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Reform Scotland News: 1 August 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
Independence referendum: Prime Minister David Cameron has called on the SNP to agree a deal on a referendum by September. (Herald page 6, Daily Record page 2, The Sun page 2, Times page 13, Telegraph page 8, Courier page 17)

Independence poll: A YouGov poll suggests that support for independence is falling, with 30% now supporting an independent Scotland, a drop of three percentage points from the beginning of the year (Scotsman page 1)

Interest rates post independence: Former Chancellor Alistair Darling has dismissed any notion that Scottish representatives will have any say on the setting of interest rates post-independence if the country were to remain in Sterling. Mr Darling insists that any decision on who sets the interest rate would be taken by the UK Government. (Scotsman page 3)

Eric Joyce: Falkirk MP Eric Joyce has been fined £600 fpr cutting off his curfew tag to compete in a parliamentary boat race.  The MP is forced to wear the tag following his conviction for assaulting fellow politicians in  a Westminster bar earlier this year. (Herald page 2, Record page 2, Scotsman page1, Telegraph page 9, Express page 9, Sun page 1, Times page 18)

Nato: The SNP leadership’s intention to overturn the party’s opposition to membership of Nato is reportedly being met with considerable opposition amongst rank-and-file SNP members. (Express page 7)

Same-sex marriage: According to figures published by the Office for National Statistics, the number of civil partnerships for same-sex couples has increased by 20% over the past year. Campaigners say they expect ceremonies to increase further with the introduction of same-sex marriage. (Scotsman page 1)

Housing:
A law placing responsibility on landlords to work out payment plans for tenants unable to pay their rent comes into force today. It is hoped the legislation will result in fewer landlords evicting in order to collect rent from elsewhere. (P&J page 12)

Olympics: Brian Wilson in the Scotsman, suggests that the SNP are starting to think that the impact of the Olympics will benefit Scotland.

Simon Kuper in the FT writes that enthusiasm for Team GB is confined mainly to England and that this demonstrates that Scots’  passion for the union is limited.

Civil Service: Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph expresses concern that the Scottish Civil Service is becoming more independent of Whitehall, suggesting that Scotland’s civil servants are taking the SNP’s side over independence.

Economy
Housing market: The number of house sales in Scotland in the last quarter were 9.2% higher compared to the same time last year. The rise is being attributed to the stamp duty ‘holiday’. However, house prices remain at around the same level as last year. Analysts are suggesting that the figures released by the Registers of Scotland show that confidence is returning to the property market (Scotsman page 16, Herald page 9, Times page 12, P&J page 12)

Justice
Police forces: Stefan Morkis in the Courier comments on plans to merge Scotland’s police forces from next year, examining the wider implications of the move.

Transport
Road deaths: A fall in the number of road deaths and serious injuries is reportedly being attributed to safety cameras. The figures, detailed in the Key Scottish Safety Camera Programme Statistics 2011 report, have been hailed by the Scottish Government. However a survey accompanying the report shows that 59% of motorists believe safety cameras are being used to make money out of motorists (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 4, Telegraph page 9, P&J page 11, Courier page 20)

Health
Prostate cancer drug: Prostate Cancer UK has reiterated calls for the prostate cancer drug, abiraterone, to be approved for use on the NHS.  Following approval of the drug in Northern Ireland, Scotland is now the only part of the UK where the drug has not been given the go ahead.  Prostate Cancer UK’s chief executive Owen Sharp described Scotland as being “out on a limb”.  The drug is credited with prolonging the life of the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi.  (Herald page 4, Telegraph page 12, Record page 24)