REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 14 DECEMBER 2010

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 14 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: Lord Wallace of Tankerness writes in the Scotsman ahead of a fiscal powers conference in Edinburgh today that the Scotland Bill signals the start of the biggest transfer of fiscal powers from London since the creation of the United Kingdom and that contrary to popular belief, a break-up of the UK is not on the agenda. (Scotsman page 32) 

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RAF Leuchars: Military chiefs have told Defence Secretary Liam Fox that Leuchars should be closed as an RAF base. The recommendation has been made in a report to the Ministry of Defence in which air force chiefs also say Lossiemouth in Moray should be saved and become Scotland\’s last remaining RAF base. The recommendations emerged after former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, ex-Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell and other Fife MPs made a last-ditch attempt to save Leuchars. (Scotsman page 1, Telegraph page 1) 

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Economy

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Economic growth: A study by the Bank of Scotland shows that growth remains slow. The report, which tracked the performance of more than 600 Scottish companies, found that while the manufacturing output increased thanks to demand from the US and China, the service sector is continuing to struggle. Donald MacRae, chief economist with the Bank of Scotland, said, "This month\’s robust recovery in manufacturing partially offset the fall in service activity extending the slowdown in the Scottish economy into November." (Courier page 6)

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High street shopping: Retail experts have urged shoppers to hit the high street to secure their Christmas presents, after a host of leading retailers suspended online orders as they struggle to cope with a delivery backlog from last week\’s weather chaos. Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury\’s and Marks & Spencer were the most high-profile chains to cancel new orders or halt deliveries of non-food items yesterday, as courier firms across Scotland try to move tens of thousands of parcels that piled up due to the disruption caused to the transport network by heavy snow and icy roads. (Scotsman page 2, Herald page 1, Telegraph page 1, Press and Journal page 1, Daily Mail page 1, Daily Express page 1) 

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Big banks: The former City minister Lord Myners has called on the big banks to be broken up, complaining that they have become too monolithic and are damaging the market. The demand has been seen as a major U-turn by the man who in the last Labour government was instrumental in forcing the takeover of Halifax Bank of Scotland by Lloyds as part of the UK banking bail-out. (Scotsman page 7) 

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Wind farming: A meeting of Shetland Islands Council is to be held in Lerwick today to debate controversial proposals to site Europe\’s biggest community wind farm in the heart of the Shetland mainland. Viking Energy, a consortium formed by Shetland Islands Council and Scottish and Southern Energy, is planning to build a 127-turbine wind farm which it is claimed will produce enough power to supply almost 20 per cent of Scotland\’s domestic energy needs. The turbines will be spread across 252 hectares of moorland. Viking Energy says the project will generate £37 million a year in revenues and create hundreds of jobs. However, opponents of the scheme claim it will wreck a pristine, fragile landscape. (Scotsman page 19) 

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Justice

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Murder rate: Scotland\’s murder rate is at its lowest level for more than three decades after falling by a fifth during the last year, newly released figures have revealed. A total of 78 cases of homicide were recorded by Scotland\’s police forces during 2009-10 – the lowest number of incidents since 1979. Knife attacks in Scotland accounted for nearly half the murder toll during 2009-10, sparking calls for tougher action against criminals caught carrying blades. The figures from Scotland\’s chief statistician showed knife killings fell from 57 to 35 during the past year. (Scotsman page 6, Analysis page 30, Herald page 8, Telegraph page 10, Times page 9, Daily Record page 8, Daily Mail page 2, Sun page 2)  

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Sheridan trial: A senior Metropolitan Police officer told the Tommy Sheridan perjury trial there was no evidence that the former MSP had his phone intercepted on behalf of the News of the World. Mr Sheridan’s name, address and phone number were found in a bin bag in a shed belonging to Surrey-based private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who was jailed for phone hacking alongside Clive Goodman, the tabloid’s royal editor, in 2007, the High Court in Glasgow heard. The former Scottish Socialist Party leader’s number was one of almost 3000 collected by officers after a complaint was made by a member of the Royal Household. In court yesterday, Mr Sheridan asked Detective Chief Superintendent Phil Williams, senior investigating officer, why no-one contacted him when his number was found in notebooks at the home of Mr Mulcaire, who had a contract with the newspaper. Mr Williams, 48, said: “There is nothing in our investigation other than that name and address that means you were a victim of interception.” (Herald page 12, Courier page 7, Press and Journal page 7, Daily Mail page 11) 

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Transport

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Drink-driving: Four in ten drivers are getting behind the wheel the morning after a night of excessive drinking, a survey showed today. Road safety charity Brake said the proportion had increased to 38 per cent from 28 per cent in a similar poll seven years ago. The latest poll also showed 45 per cent of motorists reckoned they would need to consume two or more units of alcohol for their driving to be affected. Overall, more than one third of the 800 drivers and motorcyclists surveyed admitted driving after drinking alcohol at some stage during the last year – down from 51 per cent in 2003. (Scotsman page 20) 

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Health

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Cancer drugs: Lung cancer patients in Scotland have been denied access to a drug that increases life expectancy among sufferers after it was decided it does not represent good value for money. The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC), the body that advises which drugs should be routinely prescribed by the NHS, yesterday announced it will not recommend the drug Gefitinib. It said Gefitinib did not offer value for money and that the manufacturer could not prove the cost-effectiveness of the medicine. Rosemary Gillespie, chief executive of the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, said: “We are extremely disappointed with the SMC’s decision not to recommend the use of this drug. It seems completely ridiculous that we have a situation where a patient in Northumberland can access a drug but a few miles over the Border in Scotland they are denied. This is absolutely a postcode lottery and it is completely unfair that your position on a map dictates whether or not you receive a drug rather than your heath requirements.”(Herald page 9, Times page 9, Daily Express page 4) 

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Education

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University fees: The Scottish Government has insisted it has no plans to use English and overseas students\’ fees to fund higher education north of the Border. However, calls were growing last night for the SNP administration to come up with a sustainable plan after university chiefs said the current arrangement was only sustainable for a year. The recent budget announced by the Scottish Government revealed the number of fully funded undergraduate places is being cut. That means the number of "fees only" students – those with only part of their fees paid for by the Scottish Government – increasing. However, principals say they cannot maintain that extra financial burden beyond next year and privately fear they may have to cut places in 2012. (Scotsman page 10, page 29, Times page 5, Courier page 2)