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Reform Scotland News: 20 July 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 minister reveals Independent Scotland’s share of UK forces: UK Defence Minister Peter Luff has revealed that a post Independent Scotland would receive an estimate of £3.7 billion of the UK’s defence assets, including a breakdown of 26 tanks, two warships,18 fastjets, one submarine and 26 helicopters.  However, retired colonel Clive Fairweather believes that “most of this equipment would be completely useless to Scotland”, with equipment such as tanks being unnecessary and difficult to maintain. He accused the SNP of concentrating too much on geographical share, and failing to address Scotland’s security needs. Furthermore, Mr Docherty of the Labour Defence select committee conjectured that Scotland’s share would fall short of their required quota and they would therefore have to invest billions in new equipment.  However, the SNP responded by asserting that £3.7 billion was more than enough to cover Scotland’s needs. (The Scotsman page 4)

Scottish computer hacker refuses more tests: Gary McKinnon refuses to undergo medical tests as he struggles against a possible extradition to the United States. (The Scotsman page 9, The Herald page 4, Courier page 20, Daily Mail page 32)

Hampden Park could be raised on stilts: Lord Smith of Kelvin has revealed that to accommodate the requirements of the 2014 Commonwealth Games within Hampden Park, the running track could be raised up on hundreds of steel stilts, with the football pitch underneath.  It has also been revealed that G4S may be in charge of security, despite the recent Olympics security fiasco (The Times page 11)

Green protesters: The activists targeted a controversial coal mine, by camping outside the home of a Tory peer, Lord Home, in a demonstration that they insisted was “peaceful”.  However, six lethal mantraps were reportedly found on the site, uncovered by the coal mine developers. These were composed of blocks of wood with six-inch nails driven through them, covered with grass and leaves. These traps were intended to sabotage service vehicles, but were also dangerously close to a public access route used frequently by dog walkers, local families and children.  Strathclyde police are now launching an inquiry. (Daily Express page 5)

Gail Sheridan grilling sparks religious hatred claims: Police who interrogated Tommy Sheridan’s wife are reportedly facing charges of religious hatred, after she had her rosary beads taken away from her. Ms Sheridan was also accused of using similar tactics to IRA terrorists when she refused to answer specific questions.  She commented “I was shocked. How could a serving police officer be so insensitive to my religious beliefs?” (Daily record page 5)

Independence Referendum: Tom Peterkin in The Scotsman comments on the referendum.

Economy

IMF urges aggressive stance over economy: The International Monetary Fund has urged the UK Coalition government to give the economy a boost by deviating from the proposed fiscal plan, calling for more monetary easing and increased spending on investment. A report generated by the IMF on this issue was labelled “a very serious warning” by Labour, whilst George Osborne is confident that the current fiscal plan is working (The Herald page 6, Financial Times page 2, Courier page 24, Daily Mail, page 6, Scottish Daily Mail page 6)

British Banking shake-up in £750m co-op deal: Yesterday, the Co-op bought 632 Lloyds branches in a £750million deal.  5 years ago the Co-op had just 90 branches, but this cut-price deal is set to increase their banking arm by nearly 1,000 branches. Chief Executive of the Co-op, Peter Marks revealed: “This deal will deliver the biggest shake-up in High Street banking in a generation” (The Herald page 5, Daily Express page 2, Daily Record page 10, Scottish Daily Mail page 10)

Health

Drink price law facing court delays: Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon has proposed a minimum price on alcohol of 50p per unit in order to tackle Scotland’s chronic alcohol problem. However, the Scottish Whisky Association has hit back with a court challenge, believing the proposed move to be “ill-targeted” and “misguided”; as it is in breach of the UK’s EU treaty obligations, and will do little to reduce the number of problem drinkers, according to whisky chiefs. (The Scotsman page 10, The Herald page 11, The Daily Telegraph page 2, The Times page 3, Magnus Linklater in The Times, Daily Express page 5, Sun page 2, Daily Record page 8, P&J page 15, The Courier page 16, Scottish Daily Mail page 2)

Transport

Network Rail approves £1 million in bonuses for top directors: Three directors are set to receive £300,000 each as a “one-off performance-related award” on top of their £360,000-plus salaries, due to a fear that they would be poached by other companies. Members of the Transport Salaried Staff’s Association (TSSA) protested outside the company’s annual general meeting in Glasgow yesterday dressed as “fat controllers”, opposing Network Rail’s “gravy train” for leaving UK taxpayers unfairly out of pocket.  Senior organiser of the TSSA Tom Kennedy attacked these “astronomical salaries”, branding them “unnecessary and futile” bonuses “for people just doing their job”. (The Scotsman page 12, The Herald page 2, The Daily Telegraph page 18, Daily Mail page 16)

Justice

Children under 10 committing thousands of offences: More than 3,200 crimes including knife carrying and sexual assault have been committed by children under 10, it has been revealed. Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson called the results “shocking” and implored the government to do more to stop the growth of “a generation of future criminals”. (The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 6, Daily Express page 10, P&J page 22, Courier page 17, Scottish Daily Mail page 34)