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Reform Scotland News: 9 May 2012

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 9 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

Defence cuts & Scottish Regiments: The UK Government has been accused by Angus Robertson, the SNP’s Westminster leader, of an ‘intolerable betrayal’ of the Scottish battalions. The defence cuts may see the loss of famous Scottish regiment names such as Black Watch, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and the Royal Highlanders Fusiliers. (Herald page 9, Sun page 6, Record page 6 & 7, Telegraph page 1, Jim Murphy in the Telegraph, Express page 7, P&J page 3, Courier page 1, 8 & 9) 

Devo Plus & Queen’s Speech: Some Conservatives MPs have advocated a Devo Plus bill as part of an “alternative Queen’s Speech”, published on the Conservativehome website yesterday. The website argues that the proposal, based on Reform Scotland’s publication, would devolve all taxes to Scotland except VAT and national insurance to “stimulate economic growth”.  (P&J page 13)

Queen’s speech: David Cameron is expected to defy right-wing Tory backbenchers today as reform of the House of Lords looks to be at the centre of the Queen’s speech. Banking reform and a focus on families are also expected to be included. (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 6, Sun page 2, Telegraph page 1, Guardian page 1)

Coalition re-launch: David Cameron and Nick Clegg ‘relaunched’ the UK Government coalition yesterday. Their joint speech focused on maintaining debt-reduction, a policy line which they regard as efficiency not austerity. David Cameron also said people should buy British food to help the farming industry. (Herald page 6, Ian Bell in the Herald, Telegraph page 4, Express page 15, Financial Times page 2, Guardian page 4, P&J page 12, Mail page 10)

Economy

Oil firms’ referendum concerns: A report by Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce has shown that 40% of companies operating in the North Sea are concerned about the impact of the independence referendum on their investment plans. The majority of those surveyed however said the referendum was not a concern, because they are constantly managing global market uncertainty. (Scotsman page 9, Telegraph page 9, Times page 15, Mail page 4, Courier page 22)

Unemployment set to rise: A report by KPMG and the Recruitment and Employment Confederation has said that unemployment rates are likely to continue to rise in the short term. (Scotsman page 12) 

Stamp Duty: The National Association of Estate Agents has said that stamp duty should be reformed to make the tax fairer to house buyers. The group wants a ‘logical’ system, removing the large jumps between the tax brackets. (Scotsman page 17, Express page 10)

Wind Farms: A study commissioned by the UK Government has estimated that the expansion of the number of wind turbines across the UK could lead to far fewer jobs than the SNP Government expects. (Mail page 4)

Affordable Housing: Scottish councils will take a share of the £582 million being made available across the country, to build affordable housing over the next 3 years. (P&J page 12)

High Street slump: The wettest April on record has hit the high street with a 3.3% drop in retail sales. (Scotsman page 20).

Local Government

SNP will lead two more council coalitions: The SNP is to lead the administrations of Highland Council and Argyll & Bute after making deals last night. The Highland council will be run by a rainbow coalition involving two main political parties. The SNP could also be on the verge of making another coalition with Labour to take control in Dumfries and Galloway. Alex Salmond is understood to be unhappy about the prospect of a coalition between the SNP and Labour in Aberdeen. (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 4, Times page 16, P&J page 5)

Glasgow Council: Brian Wilson in the Scotsman comments on the significance of Labour’s victory in Glasgow.

Marches: Gordon Matheson, the new leader of Glasgow City Council has told the Orange order that the previous policy aimed at reducing the number of parades was wrong. (Herald page 8)

Health

No-go areas for ambulance staff: The Scottish Ambulance Service has over 400 ‘red-flagged’ addresses where crews cannot enter without police protection. These are areas where emergency service workers have been attacked or threatened. The figures were uncovered by a Freedom of Information request from the Conservative Party, whose justice spokesman, David McLetchie, said it was a ‘disgraceful set of affairs when ambulance workers…cannot enter so many homes for fear of their own safety’. (Herald page 1, Scotsman page 19, Record page 8, Express page 9, Courier page 3) 

Assisted suicide: A woman whose husband has suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for 17 years has called for the debate over the right to die through assisted suicide to include patients with dementia. There are around 85,000 people in Scotland diagnosed with dementia, 60% of whom have Alzheimer’s disease. (Herald page 3)

High costs of inquiry: A long-running inquiry into the scandal that saw people infected with hepatitis C and HIV via contaminated blood has cost the taxpayer almost £9 million. (Scotsman page 18, Herald page 6).

Cardiac Rehab: The British Heart Foundation Scotland and Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland have called for more heart patients to benefit from cardiac rehabilitation after new figures showed only 3% of patients with heart failure were offered the treatment. (Herald page 11)

Disabled care lottery: Disabled Scots face a postcode lottery for access to private health carers, with some councils more willing than others to expand direct payments to disabled and elderly people. (Express page 4)

Education

Higher Education fees loophole: A legal loophole that could allow thousands of people in other parts of the UK free university places in Scotland is thought to be more widespread than first thought. Anyone with an Irish grandparent that lives in the UK can obtain an Irish passport, which would result in their fees being paid by the EU. Up to six million people across the UK are expected to have an Irish grandparent. A huge rise in applications to Scottish universities is expected next year. (Herald page 2).

Transport

Rail companies apologise for disruption: The heads of ScotRail and Network Rail have admitted in a joint open letter that their services have been below par. They promise the problems with reliability and timings have now been addressed. The letter blamed poor performance on engineering works between Glasgow and Paisley, along with vandalism and severe weather. (Herald page 3).