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REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 12 JANUARY 2011

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 12 January 2011

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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: John Swinney has been asked to reappear before a Holyrood committee, after leading academics Andrew Hughes Hallett and Drew Scott were called in to give evidence on the Scotland Bill. A row erupted in the committee as the professors were grilled by MSPs over the claim in a report they authored that Scotland\’s GDP could rise by between 0.6 per cent and 1.3 per cent if Holyrood was handed full economic powers. First Minister Alex Salmond referred to the report during his speech at last year\’s autumn SNP conference, when he said: "We know, thanks to the work of Andrew Hughes Hallett and Drew Scott, that with economic powers we could grow the Scottish economy by an extra 1 per cent a year."  During yesterday\’s committee hearing, convener Labour MSP Wendy Alexander demanded to know "the source of the analysis" used by the two academics. (Scotsman page 2, Comment page 30, Herald page 6, Times page 14)
\r\nSingle Scottish police force: Grampian Chief Constable Colin McKerracher said the number of police officers could return to 1980s levels if ministers back the controversial proposal. He was speaking on the eve of a Holyrood statement by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill on the future of policing and fire services. Mr McKerracher said merging Scotland’s eight forces into one could cost up to 4,000 police officers jobs across the country. The Deputy Chief Constable of the Lothian and Borders force, Stephen Allen, broke ranks to back a single force. The Scottish Government has insisted that no final decision will be announced today, despite speculation that the SNP was preparing to back a single force.
 

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Ross Martin, policy director at the Centre for Scottish Public Policy and a former convenor of Lothian and Borders Police Board, writes in The Scotsman that, if we move towards a single Scottish police service, then we must also strengthen local accountability by simultaneously devolving operational power out to the local level. (Scotsman page 32, Times page 17, Press and Journal page 6, Daily Mail page 8)
\r\nAirbases: Alex Salmond expressed optimism last night over the campaign to save Scotland’s airbases, insisting to lose another would be a return to the days of the Battle of Britain when most RAF bases were based in southern England. A Ministry of Defence decision on which base will close is expected sometime between the end of February and mid-March. The First Minister yesterday had a 45-minute meeting with Defence Secretary Liam Fox in Whitehall but no indication was given as to the possible fate of RAF Lossiemouth in Moray and RAF Leuchars in Fife. It seems either Lossiemouth or Leuchars will be closed with RAF chiefs said to favour keeping the Moray base open; the MoD meanwhile insists no final decision has been made. (Herald
page 6, Press and Journal page 12)

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Supermarket Tax: Alex Salmond faces a £30 million shortfall in his spending plans after Holyrood opposition parties last night pledged to vote down a planned tax on supermarkets and department stores. The supermarket levy was a surprise announcement in the draft spending plans for 2011/12 and would see large stores in high streets and out-of-town retail parks hit with a 35 percent increase in business rates. (Telegraph page 1, Alan Cochrane on the potential affect to the Scottish Budget Telegraph page 13, Press and Journal page 15, Courier page 8, Daily Express page 5)

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 Royal Mail deliveries: The UK Government is facing fresh protests about “shambolic” Royal Mail deliveries in Dundee. SNP MP Stewart Hosie has made an appeal to Speaker John Bercow to try to force Business Secretary Vince Cable to make a statement on the introduction of new working methods which he blamed for the chaos. He claimed it compounded the difficulties of making deliveries caused by one of the harshest winters for decades. Hundreds of postmen and Royal Mail managers did special Sunday rounds at the weekend to try to tackle the backlog. (Press and Journal page 6)

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Economy

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RBS fines: RBS received 1.1 million customer complaints in 2009 and was fined £2.8 million by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) yesterday after failing to handle more than 50 per cent of those received in the last quarter of 2009. The FSA reduced the fine from £4m to £2.8m because RBS co-operated with the inquiry. The fine compares with £2.5m the bank is expected to award Chief Executive Stephen Hester, even though the "multiple failures" in dealing with complaints were discovered on his watch. The failings included delays in responding to customers and poor-quality investigations into complaints, with complaint handlers failing to obtain and take into account all relevant information when making a decision. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Press and Journal page 19)

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Tourism: The Scottish Highlands has been named as one of the world\’s top 20 destinations by an influential travel magazine – highlighted alongside exotic hotspots such as Laos in south-east Asia, Papua New Guinea and the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec, Canada. National Geographic Traveller – the travel arm of international publication National Geographic listed the region as one of its 20 Best Trips of 2011. The accolade was handed out after senior editor Norie Quintos visited Aviemore in October, where she addressed the Adventure Travel World Summit. Ms Quintos was so impressed with the Highlands that she selected it as one of her choices for the prestigious list, which is published by the magazine annually. (Scotsman page 6, Daily Mail page 20)

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Justice

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Student riots: A student who admitted throwing a fire extinguisher from the roof of a seven-floor building during an anti-student fees riot was jailed for more than two years yesterday. Edward Woollard, 18, was among protesters who broke into the Conservative Party headquarters in central London on 10 November. He was sentenced to two years and eight months in a young offenders’ institution after admitting at an earlier hearing to committing violent disorder. The judge told the teenager, who threw the metal fire extinguisher from the rooftop as hundreds of people gathered below; that the public had a right to protection from violence and that he would have to serve at least half his sentence. (Scotsman page 23, Guardian page 1, Press and Journal page 11, Telegraph page 9, Daily Record page 12, Daily Mail page 31, Daily Mirror page 12)