0131 524 9500 | info@reformscotland.com

REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 02 December 2010

Reform Scotland

\r\n

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 2 December 2010

\r\n

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.

\r\n

In addition to the newspaper stories outlined below, further news coverage can be found online at BBC News Scotland, STV News and Sky News.

\r\n

Politics

\r\n

Right-to-die bill rejected: Margo MacDonald’s member’s bill was voted down 85-16, but she has pledged to pursue the issue saying “Parliament’s will must be respected, but parliament’s will can change”. Opponents said it showed there was no hunger for change, but Mrs MacDonald, who has Parkinson\’s disease, pledged to pursue the issue. The proposals called for anyone aged over 16 to be able to request help to die. The person must be diagnosed as terminally ill and find life intolerable. First Minister Alex Salmond and his deputy, Nicola Sturgeon, both voted against the plans (Scotsman page 9, Herald page 2, Times page 27, Sun page 2)

\r\n

Independence: New figures from the Scottish Centre for Social Research show that support for independence is at its lowest level since devolution at just 23%, with 61% feeling that Scotland should remain part of the UK. The figures also suggest that 58% of people felt that tax should be the same across the UK whilst 39% felt the Scottish Parliament should have the ability to increase or decrease the amount of tax paid in Scotland. (Scotsman page 12, Times page 1&6)

\r\n

Energy prices: Scottish Secretary Michael Moore has come under pressure to convene a meeting with energy companies after substantial increases in gas prices from both Scottish & Southern Electricity and Scottish Gas. Opposition MPs have reportedly accused him of doing nothing amid fears that increased bills will cause “hundreds of thousands of Scots [to]be freezing this Christmas”. (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 3)

\r\n

Gathering: First Minister Alex Salmond and the former culture secretary Michael Russell, have accepted that the £180,000 loan made to the Gathering should have been published more widely, though deny allegations from opposition MSPs that the loan was being kept ‘secret’ and was a ‘misuse’ of public funds. The loan eventually had to be written off as the venture ran up debts of £516,000 leaving 100 creditors out of pocket. (Scotsman page 2, Herald page 6, Times page 27, Telegraph page 14, Sun page 1&2, Express page 10, Mail pages 1,4&5, Record pages 1,4-7)

\r\n

Scottish Conservatives party leader: Annabel Goldie has reportedly told friends she plans to stand for re-election for the leadership of the Scottish Tories, which will take place after the Holyrood May election. (Herald page 6)

\r\n

Edinburgh Botanic Gardens: The Edinburgh Botanic Gardens have secured an increase in funding of £600,000 from the Scottish Government, saving jobs and allowing research into international biodiversity carried out by the staff at the Gardens to continue. (Scotsman page 20)

\r\n

Justice

\r\n

Police force merger proposal criticised: Senior police and council officials have raised their objection to proposals to merge all of Scotland’s police forces saying the plan is “too focused on savings”. The Scottish Policing Board, which is chaired by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill and features the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpos) and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla), set up a working group to imagine policing beyond 2013 to 2014, and will read the report on Monday. However, members of Acpos and Cosla have been unimpressed by the findings of the group of police officers, civil servants, and consultants. (Scotsman page 24)

\r\n

Transport

\r\n

Snow: Scotland is experiencing the ‘worst winter’ in 45 years with reports that 11 out of 32 local authorities have closed all their schools and disruption to transport continues with the closure of the Forth Road Bridge, Edinburgh Airport closed to arrivals and worries from BP that the weather is affecting deliveries of petrol from its Grangemouth terminal. (Scotsman page 1&4-8, Herald page 1&4, Times page 1, 4&5, Telegraph page 1, 4, 5&27, Sun page 1, 4-7, Mirror pages 4&5, Express pages 1, 2&3)

\r\n

‘Buses won’t be used to subsidise trams’: Chamber of Commerce chief executive and newly appointed chair of Lothian Buses, Ron Hewitt, has dismissed fears that profits from the buses will be used to support the tram network amid plans to integrate the two transport services, claiming that the move would not damage the long-term profits of the company. (Scotsman page 17)

\r\n

Local Government

\r\n

Local authorities urged to protect jobs: Finance Secretary John Swinney is to meet council representatives today to try to convince them to sign on to the government’s pledge to avoid compulsory job losses across the public sector “at all costs”. (Scotsman page 2)

\r\n

Education

\r\n

Pupil class size targets not being met: Just one in five early years primary school classes in Scotland has met the Scottish Government\’s key election pledge of having 18 pupils or less, new figures have revealed. Education secretary Mike Russell claimed the figures as a success after he set a new target of 20 per cent being in smaller classes a year ago. However, nine of Scotland\’s 32 councils still did not meet the new target and critics said the achievement fell far short of the target for all P1-3 pupils to be in a class of 18 or fewer, set out in the SNP\’s election manifesto three years ago. (Scotsman page 10&11, Herald page 9, Times page 26)

\r\n

Teacher numbers in decline: Official figures from the Scottish Government show that the number of teachers in Scotland has fallen by 3000 since the SNP came into power. This is in contrast to the SNP’s manifesto pledge to maintain teacher numbers along with an increase in smaller class sizes. (Herald page 9)