Reform Scotland News: 28 February 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

Devo Plus: Former Lib Dem MSP Jeremy Purvis is to lead a new group being launched today, Devo Plus, which wants to see the Scottish Parliament broadly responsible for raising the money it spends.   The group is cross-party and non-party and has been set up by Reform Scotland.  (Jeremy Purvis in the Scotsman, P&J page 16, Courier page 2, Express page 6, Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph)

Referendum date: The Scottish government has insisted that no date has been fixed for the independence referendum amid concerns that 18 October 2014 falls in the middle of Scottish schools’ autumn break.  Shadow Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran has called for the vote to be held in the autumn of 2013. (Scotsman page 9, Herald page 6, Courier page 18 , Mail page 6, Record page 2)

Unionist parties: Cross-party talks are reportedly under way between the Conservatives, Lib Dems and Labour to co-ordinate the campaign to save the Union.  Anas Sarwar, David McLetchie and Willie Rennie have held talks in recent months on the matter. (Scotsman page 1, Mail page 6)

Currency: Gavin McCrone in the Scotsman comments that an independent Scotland sticking with sterling would be far from simple.

EU: European Commissioner Maros Sefcovic has said he is unable to rule on a separate Scotland’s membership of the EU “given that the terms of any future referendum are unknown”. (Telegraph page 8)

English view of devolution: According to the British Social Attitudes Survey 2011, nearly a third of English voters “strongly agree” that Scottish MPs should be blocked from voting on issues which affect only England.  The number of English voters who believe that Scotland gets more than its fair share of funding has increased from 21 per cent in 2000 to 44 per cent. (Scotsman page 9, Herald page 6, Times page 17, Record page 2, Express page 6)

Eric Joyce: Labour party members in Falkirk have said that the Labour MP charged with assault in a House of Commons bar should “do the right thing” and resign if the allegations are proven. (Scotsman page 1, Sun page 17, Record page 4)

House of Lords: David Maddox in the Scotsman and Jesse Norman in the Times comment on the debate on reforming the House of Lords.

Economy

Oil: North Sea oil production reportedly fell by 18 per cent last year.  The drop was mainly caused by a combination of platform shutdowns for maintenance and a low number of discoveries being brought on stream.  However the latest activity survey by Oil & Gas UK also suggests that the industry was hit by a 50 per cent reduction in exploration drilling as the coalition’s new oil tax hit investment. (Scotsman page 1, Tony Mackay in the Scotsman, Lee Roan in the Scotsman, Mail page 2)

Renewable energy: Peter Jones in the Scotsman comments on the SNP’s plans for renewable energy.

Education

PISA: Hugh Reilly in the Scotsman comments on Scotland’s position in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

Justice

Lockerbie bomber: Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi has claimed that justice secretary Kenny MacAskill suggested he drop his appeal to make it “easier” to grant him compassionate release. (Scotsman page 1, Jim Swire in the Scotsman, Clive Fairweather in the Scotsman, Sun page 1, Herald page 1, Times page 1, Magnus Linklater in the Times, Paul McBride in the Times, P&J page 12, Courier page 3, Mail page 5, Record page 2, Express page 6, Telegraph page 1)

Transport

Sleeper upgrade: The SNP government has been criticised for diverting £50m the Treasury offered to upgrade the Caledonian sleeper fleet, on the condition the Scottish government matched the money, to Scottish Water, with no fixed timetable to carry out the work on the trains. (Herald page 1)

Fuel costs: Official figures reportedly suggest that the UK has the highest fuel tax burden in Europe with 60 per cent of the cost of unleaded petrol and 58 per cent of diesel made up of duties and VAT. (Mail page 1)