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Reform Scotland News:14/11/2011

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. 

Politics

EU veto: David Cameron has been criticised for his stance on the Eurozone deal by the president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, who yesterday stated that the accord decided upon on Friday was, ‘not an agreement at 17-plus, but an agreement at 27-minus’. Mr Cameron has also been criticised by Alex Salmond who dubbed the coalition government ‘a bunch of little-Englanders’. (Scotsman page 12, Guardian page 4, Herald page 6, Daily Record page 2, Daily Mail page 1, Daily Express page 7, Financial Times page 2, Press and Journal page 11)

Media hacking: Emails from 2008 published yesterday have shown that News International boss James Murdoch was sent information that phone-hacking was prevalent at News of the World.  Mr Murdoch denies having read the email. Also, the managing editor of the Sun, Richard Caseby, yesterday accused the Guardian of ‘sexing-up’ hacking stories. (Scotsman page 5, Sun page 16, Guardian page 1, Herald page 2, Daily Mail page 6, Daily Telegraph page 1, Times page 1)

Independence poll: A new survey from Ipsos Mori has shown that 28% of Scots surveyed want a referendum on Scottish independence to be held as soon as possible and a further 33% want one within the next two years. The results have led to claims that Alex Salmond is ‘stalling’ over the referendum by continuing to insist that the referendum will take place in the second half of the parliament. Scottish Secretary Michael Moore has warned that the uncertainty caused by waiting for the referendum could have a negative effect on the future of Scotland and ‘was testing Scotland’s patience to breaking point’. Mr Salmond has welcomed other figures from the survey which show an increase in the number of people who back independence (38%) and the finding that 68% of people back ‘devo-max’. (Scotsman page 8,  Herald page 6, Daily Mail page 2, Daily Express page 10, Courier page 7, Times page 23)

UK surveillance: A Type 42 destroyer vessel, HMS York, had to be dispatched from Plymouth last night to provide surveillance on a Russian battle-group which had lain up due to extreme weather 25 miles off the coast of Moray. MOD cuts meant that there were no RAF aircraft available to provide surveillance services. (Scotsman page 11, Sun page 29, Times page 17)

Christmas Card: Alex Salmond has unveiled his Christmas card which features a picture of ‘Bella Caledonia’ by Alisdair Gray. The First Minister said the figure on the card: ‘personifies Scotland as a strong woman with a passion for social justice’. (Scotsman page 18, Herald page 4, Daily Mail page 13, Daily Express page 4, Press and Journal page 11, Daily Telegraph page 12)

Voter registration: New figures released today from the Electoral Commission show that at least 6 million eligible voters are not registered to vote in the UK. (Scotsman page 8, Guardian page 2)

Economy

High street slump: Retail figures released by KPMG, as part of a report by the UK government and Mary Portas, show that retail figures in Scotland have suffered their worst fall since records began in 1999. Total sales in Scotland were down 1.3% on the same month last year. Figures also show that Scotland is faring worse than the UK as a whole. Independent experts have stated that the figures show that Scots are nervous about their job security and thus reluctant to spend. However, The Federation of Small Businesses has urged people to shop on the high street and in independent retailers in order to ensure their survival. (Scotsman page 1, Sun page 2, Guardian page 9, Herald page 11, Daily Record page 8, Daily Mail page 1, Daily Express page 2, Financial Times page 3, Press and Journal page 7, Daily Mirror page 10, Daily Telegraph page 6, Times page 8)

Cost of going green: Industry experts have reportedly warned that government plans to subsidise power firms switching to green energy sources will cost the average householder £170 a year. The claims have been dismissed by the Scottish government who have stated that Scotland’s power supplies will always come from a ‘balanced mix’ of sources. A large number of Scots appear to have welcomed some green developments as hundreds of households have applied for ‘green-heat vouchers’ through the Renewable Heat Premium Payment Scheme. (Scotsman page 13, page 15)

Local Government

Edinburgh job shortfall: Edinburgh city council has admitted that Edinburgh is facing a shortfall of up to 37,000 jobs and £1.3 billion of physical infrastructure over the next few years. A new economic development plan sets out new targets for the next five years including attracting major sporting and cultural events but warns of a possible 4,000 public sector job losses before 2017. (Scotsman page 12)

Five Scottish DVLA centres to close: Plans were announced yesterday to close all 39 DVLA regional offices. Such closures are estimated to save £28 million a year. (Scotsman page 19, Herald page 7)

Justice

Rape reporting increase but conviction rate drop: New figures have shown that the number of rape and attempted rapes reported to the police have hit a five year high, while the number of convictions have fallen by a third to the lowest in a decade. 1,131 rapes were reported to the police in Scotland last year. There is concern that the Cadder ruling in the Supreme Court last year which said that ‘suspects must be offered legal advice before being questioned by the police’ may be responsible for the fall in convictions as it may make it more difficult for prosecutors to gain the two independent pieces of evidence necessary to bring a case against a suspect. The Scottish government introduced new rape laws last year but opposition parties and figures including Johann Lamont, Scottish Labour’s justice spokesperson, have called on them to do more, ‘to ensure those guilty of such crimes are brought to justice’. (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 1, Daily Mail page 8, Daily Express page 1, Daily Telegraph page 1, Times page 1)

Hate speech law vote: MSPs will gather today to pass new legislation on sectarian hate speech. The Scottish government has laid out exactly what acts will and will not be covered by the law in light of opposition party concerns about a possible restriction of freedom of speech. (Scotsman page 9, Herald page 6, Times page 10)

Children’s Hearings boss suspended: The national convenor of Children’s Hearings Scotland, Bernadette Monaghan, has been suspended. Ms Monaghan took up her role only 10 months ago as part of the Scottish government’s plans to reform the system which deals with vulnerable children and young people in trouble or at risk. (Herald page 4)

Sobriety tags: Scotland Yard is considering introducing the use of ‘sobriety tags’ to deal with alcohol-related crime. The tags can tell whether offenders have broken a ban on drinking while serving a community sentence. The scheme is currently being piloted in Strathclyde. (Scotsman page 12)

Health

Diabetes deaths: A report has revealed that up to 24,000 people with diabetes die avoidably each year because they do not receive correct healthcare or understand their condition properly. (Guardian page 17, Daily Mirror page 18)

Transport

Weather problems:  A second wave of severe weather has caused transport chaos across Scotland. High winds up to 80 miles per hour caused The Tay Bridge to close to all vehicles last night and the Forth and Kessock, Skye and Clackmannanshire road bridges to close to high-sided vehicles. Rail services were also affected as were some ferry crossings. Further gale-force winds have been forecast for parts of Scotland today and tomorrow. (Scotsman page 5, Sun page 17, Daily Record page 7, Daily Mail page 11, Daily Express page 5, Press and Journal page 1, Courier page 1, Daily Telegraph page 12)

High speed trains: Transport Minister Keith Brown will today launch the business case for Fast Track Scotland which backs the creation of a single, twin-track line serving Edinburgh and Glasgow which the group believes would bring great economic development to Scotland by encouraging business travellers to travel by rail. The plan has been criticised by some groups for only being of benefit to a small proportion of rail-users. (Scotsman page 15)

Tram pollution probe: A UN committee is set to examine whether Edinburgh’s trams project is causing a large increase in pollution in the city. (Herald page 1, Daily Record page 11)

Train ‘assault’: The man who pulled a ticketless passenger off a train could face assault charges. (Daily Record page 1, Daily Mail page 3, Daily Express page 11, Courier page 9, Daily Telegraph page 9)