0131 524 9500 | info@reformscotland.com

Reform Scotland News: 18/01/12

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: Pressure is increasing on Alex Salmond to publish the SNP’s legal advice over holding an independence referendum. However, Alex Salmond has  noted that the UK government had also failed to publish its legal advice about the referendum either. Labour MSP Malcom Chisholm has called for a yes-no question but stated that the Labour party  might support a second referendum on the question of ‘devo-plus’. (Under devo-plus Holyrood would have control of around 60% of revenue raised in Scotland and half of welfare spending). A party spokesperson did not rule out support for a second referendum but highlighted the importance of concentrating first on the independence issue. The Head of Scotland’s Civil Service Sir Peter Housden has been accused of political bias after he circulated a briefing to a large number of his officials which stated that he expected Alex Salmond to win the independence referendum. (Scotsman page 1, Eddie Barnes in the Scotsman, Allan Massie in the Scotsman,  Times page 10, Willie Rennie in the Times, Daily Telegraph page 1, Herald page 6,

Miliband under pressure: Labour leader Ed Miliband was under pressure last night after union bosses hinted that they might consider disaffiliating from the party after Mr Miliband defended his recent statement that he would back a continued freeze in pay for public sector workers. (Scotsman page 6,     Financial Times page 2, Guardian page 4, Sun page 10, Daily Record page 6, Daily Mail page 17, Daily Mirror page 4, Herald page 6)

Leveson Inquiry: The inquiry heard yesterday from the editor of the Sunday Times who confirmed that someone who worked for them pretended to be Gordon Brown in order to get financial details from a major bank. Further information from press editors continues.(Scotsman page 9, Times page 6, Guardian page 6, Daily Mail page 8, Daily Telegraph page 11, Herald page 6)

West Lothian question panel: The panel who will examine whether Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs should vote on laws affecting only England has been announced. Sir William McKay (former Clerk of the House of Commons) will chair the commission which will include Sir Stephen Laws, Sir Geoffrey Bowman, Professor Charlie Jeffrey, Sir Emyr Jones Parry and Professor Yvonne Galligan. The final report and recommendations will be completed by the end of the next parliamentary session. (Scotsman page 9, Daily Record page 2, Daily Mail page 6)

Scottish army cuts: Ministry of Defence sources have suggested that planned redundancies in military personnel could affect plans to increase the size of the army in Scotland to 6500. SNP Westminster Leader and defence spokesman Angus Robertson has claimed in light of these suspicions that Scotland has been ‘disproportionately hit’ by the strategic defence and security review. (Scotsman page 10, Sun page 4, Daily Telegraph page 8)

Economy

Recession fears: A number of new reports into Scotland’s economy have warned that recession is looming again for Scotland. The ‘Business Survey’ conducted by the Scottish Chamber of Commerce claims that economic recovery in Scotland lessened in the last six months of 2011 and predicts that this pattern could continue in 2012. The report comes as figures from the Scottish Retail Consortium also show that December trading was at lowest for 12 years. These reports have lead to concerns that with little immediate signs of recovery in the business sector further pressure on jobs and a rise in unemployment is likely. In light of this the head of the policy and public affairs at SSC has urged the SNP government to prioritise the economy in 2012 and not to be distracted by the independence referendum. (Scotsman page 1, Sun page 2, Daily Mail page 16, Daily Express page 2)

Wave-powered homes: SSE, the Scottish Energy Company and French engineering company Alstom have formed a joint venture to create a large wave-farm capable of powering tens of thousands of homes. The farm will be set up off the coast of Orkney. (Times page 5, Herald page 9)

Supermarkets bending new alcohol pricing law: The Scottish Government has stated that supermarkets are ‘undermining the spirit of the legislation’ dealing with the pricing of alcohol. Legislation in Scotland means that retailers are unable to sell drinks offers but many companies have reduced the prices of individual goods instead. (Scotsman page 11)

Justice

The Police Service of Scotland: Ministers have stated that the new amalgamated Scottish police force will be called ‘the Police Service of Scotland’. Plans are in place for the merger of forces to start in 2013 but senior officers have warned that such plans could take up to five year to fully implement. Scottish ministers would have overall control over the appointment of the head of the force as well as approving membership. This has raised concerns among opposition parties with regards to accountability and neutrality. (Scotsman page 13, Times page 1, Daily Record page 12, Herald page 2)

Fire Station merger: Fire Chief’s have warned that merging eight fire services into five could change where stations are based and thus potentially pose a risk for remote communities. (Scotsman page 13, Herald page 2)

Plea for racist murder case to be reopened: The sister of an Asian man, Surjit Singh Chhokar, who was stabbed to death after a confrontation with a group of white men in Lanarkshire in 1998 has appealed to the Crown Office for the case to be reopened. The calls come in light of the recent conviction of the murderers of Stephen Lawrence, and are backed by her lawyer Aamer Anwar and two MSPs Humza Yousaf and Graeme Pearson. The Scottish Government’s Double Jeopardy Act 2011, which allows prosecutors to try people twice if new evidence comes to light, could see the retrial of the three men who stood trial for the murder previously. (Scotsman page 3, Times page 21, Guardian page 9, Sun page 6, Daily Record page 6, Daily Mail page 19, Daily Express page 14, Daily Telegraph page 9, Herald page 7)

Scot to be extradited to the US: A Scot who has been battling extradition to the US for 9 years has lost his final appeal at the European Court of Human Rights. Philip Harkins will now stand trial in the US for the murder of Joshua Hayes during a botched armed robbery in Florida in 1999. The US has given ‘diplomatic assurances’ that the death penalty will not be sought in the case. (Scotsman page 7, Sun page 26, Daily Express page 5, Herald page 4)

Education

University fees: Two leading universities in Scotland have reported mixed results in RUK (rest of UK) applications after they introduced fees of up to £9000 a year. St Andrews University reported a slight decrease and Edinburgh University a slight increase. Glasgow University has also seen an increase in RUK applications as it has set its fees at £6000 a year. (Scotsman page 17, Herald page 10)

Glasgow University Chair of Greek: Professor Douglas McDonnell left more than £2million to revive the post of Chair of Greek at the University of Glasgow which was left dormant after a merger of two departments. (Scotsman page 22, Times page 9)

Health

Catholic midwives abortion legal battle: NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board has been taken to the Court of Session in Edinburgh by two Catholic midwives who are fighting to be excused any involvement in abortions. The midwives have claimed that they should not have to be involved in such operation as their faith considers abortion, “a grave offence against human life.” The Health Board had asked the women to provide supervision and support to staff undertaking terminations but the two midwives are seeking assurance that they would not be asked to be involved in terminations in any way. (Scotsman page 1, Sun page 29, Daily Record page 2, Daily Express page 4, Daily Telegraph page 7, Herald page 5)

Local government

Local Council career breaks: Glasgow City Council is to offer its employees the option of taking up to a 5 year career break among a raft of measures on offer in a bid to cut council costs. (Scotsman page 8)

Cairngorms Wind farm inquiry: A plan for a wind-farm at the edge of the Cairngorm National Park will be the subject of a public inquiry after local councillors lodged an objection. RWE-npower Renewables wishes to build a 31-turbine farm 440 yards from the park’s western border. The news of the inquiry was welcomed by local protest groups. (Scotsman page 20, Times page 2,Daily Record page 2, Daily Express page 19, Daily Telegraph page 12, Herald page 9)