Reform Scotland News: 12 June 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: Gordon Brown accused Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks of lying under oath at the Leveson Inquiry and denied claims by Ms. Brooks that he had consented to the publication of Fraser’s (his son’s) medical condition in The Sun newspaper. On the same day, NHS Fife admitted that one of its staff told Sun journalists. Also giving evidence yesterday, George Osborne admitted that he had sought private assurances from former editor of the News of the World Andy Coulson and News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks over the phone-hacking allegations. [Scotsman page 1 & page 5, Herald page 1 & page 7, Telegraph page 10, Mail page 2, Times page 6, Guardian page 4, Express page 4, Record page 4, Sun page 1, FT page 4, P&J page 1, Courier page 13].

Outlined tax changes: Finance Secretary, John Swinney, yesterday outlined a series of changes for the tax system if Scotland were to become independent. The proposed changes would include VAT cuts for tourism and improved competition law to increase Scotland’s prosperity. [Scotsman page 1, Elspeth Orcharton in the Scotsman, Express page 15].

Scottish Enterprise chief: Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats has called for an inquiry into the recent appointment of Lena Wilson, the head of Scottish Enterprise, to a FTSE 100 company which would reportedly pay her £55,000 a year for one day’s work a month. [Herald page 1, Mail page 6].

Independence and MoD contracts: MPs have been warned that the current co-operation of defence contracts between London and Edinburgh would be illegal under EU competition rules if Scotland becomes independent. Scottish firms would face competition for other firms around the world for the Ministry of Defence contracts. [Herald page 6].

Bank of England to keep control after Independence: John Swinney, Scottish Finance Secretary, announced that the Bank of England’s new regulatory regimes over banks and financial services, which is to replace the current Financial Services Authority, would remain after Scottish independence. This would be to partly ensure a highly integrated UK financial services market. (Times page 1, Sun page 2].

EU vote: It is reported that 80% of British people now want a vote on the UK’s future in the EU.  The poll was carried out on over 2,500 people by UK Omni. Rachel Sylvester in the Times expresses concerns that a vote may be pointless and the political and economic implications for the UK could be harmful.  [Express page 1, Times page 19, Courier page 21].

Harry Reid in the Scotsman warns that the SNP should be wary of the consequences of an EU-free England as it could damage the future of an independent Scotland within Europe

Public services: Robert Pyper writes in the Scotsman that the reforming and restructuring of Scotland’s public services ought to be a gradual process and that it is further complicated by Scotland’s potential independence. 

Identity: Ewan Crawford in the Scotsman comments on how the discussion of the separation of Scottish and British identity following Scottish independence reveals a weaknesses in the ‘No’ campaign.

 

Economy

RBS pension changes: RBS has been accused by the union Unite of making unaffordable changes to pensions. The changes would see roughly 42,000 members of the bank’s final salary pension scheme needing to increase their pension contributions from zero to 5% if they would like to receive their full pension at the age of 60. [Scotsman page 6, Herald page 5]. 

British pensions: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has said that British savers have the suffered the biggest losses from their workplace pensions than almost every other developed nation. The OECD’s Pensions Outlook Report 2012 calls for compulsory private pensions as the UK government plan that allows people to opt out of saving for their retirement and forgoing any contribution from their employer in an auto-enrolled plan. [Telegraph page 1, FT page 2]. 

Proposed employment plans: Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, yesterday stressed his opposition to the recent report which proposes that the government consider new laws enabling ‘no-fault dismissal’. The plans have been supported by business groups. [Herald page 6, Telegraph page 8].

House sales: The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveys (RICS) has announced that house sales have fallen by almost 40% since the height of the housing-boom five years ago. [Scotsman page 13].

Increased Consultant Spending: The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has announced increased spending of roughly £4million by the UK Government on external consultants. The figure has increased from £7.5m in 2010/11 to £11.4m in 2011/12. [Herald page 4]

Renewable energy grant: The Technology & Innovation Centre at Strathclyde University has received £6.7m in funding from the European Regional Development Fund to help the Centre develop renewable energy devices and other technologies. It is hoped that the grant will create 500 jobs and attract £150million jobs. [Herald page 9].

 

Local Government

Bank details stolen from Glasgow City Council: The council will contact almost 38,000 individuals and companies following the theft of a laptop containing person details (including bank account details) after the laptop was stolen last month during a break in at the council. [Scotsman page 11, Herald page 3, Telegraph page 12, Times page 15, Express page 14, Record page 9].

Edinburgh train station: Edinburgh City Council has revealed that the cost of changing parking requirements and creating new taxi-ranks outside of Edinburgh Waverly Station could cost the tax-payer £1million if Network Rail operate a planned taxi-ban at the station. [Scotsman page 18].

Postal-voting error: Following the postal voting error in North Lanarkshire during council elections, two officials will forfeit their salaries and Gavin Whitefield, the council’s chief executive, will lose his returning officers fee of £3,964. [Herald page 6].


Health

Hospital Care: The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh have warned that a shortage of consultants and acute hospital beds are putting patients at risk. [Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Mail page 1, Telegraph page 1, Times page 12, Record page 2].

Legionnaires’ disease: Pharmaceutical manufacturer Macfarlan Smith Ltd has been issued with two Improvement Notices – one relating to access for maintenance and inspection and another relating to the cleaning of the tower. The tower, in the Gorgie area of Edinburgh, is expected to be a potential source of Legionnaire’s disease. The total number of patients in hospital is now 88. [Scotsman page 10, Herald page 3, Telegraph page 2, Record page 6, Mail page 20].

Air ambulances: Two new air ambulance helicopters are planned to join the ambulance service in 2014 as part of a contract worth £120million. They will operate on the Western Isles and Orkney and aim to cut flight time to the mainland to an hour. [Scotsman page 18, P&J page 11, Courier page 2].

Breast Cancer: Research by Macmillan Cancer Support has revealed that breast-cancer recurs in one-in-five patients within 10 years of receiving the all-clear following treatment for the first episode of the disease. [Herald page 5, Telegraph page 12, P&J page 19, Mail page 25].