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Reform Scotland News: 20 March 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
Crown Estate:
 MPs on the Scottish Affairs Select Committee have called for local councils to take responsibility for the Crown Estate, claiming that the Crown Estate Commission is not doing enough to “maximise the benefits” for local and island communities. (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 7, Times page 3, Sun page 2, Mail page 4, Courier page 2, P&J page 3, Telegraph page 13)

Orkney & Shetland: Further coverage of Tavish Scott & Liam McArthur’s suggestion that the northern isles could split off from Scotland in the advent of independence.  In a submission to the consultation on the referendum, the MSPs suggest that Orkney and Shetland could also consider a devolved assembly, or for the UK government to give them the same status as the Channel Islands.  However, the SNP has dismissed the threat as “troublemaking”. (Sun page 2, Mail page 2, Courier page 13, Telegraph page 6, Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph)

Strike action: The Public and Commercial Services Union has warned that civil servants may take strike action over Easter in the continued dispute over pensions. (Scotsman page 14)

English nationalism: John Redwood has described the SNP as “anti-English” and of encouraging English nationalism to secure the break-up of the UK. (Herald page 1, Mail page 2, Courier page 2)

Welfare: David Green in the Mail comments that the proposed changes to child benefit are anti-family and anti-Tory.

Dalgety Bay: Gordon Brown in the Courier calls on the MoD to make good the damage done in the Dalgety Bay foreshore.

Economy
Cheap business loans:  
A new £20bn UK government scheme is offering small and medium-sized businesses the chance to take out cheap loans at 1 per cent lower than the current rate for up to £5.5m.  However, one major bank, HSBC, has refused to take part in the National Loan Guarantee Scheme. (Scotsman page 4, Herald page 1, Sun page 6, Guardian page 4, FT page 4)

Annual statements: UK Taxpayers are to receive annual statements showing how much they are paying to the government each year and what it is being spent on. (Scotsman page 5, Herald page 6, Sun page 6, Mail page 1, Express page 5, FT page 2, Telegraph page 1)

City financial status: Edinburgh has fallen five placed to 37th in the latest Global Financial Index. Edinburgh was ranked 15th when the list was first produced in 2007.Glasgow fell eight places to 41. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1)

Donald Trump: Donald Trump is to give evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s economy, energy and tourism committee on April 25 to discuss green energy targets.  He is to give evidence after deciding to bankroll an anti-wind farm campaign group. (Scotsman page 9, Herald page 7, Express page 10, Courier page 15, Telegraph page 1)

Tax avoidance: Peter Jones in the Scotsman comments on new legislation designed to tackle tax avoidance.

Alexander & Cable: David Maddox in the Scotsman compares Danny Alexander and Vince Cable with Lloyd George and Asquith.

50p tax rate: Rachel Sylvester in the Times comments on the 50p tax rate debate.

Minimum wage: The minimum wage for 16 and 17 year olds is to be frozen at £3.68 an hour and at £4.98 an hour for 18 to 20 year-olds.  Workers over 20 will get a rise to £6.19 an hour. (Record page 1)

Justice
Human trafficking:
According to Amnesty International, Scotland’s poor conviction rate for human trafficking means that the country is seen a soft touch and risks putting victims off coming forward. (Scotsman page 10, Ros Micklem in the Scotsman)

Police staff: Official figures have shown that 490 full time police support posts were lost in 2011 but only 80 new officers were hired during the period (Mail page 12)

Highlands & Islands Fire & Rescue Service: An independent investigation is to be carried out into allegations of mismanagement over nearly ten years at Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue Service.  However, some have criticised the investigation pointing out that many of the officers were now retired and could not be compelled to give evidence. (P&J page 1)

Health
Elderly care in hospital:
The Royal College of Nurses has warned that elderly people are “not safe” in Scottish hospital wards because there is a lack of qualified nurses to care for them.  The RCN’s report suggests that there is only one nurse for nearly ten patients on elderly people’s wards.  78% of respondents to a survey said that comforting and talking to patients was not done or done inadequately because of low numbers. (Scotsman page 1, Jean Turner in the Scotsman, Herald page 5, Mail page 8, Guardian page 7, Telegraph page 1)

Transport
Petrol prices:
According to the RAC breakdowns due to motorists running out of fuel have increased by almost a fifth over the last year as petrol prices have put people off filling up their tank. (Herald page 3)