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REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 04 February 2011

Reform Scotland

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 4 February 2011

All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions. Where there is a link to a newspaper’s website, the relevant page reference is highlighted and underlined.

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

Politics

Certificate of Death Bill: MSPs have backed The Scottish Government’s Certificate of Death Bill, which has been designed to protect against unlawful deaths. Under the new system, a team of ten medical examiners will comprehensively review a random sample of deaths as part of an annual audit. The bill has been criticised, however, for being a continuation of the paper- based system when it was intended to specify a modern electronic system for death certification in Scotland. (The Herald, page 10.)

The Scotland Bill: Professors Andrew Hughes Hallett and Drew Scott have hit back at their critics in a comment piece for The Scotsman in which they state that ‘a significant transfer of fiscal powers to the Scottish Government is, if anything, more urgently required than previously.’  The paper reports that MPs on the Scottish Affairs Committee at Westminster intend to subject the professors to further ‘robust questioning’ when they give evidence to the committee later this month, while The Scotsman’s leader cautions against this saying, “It is vital for this issue to be examined in some detail. Crude party politicking in the guise of scrutiny will only make the truth more difficult to ascertain.” (Scotsman page 10, 28, Professors Andrew Hughes Hallett and Drew Scott page 30.)

Economy

Forestry Commission Cuts: There were protests outside the Forestry Commission Headquarters yesterday following anger at the 100 definite and 150 potential job losses within the industry. Concerns have been raised at the potential lack of skilled experts and financial advisors in the industry, especially at a time when the forests are both vital to turn around climate change, and under increasing threat from deforestation. (The Herald, page 12.)

Justice

Double Jeopardy Bill: Last night MSPs backed a Bill to change the law on Double Jeopardy. The 800- year-old law holds that an accused cannot be charged twice for the same offence; however, the new law will only allow a second trial in exceptional circumstances. Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said the changes were to prevent people undermining the system and increase faith in the closure of trials. (Scotsman, page 18, Press and Journal, page 7.)

 Community Sentence System: Labour leader Iain Gray and Conservative leader Annabel Goldie united yesterday in First Minister’s Questions to criticise Alex Salmond for his policy on short jail terms and the community sentence system. They said that the system is not strict enough; 40% do not finish their sentence and criminals could commit up to 40 crimes before being jailed. (The Herald, page 6, Scotsman, page 6.)

Transport

Subway Opening Hours: Plans to extend the opening hours of Glasgow’s Subway have been rejected. This is due to the fear that any reduction in the system’s down- time would affect the maintenance and enhancement on the current system.  (The Herald, page 11.)

Trams: Transport Scotland have stepped in to aid communication between Edinburgh City Council and the construction firm Bilfinger Berger. Disputes between the two bodies have recently caused the £545 million project to halt and it is now hoped that the intervention will lead to some progress. (Scotsman, page 14.)

Health

Breast Cancer Increase: Cancer research UK has found there to be a 4.4% increase in cases of breast cancer for women in Scotland over the past decade, compared to a 3.5% increase south of the border. This means that one in eight women risk developing the cancer.  Medical experts have put this down to a rise in obesity, higher levels of alcohol consumption and having children later in life. (The Herald, page 1, Scotsman, page 15, The Times page 17, Telegraph page 1, Guardian, page 19, Daily Record page 4, Scottish Daily Mail, page 1, Daily Express, page 1)