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Reform Scotland News: 10th January 2012

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

Referendum legal powers: Scottish Secretary Michael Moore is expected to announce new powers for the Scottish Parliament today which would give the legal powers necessary to hold a referendum on Scottish independence to Holyrood.  It is expected the legislation would include a ‘sunset clause’ to force a referendum to be held sooner rather than later.  The Scottish Office has reportedly also suggested that the move would mean that the SNP would have no excuse not to use the neutral Electoral Commission to set the rules and oversee the referendum.  However, former Labour First Minister, Henry McLeish, has accused the UK government of “dictating” to Scotland in the same way Margaret Thatcher did in the 1980s. George Osborne is apparently leading the UK government’s campaign against independence. (Scotsman page 1, John Curtice in the Scotsman, Trevor Salmon in the Scotsman, Alan Trench in the Scotsman, Jim Gallagher in the Scotsman, Owen Kelly in the Scotsman, Tim Ripley in the Scotsman, Joan McAlpine in the Scotsman, David Maddox in the Scotsman, Ewan Crawford in the Scotsman, Sun page 8, Harry Reid in the Herald, Times page 1, Telegraph page 1, Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph, Press and Journal page 7, Courier page 6, Record page 10, Johann Lamont in the Record, Mail page 1, Allan Massie in the Mail, Guardian page 6, Kerry Gill in the Express, Express page 15, FT page 3.)

 

Peter Jones in the Scotsman comments that issues such as Scotland’s credit rating post-independence and our share of the UK’s debt have to be addressed urgently.

 

Freedom of information: Kevin Dunion, Scotland’s outgoing information commissioner, has warned that mishandled freedom of information requests are increasing and has called for his successor to be given greater powers, including being able to order officials to give evidence under oath. (Scotsman page 12, Sun page 2, Press and Journal page 7)

 

Ed Miliband: The Labour leader is expected today to pledge to move the Labour party away from big spending policies.  However, it has been reported that Ed’s brother, David Miliband, has said that the party is still split over what to be proud of and what to be sorry for from its years in power. (Sun page 2, Guardian page 1, Polly Toynbee in the Guardian, Express page 2, FT page 2)

 

Economy

50p tax: David Cameron has insisted that the 50p tax rate on higher earners is “temporary” and has hinted that the issue will be reviewed in the run-up to the Budget later this year.  However, such a move is likely to lead to a rift with Lib Dems who are reportedly insisting that if it is removed it must be replaces with something like a “mansion tax” on high-value properties. (Scotsman page 8, Sun page 2, FT page 2)

 

Child poverty: Charities behind the Campaign to End Poverty said yesterday that the lives of children in one in five families in Scotland were blighted by poverty and unveiled a map highlighting areas of deprivation.  The six areas with the highest levels of poverty are all in Glasgow. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 4, Press and Journal page 7, the Courier page 1, Record page 4, Mail page 6, Express page 10)

 

RBS bonus: John Hourican, head of RBS’s investment banking division, is reportedly in line for a £4.3m bonus in April, despite plans by the bank to cut 5,000 jobs.  RBS is 83 per cent owned by the taxpayer. (Mail page 4, Mirror page 6, Express page 8)

 

Service sector: A survey by the British Chambers of Commerce revealed that the key services sector performance in Scotland was significantly worse than the rest of the UK. The survey indicates concerns of a renewed recession. (Herald page 24)

 

Health

MMR Vaccine: Faced with rising concerns about the potential of a deadly measles outbreak to spread from Europe, older schoolchildren in Scotland will have to opportunity to receive two doses of the MMR vaccine if they haven’t already done so. (Herald page 3)

 

Transport

High speed rail: UK Transport Secretary Justine Greening is today expected to address Scottish fears that the high-speed rail link proposed between London and Birmingham will be of little benefit to Scotland, arguing that the trains will benefit northern England and Scotland. (Herald page 5)

 

Justice

Anti-sectarian legislation: Comedian Frankie Boyle has branded the Scottish government’s anti-sectarian legislation a “colonial” attack on the working class. (Sun page 21)

 

Education

Comprehensive schools: Hugh Reilly in the Scotsman comments that he doesn’t believe that there are ‘bog standard’ comprehensive schools in Scotland.

 

Training teachers: Scotland’s Education Secretary Michael Russell has been warned that money is wasted training new teachers when experienced supply staff face pay cuts, leading them to turn down placements. (Times page 15)

 

University unrest: An internal poll found that staff at the University of Glasgow were not convinced that reforms of the university structure were effective. The survey also found that only 36% of staff felt that they could cope with their current workload. (Herald page 9)

 

Local government

Glasgow: Glasgow has been named one of the top 12 places in the world to visit by the New York Times. (Scotsman page 3, Herald page 7, Mail page 25)

 

Occupy Edinburgh: Protesters who have been camped out in Edinburgh’s St Andrew Square for the past few months are to be served with an eviction notice within a few days if they refuse to leave.  (Scotsman page 19)

 

Edinburgh world heritage site:  The controversial commercial development of Edinburgh’s Caltongate area has come to the attention of United Nations investigators. Unesco has expressed concerns that development could threaten the authenticity of the site. (Herald page 1)