Reform Scotland News: 16 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. 



Scottish Government Financing: Sir Ian Byatt has argued that if more power is to be devolved to Scotland, it needs to have more suitable mechanisms in place to cope with raising and spending revenue. Sir Ian has claimed that ‘expenditure, revenue and borrowing decisions must all be framed in the wider context of the Scottish economic situation’. This comes as the Scotland Bill makes its passage through the UK parliament. (Sir Ian Byatt in The Scotsman)


Pensions: Alex Salmond has accused Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander of ‘holding a gun to the head’ of the Scottish Government with a threat to cut Scotland’s funding by more than £8million a month in a row with Westminster over pensions. At First Minister’s Questions yesterday, Mr Salmond revealed that his finance secretary John Swinney had received an ‘extraordinary’ letter from Mr Alexander ‘threatening’ the cuts unless the SNP accepted changes to public-sector pension schemes. Scottish ministers want to delay an increase of 3.2% in contributions to pension funds. However, a Scotland Office Minister David Mundell said that the Scottish Government had accepted the money from the Treasury on the condition that they would be contributing to the pension fund. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 6, Telegraph page 1, Times page 13, Daily Express page 2, Daily Record page 2, Daily Mail page 10, The Sun page 2, P&J page 10, Courier page 9)


Calman Commission: Scottish Labour leadership candidate Tom Harris MP has called for an independent commission to constantly review the devolution settlement, even if that means handing some powers back to Westminster. Mr Harris wants to resurrect the Calman Commission, which recommended the transfer of powers from Westminster to Holyrood two years ago. (Herald page 6)


Trident: The Labour Party have claimed that the SNP’s only information about the effect of removing Britain’s nuclear deterrent Trident is from a report written by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.  The admissions emerged following a Freedom of Information request from the Labour party. (Telegraph page 1, Daily Record page 2)  


Crime Reparations: One third of Community Payback Orders (CPOs) given to criminals instead of a jail sentence have no requirement for them to carry out physical labour.  This figure contrasts with the position of justice minister Kenny MacAskill who has stated that the orders would cause offenders to pay back the harm they have caused ‘through the sweat of their brow’. CPOs have been used more widely since jail terms of fewer than three months were abolished in February.  (Daily Mail page 6)



Oil Prices: Drivers are still seeing little benefit from falls in crude oil prices, with people in Scotland paying some of the highest prices in Britain for diesel, the Automobile Association has reported today. A 7% drop in the value of the pound against the dollar since August has denied drivers the possibility of a 2p per litre price cut in petrol. (Scotsman page 2, Herald page 3, Telegraph page 8, Daily Mirror page 4, Courier page 9)


The Euro: A leading SNP MEP has backed an independent Scotland joining the euro, saying the currency will bounce back. Alyn Smith claimed the euro will ‘emerge stronger’ from the current crisis and that claims that sterling would provide a safe haven forever were overblown.  Despite this claim, Mr Smith and Alex Salmond both said they stood by the party’s policy, which is to retain sterling after independence. (Scotsman page 2, Telegraph page 2)


Wave Energy: A fully commercial wave farm off Scotland is ‘on the cusp of reality’, a leading renewable energy firm has claimed. Pelamis, which has so far built two prototype wave machines, announced it would be seeking fresh investment to help increase manufacturing. It said the ‘pieces of the jigsaw’ were now in place to move to the creation of commercial wave farms, with ‘significant’ customer orders on the books. (Scotsman page 13)


Energy Prices: Almost a million households in Scotland will now be in fuel poverty, after the last of the major suppliers announced a second price rise in less than a year, it has been warned. The 15.4% increase in gas and 4.5% rise in electricity tariffs announced by EDF means that all six of the big power suppliers have now raised tariffs for the winter. (Herald page 11, Telegraph page 16, Courier page 9)



Edinburgh Trams: Council leaders in Edinburgh have confirmed that the transport company responsible for managing the tram project, Transport Initiatives Edinburgh, is to be scrapped. The only senior figure from the company expected to stay in their post is Chairman Vic Emery, who was only appointed in January.  (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 7, The Times page 1, The Sun page 2)



Sectarianism: Singing the national anthem, making religious gestures and ‘football banter’ will all still be allowed under new guidelines for laws aimed at stamping out sectarianism at football matches. Police should use common sense when deciding if supporters are acting in a sectarian manner, Scotland’s chief prosecutor the Lord Advocate has suggested. (Scotsman page 1)



Care Charges: Figures obtained by The Herald have revealed that many elderly and disabled people have seen steep increases in fees for services such as day care, blue badge stickers for disabled motorists, community alarms and shopping services. Budget cuts have led to steep increases in charges for older and vulnerable people, with rises of 30% to 50% in the space of just three years not uncommon. (Herald page 1)


Care Home Inspections: The body overseeing care homes in Scotland, Social Care and Social Work Inspection Scotland, has been given new powers in the wake of the collapse of the Southern Cross group. Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs that the rate of unannounced inspections would be doubled to at least once a year and inspectors would also be able to increase the number of times they visit a home if they were concerned about its performance.  (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 2, Daily Mail page 18, The Sun page 2)