Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 3 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.
Referendum consultation: The Scottish government announced that no anonymous submissions would be included in the consultation results after concerns were expressed by the opposition that anonymous submissions would skew the outcome. The government revealed that 11,986 submissions had been received to date with only 3.5 per cent submitted anonymously. Once the consultation has closed, an independent body will assess submissions and exclude those from the same computer. The Scotland Office, which conducted its own consultation, also excluded anonymous and duplicate submissions. (The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 1, The Courier page 2, The Sun page 2. Daily Express page 4, Daily Mail page 4, The Daily Telegraph page 7, Alan Cochrane in the Daily Telegraph, Daily Record page 2, The Times page 1)
Surveillance plans: Tory backbenchers and senior Liberal Democrat MPs rebelled against Coalition plans to allow the UK government’s eavesdropping centre to monitor emails and internet messages. The proposed changes would force internet providers to keep a log of internet messages and allow the police and security services to access the dates, times, and participants without a court order. Tory MPs have urged the Prime Minister to consider changes to Government policy to rebuild support among voters after the unpopular budget proposal and donor scandals. (Daily Express page 2, The Guardian page 1, The Times page 7)
SNP donor inquiry: First Minister Alex Salmond asked the ministerial standards adviser, Dame Elish Angiolini, to open an inquiry into whether he had breached the ministerial code by hosting lottery-winning SNP supporters and other donors at his official Edinburgh residence, Bute House. Scottish Labour demanded that the First Minister publish a list of meetings with major party donors. (The Herald page 1, The Courier page 2, The Sun page 1, Daily Record page 2, The Times page 7)
SNP candidate controversy: The SNP is under pressure to sack an SNP council candidate Lyall Duff after he described two Roman Catholic midwives who took legal action for the right to boycott abortions as “money-grabbing old witches.” He also reportedly made remarks about the RBS bank staff. (The Daily Telegraph page 1)
Civil service bonuses: 700 Scottish government civil servants have reportedly received bonuses of up to £5,000 each in the past year. The bonuses were designed to promote retention and were originally introduced during the economic boom to help the public sector compete. Bonuses were especially focused on IT professionals. (Daily Mail page 4)
Fuel shortages: While the risk of an Easter fuel tanker strike has been averted, many garages expect to run low over the holiday because of panic buying while the UK government and unions discussed the strike. RMI Petrol, which represents the UK’s independent retailers, criticised the government’s handling of the matter and customers have seen an increase in prices and supply shortages. (The Scotsman page 1, Daily Mail page 8)
Platform leak: Well control experts are expected to be flown to the abandoned Elgin platform to assess the extent of the leak. The leak is currently costing Total £940,000 in lost production. (The Scotsman page 11, Daily Express page 4)
Dounreay clean-up: The clean-up of the redundant Dounreay nuclear power plant could be finished in a decade. The proposal, brought forth by the Babcock Dounreay Partnership, has been awarded the contract to manage the final stages of decommissioning. Their proposal accelerated the end date for the project and reportedly reduced project costs by £1billion. (Daily Mail page 8).
Property extension tax: Planning permission fees for property extensions will increase from £160 to £300 in Scotland, compared with £150 in many councils in England. The demand for house extensions is on the rise as homeowners seek to expand their existing homes rather than move. (Daily Mail page 2)
UK Supreme Court: Scottish ministers have been forced to drop their plans for a new system which would give Scottish judges the power to agree or veto which cases could be referred to the London-based Supreme Court. The proposal was met with significant opposition from the Advocate General and was rejected by the UK government. (The Herald page 10)
Bus service cuts: The closure of a major First Group depot may leave many rural communities without bus services. The company attributes its decision to the challenging economic climate, high fuel prices and funding cuts. 200 jobs will likely be cut. Paul McLennan, leader of East Lothian Council, which is heavily affected by the cuts, has called for a meeting with the transport minister. (The Scotsman page 5, The Herald page 2, Press and Journal page 11, Daily Express page 4, Daily Mail page 8, Daily Record page 12, The Times page 3)