: "It does, and the reason it does is because I think we do have to have an alliance where there is a commitment to the common defence." (Scotsman page 2, Times page 1, Telegraph page 1, Sun page 6, Daily Mail page 8)  

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Jim Devine: Ex Labour MP Jim Devine has been ordered to pay his former office manager £35,000 in damages after she won an employment tribunal claim against him. Marion Kinley, 47, from Glasgow, won claims for breach of contract and unfair dismissal after he failed to show at the hearing in Edinburgh yesterday. Judge Jane Porter awarded her £10,516 in expenses which the ex-MP pocketed instead of passing on and £24,792 for losing her job. Ms Porter said: "The claimant showed great fortitude through her employment during which it can only be said the claimant was subjected to a course of bullying and harassment by the respondent." (Scotsman page 13, Herald page 2)

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Labour MPs: An MP has been suspended from the Labour Party after an expenses complaint about him was sent to Scotland Yard, while a former Scottish MP insists she is prepared go to court over a dispute with the Commons authorities. Denis MacShane, the Rotherham MP and former Europe minister, announced he would “co-operate fully” with the Metropolitan Police after John Lyon, the parliamentary standards commissioner, said a complaint he was investigating about the backbencher had been suspended “until the question of possible criminal proceedings has been resolved”. The Commons Standards Committee said it had agreed the case should be reported to the police. It is understood the complaint was submitted in June last year by the British National Party over claimed allowances and Mr MacShane’s work in Europe on politics and anti-Semitism. In a separate development, it emerged six former Labour MPs allegedly owe the Commons authorities almost £50,000 in over claimed expenses. (Herald page 7, Daily Mail page 6) 

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Economy

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Aerospace, defence and marine sectors: Scotland’s aerospace, defence and marine sector employs 40,000 people and is worth around £2.1 billion to the economy, according to the first industry report of its kind. The analysis, published days before the Government’s Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), found 842 companies with a combined annual turnover of £5.2bn, including major firms such as BAE Systems and defence electronics suppliers like Thales and Selex Galileo.  But the report, commissioned by Scottish Enterprise’s Aerospace, Defence and Marine team and industry body ADS Scotland, also warned of a perceived lack of political will to support the sector and “sell it”.  Neil McManus, chairman of ADS Scotland, said the aim was to double industry sales by 2023, despite concerns about the impact of military cuts to be outlined on Tuesday. (Herald page 9)

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Justice

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Sheridan Trial: The Prime Minister\’s top spin doctor could be called to give evidence at the Tommy Sheridan perjury trial after his name was included on a new list of witnesses. Andrew Coulson, Downing Street\’s director of communications, is on a list of people whom Sheridan has indicated he might want to call to the witness box. Mr Coulson is a former editor of the News of the World, the paper which Sheridan sued successfully four years ago. It was that civil litigation which has led to the current trial, where Sheridan and his wife Gail deny giving perjured evidence on his way to being awarded £200,000 in damages. (Scotsman page 17, Herald page 1, Times page 7, Telegraph page 2, Guardian page 7, Sun page 12) 

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Local Government

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Merging councils: Education Secretary Michael Russell has given the strongest signal yet that the Scottish Government plans to merge councils in an attack on the inefficiency of Scotland’s local authorities. In a major speech to the SNP conference, he questioned the need for 32 separate directors of education and education authorities in a country of five million people. Mr Russell then called for closer collaboration between councils. Mr Russell said: “We’ve got 32 education authorities, 32 directors of education, 32 delivery bodies for an education system in a country with five million people. “We need more collaboration, more co-operation, more sharing of resources and services and we need it urgently. Just doing what has always been done will not do any longer.” (Herald page 8) 

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Health

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Active children: Scottish seven-year-olds are more active than children of the same age in the rest of the UK, and are less likely to be overweight or obese, according to new research. A study found more than half of them – 55 per cent – walk to school each day, compared with only one in four in Northern Ireland. Researchers also found that seven-year-olds in Scotland were the most likely to take part in sports or physical activities on a regular basis. Nearly half of those surveyed said they were involved in organised after-school or weekend activities at least twice a week. (Scotsman page 11, Herald page 3, Times page 15, TESS page 5)

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Education

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New education quango: A new education quango will be formed in an attempt to cut bureaucracy and free up more resources for front-line teaching, the education secretary has announced. Michael Russell said he would set up the Scottish Education Quality and Improvement Agency to take over the roles of two existing public bodies Her Majesty\’s Inspectorate of Education (HMIe) and Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS). HMIe is currently responsible for school inspectors and the LTS provides practical guidance for schools. Even though the merger is in an attempt to cut costs, the Scottish Government said there would be no compulsory redundancies until after the budget review in March. (Scotsman page 8, Times page 17, Telegraph page 15, TESS page 1) 

\r\nEdinburgh College of Art: Edinburgh College of Art has seen four of its governors resign in protest at plans to merge with the city\’s university. Lady Mathewson has become the latest member to quit over the move, it was announced yesterday.  Professor Stephen Blackmore resigned two weeks ago and Robert Robertson also resigned yesterday. Confirming the resignations, a spokeswoman for the art college said: "While individual governors are entitled to disagree with the decision to merge, the suggestion that there has been a failure to explore the options or to ensure transparency in the process is entirely untrue." (Scotsman page 13)
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