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Reform Scotland News: 19 September 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
Ministerial meetings: First Minister Alex Salmond is expected to discuss greater funding for capital investment in Scotland when he meets the Prime Minister today whilst his Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will be discussing the terms of the independence referendum with Scottish Secretary Michael Moore. (Herald page 6, Allan Massie in the Scotsman)

Dennis Canavan: Former MP and chair of the Yes campaign for Scottish independence Dennis Canavan has said that an independent Scotland would reinvigorate the Labour Party. He also stated that he may re-join his former party if Scotland votes in favour of independence in 2014. (Scotsman page 8)

Scottish Labour: Johann Lamont, the leader of Labour in Scotland, has continued her attempts to install her own team in the run-up to the independence referendum with Colin Smyth, the general secretary of the party in Scotland resigning from his post. Ms. Lamont is also looking to move the party’s Scottish policy headquarters from its Glasgow heartland to Edinburgh. (Herald page 1, Scotsman page 8, Record page 10, Times page 11, Express page 23, Telegraph page 2, P&J page 11)

Benefits: Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has sought to defend his welfare changes which would see numerous types of benefits being brought under a single system, termed the Universal Credit. He said that such a scheme would see 100,000 Scots being better off. He also used the opportunity to stress that such measures would not be possible in an independent Scotland. However, one particular claimant suggests the means tests brought in as part of the proposal make disabled people ‘feel like criminals.’ (Herald page 6, Record page 2, Express page 4, Telegraph page 1, Mail page 8, Courier page 14)

Freedom of Information: Rosemary Agnew, Scotland’s Information Commissioner has warned that Scots are less able to access information about public bodies than they were a decade ago when Freedom of Information legislation was passed. She says that publicly funded PFI initiatives have used to loopholes to exempt themselves from answering FoI requests. (Scotsman page 1, Sun page 2, Times page 10, Mail page 24, P&J page 21, Courier page 16, Rosemary Agnew in the Courier page 23)

Independence referendum: John Curtice and Rachel Ormston  say in the Scotsman that the key battleground for the independence referendum is whether it will be financially beneficial for Scotland and that voters see this as the key factor in deciding which way to vote.

Paul Gilbride in the Express says that SNP should present the forthcoming independence referendum as a choice between full autonomy and the status quo given that Westminster has vetoed their attempts to put a second question on the ballot paper.

Wind farms & Independence: Jenny Hjul in the Courier suggests that growing concern about wind farms, and Alex Salmond’s support of such projects, could by a key factor in deciding the outcome of the independence referendum. (Courier page 25)

Economy
House prices: House sales in Scotland rose by a fifth in July contributing to a 9% rise in house prices so far this year. Edinburgh had the highest average house prices for the month. Estate agents say that the situation has improved particularly for first time buyers. (Express page 5, Mail page 34)

Inflation: There was a 0.1% fall in the rate of inflation between July and August, helped by the availability of cut-price clothes and cheap food, the latest consumer price index has suggested. However economists have warned that the rising cost of fuel is expected to increase inflation in the autumn and winter months. (Scotsman page 12, P&J page 16)

Banking crisis: Brian Wilson in the Scotsman suggests that Holyrood has must investigate the 2008 banking collapse, calling it ‘our biggest disaster since Darien’, given the role of Scottish banks in the crisis.

Education
Lecturers: Disruption is expected at Scotland’s universities after the lecturers’ unions voted to strike in protest at the offer of a 1% pay rise in 2012/2013. Unions are holding out for a 7% increase. (Herald page 1)

Scottish universities: The Student Value for Money Report 2012 has found that Scottish universities offer the best value for money, with Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University coming out top in the UK. The survey took into account cost of living as well as universities’ position in the Complete University Guide 2013 league table. (Scotsman page 18)

Health
Drug approvals: Dr Richard Simpson, a Labour MSP and former doctor, has said that the current system for approving drugs for use in the NHS in Scotland is flawed, with too much variation in the care given to patients, depending on where they live. The Scottish Government countered Dr Simpson’s claims saying that health boards had been issued with guidelines to help them come to informed decisions. (Herald page 2, Times page 23, Express page 10, Telegraph page 10)