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Reform Scotland News: 12 April 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
Politicians’ tax returns: Nick Clegg has called for all MPs to be forced to publish their tax returns, though this should not be extended to politicians’ wives or families. David Cameron has indicated that it is “increasingly likely” that he will be the first UK prime minister to publish his annual tax return. (Mail page 10, FT page 1, Kiran Stacey, Jim Pickard & Cynthian O’Murchu in the FT, Telegraph page 1)

Pensions: John Swinney has criticised the timing of the UK government’s announcement of using RPI instead of CPI to measure public sector pension upgrades as it pre-empts negotiations already taking place between Scottish ministers, employer groups and unions. (Herald page 6)

The International Monetary Fund has warned that the cost of retirement could increase by 50 per cent because we are living longer.  For many this would reportedly mean not having the resources to pay for old age and the state struggling to meet its responsibilities. (Express page 1, Telegraph page 1)

Monklands District Council: Labour MP Tom Clarke has called for an investigation into allegations that John Major’s government used claims of nepotism against Monklands District Council despite knowing they were baseless. (Herald page 9)

Apologies: Tory MSP Margaret Mitchell has called for legislation which would allow public bodies in Scotland to apologise and help bring closure to families without the risk of being sued. (Sun page 2, P&J page 14, Courier page 2)

Quangos:  It is reported that £200,000 of taxpayers’ money has been spent on generating logos for a number of Scottish government quangos. (Mail page 4)

Communication monitoring: Stuart Waiton in the Scotsman and Paddy Ashdown in the Times discuss the UK government’s plans to allow the state to tap phone messages, texts and emails.

Gypsy travellers: Mary Fee in the Scotsman comments that everyone has a role to play to help end discrimination of gypsy travellers.

Economy
Highlands & Islands investment: Highlands & Islands Enterprise is to invest £190m over the next three years to attract more people to work, study and invest in the area. The programme includes rolling out superfast broadband and the regeneration of John O’Groats.  It is also hoped that the fund could help redevelop the former McDermotts oil yard at Ardersier, which once employed 3,000 people. (Herald page 1, P&J page 1)

West Scotland housing market: According to the Glasgow Solicitor’s Property Centre, the average selling price today for a house in the West of Scotland is just over £131,000, up on last year but a drop from £133,000 at the start of the year. However, the number of sales has increased by 15 per cent on the same period last year. (Scotsman page 14)

Charity tax: Willie Haughey and Sir Ian Wood are the latest Scottish philanthropists to attack the UK government’s “charity tax” describing the move as “disastrous” for donations.  However, it is reported that the UK government may be reconsidering its position with the Prime Minister pledging to listen “very sympathetically” to complaints. (Herald page 1, Sun page 2, Mail page 8, Times page 14, FT page 3, Telegraph page 2)

Tourism: A survey by the Scottish Chamber of Commerce has found takings in the tourism industry are on the increase and expectations are at their highest for four years. (Herald page 5, Marisa Duffy in the Herald)

Brave: Bill Jamieson in the Scotsman comments on the economic opportunities created by Disney/Pixar’s animated film Brave, which is set in Scotland.

Philip Grant: Eddie Barnes in the Scotsman talks to Philip Grant, chair of the Scottish executive committee of Lloyds Banking Group, about how the Scottish economy can be grown.

Local Government
Edinburgh trams: According to new figures more than £150m has been spent on the trams project in the past 12 months, bringing the cost to £592m spent so far, with two years still to go.  However, Edinburgh council has insisted the project is on course to stay within the £776m budget. (Scotsman page 1, Simon Johnston in the Scotsman)

SNP selection: Campbell Cameron, who has served as an SNP councillor in North Lanarkshire for 21 years, has accused the party of a “rigged” vote which led to his failure to be selected for the local government elections in May. (Scotsman page 18)

Getting out the vote: Scotland’s main political parties have united to encourage people to turn out and vote at the local government elections on May 3. (Record page 10)

Justice
Police compensation: Kenny MacAskill is reportedly expected to announce the introduction of “restitution orders” which would see individuals found guilty of assaulting police officers having to pay compensation to them or to good causes such as the Police Benevolent Fund. (Herald page 1)

Personal Development Partnership: Kenny MacAskill yesterday launched the Personal Development Partnership which is a programme targeting 14-19 year olds engaged in antisocial behaviour.  The programme is funded by money seized from criminals. (Sun page 2, Courier page 14)

Transport
Ryanair: Ryanair is expected to cut ten routes from Edinburgh airport as part of its ongoing dispute with airport operators BAA. (Scotsman page 1, James Ferguson in the Scotsman)

Health
Baby scanning: Experts at the Queen’s Medical Research Institute in Edinburgh have begun using MRI scanning to try and reduce the number of premature births and stillbirths in Scotland.  (Mail page 1)