REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 09 February 2011

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 9 February 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 highlighted 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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Holyrood Budget: After a day of deal-making, the Liberal Democrats have reportedly said that the SNP appeared to have agreed to their call for bursaries in Scotland’s further education colleges. With the Conservatives expected to either support or abstain from the vote today, there was growing expectation that the Scottish Government’s £30 billion budget plan would get through the Scottish Parliament. The budget plan, if passed, will prompt the first cut in public spending since devolution, with the overall spending falling by £1.3billion in 2011-12 compared with the previous financial year. (Herald page 6, Scotsman page 1, Daily Mail page 2, Daily Telegraph page 1, Press and Journal page 9, Courier page 1) The crucial vote takes place at 5pm and the minority SNP Government, which has 47 MSPs, needs the support of another party to ensure they can get the budget package through parliament. (Times page 9)

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Scotland Bill: Although the SNP has insisted that the Scotland Bill would damage the country’s fiscal position, seeking instead full financial powers for the Scottish Parliament, Finance Secretary John Swinney has reportedly admitted that the plans to overhaul Holyrood’s tax-raising powers would yield a £600 million benefit over the next few years. Data released by the Scottish Government’s officials finds Scotland would be better off under the proposed changes. The next two years would see a loss of £331million followed by a benefit of £999million over the following two years. (Scotsman page 2, Courier page 14)

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Lockerbie bomber: John McTernan, a former adviser of Tony Blair, has today claimed that Kenny MacAskill was willing to free Abdelbaset Ali Mohamed al-Megrahi in exchange for “more powers” for the Scottish Government. He goes on to claim that the issues discussed in phone conversations between then Justice Secretary Jack Straw and Kenny MacAskill covered firearms legislation and compensation claims facing the Scottish Government from thousands of Scottish prisoners who were still ‘slopping out’. A spokesman for Alex Salmond described the claims as “plain wrong”. (Scotsman page 6, Daily Mail page 9, Times page 1)

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Economy

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Lloyds job cuts: Banking giant Lloyds has announced a further 200 job losses today. The Unite union said the losses will be from group operations, insurance and wholesale and affect offices around the UK including Edinburgh. (Scotsman page 5)

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Scottish youth unemployment: Young Scots have been more severely affected by the recession than almost any other group, a new report by Citizens Advice Scotland shows. More than half of those surveyed identified employment as their biggest problem; additionally, 8.5% of under-25s were claiming Jobseekers Allowances in 2010, more than double the rate among all people of working age. There was a 79% increase in the number of 18-24 year olds claiming the allowance between August 2007 and August 2010. (Herald page 7)

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Justice

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UK Supreme Court: Scotland’s top prosecutor, Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini, spoke out amid growing concerns over the UK Supreme Court’s growing influence in Scotland. While the court only acts for Scots as the highest civil – rather than criminal – court, the body retains the right to oversee constitutional issues. Unexpected numbers of criminal or penal issues have therefore ended up being referred to the Supreme Court because of the 1998 Scotland Act. (Daily Mail page 6)

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Transport

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Glasgow Airport: Glasgow Airport has scaled back its growth forecasts as it revealed it expects the new M74 will provide only short-lived respite to its traffic congestion problems. The airport has also shelved plans for a second terminal, previously envisaged for 2015, and the provision of more departure gates for international flights has been postponed by a decade to 2025. The airport has been badly hit by the recession and the collapse of holiday airlines such as Flyglobespan and XL. In the last year passenger numbers have fallen by 10% to £6.5million; volumes are now expected to reach 10million by 2020 and 16.4million in 2040, compared to an anticipated 13million by 2015 and 20million by 2030 stated in its previous development master plan five years ago. (Scotsman page 18, Herald page 8)

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Young motorists: A new Scottish Government report has urged MSPs to stop young motorists driving at night or carrying passengers of the same age. Approximately 24,000 under-25s pass their driving test in Scotland every year, and almost 5,000 have crashes within six months. Although the number of road accidents and serious crashes has fallen significantly over the last 20 years, the proportion of young people involved in the accidents has increased. Research has shown that the cause of the crashes was mainly inexperience as opposed to intentional risk taking. (Herald page 6)

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Motorway bus lanes: A £5million scheme to turn the hard shoulder on the M77 between Glasgow and Ayrshire into a bus-only lane has been shelved by ministers due to budget cuts. Service providers, such as Stagecoach, have called the decision “short sighted”. (Daily Mail page 18)

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Local Government

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Incinerator plans: The construction of a controversial incinerator was given the green-light by council planners in South Lanarkshire yesterday, despite receiving approximately 20,000 objections. Local residents raised concerns over toxic waste and road congestion; however, the council said that the “lack of objection from the majority of statutory consultees, most notably the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, had been a factor in its decision. (Scotsman page 15, Herald page 11)

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Education

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Abertay University: Professor Bernard King, Principal of Dundee’s Abertay University, who was recently suspended from his position over a dispute concerning his retirement, is taking his case to an employment tribunal. He is reported to have lodged papers with the tribunal service claiming he was discriminated against because of his age. (Scotsman page 7, Herald page 9, Courier page 14)

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Childcare cost: A new study conducted by the Daycare Trust, using official figures from the Family Information Services claims the cost of childcare in Scotland is the highest in the UK outside London. The average annual cost of 25 hours a week of care for children under two years old in Scotland, £5,178, is higher than the English average of £5,028. (Scotsman page 10, Daily Mail page 28, Guardian page 8)

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University cuts: Glasgow University has drawn up plans to scrap or merge a raft of courses as part of moves to save £20million over the next three years. The university is also planning on cutting back its provision of evening and weekend classes, which currently cater to 5,000 adult learners a year. All non-academic departments such as estates, libraries, student, support, human resources, finance and corporate communications will also have to find cuts of 11-15%. University officials have pointedly refused to rule out compulsory redundancies. (Herald page 1)