Reform Scotland News: 2 August 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.




Jim Devine: Ex-Scottish Labour MP Jim Devine, who was found guilty of submitting false expenses invoices totalling £8,385, has been released from prison after serving four months of a 16-month sentence. (Scotsman page 1, Mail page 6, Herald page 1, Guardian page 4, Sun page 1, Record page 2, Express page 15, Courier page 7)


Scottish Youth Parliament: The Scottish Youth Parliament has called for change in the law to allow same sex marriage in Scotland. (Scotsman page 21, Herald page 4)



Labour general secretary: Ed Miliband’s preferred choice for the Labour Party’s general secretary, Chris Lennie, has been defeated in a vote by the party’s National Executive Committee.  Iain  McNicol, political officer for the GMB union won the position in a 17 votes to 14. (Times page 5)



Labour review: Charles Allen, former chief executive of ITV has been recruited to lead a review of the Labour Party’s defeat at the Westminster election last year. (Herald page 6, Record page 2)

Labour MSP James Kelly has warned that the party is “fighting for survival” following its defeat at the Scottish Parliament elections in May. (Mail page 6, Courier page 11)


Scottish Tory Leadership: Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP, John Lamont, has ruled himself out of the leadership contest to replace Annabel Goldie as leader of the Scottish Conservatives. (Times page 8, Record page 2)


Crown Estate: Tavish Scott, the former leader of the Scottish Lib Dems, has said that councils and harbour boards, rather than the Scottish Parliament, should be given control of the Crown Estate to ensure money raised through marine projects properly benefits local communities. (P&J page 9)


Twitter: MPs reportedly spend 1,000 hours a year on twitter.  275 MPs out of 650 are signed up to the social networking site. (Monday’s Sun page 9)


Al-Megrahi: Supporters of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi say he should be allowed to return to Scotland to avoid being extradited to the United States.The Justice for Megrahi group is calling on the Scottish Government to offer him an “open door” after American senators declared last week that they hoped to persuade Libyan rebels to hand him over if they gain control of the country. Megrahi’s supporters say the Scottish Government should pre-empt such a plan by bringing him back to Scotland to prevent a “diplomatic disaster”. It has also emerged that the former Libyan foreign minister Mussa Kussa threatened the UK government with retaliation unless it released the Lockerbie bomber.  (Scotland on Sunday, Page 5, Sunday Times Page 5)


News International: Several UK party leaders have published lists detailing meetings held with top media executives, including those from News International, over the past year. Labour leader Ed Miliband has revealed holding 50 meetings or receptions with proprietors; Cameron had held 26 meetings with executives from Rupert Murdoch’s companies since last May’s election. SNP leader Alex Salmond is expected to publish his own list of meetings with newspaper executives and editors, with officials saying it will be published later this week. (Scotland on Sunday Page 8) 



HSBC: Thousands of UK workers for HSBC are facing an uncertain future after the company announced it was to cut 30,000 staff worldwide. (Mail page 7, Herald page 1, Guardian page 24, Sun page 2, Express page 2, Courier page 9, Sunday Herald, Page 5)


Pensions: Pensions minister Steve Webb has warned that millions of workers in the private sector would not have enough to live on in old age unless they start to put money aside. (Mail page 8, Mirror page 8, Record page 4, Stephen Pollard in the Express, Monday’s Telegraph page 1)


The Government’s plans to restore the link between pensions and average earnings will see the UK’s state pension system boosted by an extra £45bn as part of the drive toward increasing the weekly level from £102.15 to £140. (Express page 1, Monday’s Sun page 2)


IMF: The IMF has warned that taxes should be cut and money pumped into the UK economy if the country looks to be on course for a prolonged period of weak economic growth.  The IMF also warned that households could be left £1,500 a year worse off for the next five years due to the Government’s austerity measures. (Herald page 2, Guardian page 22, Telegraph page 1, FT page 1)


50p tax rate: Treasury Minister Danny Alexander has ruled out any move to abolish the 50p income tax rate for high earners, saying the first priority in cutting tax was to help people on low and middle incomes as set out in the coalition agreement last summer. (Monday’s Scotsman page 6, Monday’s Express Page 5, Monday’s Record page 2) 


Scottish Water: It has emerged that former water industry regulator Sir Ian Byatt has expressed concerns to ministers that their insistence on keeping Scottish Water in public ownership is hampering the company’s efforts to afford repairs such as the country’s antiquated pipe network. Reacting to the criticism, the SNP has repeated its pledge that Scottish Water will remain in public ownership. (Scotland on Sunday, Page 1, Monday’s Scotsman page 2, Monday’s Herald page 6)


HMRC:  Mike Clasper, chairman of HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), has said sorry to taxpayers after the Treasury Select Committee uncovered a raft of problems with the service. They included phone calls going unanswered at peak times and “endemic” delays in answering letters. (Scotland on Sunday Page 10, Herald Page 2,)    



Crime figures: Official figures have revealed that recorded crime in Scotland dropped by 4.5% in 2010-11, falling to the lowest level since the 1970s. (Scotsman page 9, Sun page 2, Record page 2, Monday’s Herald page 1)



Education targets: A survey by the Daily Mail has suggested that only ten out of 400 Scottish secondary schools met government targets last year for at least half of pupils passing three or more higher. Reform Scotland’s director, Geoff Mawdsley, commented “The key to better education for all is more power for parents to choose where their children are taught as well as greater autonomy for schools”. (Monday’s Mail page 1)


Nursery costs: According to a new survey by the Daycare Trust, fees for some children’s nurseries are more expensive than private schools.  The survey found that the average yearly cost of 25 hours of nursery care a week in Scotland was £5,178 – higher than in England and Wales. (Monday’s Mail page 6)



Cancer deaths: Nicola Sturgeon has unveiled a £30 million action plan to improve the early detection of cancers.  It has been estimated that more than 300 lives a year could be saved by earlier diagnosis.  The fund will initially focus on breast, bowel and lung cancer, the three most common forms of cancer. (Herald page 10, Mail page 19, Sun page 2, Telegraph page 6, P&J page 11, Courier page 7)


Women and cancer: Women in Britain are 17% more likely to develop cancer than those elsewhere in Europe according to a study by the World Cancer Research Fund.  Poor diet, obesity and alcohol consumption are being blamed for the disappointing figures. (Monday’s Scotsman page 1)


Drug companies: Scotland’s leading doctors are reportedly benefiting from overseas trips paid for by pharmaceutical companies competing for contracts. (Mail page 1)


Prostate cancer: Scottish scientists have discovered “puppet-master” genes involved in the development of prostate cancer which could help lead to new treatments. Owen Sharp, chief executive of The Prostate Cancer Charity, said the findings were “particularly exciting as they could potentially be used as a target for the development of new drugs and treatments which could help to slow down, or even stop, the progress of the disease”. (Scotsman page 12, Mail page)



Edinburgh trams: Edinburgh’s tram firm has spent another £38 million in the past two months without having the funding in place to complete the troubled project. Transport Initiatives Edinburgh (TIE) spent part of the extra money on equipment for a section of the line that is unlikely ever to be finished. Jim Eadie, the SNP MSP who uncovered the figures, said the outlay was another sign of “financial mismanagement”.(Sunday Herald  Page 28)