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Reform Scotland News: 24 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

Sectarianism Bill: A sectarianism crackdown is to be delayed until the end of the year, despite a claim by ministers in charge of the plan who stated that immediate action was needed.  Community safety minister Roseanna Cunningham told the Scottish Parliament that allowing the football season to start without the new legislation in place would be a mistake.  But only ninety minutes later, First Minister Alex Salmond said that the bill would be postponed after criticism from fans and religious bodies. Opposition parties have claimed that this change of heart had undermined the proposals. (The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 1, The Times page 1, Scottish Daily Express page 4, Daily Telegraph page 12, Daily Mail page 8, Sun page 2, Daily Record page 2)

 

Eddie Barnes in The Scotsman (page 13) provides analysis on the First Minister’s decision to prolong parliamentary scrutiny of his sectarian crackdown.  In The Scotsman, Scott MacNab (page 14) and Ian Bell in the Herald (page 7) comment on the situation.  Magnus Linklater in The Times (page 21) and Alan Cochrane in The Daily Telegraph (page 12) both comment on how the First Minister has listened to the concerns of others over the anti-sectarianism bill.

 

Nuclear sites: The UK Government yesterday made clear its determination to proceed with plans for the next generation of nuclear power plants, earmarking seven sites in England and one in Wales where new reactors can be built.  However, Scottish ministers were clear last night that they would not be following suit.  A Scottish Government spokesman said Scotland “does not need the bottomless financial pit nor waste from another generation of nuclear power stations.” (The Herald page 2)

 

Corporation tax: UK Ministers yesterday warned Alex Salmond that if he achieves his ambition to cut tax on companies to the same level as Ireland there would be a gap of £2.6 billion in the Scottish budget.  Mr Salmond is urging the coalition to devolve power on corporate tax to Holyrood as part of the Scotland Bill now going through Parliament.  He believes that Scotland should follow Ireland who have used their 12.5% corporate tax rate to attract investment.  In the UK the rate is 26%, although the coalition plans to reduce this to 23% in 2015. (The Herald page 6, The Times page 21, Daily Record page 2)

 

Economy

Scotland faces slump: Leading economist Professor Brian Ashcroft of Strathclyde University’s Fraser of Allander Institute has claimed that Scotland will face a longer economic slump than that suffered in the Great Depression, unless George Osborne considers a “Plan B” including a cut in VAT.  Mr Ashcroft accused the coalition of talking “rubbish” by insisting that its austerity measures must be maintained to appease the markets.  (The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 1, The Times page 21)

 

Justice

Murder rate increase: The number of murders in Scotland’s largest police force area increased by almost 40% in the past year.  In 2010-11, there were fifty-nine murders and two culpable homicides in the Strathclyde Police area, compared to figures of forty-one and three for the previous year.  Speaking as the force published its annual report, Chief Constable Stephen House said he was “disappointed” with the increase. (The Scotsman page 5)

 

 

Transport

Tram line: The full cost of completing the first line for Edinburgh crisis-hit tram project is reportedly set to top £1 billion, which is double the funding awarded by the Scottish Government.  Last night, new figures revealed that £469 million of the £500 million awarded to the project has been spent – up £29 million in the space of a month.  Despite no prospect of extra funding from the SNP administration at Holyrood, council officials are strongly recommending pressing ahead with building a truncated line to the city centre.  Senior tram officials may also face the prospect of having to account for the spiralling cost of the troubled development at a public inquiry, as the First Minister backed calls in Parliament for a probe into the cost of the scheme.  Mr Salmond said “I think we should let Edinburgh City Council continue its deliberations.  But I think a public inquiry would be an excellent thing to do.”(The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 1, The Times page 3, Scottish Daily Express page 6, Courier page 9, Daily Telegraph page 1, Daily Mail page 18)

 

Craig Wallace in The Scotsman (page 5) provides analysis on the Edinburgh tram situation and claims that cancelling the project will tarnish Edinburgh’s reputation. Tom Fullerton in the Scottish Daily Express (page 14) comments that Edinburgh cannot afford to scrap the tram line.

 

Health

Drug risk for the elderly: Routine drug and treatments stored in many household medicine cabinets could be putting elderly people at greater risk of developing conditions such as dementia.  A new study found the side-effect of many over-the-counter and prescription drugs could lead to a deterioration in the brain.  Researchers have found that there is an increased risk when a person is taking several drugs at once. (The Herald page 1, The Times page 6, Daily Telegraph page 1, The Guardian page 12, Daily Mail page 10)

 

Drug use:  Scotland has topped the United Nations’ world league table for cocaine use for the second year in a row.  Figures published by the organisation show that 3.9% of Scottish residents aged between 16 and 64 have used the drug in the past year, which was a higher proportion than in any other country for which data was available, including Mexico and Colombia.  It has been suggested that Scotland’s position at the top of the table may be partly due to better data gathering on the problem. The UN World Drug Report 2011 also showed Scotland with a rate of heroin use that is twice that of the rest of the UK. (The Herald page 3)  

 

Type 2 diabetes: People with type 2 diabetes could reverse their condition if they follow a very low calorie diet, according to new research.  The experts behind the study said that the “remarkable” findings showed an eight week diet could prompt the body to produce its own insulin.  Around 600 calories a day as part of a special diet could be enough to reverse type 2 diabetes in some patients. (The Herald page 10, Scottish Daily Express page 1, The Guardian page 1)