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REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 16 November 2010

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 16 November 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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AV Referendum: The UK Coalition Government last night narrowly won a battle to push ahead with controversial plans to hold a referendum on the same day as next year’s Holyrood elections. Using a little-known process, Labour peers had hoped to delay the poll on voting reform amid fierce criticism over the clash of dates. But the move was defeated and the SNP later accused the Coalition of rushing through the referendum, due to take place alongside elections to the Scottish Parliament on May 5 next year. The victory against a potentially serious threat to it going ahead on that date will be greeted with relief by the Liberal Democrats. The Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish administrations have protested against the plan to hold the referendum on the same day as their elections, amid claims its shows a lack of respect. But Tory and Lib Dem ministers have insisted that it will go ahead. Yesterday, Labour peers attempted to send the Referendum Bill to a House of Lords committee for consideration, potentially delaying it for months. (Herald page 6)

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Wind Farm faces further delays: The John Muir Trust claims no large wind farms should be approved until developers can demonstrate the low carbon emissions of their turbines. However, the Scottish Government has no way of verifying claims by the developers and both the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) say verifying claims is not part of their remit. (Scotsman page 21)

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Salmon Conservation grant: The Scottish Government has been accused of hindering attempts to conserve stocks of wild Atlantic salmon by backing a major European grant awarded to Usan Salmon Fisheries, the country’s biggest coastal netting station. (Scotsman page 22)

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Economy

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Britain Faces Eurozone Troubles: Today’s talks in Brussels will focus on the economic difficulties currently affecting Ireland, Greece and Portugal. The UK is not a part of the eurozone, but it may still be vulnerable in three respects: first, on contributions to a European bail-out fund; secondly, due to the link between its banks and the financial crisis; and thirdly, the threat of export-led recovery not being successful in aiding recovery. (Scotsman page 4, Times page 5, Telegraph page 1, Guardian page 1, FT page 1, Daily Express page 17, Daily Mirror page 12,)

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Pay freeze:  John Swinney is under pressure to “bring down the pay bill of the highest paid in the public sector”. Lib Dem Finance Spokesman Jeremy Purvis called on the Finance Secretary to stop excessive bonuses, such as a £28 million package for NHS consultants during 2011-12. His budget is due to be published on Wednesday. (Scotsman page 2, Times page 8)

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Green jobs: The Scottish Parliament has announced that up to 60,000 green jobs could be created over the next decade, as part of a move towards creating a low-carbon economy. The strategy, which would involve environmental and clean technologies, could be worth £12 billion to Scotland’s economy. (Scotsman page 2, Press and Journal page 9, Daily Express page 10, Times page 19)

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House prices: Homeowners have been given a boost by new figures showing a steady rise in house prices across Scotland, as the economy continues a “robust” recovery from the recession. Lloyds TSB found record prices in much of the country – bucking the downward trend seen south of the Border.  The bank’s survey builds on data from the Registers of Scotland this month which revealed the average house price had hit a high of £163,360. The Lloyds survey recorded an increase of 4.6% year-on-year, slightly less than the Registers figures but still evidence of a sustained recovery in the national housing market. (Herald page 5)

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Bank bonuses: Reports that major British banks were holding talks to discuss reducing staff bonuses fuelled the debate on City handouts once more among ministers and business leaders. It is estimated banks will pay out a total of £7billion in bonuses for this year, but banks could reportedly be pressured to cut this by nearly half to £4 billion. Business Secretary Vince Cable said it was reasonable for the public to want bankers to show restraint with their bonuses. (Press and Journal page 10)

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Justice

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Sheridan Trial: The editor of the News of the World in Scotland, Bob Bird, has denied claims by Tommy Sheridan that a message was sent from the very top of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, to “get him” at any cost after News international lost their defamation case in 2006.  Mr Bird insisted he knew nothing of accusations by Mr Sheridan of illegal phone-tapping. (Scotsman page7, Herald page 1, Telegraph page 15, Press and Journal page 12, Daily Record page 13, Daily Mail page 13, Times page 16)

