Reform Scotland News: 23 May 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

Court order: It is reported that a Scottish newspaper could face prosecution for breaching a court order after it identified a footballer accused of using the courts to keep allegations of a sexual affair secret.  Newspapers across the UK have been prevented from naming the player after he obtained a super-injunction to protect his private life following an alleged affair. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Times page 1, Telegraph page 9, Press and Journal page 5, Daily Express page 5, Daily Mirror page 9, Daily Record page 5, Sun page 1)

 

Oil revenues: Oil revenues will be top of First Minister Alex Salmond’s agenda today when he meets Conservative Chancellor George Osborne as part of talks with UK ministers over the next 48 hours. Mr Salmond is set to present his list of demands to the Chancellor as well as Energy Secretary Chris Huhne, before meeting Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg tomorrow. He is to call for changes to the tax increase on oil revenues announced in the Budget to fund the fuel stabiliser. (Scotsman page 2, Herald page 6, Times page 5, Press and Journal page 1, Gillian Bowditch in the Sunday Times page 22, Alan Cochrane comments in the Telegraph page 6)

 

Church of Scotland: The Church of Scotland will today face one of its biggest crises in 150 years as a vote on gay clergy could drive the Kirk into separation with the loss of thousands of ministers, elders and members. The spectre of the “Disruption” of 1843, when 474 ministers broke away from the established Church to found the Free Church of Scotland, will hover over the General Assembly this morning when it votes on the controversial issue of the ordination of homosexual ministers who are in same-sex relationships. In a case of “damned if they do, damned if they don’t” the Church could face desertion by huge numbers of supporters, either on the traditional wing who oppose ordination of gay ministers or among liberals, depending on which side triumphs in today’s vote. (Scotsman page 6, Telegraph page 10, Courier page 9)

 

Parliamentary reform: Urgent reforms are required in the Scottish Parliament because it is slipping into complacency and must become more dynamic, a veteran MSP has claimed. As MSPs gear up for the new session, Hugh Henry said that Question Time sessions have become a farce, ministers regularly prevent MSPs from getting the information they need, irrelevant debates are added to the parliamentary schedule to pad it out and party whips have too much power. The Labour MSP for Renfrewshire South said he has had long-standing concerns that standards are falling and was not raising the issue now simply because the SNP had an overall majority, though he warned that the parliament and Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick would have to be more assertive in challenging the Government because of it. (Herald page 6)

 

Holyrood officials have reportedly watered down plans to force MSPs to pay tax on their second home profits. A recent expenses review had called for MSPs to commit to pay capital gains tax on their tax payer funded flats, however the agreement only applies to a handful of MSPs who claimed mortgage payments from the public. (Sunday Herald page 8)

 

Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader: Newly appointed Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie MSP has announced the portfolios for his new team at Holyrood. Liam McArthur will take on the education and energy folder, with Alison McInnes responsible for health. Tavish Scott will handle business and the economy and Jim Hume rural affairs, environment, housing and transport. (Scotland on Sunday page 6)

 

Chris Huhne: Prime Minister David Cameron is facing calls to intervene over allegations Energy Secretary Chris Huhne persuaded his estranged wife to accept speeding penalty points on his behalf. Labour sought to step up the pressure on the beleaguered Liberal Democrat Cabinet minister, urging Mr Cameron to set up an inquiry to establish the truth of the claims surrounding the eight-year-old speeding offence. Mr Huhne is due to be interviewed this week by Essex Police over the allegations, which first surfaced two weeks ago when his ex-wife, Vicky Pryce, said he had asked someone else to take the penalty points. Subsequent press reports said that she was the person concerned. (Scotsman page 13, Telegraph page 2, Courier page 13, Press and Journal page 10, FT page 2, Daily Express page 2, Guardian page 10, Sunday Times page 1)

 

Scottish Conservative Leader: Ruth Davidson MSP has signalled that the party should skip a generation in its next choice of leader to help reverse Scottish Conservative fortunes. Ms Davidson said her 35 year old colleague John Lamont had an excellent claim to the post being vacated by Annabel Goldie. (Sunday Times page 4)

