Reform Scotland News: 13 September 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.

 

Reform Scotland

Devolution plus: Reform Scotland has today published its evidence to Holyrood’s Scotland Bill committee.  In it we say that the Scottish Parliament needs to be responsible for raising the money it spends and therefore call for a number of taxes to be transferred to Holyrood with Westminster primarily left with National Insurance and VAT.  In addition we call for a number of major welfare benefits to be devolved so that the Scottish Parliament can properly tackle poverty.  (Scotsman page 15, Ben Thomson in the Scotsman, Herald page 2, P&J page 9, Telegraph page 9, Record page 2, Sun page 2, Courier page 8)

 

Politics

SNP Energy Plan: The Scottish Government has been warned that its plan to turn Scotland into a low-carbon economy as part of its strategy for growth is based on ‘unrealistic’ targets.  Tony MacKay, who recently produced a 150-page report on the energy sector, said that the money that the Scottish government is putting into subsidies ‘are just not justified’. However, supporters have insisted that finance secretary John Swinney’s plan, which prioritises wind farms and marine energy, will be a major driver of economic growth. (Scotsman page 1, The Sun page 2, The Herald page 6, Daily Express page 2, Telegraph page 9)

 

Labour Party Reform: A row broke out at the weekly meeting of the parliamentary Labour party last in London last night, with some Scottish MPs furious about the proposals to break up.  The anger was aimed at shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy, who led a review with Lothians MSP Sarah Boyack.  Ed Miliband is said to be ‘relaxed’ about the reviews recommendations, but many feel that they represent the party ‘selling out’ to the SNP. (Scotsman page 1)

 

Fostering: Scotland’s foster chiefs have warned of an acute shortage of carers, as the number of children in care continues to rise. Sara Lurie, director of the Fostering Network Scotland, said yesterday: ‘the shortage of foster carers and the rise in children coming into care means it is harder for fostering services to find the right homes for children’. (Scotsman page 26)

 

Economy

Banking Reform: Banks could introduce charges for accounts and shun ordinary customers as a result of proposed reforms, consumer groups have warned. Neither Bank of Scotland nor Royal Bank of Scotland have ruled out such actions after the Independent Commission on Banking recommended proposals that would cost the UK industry billions.  The report has recommended that retail banking operations should be ring-fenced from investment banking divisions,that Lloyds should not need to sell more branches than the 632 it has already been instructed to, that large retail banks should hold equity capital and that a new system should be brought in to allow customers to switch current accounts more easily. (Scotsman page 1 and page 8 and Peter Jones in the Scotsman, Record page 6, Times page 2, The Sun page 10, The Guardian page 1, Daily Mail page 8, Mirror page 1, Financial Times page 1, P&J page 11, Courier page 11, The Herald page 5, Daily Express page 12, Telegraph page 1)

 

House Prices: The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors Scotland has said that housing sales levels continued to be subdued last month and warned the number of sales levels will decline over the coming month. 90% of chartered surveyors have said they believe the main reason for the slump was the concern surrounding the economy. (Scotsman page 16, Daily Express page 2)

 

Unemployment: Nearly 500,000 Scots are looking for full-time work, according to a study by Trade Unions. The estimate dwarfs official unemployment figures and reveal a ‘shocking lack’ of quality jobs STUC general secretary Grahame Smith said yesterday. (Courier page 6, The Herald page 6, Record page 2)

 

Alcohol Pricing: The price of a pint of beer will reportedly rise by 50p under SNP tax plans, the Scottish Beer and Pub Association claimed yesterday. The organisation – whose members run a quarter of Scotland’s pubs – warned the minimum price plan would be ‘disastrous’ for the trade. (Record page 8)

 

Education

University Tuition Fees: The Scottish Government has been accused of fostering ‘elitism’ in the country’s universities by ‘relying on market forces’ to set tuition fees. Labour education spokesman Ken Macintosh said he was ‘unimpressed’ by the suggestion that the new fees arrangement would not affect Scottish students because the changes would impact on the nature of universities north of the Border.  Scotland’s Education Secretary Michael Russell is reportedly considering stripping principals of their power to raise English students’ fees after four universities have imposed the maximum charge of £9,000 a year. (Scotsman page 14, Times page 1, The Sun page 2, Courier page 10, The Herald page 6, Telegraph page 6)

 

Teaching Time: The McCormac review into working conditions in the classroom, due to be published today, has recommended changes to the set 35-hour working week whereby teachers would spend more time in school, ripping up prescribed lists of tasks that teachers should not routinely do such as photocopying and filing, and also the scrapping of a scheme to create ‘chartered teachers’ who undertake extra training in return for higher salaries. (Herald page 1)

 

Health

Stroke Drug: Tens of thousands of Scottish heart patients at risk of a stroke could benefit from a ‘life saving’ drug after the country’s medicines authority agreed to recommend the use of treatment in the NHS.  However, the Scottish Medicines Consortium’s decision sparked fears in a sharp rise in costs to the health service. The new drug costs more than 900% more than the current drug.  (Scotsman page 6, The Herald page 9, Express page 15)

 

Transport

Edinburgh Trams: The Scotsman has reported that it is unlikely that Scottish ministers will agree to pay the final £72 million tranche of funding to Edinburgh Council before a deadline for striking a new deal with the consortium building the network. Senior councillors yesterday admitted that they had ‘nothing in writing’ to prove the government will pay, but said that they were ‘reasonably confident’. (Scotsman page 11)

 

Justice

Stop and Search Powers: A committee of MPs and peers renewed its call yesterday for the UK government to rethink police stop-and-search powers in counter-terrorism cases. Home Secretary Theresa May rejected a recommendation from a Joint Committee on Human Rights in July for additional safeguards to avoid risking human rights breaches. (Scotsman page 19)