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Tesco alcohol ban: A Tesco supermarket at St Rollox in Glasgow has now been banned from selling alcohol at all self-service checkouts in the superstore for four weeks, hitting the retailer and its customers at the busiest time of the year for alcohol sales. The ban, which starts tomorrow, will not end until just 10 days before Christmas. The police sting is part of an attempt to catch retailers selling alcohol to children. (Herald page 3)

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Police voluntary redundancy: Tayside police force is offering voluntary redundancy and early retirement packages in an attempt to reduce the force budget by 13% over the next 3 years. (Scotsman page 2)

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Health

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Children’s hospital cleaning standards: The Royal Hospital for Sick Children at Yorkhill in Glasgow failed to pass an inspection from the Healthcare Environment Inspectorate (HEI). The inspectors carried out an unannounced inspection of the facilities on the 12th October, and found bloodstained equipment, overflowing bins, and dirt and dust on wards. Some hospital staff were also found to be violating the dress code, by wearing jewellery, ties and long sleeves. (Scotsman page 11, Herald page 10)

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New heart and stroke drug: A large study carried out by the University of Edinburgh and Duke University in North Carolina has found that a new drug could help to reduce the risk of strokes and blood clots in patients with irregular heartbeats. According to the study, the new drug is said to avoid the potential side effects of the drugs currently administered for the same problem (Scotsman page 16).

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Health ban: Scotland should break with the rest of Britain and ban a chemical found in babies’ bottles and food tins that has been linked to breast cancer, heart disease and brain damage, the Liberal Democrats have said. The party’s public health spokesman, Jamie Stone MSP, has urged the Scottish Government to take a “precautionary approach” and order the removal of chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA) from food containers, with immediate attention paid to infants’ feeding bottles. Mr Stone asked Public Health Minister Shona Robison to clarify the Scottish Government’s position on the issue in a move designed to put pressure on it to act independently of Westminster and the EU. (Herald page 12)

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Education

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Graduate Contribution Scheme: A group of experts is to be set up next month to estimate how beneficial a graduate contribution scheme would be to university funding. The move was revealed yesterday at a meeting of key figures in higher education in Glasgow. Education Secretary Michael Russell said “we do not want Scotland to go down the same road as England”, where financial responsibility is put on the individual graduate. (Scotsman page 6)

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Scottish Universities: Scottish universities have warned they could be swamped with thousands of students from England escaping higher fees. Fears over “fee refugees” pushing out Scottish students were raised at a national summit on the future funding of higher education – held in Glasgow and chaired by Michael Russell, the Education Secretary. Universities Scotland, which represents university principals, gave the warning in the wake of an announcement by the UK Government that students in England could pay up to £9,000 a year in tuition fees, almost three times the current level. The fear is that institutions north of the Border, which currently charge £1,800 a year to students from England, will be overwhelmed with applications from bright candidates who can save thousands of pounds by attending university here. (Herald page 2)

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Transport

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Edinburgh Trams: Former Holyrood inquiry counsel John Campbell QC has joined leading conservation architect James Simpson to assist the resolution of the dispute between Edinburgh Trams and the German construction company Bilfinger Berger over changes to the design of the project and extra costs involved. The impartial duo offered to chair meetings which would allow the two sides to discuss the dispute without lawyers, politicians, civil servants or city council officials present. The meetings would be held in an undisclosed location, and everything discussed would be confidential and not repeated afterwards. (Scotsman page 8)

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A9 Road upgrade: Renewed calls were made yesterday to accelerate the upgrading of the A9 after yet another crash claimed two more lives on the road. It brings the total to five killed in the last four weeks alone, with the latest deaths occurring again on a single carriageway stretch of the road between Perth and Inverness. (Herald page 4, Press and Journal page 1, Courier page 2)

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