Reform Scotland News: 14 November 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



Independence Referendum: The Lords Constitution select committee have warned that the names and addresses of all 15 year olds in Scotland could be published if 16 and 17 year olds are to vote in the 2014 referendum. The committee also warned that the Edinburgh Agreement could be judicially reviewed and found to be unlawful because the legislation it is based upon relates to devolution not independence. (Telegraph page 7, Scotsman page 1, Times page 15, P&J page 19, Courier page 16, Mail page 4)


Referendum spending cap: Nigel Smith, who ran the 1997 Yes campaign for devolution, has reportedly said the SNP spending cap of £750,000 on the 2014 independence referendum is too low and a “restriction on free speech”. (Sun page 2, Scotsman page 4)


Scotland and Northern England: First Minister Alex Salmond has called for a stronger economic bond between business in Scotland and northern England during a speech to the North East Economic Forum in Newcastle. (Herald page 6)


‘Free’ benefits:  SNP Alex Neil has reportedly told MSPs that the range of free benefits available is the mark of a civilised society. Opposition parties have argued that the benefits should be targeted to exclude Scots who can afford to pay for them and have raised concerns about the continued financial viability of such schemes. (Telegraph page 8, Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph, Sun page 2, Record page 2, Courier page 14)


Wind Farms: According to figures published by the Conservatives yesterday, 4 out of 5 of the largest and most controversial planning applications for wind farms have been approved by SNP ministers. (Telegraph page 2, Mail page 18)


Entwistle and BBC: The National Audit Office has reportedly said that ministers are powerless to launch an official inquiry into whether the BBC’s former director-general should have his £450,000 pay-off taken away. They also said they wanted to conduct a quick ‘review’ of the payment and were sure the BBC would fully co-operate. (Telegraph page 4, Scotsman page 10)


Sir Cyril Smith abuse claims: Labour MP Simon Danczuk has accused the late Liberal Democrat MP Sir Cyril Smith of sexually abusing boys and being a bully. He was investigated by police in the 1960s but no action was taken. The accusations were made during a Commons debate yesterday. (Telegraph page 4, Times page 17, Courier page 18, Guardian page 7, Mail page 24)


Ash Trees: Labour has reportedly accused the Scottish government of being “asleep on the job” in its response to the disease threatening the UK’s ash trees. As of last night the disease has been confirmed at 14 sites around Scotland. (Herald page 6, Mail page 27)


Expenses: John Bercow, the Commons Speaker, has reportedly been accused of rigging appointments to the independent MPs’ expenses watchdog in retaliation for its crackdown on what members can claim. (Telegraph page 1, Guardian page 12)



Stow College: Kirk Ramsay, chairman of Stow College, has resigned following accusations by MSP Michael Russell that he secretly taped a meeting they both attended. (Telegraph page 1, Record page 4, Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, P&J page 18, Courier page 15, Mail page 2)


Special needs: According to a report commissioned by the Scottish government, children with special needs must be given better access to high-quality services. The government welcomed the findings of the Doran Review and pledged to work harder. (Times page 15)



Royal Mail: The volume of junk mail delivered by Royal Mail is reportedly set to increase amid plans to increase the revenue brought in from marketing and advertising. (Telegraph page 1)


RBS HQ: RBS Chairman Sir Philip Hampton has warned peers that RBS would consider moving its headquarters from Edinburgh after independence if changes were made that could harm its business. (Scotsman page 5, Mail page 1)


Retail: Scottish retail sales have reportedly declined by 1.3 per cent, compared with October last year. The fall is the biggest since January this year. (Scotsman page 6, Mail page 17)

BBC Scotland: BBC Scotland bosses have been urged to halt Scottish job cuts amid the ongoing crisis within the corporation. SNP MSP Ross Gibson has called for the halt and has been supported by the National Union of Journalists. (Scotsman page 10, Stephen Jardine comments in the Scotsman, P&J page 12)



High-speed rail: Labour infrastructure spokesman Richard Baker has criticised Nicola Sturgeon, Deputy First Minister and infrastructure secretary, for not declaring the costs of the recently announced scheme to build a faster rail route between Edinburgh and Glasgow within the next 12 years. (Scotsman page 22, Brian Wilson comments in the Scotsman)



Legal Aid: A strike by defence lawyers has moved closer as MSPs passed the new Scottish Civil Justice Council and Criminal Legal Assistance Bill yesterday. Lawyers are also reportedly concerned that they will be turned into debt collectors for the Scottish Legal Aid Board due to the cuts to the legal aid fund. (Express page 4, Scotsman page 19, Herald page 1, Times page 3, P&J page 11, Courier page 17)


Abu Qatada: David Anderson QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism laws, has reportedly admitted that Abu Qatada, the extremist cleric, could be in Britain for years even if Theresa May appeals against his block on deportation successfully. (Telegraph page 5, Times page 7, Guardian page 4, Mail page 12)