Reform Scotland News: August 16th 2011


Reform Scotland

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. 


Lord Steel resignation: Former Holyrood presiding officer Lord Steel has quit a Scottish Government advisory panel because he was “appalled by the language being used” by several SNP members in recent comments on the UK supreme court. Lord Steel cited First Minister Alex Salmond, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill and “an authorised spokesman” in his statement. The exchanges between Lord Steel and the SNP were centred on the debate surrounding the independence of the Scottish legal system following a recent series of rulings by the Supreme Court on Scottish criminal law.  (The Scotsman Page 1, The Times Page 5, Daily Record Page 2, Daily Mail Page 8, The Herald Page 6, Daily Telegraph Page 2, Daily Express Page 2, Press and Journal Page 11, Courier Page 6)

Riots: Politicians have begun to set out different visions of how best to tackle those responsible for the recent riots across England. Deputy PM Nick Clegg will today demand a hard line to be taken but is unlikely to support any attempts, as mooted by David Cameron, to remove the looters’ benefits. Cameron yesterday called for an across-the-board review of all government policy in addition to the possibility of national service for teenagers and background checks for benefit claimants. He also gave his backing for tougher policing measures. Labour leader Ed Miliband has warned against “knee-jerk gimmicks”. Meanwhile, courts have been advised that the scale of last week’s civil disobedience means that offences committed during the riots should be dealt with more harshly. (The Scotsman Page 8-9, The Times Page 1, The Guardian Page 1, Daily Record  Page 4, Daily Mail Page 6-7, The Herald Page 4, FT  Page 1, Daily Telegraph Page 1, Daily Express Page 1, Daily Mirror Page 4)         

MSP second homes: Finance Secretary John Swinney has reportedly made a £75,000 profit from the sale of his taxpayer-funded second home in Edinburgh. Swinney used parliamentary allowances to pay a total of £60,000 in interest on his mortgage and also claimed £10,000 for council tax during the time he lived in the residence, starting in 2003. An SNP spokesman said: “Parliament decided to end mortgage payment support from the Edinburgh accommodation allowance scheme and therefore Mr. Swinney has disposed of his Edinburgh property.” (The Herald Page 1)

Dalyell claims ‘independence inevitable’: Veteran Labour politician Tam Dalyell, who originally posed the West Lothian question, has claimed that the creation of Holyrood has made the prospect of independence unavoidable as Scottish politicians seek to gain more powers. (The Scotsman Page 6)

Shell oil spill: Energy firm Shell is facing new questions following new information which has revealed the extent of the oil leak in the North Sea from the Gannet Alpha platform is greater than first thought. The company confirmed that approximately 216 tonnes has spread into the sea, an increase on the Scottish government’s claim at the weekend that 100 tonnes had been spilled. Environment secretary Richard Lochhead has urged the company to “make information available on an open, transparent and regular basis” as Shell refused several media requests. (The Scotsman Page 1, The Times Page 16, The Sun Page 4, The Guardian Page 9, Daily Record Page 18, Daily Mail Page 19, The Herald Page 1, Financial Times Page 3, Daily Mirror Page 4, Press and Journal  Page 7, Courier Page 9)

Carrier bag charge: Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead has launched a consultation and admitted new laws are under consideration with a view to introducing a charge for carrier bags in supermarkets. Nearly 600 million carrier bags are used in Scotland a year. (Scotsman Page 19. The Herald  Page 8, Press and Journal Page 9, Courier Page 7)


Eurozone talks: UK Chancellor George Osborne has issued a strong message to leaders of European states that “hard decisions on spending, entitlements and taxes in countries with large budget deficits are unavoidable.” The statements come on the eve of today’s key Euro summit. Meanwhile, global stocks continued to rebound with the FTSE closing up 30 points. (The Sun Page 2, Daily Mail Page 2)  


Cuts: Trainee and temporary prosecutors across Scotland are likely to be unemployed by the end of the year because there is not enough money to pay them. Trainee fiscals who have just completed a two-year course at the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) – and who in the past would have been offered positions with the organisation – have been told they face unemployment when their training comes to an end later this month. Last year’s trainees, many of whom remained in work on a temporary basis, will also find themselves out of jobs in the next few months when their contracts are not renewed. (Herald Page 5)


Foreign languages in schools: Under new plans being drawn up by the Scottish government, children would learn two modern languages at primary school. Ministers are setting up a working group to promote the subjects which are in decline. Scottish Education Secretary Michael Russell has commented recently on his support for the so-called ‘Barcelona Agreement’ by the European council, which called for the teaching of at least two foreign languages at an early age. (The Herald Page 3, The Times Page 8, Daily Mail Page 3)

Teachers with criminal convictions: Figures obtained from the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) have shown that, in the past four years, more than 120 teachers have been permitted to carry on working in Scottish schools despite having criminal convictions. Convictions have included assault public disorder and drug abuse, although the majority are for road traffic offences. (Daily Mail Page 1)