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REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 29 November 2010

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 29 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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Scotland Bill: The Scotland Bill, which will bring new fiscal powers to Holyrood, has faced criticism from 18 business leaders and academics who claim it does not go far enough. The Bill, which implements parts of the Calman Commission’s recommendations, will be unveiled tomorrow and will enable the Scottish Government to raise around a third of its own revenue.  

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In a letter sent to The Scotsman the signatories, who include Reform Scotland Chairman Ben Thomson, argue that the fiscal levers granted in the Scotland Act are not extensive enough to sustain Scotland’s economic recovery. Devolving greater power would improve the accountability of MSPs as well as improving relations with Westminster. (Scotsman page page 6 and page 30, Times page 17, Herald page 1, Herald page 6, Telegraph page 10, Press and Journal page 8, Daily Record page 2, Daily Mail page 10, Courier page 3)

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Sectarianism: A spokesperson for the Catholic Church has claimed that sectarianism and hostility towards Catholics is ‘deep, wide and vicious’ in Scotland, in the aftermath of the sacking of Hugh Dallas, the chief of SFA referees. Mr Dallas was sacked after it emerged he had sent a sectarian e-mail during the Pope’s visit to Scotland.  This led Peter Kearney, the Catholic Church’s spokesperson, to say- “the bigotry, the bile, the sectarian undercurrents and innuendos must end. Such hateful attitudes have had their day. They poison the well of community life. They must be excised and cast out once and for all.” (Herald page 1, Telegraph page 10, Press and Journal page 9, Daily Express page 10, Sun page 9, Courier page 13)

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Terror Detention: The UK Government will cut the length of time a terror suspect can be held without charge from 28 to just 14 days, despite the advice of senior lawyers. Decisions on how to handle suspects is thought to have caused tensions in the coalition. (Telegraph page 1)

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Assisted Suicide: Margo MacDonald, the independent MSP, has urged MSPs to recognise the level of public support that her End of Life Assistance Bill commands. The Bill, which would make Scotland the first part of the UK where doctors could assist in suicide, is thought to have the backing of nearly eight out of ten Scots. (Scotsman page 13, Press and Journal page 9, Courier page 9)  

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Wikileaks: US diplomatic relations across the world were plunged into crisis last night with the publication of another round of secret documents from the whistle-blowing website ‘Wikileaks’. The leaks are mostly made up of the cables from US diplomats and indicate that the US instructed its diplomatic officials to spy on UN staff, that both Arab leaders and Israel urged the US to launch an attack on Iran, as well as a number of unflattering descriptions of world statesmen. (The Scotsman page 4, Guardian page 1, Times page 1, Herald page 2, The Telegraph page 1, Courier page 9)

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Student Occupations: The wave of student occupations, in protest over proposed changes to tuition fees, has continued over the weekend with Edinburgh’s Appleton Tower still occupied, along with 10 other universities. The University of Edinburgh has been in negotiation with the demonstrators who have been camped out in the building since Wednesday, stressing that the protests have been peaceful. There are national demonstrations planned for tomorrow across the UK. (Scotsman page 5)

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Scottish Peers’ Expenses: The news that Scottish peers claimed £2 million in expenses last year whilst the country faced massive cuts to public spending has sparked anger, with SNP politicians questioning what benefit Scotland received from the money paid. (Daily Mail page 20)

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Economy

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Irish Bailout: European finance ministers agreed to a £72.4 billion rescue package for the Irish economy yesterday, completing the second major bailout in Europe since the financial crisis began. The Chancellor George Osborne defended the decision saying it was in Britain’s interests and that he fully expected the debt to be repaid. (Herald page 6, Times page 10, Daily Mail page 6, Telegraph B1, Courier page 14)

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Youth Unemployment: Business leaders, unions, councils and voluntary sector workers will meet at conference in Glasgow organised by the Labour Party today to discuss what can be done about rising levels of youth unemployment. With the number of young people not engaged in work, education or training programmes having risen from 31,000 to 36,000, Labour claims youth unemployment is the single biggest issue facing Scottish politics. (Herald page 6)

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Transport

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Snow Chaos: Disruption caused by the heavy snow fall could cost the Scottish economy as much as £50 million a day, according to business leaders. The heaviest November snow fall in 17 years has led the police to warn against all but vital travel, and has serious implications for Christmas trade since many shoppers cannot reach shops. Hundreds of schools, as well as Edinburgh and Glasgow airport, have been forced to close, though the Scottish Government claims it is well prepared for the conditions having stockpiled 360,000 tonnes of salt to keep roads safe. (Scotsman page 1, Times page 3, Herald page 4, Press and Journal page 1, Daily Express page 1, Daily Mail page 1, Courier page 1)

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Trams: Consultants working on Edinburgh’s tram project have received over £250,000 in taxpayer funded bonuses, despite being 2 years behind schedule and £200 million over budget. SNP MSP Shirley-Anne Somerville said “The only people gaining from the tram project are lawyers and consultants while the people and businesses of Edinburgh pay the price.” (Daily Mail page 20)

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Local Government

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Scots Councils: A quarter of Scotland’s councils will be among the worst affected by cuts to local authority funding, according to Ernst and Young’s ITEM Club. Scottish councils will generally be affected more due to a greater reliance on public sector jobs, higher unemployment and the specific skill base of the population. (Scotsman page 14)

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Education

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PE: The Scottish Government has been accused of failing children after it emerged that nearly half of Scotland’s schools do not meet the required 2 hours of PE classes a week. (Herald page 8, Scotsman page 20, Daily Record page 2, Courier page 9)