Reform Scotland News: 21/03/2012


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. 



Royal address: The Queen addressed both Houses of Parliament yesterday at Westminster to mark her Diamond Jubilee. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 11, Sun page 4, FT page 4, Daily Mail page 6, Times page 4, Express page 5, Telegraph page 4, Mirror page 4, P&J page 17, Courier page 16, Record page 25)


Head of state: Gareth Finn, a member of the SNP’s National Executive Committee has stated that he believes SNP policy on the retaining the Queen as head of state is still to have a referendum following independence. However, Alex Salmond has said that the party made an “intelligent” change on policy and would keep the Queen as head of state. (Scotsman page 11, Telegraph page 1, Courier page 16)


Anti-English accusation: Ian Bell in the Herald comments on John Redwoods accusation that the SNP is anti-English.


Northern Isles opt out of Scotland: Last night, the SNP admitted that the Northern Isles would be allowed to opt out of joining a separate Scotland. (Telegraph page 7, Courier page 8)


Unions and Pensions: Trade unions yesterday lost their legal battle to stop the Government from cutting 20% off public sector pensions. It is estimated that the total pension loss could amount to £80 bn. (Mirror page 30, Express page 2)



Budget: Comment and speculation ahead of today’s budget.  It is expected that the 50p tax rate will be reduced to 45p this year and to 40p next year;  a policy of regional pay for public sector workers will be introduced; and the income tax threshold will reach £10,000 by 2014.   (Scotsman page 6, Eddie Barnes in the Scotsman, Ewan Crawford in the Scotsman, Herald page 1, FT page 2, Martin Taylor in FT, Times page 8, Daniel Finkelstein in the Times, Will Osborne in the Times, Express page 2, Telegraph page 1, Mirror page 20, P&J page 1)


A YouGov poll for the Sun suggests that 77 per cent of voters wanted a cut in fuel duty.  When asked which tax they would most like to see cut in the budget, fuel duty came top with 31 per cent. (Sun page 1)


Salmond £300 million row: Ahead of today’s budget Alex Salmond has criticised the UK government for failing to come up with £300m in the budget to spend on “shovel-ready” infrastructure projects in Scotland.  However, Whitehall sources have said that there will be a package for Scotland devised by Danny Alexander which includes making Edinburgh one of ten “super connected” cities for superfast broadband. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 6, Sun page 6, P&J page 12, Courier page 14)


Inflation:  Figures published by the Office for National Statistics yesterday showed that the Consumer Prices Index dropped to 3.4 per cent in February, down from 3.6 per cent in January.  The Retail Prices Index fell from 3.9 per cent to 3.7 per cent.  (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 6, Daily Mail page 4, P&J page 13, Courier page 3)


Grangemouth power station: An American –led consortium is reportedly planning to build a coal-fired power station at Grangemouth.  Summit Power Group announced yesterday that it had entered an agreement with National Grid and Petrofac to bid for the £1bn available from the UK government to develop carbon capture and storage technology. (Herald page 11, Express page 4, Telegraph B3, P&J page 31, Courier page 9)



Human trafficking: The Equality and Human Rights Commission yesterday told MSPs that separate Scottish legislation on human trafficking was needed to help increase prosecutions. (Scotsman page 19)



New exams: Education Secretary Mike Russell is expected to announce that councils can delay the new national exams linked to the Curriculum for Excellence for a year.   The Scottish government is also to provide a £3.5m fund to provide extra support for schools for the introduction of the exams. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Daily Mail page 1, P&J page 23)



Aspirin: According to research carried out by Professor Peter Rothwell, of Oxford University, suggests low daily doses of aspirin could help prevent cancer occurring and slow its progress. (Scotsman page 1, Professor Peter Johnson in the Scotsman, Herald page 7, Guardian page 5, Daily Mail page 5, Times page 1, Express page 1, Telegraph page 1, Mirror page 24, P&J page 18, Record page 21)



Local government

Cosla: Pat Watters, president of Cosla, has called on councils to be more inventive about the services they share in order to try and save more money and “cut out some of the waste and duplication”. (Herald page 2)