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REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 16 December 2010

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 16 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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Fiscal powers: There is further coverage of Tuesday’s Fiscal Powers conference, (The Taxing Question: What Fiscal Powers Does Scotland Need?) organised by The Scotsman and Reform Scotland, in today’s edition of The Scotsman with a supplement which includes information on the various approaches and different sides of the debate and an article by Bill Jamieson. (Scotsman page 31

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‘Hydro Nation’:  Alex Salmond has unveiled his vision for Scotland becoming a ‘Hydro Nation’, which would see a publicly-owned Scottish Water at the centre of green energy plans by generating 5% of the nation’s power from wind farms, water turbines, and gas produced by sewage plants. (Scotsman page 2, Telegraph page 8, Daily Express page 2, Herald page 6)

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Unemployment drop: The level of unemployment has fallen in Scotland for the first time in a year, despite going up across the UK as a whole. The number of unemployed is now 234,000 having fallen by about 5,000 between August and October. (Scotsman page 11, Telegraph page 2, Daily Express page 4 Courier page 16, Times page 5, Guardian page 12, Daily Record page 10)

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Economy

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RBS: Royal Bank of Scotland has backed down and agreed to cooperate with the UK financial watchdog’s investigation into the mistakes made by Sir Fred Goodwin during his time as head of the banking giant. (Scotsman page 7, Courier page 16, Press and Journal page 11, FT page 3, Guardian page 28, Herald page 2)

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Justice

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Jail sentences: More than a quarter of Scottish criminals sentenced to life imprisonment are released after serving only 10 years or less. However, half of those released in 2009 completed at least 14 years. Nonetheless, many of those released early are often called back to prison after breaching bail or causing concern to their parole officer. The Scottish Government has passed legislation which puts an end to automatic early release but it is yet to be put into practice. (Scotsman page 23, Daily Express page 7, Courier page 6, Press and Journal page 7, Sun page 2, Herald page 11)

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Transport

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Snow: The country is preparing for more bad weather, as once again heavy snow is predicted. Much of Scotland could see snow, with some areas receiving up to three feet. It is anticipated to start in the north and west and shift to eastern parts by the end of the weekend. Edinburgh Airport has said lessons were learned from the recent weather-related disruptions, and extreme weather responses were being reviewed. (Scotsman page 4, Times page 14, Herald page 3, Press and Journal page 9 , Daily Express page 5 , Daily Mail page 6, Sun page  9, Daily Record page 7, Daily Mirror page 4)  

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Fuel prices: The cost of fuel has reached an all-time high, and in Scotland diesel now costs more than anywhere else in the UK. The average pump price for petrol in Scotland is now 121p per litre, up three pence on last month. The cost of diesel in Scotland has soared to 126p a litre, although in Ullapool motorists are paying 135p and in Stornoway 136p. Earlier this year, the Scottish Government accused then Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling of letting down remote areas by refusing to curb fuel prices (Scotsman page 9)

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Forth Bridge: Plans for the new Forth Bridge have been approved by Holyrood and work is to begin in 2011. (Scotsman page 10, Courier page 12, Press and Journal page 7, Times page 18, Sun page 2, Daily Record page 19, Daily Mail page 5, Herald page 2)

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Tornado near-miss:  Two Tornado GR4 fighter jets were involved in a near-miss in Glen Spean, near Fort William. The two aircraft, flying at 483 mph, crossed flight paths with mere feet to spare. The pilot admitted there was nothing he could have done to avoid the incident and the space between the two jets was ‘fortuitous’. Neither aircraft were fitted with anti-collision warning devices, which were introduced by the government 12 years ago. (Scotsman page 3, Press and Journal page 10)

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Education

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Performance gap: The divide between the best and worst performing schools is widening. Inner-city schools are improving only slightly, while the only state-funded school not under local government control (Jordanhill School, Glasgow) tops the league table once again, and raised its performance by 70%. (Scotsman page 13, Daily Express page 15, Courier page 3, Press and Journal page 12, Daily Mail page 4, Herald page 8)

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Paid to study: More than 37,000 senior school pupils are being paid £30 in Education Maintenance Allowance to remain at school. The scheme is to be abolished in England, but the Education Secretary, Michael Russell, intends to continue the payments in Scotland. (Scotsman page 24,Daily Telegraph page 1, Courier page 9, Press and Journal page 12, Daily Mail page 4, Herald page 2)

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