 

Steven Purcell: Steven Purcell has been banned from working for one of the city’s new Labour MSPs. Scottish Labour Leader Iain Gray has reportedly blocked list MSP Anne McTaggart from putting the former council leader on the public payroll. (Sunday Herald page 5)

 

Local Government

Aberdeen City Council: A 26-year-old Aberdeen councillor could take a huge step today towards becoming the youngest local authority leader in Britain. Callum McCaig is the favourite to be elected to take charge of Aberdeen City Council’s SNP group at a meeting in the town house this afternoon. His selection would leave him on course to become the local authority’s new leader after the Nationalists won a key by-election on Friday and became the biggest group on the council. (Press and Journal page 3)

 

Glasgow City Council: The Labour leader of Glasgow City Council has admitted his party could be thrown out of power in the city at next year’s local elections for the first time since the 1970s. Gordon Matheson said in an interview that ‘Labour faced a very strong challenge’ from the SNP after the swing to the Nationalists in the city at the Scottish elections earlier this month. (Sunday Herald page 3)

Justice

Sectarianism: Scottish police are failing to use their powers to tackle sectarianism, one of Scotland’s top historians has claimed. Speaking ahead of a debate on the problem in Edinburgh tonight, Professor Tom Devine said religious bigotry went beyond football, and he dismissed the idea sectarianism was peddled by only a small number of supporters. Sectarian songs were sung by a significant number of fans and were an example of underlying religious hostility that stretched beyond the west coast, he said. Prof Devine said SNP ministers “took their foot off the pedal” on sectarianism and were facing the most “explicit” and “extreme” religious bigotry in decades. (Scotsman page 13)

 

Alcohol ban: Suspects who are charged with violent crime and whose offences are believed to be fuelled by alcohol are to be banned from drinking while on bail under a police initiative being introduced in Scotland. In an attempt to reduce alcohol-induced offences, Scotland’s largest police force – Strathclyde – plans to subject suspects to random breathalyser tests in their homes up to twice a day over any 24-hour period. They will face immediate imprisonment if found to have breached their bail conditions and consumed alcohol. Senior police officers estimate that 60 per cent of violent crime involves drink or drugs – with many offences committed while suspects are released on bail – and believe preventing access to them could radically reduce offending. (Scotland on Sunday page 1)

 

Transport

Volcanic ash: The Scottish Government has held an emergency meeting to discuss the impact of a new ash cloud spewing out of an Icelandic volcano amid warnings it will hit the north of the country by midday tomorrow. On Saturday, Grimsvötn, Iceland’s most active volcano at the heart of its biggest glacier, began erupting, sending a plume of smoke and ash 12 miles high.  So much ash was blasted into the sky that it blocked out the sun and covered nearby villages and farms.  By yesterday, the ash had reached Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, nearly 250 miles to the west, and all the country’s airspace was closed down.  Meteorologists warned airlines that ash from the erupting volcano could reach northern Scotland by tomorrow and other parts of the UK by Thursday. (Scotsman page 3, Herald page 3, Times page 3, Telegraph page 1, FT page 1, Guardian page 1, Daily Express page 11, Daily Record page 1)

 

Scotland’s roads: Scotland’s most heavily used roads have seen a marked improvement in safety but remain among the most dangerous in the UK, a report by the Road Safety Foundation has found. The chances of having a fatal or serious accident were considered “high” or “medium-high” on 8% of the country’s motorways and A-roads, according to the charity, which carried out an analysis based on accident data from 2007 to 2009 compared to traffic levels. This represents a significant improvement on three years earlier, when 16% of the network fell into this category, a change driven by improvements to Scotland’s motorways, including better lighting and signage. (Herald page 4

 

Health

Bowel cancer: By cutting down on red and processed meat, eating more fibre and exercising regularly 17000 Britons a year could avoid bowel cancer, a charity has claimed. The World Cancer Research Fund says that to achieve a 43 per cent reduction in bowel cancer cases, people should limit their intake of red meat to just over 500g a week. (Telegraph page 10, Daily Express page 1, Daily Mail page 28)