REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 1 DECEMBER 2010

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 1 December 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 UK government\’s plans to give Holyrood borrowing powers for the first time were published in the Scotland Bill, which also includes a raft of new financial instruments capable of raising about £12bn. The legislation includes a new Scottish income tax that will allow the Scottish Parliament to raise about a third of the £30bn it spends each year. Published on St Andrew\’s Day, the bill will give the Scottish Parliament borrowing powers, with £2.2bn earmarked for construction projects such as the new Forth Bridge. The remaining £500 million in borrowing powers is for smoothing discrepancies that may emerge when the new income tax is implemented. Scottish Secretary Michael Moore launched the document at the Mound, saying the bill represented the "a new chapter" of devolution. (Scotsman page 1, Joan McAlpine page 33, Herald page 1, Times page 1, Wendy Alexander in Times page 4, Telegraph page 1, Alan Cochrane page 9, Press and Journal page 1, Daily Mail page 1, Daily Express page 2) 

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Scottish budget: The Scottish Government\’s spending plans do not go far enough to stimulate long-term economic growth, MSPs have been warned. Holyrood\’s finance committee heard yesterday that the decision to ring-fence health spending from cuts could damage future economic growth more. Prominent economic experts told the committee that a squeeze on spending in areas such as higher education and enterprise would have longer-term implications for the Scottish economy beyond 2012. Professor Brian Ashcroft, director of Strathclyde University\’s Fraser of Allander Institute, said: "My main reservation would have to be one that I would apply to the UK as well. And that is the decision to ring-fence a large proportion of expenditure, which might be politically attractive, but from the point of view of economic growth, it\’s unfortunate." (Scotsman page 2, Richard Kerley page 34) 

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Sectarianism: Minister for Community Safety Fergus Ewing launched an anti-sectarianism drive yesterday. In a powerful warning which comes in the wake of a row about sectarianism in Scotland, Nil by Mouth said intolerance remains a problem in offices across the country, but one which most companies are reluctant to address. Urging employers to be brave, the organisation is inviting firms throughout Scotland to adapt their policies to change the culture of workplaces. Mr Ewing said the events of recent weeks made it clear that sectarianism was still a problem, and that with the Scottish Government leading by example, people "need to be more open" about discussing and, ultimately, eradicating it. (Scotsman page 11, Herald page 7) 

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Justice

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Police numbers: One of Scotland\’s biggest police forces has reportedly called the Scottish Government\’s pledge to provide 1,000 extra officers as naive, and warned it may lead to compulsory redundancies for civilian support staff. Grampian Joint Police Board believes the pledge will mean trained officers are forced to carry out backroom functions, while earning a higher salary. (Scotsman page 24, Herald page 11) 

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Transport

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Snow: The severe winter weather that has caused massive disruption across the country is set to continue until the end of the year, warn forecasters. Met Office experts predicted another three weeks of icy weather, increasing the likelihood of a white Christmas, as the cold snap caused chaos across Scotland for a third day. The blanket of snow which has covered Scotland and the north of England since the weekend has now spread to the rest of the UK, while forecasters warn that temperatures are due to plummet as low as -18c in the Highlands by the end of the week. (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 1, Telegraph page 6, Press and Journal page 1, Daily Record page 1, Daily Express page 1, Daily Mirror page 1, Sun page 1) 

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Health

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Poverty: The gap between the health of Scotland\’s rich and poor was exposed yesterday with the release of new official statistics showing that men living in the most affluent parts of Scotland live, on average, more than 13 years longer than males in the poorest parts of the country. The statistics showed that males living in the most deprived 10 per cent of the country have a life expectancy that is 13.4 years shorter than those in the richest 10 per cent of the country. (Scotsman page 6, Daily Record page 6) 

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Education

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Student protests: Hundreds of students protested at the Scottish Parliament yesterday in objection to cuts to education. A barricade of police prevented the protesters from entering, so they hit the Holyrood building with snowballs.  The students chose yesterday to coincide with the launching of the Scotland Bill. Protesters hurled abuse and chanted slogans aimed at Liberal Democrat Scottish Secretary Michael Moore. Anti-Liberal Democrat feeling was running high at the event, with many feeling the party had reneged on its pre-election stance against fees in England. (Scotsman page 9, Herald page 6, Press and Journal page 5) 

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Class sizes: The Scottish Government’s policy to introduce smaller class sizes in primary schools has been criticised as after new figures showed discrepancies across the country. The attack came after research showed councils across Scotland delivering very different levels of class size reduction. Today, the Scottish Government is expected to announce it has met a dramatically scaled down national target of having 20% of pupils in the first three years of primary school in classes of 18 or fewer. (Herald page 7)