Reform Scotland News: 27 October 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



European grant repay: The European Union has claimed back £100 million, after European Commission auditors officials found Scotland to have wrongly claimed the amount in EU subsidies. Auditor General Robert Black Public told MSPs on the public audit committee that the problem had arisen due to the standard of claims procedures of the Scottish Government failing to ensure that the use of funds fully complied. Some payments date back to 1994, but most from 2000 and onwards, the delay being attributed to the time taken by the Commission’s investigation and subsequent negotiations with the Scottish Government. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 6, Daily Record page 11, Courier page 11)


SNP policies: The Royal Society of Edinburgh has criticised what it calls the SNP’s populist policies and called for a review into expensive flagship policies such as the council tax freeze and free personal health care for the elderly. (Scotsman page 4, John Curtice in the Scotsman, Herald page 6, Daily Record page 2, Times page 26, Daily Express page 14)


Minimum alcohol prices: The Scottish government plans to re-introduce a minimum unit price on alcohol. The UK public health minister Annie Milton told Westminster’s science and technology committee yesterday that it was described as “probably illegal” and “will be challenged” by the courts. (Scotsman page 9, Herald page 3, Daily Mail page 2, Daily Record page 2, Press and Journal page 10, Courier page 11, Times page 5)


“Smear” accusation:  Further coverage of allegations that Glasgow MP Ian Davidson told Eilidh Whiteford she would be “getting a doing” at a private session of the Scottish affairs select committee.  Mr Davidson has denied intimidating the Banff and Buchan MP, saying he apologised “if anyone took offence” but insisting no threat had been made or intended. (Scotsman page 14, Herald page 7, Daily Record page 2, Press and Journal page 8, Courier page 11, Daily Telegraph page 17, Times page 11, Daily Express page 8)


“Tesco tax”: The Scottish Retail Consortium claims the Scottish Government risked breaking its own pledges on regulation if it did not embark on a full Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment into the levy, and has called for an independent regulation body to intervene. Business leaders have warned SNP of damage to investment and job creation in Scotland. A Scottish Government spokesman has refuted SRC’s claim, stating that the levy will only affect 0,1% of the Scottish retail turnover, consequently not requiring a BRIA. (Scotsman page 16, Herald page 6)


Population rise: Scotland’s population is expected to reach 6 million within 50 years in a report by the National Records of Scotland. The projections pose questions concerning infrastructure and the impact of an ageing population on care and social services. (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 1, Daily record page 8, Sun page 10, Press and Journal page 8, Courier page 7, Daily Express page 2)




Unfair dismissal: A leaked report, written by venture capitalist and Tory party donor Adrian Beecroft, says scrapping unfair dismissal would free up business, boost economic growth and allow more capable people to replace them. The report has caused outrage among unions and opposition parties. (Herald page 10, Daily Record page 8, Press and Journal page 5, Daily Telegraph page 1, Simon Walker in the Daily Telegraph)


Tourism targets: The Scottish Government’s target to boost tourism revenues by 50 per cent by 2015 is “not achievable” according to the head of VisitScotland, Scotland’s tourism body. (Scotsman page 5)


Business Growth Fund: Scottish high growth firms are being targeted to take advantage of new investment packages. (Scotsman page 3 Business)


Scottish house prices: Scottish house prices are expected to continue to fall over the next three years, and will not return to their 2007 peak until 2028, according to the annual Housing Market Forecast by Knight Frank, the high-end estate agent. (Herald page 4)



ScotRail: Eastwood MSP, Labour’s leadership candidate Ken Macintosh has called for ScotRail to be brought back into public ownership. (Herald page 11)



Breast screening: Scotland’s national breast screening program could be altered following an independent review launched by the national cancer director at the Department of Health. Questions of more harm than good have recently been raised due to the results of a Danish study. (Herald page 9, Daily Mirror page 8)