Reform Scotland News: 16 December 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



Air traffic diversion: Aircraft under threat from terrorists will be diverted to Prestwick under plans to protect the London Olympics from attack.  Standsted, the other airport used for diversions, will be closed during the build-up to the games and throughout. The Department of Transport is considering an alternative airport in the north-east of England, but so far a decision has not been taken. There is anger that, at a time when the Scottish police are facing annual cuts of about £4m, the Olympics is creating an additional drain. (Scotsman page 1, David Capitanchik in The Scotsman, Sir Arthur Midwinter in The Scotsman)


Scotland Bill: A report published by the Scotland Bill committee of MSPs, which has an SNP majority, said it would not recommend Holyrood backing of the bill in its current form. The SNP committee convener, Linda Fabiani, said the “bill does not go far enough”. The Committee wanted the legislation to include the devolution of full tax powers, plus welfare and benefits. Although the bill is on Westminster’s statute book for next summer, the Bill could now be parked as legislative consent is required from the Scottish Parliament. (Scotsman page 1, Alan Trench in The Scotsman, Herald page 4, Courier page 9, Daily Express page 4, Daily Mail page 8,  Daliy Telegraph page 9, Times page, Magnus Linklater in The Times)


Powers to scrutinise legislation: Former Presiding Officer George Reid yesterday led calls for reform of the Holyrood post-legislative system. The calls follow the controversial passage of the anti-sectarianism legislation through Parliament, which was opposed by all parties except the SNP. Mr Reid talks of a “trigger mechanism” ensuring that poor legislation can be corrected. He proposes a new system of letters to the Presiding Officer, or better use of the existing Petitions Committee system. (Herald page 1, Ian Macwhirter in The Herald)


Robbie Dinwoodie in The Herald on the idea of a Scottish Upper House to review Holyrood legislation.


Online petition against same-sex marriage: The UK Information Commissioner’s Office confirmed that they had received a series of complaints from Scots who claimed their names had been posted on the website of Scotland for Marriage without their consent. (Scotsman page 5, Press & Journal page 10, Sun page 2, Daily Express page 2)



Petrol prices: Average petrol prices have fallen to their lowest level for nine months but remain higher than last year, the Automobile Association has found. Petrol pump prices in Scotland are now on average 132p per litre, marginally lower than the rest of the UK. (Herald page 3, Courier page 3, Press & Journal page 5, Daily Telegraph page 20)



College funding: Scotland’s Colleges, representing the principals, warned that the cuts to further education and rushing through a series of regional mergers, would prevent the delivery of vital skills training and harm economic recovery. This was in a response to the Scottish Government consultation. (Herald page 11)



Alcohol pricing study: The Scottish Government hails the research of a Canadian University as the “first concrete evidence” supporting the introduction of the policy in Scotland. (Herald page 6, Press & Journal page 9)



Tram funding: The Scottish Government insisted last night that it would not fund Edinburgh’s tram network beyond 2014, although the council leader Jenny Dawe said her officials are investigating the feasibility of further routes. (The Times page 15)