Reform Scotland News: 22 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

Reform Scotland

Renewing Local Government: Reform Scotland’s latest report, Renewing Local Government is published today. The report calls for Scotland’s councils to be reduced from 32 to 19, but that those 19 should have far greater powers, including more fiscal powers as well as passing the responsibilities of the 14 health boards to the new councils.  The report also calls for greater powers to be devolved to community councils. [Scotsman page 18, Ben Thomson in the Scotsman, Herald page 1, Times page 17, Express page 2, Record page 2, P&J page 1, Courier page 16].

Politics

Leveson Inquiry: Lord Mandelson yesterday denied being involved in a deal to secure support between Murdoch’s newspapers and the Labour party in the run up to the 1997 election. However, he did voice concerns that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown may have been too close to Murdoch during their time in office. [Scotsman page 12, Herald page 6, Times page 13, Express page 4, Guardian page 13, P&J page 15].

Hunt inquiry: Westminster has launched an inquiry into the actions of Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt after allegations of failing to register donations from media firms. [Scotsman page 5, Guardian page 13].

Clegg warns of fascism: Nick Clegg has warned that right-winged extremist groups could increase if European countries fail to work together through the economic crisis. He also insisted that the UK would never leave the EU, despite pressure for an EU referendum. The comments were made in an interview in Der Spiegel, a German news publication. [Scotsman page 6].

Afghanistan: David Cameron has reaffirmed plans to withdraw British troops from Afghanistan amid apprehension by NATO that terrorism could re-emerge in the country after the withdrawal of international forces. [Scotsman page 10, Herald page 6, Telegraph page 15, Guardian page 14, Times page 13, FT page 6, Record page 2, Sun page 2, Mail page 2, Courier page 13].

Scottish Labour: Ewan Crawford in the Scotsman comments on how independence is an issue above party politics and that Scottish Labour ought to ensure that they do not score political points by disagreeing with the SNP on issues which they ought to ideologically agree on.

Economy

Cable attacks employee rights proposal: Vince Cable, Business Secretary, has spoken out against a controversial bill on employee rights which would allow employers to dismiss employees through ‘no-fault dismissal’. The plans come from the Beecroft report and have been supported by the Conservatives and some business leaders. [Herald page 6, Telegraph page 1, FT page 4, Courier page 20].

Youth employment: A report by Arnold Clark, the motoring firm, has said that Scottish youths “are unsuitable for any unemployment” and they had unrealistic expectations of the working week. The report has been published in advance of a meeting in Holyrood of the Finance Committee to discuss the employability of Scotland’s workforce. [Scotsman page 1, Telegraph page 1].

Kirk leader on economy: Reverend Ian Galloway, retiring leader of the Church of Scotland group, has spoken out against the UK’s austerity agenda claiming that it adversely affects the poorest in society the most. He also called for a cap on interest rates on pay-day loans for ethical reasons. [Herald page 7, Scotsman page 19, Times page 1, P&J page 19].

UK Banks: David Cameron has denied that UK banks are in danger ahead of emergency talks with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. [Scotsman page 6].

Business leaders and the Union: Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph comments on how Scottish business leaders ought to show their support of the union and voice their opposition to the SNP’s independence plans.

Health

Eyesight treatment: NHS Lothian has conducted research into a ‘revolutionary’ new stem cell treatment which could restore the sight of millions. The research programme has 20 participants, of which two have already started treatment to ‘impressive’ results. The programme is the first of its type in the UK. [Scotsman page 14, Herald page 12, Telegraph page 6, Express page 15, Record page 9, Mail page 27, P&J page 17, Courier page 19].

Pompe disease drug appeal: Suffers of Pompe disease, a rare muscle-wasting disease, are to meet the First Minister in Edinburgh tomorrow to encourage funding for the drug Myozyme which has been licensed for use in the UK since 2006 and is available on the NHS in England, but not Scotland. The disease is thought to affect 11 Scots. [Herald page 5].

Education

Student debt: The 2012 UK Graduate Careers Survey has revealed that student debt in Scotland is the lowest within the UK. [Herald page 2].

Transport

Fuel prices: The AA has claimed that families are set to benefit from discount offers launched by three of the UK’s four largest supermarkets ahead of the upcoming Jubilee celebrations. [Herald page 5]. 

ScotRail Strikes: The call by MSPs for the ‘strike breaker’ clause to be removed from the ScotRail franchise agreement, has caused a disagreement over whether taxpayers out to underwrite the cost of industrial actions. Unions have complained that this would allow ScotRail to claim from the public funds when workers strike. [Herald page 10].