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Reform Scotland News: 31 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

Andy Coulson: David Cameron’s former communications chief Andy Coulson was charged by Strathclyde Police last night over allegations that he committed perjury during the trial of former MSP Tommy Sheridan. Mr Coulson had denied that he knew phone hacking was widespread at the News of the World. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Times page 1, FT page 2, Express page 5, Record page 10, Telegraph page 1, Sun page 6, Mail page 2, Guardian page 1)

Monarchy & Scotland: MSPs yesterday overwhelmingly voted to keep the Queen as head of state if Scotland splits from the UK.  The debate was held at the Scottish Parliament to mark the monarch’s Diamond Jubilee. (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 13, Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph)

Yes Scotland campaign: The independence campaign has promised to make changes to its website after opponents claimed they were being misrepresented as apparent backers of independence by following the campaign on Twitter. (Herald page 6, Express page 12)

Independence: Iain Macwhirter in the Herald comments on the SNPs role-model constitutions for Scotland, Catalonia in Spain and Ireland’s, debt levels and what this means for Scotland’s future.

Bill Jamieson in the Scotsman comments on the major hurdles Scotland will face if it becomes independent as the UK, unlike the rest of Europe, offers a safe economic haven.

HM Revenue and Customs: The tax collection agency is reportedly under no obligation to implement any radical new levy imposed by a Scottish government following changes to the Scottish government’s powers by the Scotland Act. The agency said it can effectively veto requests if they differ too greatly from the UK system. (Herald page 3, Times page 13, Telegraph page 2)

Renewable energy: Mackie’s chairman, Maitland Mackie, has warned MSPs that the “lights will go out” for Scotland’s electricity supply unless there is a drive towards renewable energy. Speaking at the Scottish Parliament yesterday he stated energy bills would continue to rise unless there is an expansion of wind farms. (Scotsman page 16, Herald page 4, P&J page 14, Courier page 19)

Economy       

Housing market: The Scottish Hose Price Monitor from Lloyds TSB shows the average Scottish house price is now £148,024, a fall of 27%, but the number of sales is up by 19%. Although consumer confidence is increasing households budgets are still being squeezed and banks are reluctant to lend, meaning the Scottish property market is unlikely to show changes anytime soon. (Scotsman page 15, Herald page 2)

Fraudbusters: A crack-down on attempts to defraud Scotland’s public bodies has indentified almost £20million in savings in one year. A report by public spending watchdog Audit Scotland revealed that the National Fraud Initiative uncovered thousands of attempted scams. (Scotsman page 18, Herald page 12)

Education

Scottish universities: Three of Scotland’s universities have been included in the first ever rundown of the world’s top 100 modern academic institutions. Heriot-Watt, Stirling and Strathclyde all made it onto the inaugural Times Higher Education 100 Under 50, a new annual ranking listing the world’s top universities less than 50 years old. (Scotsman page 17, Herald page 4)

Children in care: Some of Scotland’s most vulnerable children continue to fall behind in education despite measures being put in place to support them, a new report says. MSPs on the Scottish Parliament’s education committee said the continuing gap in attainment between pupils in care and the rest of the school population was unacceptable. (Herald page 9,)

Justice

Nat Fraser: Nat Fraser was convicted for a second time yesterday and has been jailed for 17 years for the murder of his estranged wife, Arlene Fraser. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Times page 16, Express page 2, Record page 1, Sun page 1, Mail page 1, P&J page 1, Courier page 1) 

Health

Medic strike: About 10,000 doctors in Scotland will take part in a one-day strike on the 21st of June in protest at the government’s planned pension reforms which will see increases to pension’s contributions and a later retirement age. Members of the British Medical Associated voted in favour of taking industrial action for the first time in almost 40 years Outpatient appointments will be cancelled and non-urgent procedures postponed. (Scotsman page 13, Herald page 1, Times page 1, Mark Porter in the Times, FT page 2, Express page 1, Record page 12, Telegraph page 1, Ian Cowie in the Telegraph, Sun page 2, Mail page 4, Guardian page 8, Courier page 2)

Blood tests: Cancer diagnosis and treatment could be “revolutionised” by a new low-cost blood test that allows doctors to track genetic changes in tumour cells, it was claimed today. (Scotsman page 9, Herald page 9, Telegraph page 15)

Lung transplant study: Doctors believe a pioneering transplant technique that cleans and reconditions donor lungs could save the lives of many patients. (Herald page 5, Telegraph page 2)