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Reform Scotland News: 18 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

Cost of oil: Professor Alex Kemp of Aberdeen University yesterday told the UK energy select committee that taxpayers in an independent Scotland would have to pay the £30bn cost of decommissioning North Sea oil rigs. However, Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing said that the rest of the UK would have a “moral obligation” to contribute towards the decommissioning costs. Professor Jo Armstrong of Glasgow University also gave evidence, during which she claimed that Alex Salmond’s £1 billion a year oil fund would have to be paid for by £1 billion in public spending cuts. (Scotsman page 1, Brian Nixon in the Scotsman, Herald page 6, Times page 12, Telegraph page 5, Press & Journal page 11)

The Economist: Brian Wilson in the Scotsman comments on the SNP’s reaction to the Economist’s front page cartoon depicting Scotland as “Skintland”.

Abu Qatada: Radical cleric and terrorist suspect Abu Qatada was arrested yesterday in the latest stages of the UK government’s attempts to deport him.  However, Home Secretary Theresa May has warned it may still be many months before he can be legally deported to Jordan. The decade-long attempt to deport Abu Qatada has cost the taxpayer more than £1.5 million in legal fees. (Scotsman page 1, Times page 1, Telegraph page 1, Daily Mail page 2, Press & Journal page 13, Courier page 18, Sun page 2, Guardian page 4, Daily Express page 7)

MSP Bill Walker: Former SNP MSP Bill Walker returned to Holyrood yesterday for the first time since being accused of rape. (Telegraph page 5, Courier page 10)

‘Snooping’ bill: Sir Tim Berners-Lee says the government’s plans to extend the state’s surveillance powers would be “a destruction of human rights”. (Guardian page 1)

Economy

Housing market: A report by the Office for National Statistics has reported that Scotland experienced the biggest year-on-year  price rise of anywhere in the UK  in February increasing by 1.1 per cent to an average of £177,354.  A separate report by LSL Property Services and Acadmetrics found that the cost of a home in Scotland rose in February by 0.1 per cent following four consecutive months of falls. Figures show that Edinburgh and Aberdeen are fuelling this growth. (Scotsman page 19, Herald page 4, Press & Journal page 14)

Wind power: In a submission to the Scottish Parliament’s economy, energy and tourism committee Donald Trump has accused the Scottish government of reneging on a deal which would keep a development of wind turbines away from his new golf course in Aberdeenshire. He said the SNP administration was committing “financial suicide” by overinvesting in wind farms. (Scotsman page 5, Herald page 10, Times page 13, Telegraph page 5, Daily Mail page 9, Courier page 1)

50p tax rate: The Treasury Select Committee has said that the Chancellor’s plans to scrap the 50p tax rate don’t add up. (Times page 3, Daily Mail page 12, Financial Times page 4)

Bonuses and tax evasion: The Kirk commission has issued a report on the “greed and inequality” of the bonus culture and tax avoidance. (Herald page 8)

Elgin platform costs: The leak on the Elgin platform could lead to the loss of enough gas to heat all the homes in Aberdeen for nearly a decade, a National Grid report has shown. (Press & Journal page 6)

Justice

Cornton Vale: A report from Dame Elish Angiolini for the Scottish government calls for Scotland’s only female prison, Cornton Vale, to be demolished and the way female prisoners are dealt with to be radically overhauled. (Scotsman page 1, Clive Fairweather in the Scotsman, Herald page 5, Times page 13, Telegraph page 7, Press & Journal page 16, Courier page 15, Daily Record page 9, Daily Express page 4)

Police Annual Conference: Police officers have criticised plans to introduce a new statutory offence for police neglect. Brian Dochery, chairman of the Scottish Police Federation, criticised the proposal yesterday at the SPF’s annual conference. Officers have also warned that call-handling will become more problematic with the move to a single police force in April next year. Kenny MacAskill indicated that the new chief constable could be appointed before December to ensure a smooth transition to a centralised force. (Herald page 1, page 2, Daily Mail page 8, Press & Journal page 19, Courier page 13)

Local Government

Labour: Scottish Labour leader Johnann Lamont has reportedly admitted that the SNP is likely to make gains in the local elections to be held on May 3rd, but has likened Alex Salmond to Craig Whyte, the Rangers owner who led the club into administration. (Scotsman page 16, Allan Massie in the Scotsman, Herald page 6, Times page 13, Telegraph page 5, Daily Mail page 2, Press & Journal page 12, Courier page 19, Daily Record page 6, Daily Express page 2)

Lib Dems & trams: The Lib Dems in Edinburgh have suggested that the trams project could be extended if they are returned to power following the local elections. (Scotsman page 17, Times page 12)

Transport

Rail: Chris Harvie in the Scotsman comments that as oil prices rise Scotland should look to expand its rail capacity.