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Reform Scotland News: 29 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:  The Devo Plus group, which supports the principle of both Westminster and Holyrood being responsible for raising the money they spend, was launched yesterday.  The group has been set up by Reform Scotland and includes MSPs Tavish Scott, Alex Fergusson and Duncan McNeil and is led by former MSP Jeremy Purvis.  It is reported that the SNP would consider putting Devo Plus on the ballot paper in the referendum if there was a strong body of support for the proposal. (Scotsman page 1, Eddie Barnes in the Scotsman, Sun page 2, Herald page 6, Telegraph page 2, Press and Journal page 15, Courier page 10, Times page 9, Daily Mail page 2, Daily Record page 2)

 

Scotland Bill: David Steel in the Scotsman argues that the Scotland Bill doesn’t go far enough in passing financial powers to Holyrood.

 

Trial separation: Donald MacLaren in the Scotsman suggests that Scotland could undergo a trial separation from the UK to see whether we could run our own affairs.

 

Scottish House of Lords: Philip Blond, director of ResPublica and a man who reportedly describes himself as “David Cameron’s philosopher king”, is expected to today call for the Scottish Parliament to have its own version of the House of Lords. (Scotsman page 4)

 

Murdoch & Mrs Sheridan: Rupert Murdoch was jeered by Tommy Sheridan’s mother, Alice, as he paid a visit to the Glasgow offices of News International yesterday. (Scotsman page 6, Sun page 2, Herald page 7, Daily Record page 9)

 

Lord Steel: Lord Steel of Aikwood claimed last night that Scotland resembles a totalitarian one- party state, criticising Salmond’s row over his non-appearance on a BBC rugby programme. (Herald page 6, Telegraph page 2)

 

Times Conference: This Friday in Edinburgh, The Times is staging a conference on the future of the Union. Opening with Alex Salmond, the conference will explore the issues that surround the independence referendum. Speakers include Alistair Darling, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, and Nicola Sturgeon who will address issues on economy, defence, international relations, and society. (Times page 6)

 

Times poll: A Times poll of 1,000 Scots ahead of Friday’s conference revealed worries over financial prospects and job security if independence were to pass. (Times page 1)

 

Nuclear Bases: William Walker in the Times explores the future of Britain’s nuclear bases and Trident Treaty in the debate surrounding Scotland’s independence referendum.

 

Economy

Corporation tax dodging: George Osborne is expected to announce a new law against corporation tax dodging in the budget next month.  The Treasury also shut down two schemes this week which had allowed Barclays to avoid paying at least £500m in tax. (Guardian page 21, Telegraph page B2, Times page 14, Mirror page 7, FT 23)

 

£4 bn windfall: The plans to build a wind farm off the Aberdeen coast could generate up to £4 billion for the UK economy. A report by UK Government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) claims that this centre is key to unlocking huge investment, while Donald Trump remains a fervent opponent. (Press and Journal page 12, Courier page 17)

 

Scottish Power: ScottishPower announced yesterday plans to create 300 new engineering jobs to support the £5bn upgrade of the electricity network in central and southern Scotland. (Courier page 29, Express page 5)

 

Education

University tuition: Des McNulty in the Scotsman comments that wholly tax-payer funded higher education offers a bleak future to Scottish universities.

 

New Exams: The introduction of exams related to the new Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) could prove disastrous if resulting in lower marks. Larry Flanagan, general secretary elect of the Education Institute of Scotland, urges a phased introduction of these measures in order to avoid a catastrophe. (Herald page 5)

 

Justice

Methadone: £28million was spent on methadone programmes in Scotland last year according to the latest Drugs Misuse Scotland report.  The figures also report that the number of pregnant women using drugs has increased by more than 50 per cent between 2008/9 and 2009/10. (Scotsman page 1, Neil McKeganey in the Scotsman, Sun page 2, Press and Journal page 9)

 

Megrahi: Kenny MacAskill is expected to make a statement to the Scottish Parliament today to address claims he advised the Lockerbie bomber to drop his appeal to make it easier to release him on compassionate grounds. (Scotsman page 6, Brian Wilson in the Scotsman, Herald page 1)

 

Single police force: Chief Constable Kevin Smith has warned the Scottish Parliament’s justice committee that savings from the merger of Scotland’s eight police forces are unlikely to appear immediately and placing too much emphasis on the savings could lead to officers being taken off the beat. (Scotsman page 18, Herald page 2)

 

Local government

Provosts: Allan Massie in the Scotsman argues that councils are losing power to Holyrood and directly elected provosts or mayors could halt the decline of local democracy.

 

Union Terrace Gardens: Plans to revamp Aberdeen’s Union Terrace Gardens could pose a “long-term risk” to the city council according to Audit Scotland due  to the council’s plans of using Tax Incremental Funding to finance nearly two-thirds of the £140m project. (Scotsman page 20)

 

Pub’s early Sunday opening: In Glasgow, licensing chiefs are floating plans to open pubs at 11am on Sunday mornings despite criticism of health organizations. (Herald page 3)

 

Transport

Wi-Fi on Trains: Transport Minister, Keith Brown awarded £250,000 to ScotRail to trial new technologies that will enable Wi-Fi services between Glasgow and Edinburgh. (Herald page 9, Courier page 19, Daily Record page 3)

 

£400m Aberdeen Bypass: This morning, three of Scotland’s senior judges will announce if the Aberdeen bypass will be built, which could boost the economy and provide jobs. (Press and Journal page 14)

 

Health

Toxic hip implants: The British Medical Journal revealed that hundreds of thousands of hip surgery patients may have been exposed to dangerously high levels of toxic metals from faulty hip implants, affecting thousands of Scots. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agent (MHRA) warns that patients may face a lifetime of checks. (Herald page 1, Telegraph page 11, Courier page 19, Mirror page 6)