Reform Scotland News: 27 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

Scottish Parliament: Alex Salmond, in his opening statement to the Scottish Parliament following his re-election at the beginning of the month, called time on Scotland’s twin scourges of “bigotry and booze” in his programme for government.  Mr Salmond said that early legislation would address sectarianism and Scotland’s alcohol problem.  The economy and the reform of public services are the other top priorities of the new Scottish Government.  The First Minister added that the aim of the government would be to foster a “fair society” on the back of commitments to deliver free university education, free care for the elderly and a council tax freeze.  However, Mr Salmond and Scottish union chiefs were at loggerheads last night after the First Minister claimed that the new government would ensure the poor “won’t pick up the bill for the rich” despite the pay freeze for public sector workers.  He also cast Scotland in contrast to the UK, claiming that David Cameron’s Coalition Government was crushing the hopes of families by leaving them exposed to deep spending cuts. (The Scotsman page 1&8, The Herald page 6, P&J page 13, Financial Times page 2, The Times page 17, Courier page 13, Daily Mail page 2, Daily Express page 2 The Sun, page 2, The Daily Telegraph page 1, Daily Record page 2)

 

Eddie Barnes in The Scotsman (page 8&9) gives his analysis of the First Minister’s comments on the coalition government.  George Kerevan in The Scotsman (page 31) and Alan Cochrane in the Daily Telegraph (page 6) both provide comments on Alex Salmond’s opening speech to the Scottish Parliament. 

 

Independence: In a poll by Ipsos Mori, it was found that most people in Britain agree with Alex Salmond that Scottish Independence is bound to happen sooner or later. (The Herald page 6)

 

RAF bases: The Scottish Government has said that the future of two closure-threatened Scottish RAF bases will be decided within the next two months.  Defence Secretary Liam Fox held talks with First Minister Alex Salmond yesterday, with the future of Lossiemouth and Leuchars at the top of the agenda. (The Scotsman page 6, The Herald page 6, P&J page 9, Courier page 1, The Sun page 2, Daily Record page 2)

 

Scottish variable rate: The Scottish Government is reportedly set to spend £135,000 on a viability study that will look to bring back the Scottish variable rate of income tax, which is commonly known as the Tartan Tax, despite rejecting it in the SNP manifesto and backing new powers in the Scotland Bill. (The Scotsman page 9, Daily Mail page 2)

 

North Sea profits: First Minister Alex Salmond is urging a radically new system of taxing North Sea profits as an alternative to the Chancellor’s “smash and grab raid on Scotland’s resources.”  Several companies have postponed planned oilfield development, claiming that the new tax rates announced by George Osborne in March, which would see a move to raise the tax levied on offshore oil profits to between 62% and 81%, would make them uneconomic. (The Times page 3)

 

Economy

House prices:  According to the latest Scottish House Price Monitor from Lloyds TSB Scotland, property prices are almost identical to what they were in 2007, as the average Scottish house has failed to gain any value over the last four years. (The Scotsman page 11, The Herald page 10, Daily Mail page 26, The Sun page 2)

 

Oil production: The Press and Journal have revealed that North Sea oil production has suffered its biggest slump since records began.  New figures from the UK Government’s Department for Energy and Climate Change show it fell by 15.6% in the first three months of 2011 compared with the same period last year.  (P&J page 1)

 

Local Government

Perth: Perth stepped up its bid to regain its city status when it submitted an entry into the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee contest to create the UK’s newest city.  Provost John Hulbert who has been leading the campaign was in London yesterday to lodge the official entry. (The Scotsman page 24, Courier page 6, The Sun page 2)

 

Justice

Supreme Court: Legal and human rights experts have accused the First Minister of making “overblown” comments in the row over the UK Supreme Court’s controversial decision to over-rule a verdict by Scotland’s highest court. (The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 1, The Times page 3, Daily Mail page 35)

 

Police cost savings: In a drive to save money, doctors who are called out to police stations to deal with new arrests could be replaced with nurses.  The nurses would be based in police stations to deal with prisoners when they arrive, reducing the amount of money being spent on costly call-out charges.  Scotland’s largest police force Strathclyde has already cut back on cost by cutting senior officer numbers, implementing a programme of voluntary redundancy and reducing overtime bills.  However, they want to make more savings in areas such as the £4 million spent on medical care of detainees.  (The Scotsman page 16)

 

Single national force: Gordon Meldrum, the Director of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA) has backed calls for a new national single force to include SCDEA. He separately called yesterday for the controversial Scottish Police Service Authority (SPSA), a support body set up by the former Scottish Executive, to be included in the unified structure. (The Scotsman page 16, The Herald page 14, P&J page 15, Daily Mail page 31

 

Transport

Flying Scotsman: The world’s most famous steam locomotive will tonight be unveiled after a £15 million refit. (The Scotsman page 1)

 

Ferry service: The new SNP Government were yesterday accused of “dishonesty and hypocrisy” after vehicle services were axed on a west coast ferry route.  Opposition parties say the Nationalists had promised a service to “suit the needs” of the people on the Dunoon-Gourock route, but the new service will be passenger only.  Labour MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde Duncan Clyde said “people here will be bitterly disappointed by this decision.” (The Scotsman page 2)

 

Rail extension:  A site has been identified for a new railway station in Glasgow’s East End which could take high speed trains from London and Birmingham.  A second phase of the multi-billion pound project could see tracks extended to Leeds or Manchester. (The Herald page 14)

 

 

 

Education

Strathclyde University: Academics and students have called for a delay over course cuts at Strathclyde University.  Lecturers from the university have argued that there is not enough time to properly consider the reasons university managers have decided to close courses.  The call comes after Strathclyde University was planning to axe a number of courses in a range of subjects that could possibly lead to 25 job losses, in order to save the university £750,000. (The Herald page 4)

 

Health

Robotic surgical theatre:  A major campaign by UCAN has been launched to raise the £2.5 million needed to establish Scotland’s first robotic surgical theatre at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, which would treat patients with a range of diseases. (The Scotsman page 24)

 

Painkillers:  A new study has suggested that painkillers such as ibuprofen may interact with a cancer protein to stem tumour growth.  The finding could lead to new ways of combating prostate and other cancers according to scientists. (The Scotsman page 11)

 

Vitamin D: Pressure has been mounting on the Scottish Government to encourage people to take vitamin D to combat the country’s appalling health record, after its use was recommended for patients in England and Wales. (The Times page 23)