Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 2 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.
Stricter drink-drive limit: MSPs have voted to back Scottish government plans to lower the drink drive-limit from the UK-wide limit of 80mg of alcohol to 50mg of alcohol. MSPs voted 100 to 12 in favour. However, Justice Secretrary Kenny MacAskill faced opposition after calling for random breath testing of motorists. [Scotsman page 1, Herald page 6, Times page 16, Express page 4, Record page 2, P&J page 15, Mail page 2].
UK turns down EU ruling on Independence: The Scottish government has supported Westminster’s decision not to seek a clear ruling on an independent Scotland’s position in the EU. The UK government rejected the legal opinion offered by the European Court saying it would not “pre-negotiate” terms of the settlement. Angus Macleod in The Times criticises both Westminster and Holyrood for “keeping voters in the dark”, while Johann Lamont, Scottish Labour leader, criticised Alex Salmond for being a “chancer” after not asking Europe for legal advice on Scottish independence. [Herald page 6, Times page 25, Express page 4, P&J page 16].
Referendum debate: Alan Cochrane in The Telegraph warns that the personal abuse in the independence referendum debate ought to be curbed.
Euro and independence: Dr Fabian Zuleeg, chief economist at the European Policy Centre in Brussels, and Professor Drew Scott, of the Europa Institute at the University of Edinburgh, have said that an independent Scotland joining the EU could not be forced to adopt the euro. EU membership comes with introducing the euro for all countries with no opt-out option, but this involves signing up to the EU Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) before the currency is adopted and this is optional. [Scotsman page 6].
Trident: Alex Salmond claimed that Trident is costing Scottish taxpayers £163 million a year. This follows the coalition government setting out plans to replace the Clyde-based nuclear weapons system despite the possibility of Trident having to leave Scotland if people of Scotland vote for independence in 2014. [Scotsman page 6].
FoI reform revolt: The SNP-led Finance committee has rejected government proposed Freedom of Information reforms that would exempt the Royal Family and arms-length bodies involved with public services. The plans proposed would have made Ministers communication with the Queen unobtainable by FoI requests. [Herald page 6].
Clegg on EU: Nick Clegg has branded David Cameron’s EU plans to reclaim powers from Brussels “a false promise wrapped in a Union Jack”. He suggested that the idea was being used to disentangle the UK’s relationship with the EU and commented that other EU countries would not let the UK “pick and choose” the best bits of the EU. [Scotsman page 10, Herald page 2, Times page 10, Express page 2, Guardian page 1, P&J page 16, Mail page 4].
Woman in government: Dame Helen Ghosh, a former Civil Servant chief and the Home Office’s first female permanent secretary, claimed that the “powerful” Old Etonian network operated by David Cameron makes it difficult for women to attain the top jobs. [Guardian page 7, Times page 10].
Cardinal Keith O’Brien: The Cardinal was declared “bigot of the year” at the Stonewall Awards in London last night after his opposition towards the Scottish government’s plans to introduce same-sex marriage. Stonewall is a charity supporting lesbian, gay and bisexual people. Ruth Davidson MSP, leader of the Scottish Conservatives who is in a same-sex relationship and is a supporter of same-sex marriage, was named politician of the year. [Scotsman page 10].
BoE culture criticised: Three independent reviews have criticised a hierarchical and deferential culture at the Bank of England. [FT page 1, Mail page 10].
PPI compensation costs: Financial experts have warned that the cost of mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI) compensation may be as much as £15 billion. Compensation from the four biggest lenders is expected to be £10.4bn. Lloyds Banking Group announced it had set aside £1bn and RBS is expected to announce an additional £400million to cover claim costs. [Scotsman page 1, FT page 1].
Electrical chain in administration: Comet, the UK electrical chain, is to be placed into administration next week with the potential to cause 6,500 job losses throughout the UK and 700 in Scotland. The administration is amongst the biggest since Woolworths in 2008 and is to be handled by Deloitte, a reconstruction specialist. [Scotsman page 5, Herald page 8, FT page 2, Record page 2, Express page 2, P&J page 22].
Curriculum for Excellence concern: Carol Ford in The Scotsman writes that there ought to be genuine concern surrounding the Curriculum for Excellence following the doubts of teaching staff and parents and that the planned system leaves students vulnerable to failing.
SAAS staff increased: The Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) announced that extra staff are to be employed to ensure vital payments reach 6,000 students at Scottish universities who have yet to receive payments for living expenses weeks after the start of term. [Herald page 2].
Cancer drugs denied to Scots: Cancer drug, Zelboraf, has been turned down by the Scottish Medicines Consortium yet has been approved by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence for use by the NHS in England. The drug reportedly extends the life of patients dying with skin cancer. [Herald page 5, Express page 6, Guardian page 10, Mail page 13].
Police warrant powers: The Association of Scottish Police Superintendents (ASPS) has called for the right to search suspects’ homes and businesses without the need for a warrant from a judge or justice of the peace. ASPS said officers were unable make arrests in properties where they believed serious crimes had been conducted without gaining a warrant first; leading to time delays and crucial evidence being destroyed. [Herald page 1].