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Reform Scotland News: 14 July 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

News International: Faced by cross-party pressure, Rupert Murdoch announced yesterday that he would drop his controversial bid for a 100% stake in BSkyB. Ofcom announced that it will apply a “fit and proper” test on the company’s existing stake. Gordon Brown made fresh attacks on News International during a speech in the Commons. The scandal has now spread to the USA and Australia where Mr Murdoch owns significant media interests. (The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 1, The Times page 1, 8&9, The Guardian page 1, FT page 1, Telegraph page 1, Press and Journal page 5, Courier page 1, Sun page 9, Daily Mail page 6, Daily Express page 5)

 

Chinook pilots: Pilots Jonathan Tapper and Richard Cook have been cleared of all wrongdoing by a review panel on the crash of a Chinook helicopter on the Mull of Kintyre in June 1994, which claimed 29 lives including senior anti-terror chiefs. The announcement comes following sustained pressure by the families of the two pilots to clear them of any wrongdoing. Defence Secretary Liam Fox apologised to the families of the men wrongly accused. (The Scotsman page 10, The Herald page 1, The Times page 3, Daily Express page 2, Telegraph page 6)

 

Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games: Details of the hospitality accepted by senior officials for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games were disclosed for the first time yesterday following the resignation of John Scott, the event’s chief executive. Mr Scott was forced to step down last month after it emerged that he had failed to declare a gift worth several thousands of pounds. The leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Willie Rennie MSP, commented “this is turning into a farce. The reputation of the games is at stake” (The Herald page 7, The Scotsman page 20, Telegraph page 9, Daily Mail page 19)

 

Economy

More jobs, less pay: 20,000 people entered the job market from March to May with 11,000 fewer people claiming job seekers allowance. Unemployment in Scotland fell to 7.6% compared to 7.7% for the UK as a whole. Government officials however were hesitant as the figures also show a trend in ‘underemployment’; with many people taking temporary and part time jobs to cover living expenses. Figures also reveal a real-terms pay cut for many Scots with public sector workers on frozen salaries and annual pay rises across the board of just 2.3%; well below inflation. (The Scotsman page 14)

 

Scottish economy: A report by the Scottish Chambers of Commerce concluded that the Scottish economy is still fragile, though some sectors showed positive signs. Manufacturing was led by export growth and construction was up despite a fall in government contracts.  Retail and wholesale meanwhile are in dire shape and the recovery as a whole is threatened by business uncertainties and rising costs. (The Herald page 30, The Times page 6)

 

Ageing Britain: A report by the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBS) has warned that spending will reach 100% of GDP by 2058 as a result of demographic changes within the population. 17% of the UK’s population is currently over 65, expected to rise to 26% by 2061. The effect is likely to be particularly acute in Scotland which has received lower numbers of immigrants than England making the country’s age profile even older; the care costs associated with an ageing population here are expected to rise by 74% by 2031. (The Scotsman page 2, The Herald page 2, The Times page 5, The Guardian page 24)

 

Business tax: Treasury figures suggesting that devolving business tax would cost Holyrood £12bn over the next 5 years were published yesterday by Lib Dem Scottish Secretary Michael Moore who said it was the first in a long line of detailed analysis on independence being prepared by the UK government. The SNP Finance Secretary, John Swinney MSP, remarked that not only are the figures wrong but the Lib Dems are actually in favour of devolving these powers, and are simply parroting Tory arguments. (The Scotsman page 2, The Herald page 3 )

 

North Sea Oil: BP has announced a £3bn redevelopment of its Schiehallion oil field in the Atlantic frontier to replace its floating storage and production facility with one able to process and export up to 130,000 barrels a day. Mike Tholen; economics director of Oil and Gas UK; welcomed the news saying “it reflects BP’s commitment to the UK and demonstrates the significant remaining potential of the UK Continental Shelf”. This happened in the shadow of a nine year drilling slump with the number of wells drilled falling 52% in the second quarter compared to last year, despite rising oil prices. (The Herald page 29, The Scotsman page 2)

 

Common Fisheries Policy: Reform of the controversial EU policy which will put a blanket ban on the return of dead and over-quota fish to the sea has been met by calls from Scottish fisherman leaders who say it could cost up to 1,000 Scottish jobs; around 20% of the current fleet. Richard Lochhead, the Scottish Fisheries Minister, further warned that plans to allow an international trade in fishing quotas could result in the right to fish in Scottish waters ending up in foreign hands.  However, Maria Damanaki, the European Fisheries Minister, warned that if action was not taken “the children of Europe would only see fish in pictures”. (The Scotsman page 12, The Herald page 2, The Times page 7 The Guardian page 10, Courier page 7)

 

Justice

Harry Jervis murder case: West Lothian man, Harry Jarvis, 61, has been found guilty of attempting to defeat the ends of justice by concealing the death of his wife, Carol, 47. He was helped by his lover Rita Heyster, 57; who reportedly lived in a shed at the end of his garden; to bury her body underneath the floorboards of their family home in Bathgate, before going on the run together. (The Herald page 3, The Scotsman page 24)

 

Health

Diesel Particles: Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have warned that the tiny particles emitted from diesel exhausts can cause heart attacks and strokes. They concluded that people with heart disease should avoid spending long periods of time in areas where levels of the particles might be high, including busy roads. (The Scotsman page 13)