Reform Scotland News: 15 May 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
Leveson Inquiry: In evidence to the Leveson Inquiry, Lord O’Donnell, the UK’s former Cabinet Secretary, insisted that the Culture Secretary ought to have been clear on what discussions his former-advisor, Adam Smith, could have with News Corporation over it bid for BSkyB. Lord O’Donnell voiced further concerns on the David Cameron’s close links to the media.  (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 1, Telegraph page 8, Guardian page 10)

Scottish independence debate: Peter Jones in the Scotsman comments that minority arguments against independence cannot be dismissed by the SNP as scaremongering when they may be truthful and important to debate.

Galloway on Second Question: George Galloway announced last night that he was in favour of a second referendum question and expressed frustration at delays by Alex Salmond (Herald page 6).

Tory Peer Backs Independence: Lord Fraser of Carmylie is to back the motion of Scottish independence in a public debate in London next month. (Herald page 6, Courier page 1).

Clegg and Public Sector Pay cuts: Nick Clegg is allegedly in disagreement with George Osborne over the Coalition’s plans to introduce regional pay for Public Sector workers as it may worsen the north-south divide. (Herald page 6, Guardian page 15).

Child Benefit: The Institute of Chartered Accountants for England and Wales has told the Treasury that the controversial plan to strip families with a higher earner of child benefit is flawed. The motion is to be part of the Finance Bill is to be voted on MPs later this month. (Telegraph page 1).

Economy
Regiments: Phillip Hammond, Defence Secretary, yesterday indicated that there is likely to be a cut in Scottish battalions to merge historic regiment names. It is due to structural changes caused by a reduced army. Angus Robertson, SNP defence spokesperson commented that the level of spending in Scotland is £2bn compared to £3.3bn raised from Scottish taxpayers. David Cameron has allegedly spoken against the plans for political and military reasons. (Scotsman page 5, Herald page 6, Times page 2, FT page 2, Telegraph page 1, Mail page 17, P&J page 11, Courier page 10).

Pensions: The UK government announced that the state pension age is to increase to 67 by the year 2028 According to PwC projections based on the rate at which the pension age has accelerated and analysis of future life expectancy, the planned rises would see today’s children will be working until the ages of 77. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 3).

Police IT systems: The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos) is facing technical delays in the introduction of an initiative to give the public information about how the police are performing.  The project is now being adapted to merge Scotland’s eight constabularies into a single national force on 1 April 2013. The project was supposed to be ready in 2009-10. The Scottish Government committed to £5million in 2007-8 to the performance platform and has risen to £6.7m. (Scotsman page 14).

50% Fuel Duty Rise Warnings: An RAC Foundation commissioned report has warned that motorists could face a 50% rise in fuel duty in the next two decades in order to cover a £13billion gap in the Treasury public finances. (Scotsman page 18, Herald page 7, Sun page 2, P&J page 11).

Local Government
Edinburgh Trams: Lesley Hinds, former Lord Provost, has been placed in charge of ensuring the first phase of the £776m of the Edinburgh trams project is complete by 2014. (Scotsman page 13).

Glasgow council SNP leader: Graeme Hendry was elected by SNP councillors to be the leader of their party on Glasgow City Council. (Scotsman page 13, Herald page 6).

Tories back Labour in Fife: Labour councillors have formed a minority administration following secured support from the Conservatives and independent councillors (Scotsman page 13, Record page 12).

Edinburgh’s SNP and Labour coalition: Ross Martin in the Scotsman comments that Labour and the SNP in Edinburgh ought to look at East Renfrewshire to form a stable and successful city council.

Health
Alcohol tax: Experts say that the Scottish Government’s plan to introduce at minimum alcohol price of 50p per unit could save up to 500 lives every year in Scotland. Nicola Sturgeon, Health Minister, announced the 50p price at Glasgow Royal Infirmary yesterday. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Times page 7, Express page 6, FT page 4, Telegraph page 4, Sun page 1, Record page 8, Guardian page 15, Mail page 9, P&J page 1, Courier page 14)

Norovirus Outbreak: Eight wards have been closed in at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley, Renfrewshire after being an outbreak of norovirus, the winter vomiting bug. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said the cases of two people who died were due to underlying medical conditions but the norovirus infection was a contributory factor. (Herald page 1, Scotsman page 2, Times page 8, Mail page 2).

Cancer Drug: Scotland’s medicines regulator has been criticised after rejecting NHS provision of ipilimumab, a drug which treats people with otherwise untreatable skin cancer. The cost per patient is estimated to be approximately £45,000 and adds on average 4 to 5 months onto patient’s lives. (Herald page 3, Express page 7).

Education
Working-class students in Universities: Scotland’s elite universities have reportedly seen a fall in the number of places offered to working class students compared to ten years ago despite moves to increase equality by successive Scottish governments. (Herald page 5).