Reform Scotland News: 23 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

Economy

Budget 2012: There is further coverage of the Chancellor’s Budget with the Institute for Fiscal Studies reported as saying that there will be a sharp increase in the number of people dragged into the 40% income tax bracket as a result of the Chancellor’s changes. Alex Salmond has also attacked the budget and particularly the decision to implement a so-called ‘Granny Tax.’ However, a report in the P&J says that the budget will pave the way for a wave of new projects in the North Sea oil and gas industry. (Scotsman page 1, pages 4 &5, George Kerevan in The Scotsman, Herald page 1, Courier page 14, P&J page 10, FT page 1, Sun page 8 & 9, Mail page 1, 8 & 9, Guardian page 1, Times page 1, 8 & 9, Telegraph page 1)

Retail sector: The Office for National Statistics have revealed figures showing that the embattled retail sector had its worst performance in nine months in February and downgraded January’s unexpectedly positive figures. (Scotsman page 10)

Politics

Alex Salmond and Pensioners:  Alex Salmond has reportedly apologised to two pensioners who were left freezing overnight because there were no blankets on their beds.  This follows their case being raised by Johann Lamont at First Minister’s Questions yesterday. (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 6, Courier page 2, P&J page 17, Express page 2, Sun page 2, Mail page 4, Record page 2, Times page 11, Telegraph page 1)

Scottish Conservatives:  David Cameron will address the Scottish Conservative conference in Troon and call on Alex Salmond to ‘stop dithering’ on holding the independence referendum as the party launches its Conservative Friends of the Union campaign.  Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, has claimed that her party’s membership has increased by 2,000 in recent months. (Herald page 6, Courier page 19, Scotsman page 7, Express page 2, Sun page 2, Record page 2, Telegraph page 1 and page 5)

Referendum question: Scottish Financial Enterprise, the body which represents the financial services industry, has reportedly raised its concerns in its response to the Scottish government’s consultation that the proposed referendum question is ‘open to misinterpretation’. (Scotsman page 9, Express page 4, Mail page 2, Telegraph page 2)

Scotland Bill: Danny Alexander has waded into the row over the Scotland Bill and accused the Scottish government of ‘caving in’ on its demands. (Herald page 6)

Justice

Chhokar murder suspect’s mother:  The mother of the man suspected of murdering Asian waiter Surjit Singh Chhokar is in a very serious condition in hospital following a gang attack. (Herald page 1, Scotsman page 1, Express page 6, Sun page 4, Record page 4 & 5)

Education

Curriculum for Excellence: In The Scotsman, Education Secretary Michael Russell and Professor of Education Policy at Edinburgh University Lindsay Paterson comments on the changes to Scottish education. (Scotsman page 30 & 31)

Teacher struck off: An English teacher at Crieff High School has been struck off after a disciplinary panel found he had faked pupils’ essays. (Courier page 17)

Health

NHS pensions: One of Scotland’s leading GPs Dr Dean Marshall, who is the outgoing chairman of the BMA’s Scottish GPs Committee, has accused the Scottish government of ‘complicity’ with Westminster over controversial NHS pension reforms. (Herald page 6)