Reform Scotland News: 15 June 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

By-election: The by-election to replace the late David Cairns as the MP in Inverclyde got underway yesterday with all main parties out campaigning. (Scotsman page 2, Eddie Barnes in the Scotsman, Herald page 6, Times page 3)

 

Borrowing powers: John McTernan in the Scotsman comments that the new borrowing powers of issuing bonds will help the Scottish Government learn to live within its means.

 

The Union: Civil Servants in Whitehall have been asked to form a Scottish task force to draw up arguments against independence. The Prime Minister has also indicated the UK government are unlikely to hold a second referendum if the Scottish Government’s referendum is not just a simple yes or no question. (Times page 3)

 

 Allan Massie in the Scotsman argues that an effective pro-union campaign must be led by a younger generation who are seen to belong to the future, rather than politicians, however able, who represent the past.

 

Independence: Michael Keating in the Scotsman comments on the decisions the SNP need to make for an independent Scotland regarding taxes, the economy and social policy.

 

Tony Blair: The former Labour Prime Minister has warned that Labour can only return to power if they fight from the centre.  Tony Blair also indicated in the interview with the Sun that he agreed with the coalition’s plans on health and education as they largely continued policies he began. (Sun page 11)

 

MSP’s tweet:  SNP MSP Marco Biagi provoked criticism yesterday when he posted on twitter “education committee this morning took 14 mins. Then we spent an hour chatting over coffee.  That’s how to run a country”. (Mail page 7, Record page 1)

 

Economy

Breaking up the banks: George Osborne is expected to announce in his annual Mansion House speech today that he has accepted the key recommendations of the interim report from the Independent Commission on Banking and will force banks to separate their retail and investment operations. (Scotsman Business page 1, Herald page 1, Express page 7, Mail page 2, Guardian page 1, FT page 1, John Kay in the FT, Telegraph page 1)

 

Royal Mail: Royal Mail has suffered a drop of over 20% in the number letters and parcels sent daily over the past five years, and is expecting further drops of 5% a year.  As a result around 1,500 workers in Scotland are expected to lose their jobs by 2015. (Herald page 2, Sun page 30, Record page 2, Guardian page 27, FT page 3, P&J page 1)

 

Tax crackdown: People buying and selling over the internet as well as private tutors and tradesmen are to be targeted by HMRC as part of a crackdown on tax avoidance. (Scotsman page 11, Mail page 17)

 

Energy costs: Finance Secretary John Swinney yesterday met with bosses from ScottishPower.  Mr Swinney welcomed the £10m the company offered to help upgrade insulation and heating systems in consumers’ homes but said that the energy regulator needed to step in to deal with energy companies increasing prices. (Sun page 2, Express page 2, P&J page 15)

 

Retail: The Scottish Retail Consortium-KPMG Scottish Retail Sales Monitor found that total sales values were down 1.1% in May compared last year – the biggest drop since 1999. (Scotsman page 12, Sun page 2, Express page 2, Courier page 3, Telegraph page 4)

 

Inflation: The Consumer Prices Index stayed at 4.5% in May, though economists are warning it is likely to increase by the autumn. (Scotsman page 12, Ian Bell in the Herald, Record page 2, FT page 2)

 

Justice

Salmond vs. Lord Hope: First Minister Alex Salmond has criticised Supreme Court judge Lord Hope for passing rulings which have led to consequences such as “some of the vilest people in the planet getting lots of money out of the public purse”.   The Scottish Government wants human rights appeals to go to the European Court in Strasbourg rather than the Supreme Court in London. The comments come after Lord Hope accused the First Minister of misunderstanding the law and the facts in the Supreme Court’s recent decisions. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 6, Times page 3, Sun page 2, Express page 15, Mail page 17, P&J page 9, Telegraph page 1)

 

Cornton Vale: Scotland’s only all-female prison, Cornton Vale, has received a critical inspection report highlighting poor living conditions and limited activities for inmates.  The prison received a poor report last year and this follow-up report indicated some areas of concern had actually got worse. (Scotsman page 16, Times page 1, Sun page 6, Express page 10, Mail page 6, Record page 2, Courier page 8, P&J page 1)

 

Former Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini has been asked to chair a commission to look at ways of cutting the number of women who re-offend and end up in prison. (Herald page 5, P&J page 8, Telegraph page 12)

 

Education

School closures: Argyll & Bute Council has stopped plans to amalgamate 11 primary schools.  The Council has said that it does not agree with the Cabinet Secretary for Education’s request for a moratorium on closures but halted the move on the basis that the current legislation on school closures is “defective” and will ask Cosla to investigate how the government implemented the legislation. (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 4, Times page 8, Telegraph page 1)

 

Trainee teachers: Just one in five newly qualified teachers found full-time employment in Scotland last year according to a survey by the General Teaching Council for Scotland. (Express page 1)

 

Transport

M74: The M74 extension is expected to cost £20million less than expected and will open eight months ahead of schedule in two weeks time. (Scotsman page 15, Sun page 6, Express page 4)

 

Trams: Edinburgh Council has indicated that part of the tram project could be funded and completed by a private company is an agreement is not reached with the current contractors. (Scotsman page 21, Mail page 24)