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.
Referendum negotiations: Reports suggest that a negotiation may be reached between Holyrood and Westminster to allow the independence referendum to be held in autumn 2014, as the SNP wants, if the Electoral Commission is allowed to oversee the vote and the franchise remains at over 18s. Ed Miliband and David Cameron joined forces at Prime Ministers Questions yesterday in support of the Union. However, Alex Salmond has suggested that the actions of the Westminster politicians will help the cause for independence. The First Minister has also said he believed an independent Scotland would be liable for eight per cent of the UK’s debt, not including the debts of RBS, which the he said was caused by a failure of the UK Financial Services Authority.
(Scotsman page 1, Iain G Mitchell in the Scotsman, Bill Jamieson in the Scotsman, Michael Kelly in the Scotsman, Ailsa Henderson in the Scotsman, Herald page 1, Alex Salmond in the Herald, Iain Macwhirter in the Herald, Sun page 9, Times page 1, Angus Macleod in the Times, Record page 10, Mail page 1, Mirror page 6, Express page 4, Willie Rennie in the Express, Guardian page 11, Martin Kettle in the Guardian, FT page 1, Philip Stephens in the FT, John Lloyd in the FT, Telegraph page 1, Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph, Peter Oborne in the Telegraph, P&J page 1, Courier page 1)
‘Save Devolution’: The Labour party is reportedly planning to launch a ‘Save Devolution’ campaign to counter the independence campaign and to prevent their campaign being purely an anti-independence campaign. There are also suggestions that Alistair Darling, Charles Kennedy and Annabel Goldie will join forces to head a pro-Union campaign. (Scotsman page 6, Times page 6, Guardian page 10)
Opinion poll: A YouGov poll for the Sun reports that 53 per cent of Scottish voters are against independence, 33 per cent in favour and 14 per cent don’t know. English and Welsh voters were also asked if they backed Scottish independence with 37 per cent against, 33 per cent in favour and 30 per cent unsure. (Sun page 8)
Pensioner benefits: In evidence to Holyrood’s finance committee yesterday Robert Wright, professor of economics at the University of Strathclyde, questioned the need for all pensioners, no matter how well off they were, to receive benefits such as free bus passes and free care for the elderly as Scotland’s pensioner population is to increase by 54 per cent between 2011 and 2031. (Scotsman page 10, Lindsay Scott in the Scotsman, Herald page 4)
Benefits: The coalition suffered three defeats in the House of Lords last night over its plans to reform welfare. Peers rejected plans to means test employment and support allowance for disabled people after a year. (Guardian page 2, FT page 4, Telegraph page 2)
House prices: According to figures released by the Glasgow Solicitors Property Centre (GSPC) house prices in the west of Scotland have risen for the first time in two years with average selling prices at the start of 2012 being four per cent higher than the same time last year. (Scotsman page 8)
Auditor General: Tavish Scott in the Scotsman comments on the appointment process to select Scotland’s new Auditor General and the need for impartially.
Energy prices: EDF Energy has become the first of the big six energy companies to cut gas prices. However, their announcement of a cut of 4.5 per cent follows an increase of 15.4 per cent in November. (Herald page 8, Sun page 14, Record page 4, Mirror page 9, Express page 1, FT page 4, P&J page 8)
Neglect: Photos have been released of the squalor a 15 month old toddler’s remains were found amongst. The child’s mother, who is a drug addict, was found guilty of his murder and is due to be sentenced today. Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont has called for politicians to do more to protect children in light of the case. (Herald page 13, Sun page 1, Record page 1, Mail page 18, P&J page 11, Courier page 12)
Breaching parole: The number of former prisoners recalled to prison almost doubled last year according to official figures. 51 individuals were sent back to prison after breaching the conditions of their release, up 27 on the previous year. An additional 117 people who had been released early on license were also sent back to prison. (Scotsman page 10, Times page 11, Mail page 10, Express page 5, Courier page 7)
Edinburgh overcharging: Edinburgh Council has admitted some residents have been overcharged for emergency repairs over the past 15 years. (Herald page 5)
Commission on School Reform: Geoff Mawdsley and Ross Martin in the Scotsman outline the work of the Commission on School Reform, which issued a call for evidence yesterday. They comment that the Commission is determined to identify the barriers which exist to the pursuit of excellence for all and come up with policy proposals to improve the Scottish education system.
Disruption: The Met Office have issued a yellow severe weather warning of “locally severe gales” of up to 70mph for much of eastern Scotland today. (Scotsman page 9 )
Car insurance: According to figures from Confused.com Scottish motorists have access to the best deals on car insurance. Experts have suggested that differences in the Scottish legal system have meant there is not the same claims culture as the rest of the UK which pushes up the cost of premiums. (Scotsman page 17)