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Reform Scotland News: 21 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



Donations: Summer donations to the SNP have reportedly fallen by thousands of pounds compared to last year’s financial backing of the party. Nearly £200,000 was donated to the party during the third quarter of 2012 compared to £1,988,657 in 2011. The Labour Party at UK level had the highest donation figure at more than £3million. (Scotsman page 5)


Freedom of information requests: An anonymous researcher is responsible for 13.5 per cent of all of the freedom of information requests received between 29 June and 6 November. They have been accused by the SNP of “wasting taxpayers money on ridiculous fishing missions.” (Scotsman page 5, Express page 2, Herald page 6, Mail page 10)


Perthshire flooding: Paul Wheelhouse, environment minister, has pledged government support to the families affected by severed flooding in Perthshire. (Scotsman page 10, Courier page 8, Mail page 7)


Independence and business: Rupert Soames, chief executive of Aggreko, speaking to the House of Lords’ economy committee has warned that Scottish independence would not be good for business. He also claimed that many business leaders do not speak out about independence for fear of being attacked by nationalists. (Scotsman page 11, Express page 2, Telegraph page 1, Herald page 1, P&J page 11, Mail page 4)


Overseas donations: The head of the Yes Scotland campaign group, Blair Jenkins, has defended accepting foreign donations to fund the campaign for independence. His defence of the donations has come in spite of the SNP previously stating that donations should only come from those registered to vote in the referendum. (Scotsman page 11, Herald page 6, Times page 4, P&J page 11)


Independence: Jim Gallagher comments in the Scotsman on the changing perception of Scotland and the English response if Scotland votes for independence.


EU budgets: David Cameron was reportedly close to securing a deal to freeze the EU budget and will travel to Brussels tomorrow for a crunch summit with EU leaders. However the UK’s contribution to the budget could soar as its annual rebate is cut. (Express page 1, Telegraph page 2, FT page 6, Joshua Chaffin in FT, Guardian page 8)


Conservation zone plans: Ministers are asking for a second opinion on proposals to make the Sound of Barra a special area of conservation despite Scottish Natural Heritage’s recommendations.  There have been hundreds of objections to making it a conservation area. (Herald page 11, P&J page 20)


Review of Holyrood legislation: Holyrood is to investigate what improvements can be made in its examination of legislation. The move has come in response to concerns being raised that its law are working properly. (Times page 23, Magnus Linklater in Times)


IFS report on independence: Ian Bell comments in the Herald on the Institute for Fiscal Studies report on the economic possibilities of an independent Scotland.



Rangers tax case: A tribunal has ruled that the former Rangers Football Club’s controversial tax scheme was not illegal. The decision of the first tier tribunal was not unanimous and HMRC is now considering an appeal. (Scotsman page 1, Sun page 1, Express page 5, Telegraph page 1, Herald page 1, Times page 1, Record page 1, Mail page 1)


Energy tariffs: The government has announced new measures to crack down on energy tariffs in a bid to control soaring prices. Ed Davey, Energy Secretary, has released plans which will limit energy suppliers to offering only four tariffs including a fixed and variable rate. (Scotsman page 18, Express page 4, Telegraph page 18, Mary Riddell in Telegraph, Herald page 7, FT page 4, Times page 21, Record page 12, Courier page 14, P&J page 12)


Pension tax: George Osborne is reportedly considering a new tax on the pensions of higher earners in an attempt to cut the Government’s budget deficit.  (Express page 6, Simon Hinde in Express, FT page 4, Times page 5, Mail page 2)


Tax schemes: According to the National Audit Office the HMRC identified 41,000 tax avoidance cases worth £10.2billion last year but could not show how this could be reduced. (Telegraph page 8, FT page 4, Times page 18)



Sex offender treatment: Brigadier Hugh Monro, Scotland’s Chief Inspector of Prisons, has said it is not possible to say if sex offender rehabilitation programmes in prisons work. (Scotsman page 1)


Legal aid: Kenny MacAskill, the justice secretary, has agreed to raise the £68 a week disposable income threshold, after which an accused would be expected to make a contribution to legal costs, in a bid to halt strike action by lawyers. (Scotsman page 14, Herald page 5, Times page 7, Courier page 16, P&J page 9)


Illegal payments: Andy Coulson has been charged with illegally paying for information contained in The Green Book, a confidential Buckingham Palace directory. Rebekah Brooks has also been charged over alleged illegal payments to public officials while she was in charge of at The Sun. (Telegraph page 6, Herald page 11, FT page 3, Times page 13, Record page 13, Courier page 19, Mail page 12, Guardian page 4)


Prison searches: Prison staff have been condemned by lawyers for demanding that they take part in intimate searches before being allowed to see their clients. Kenny MacAskill has been asked to intervene directly in the matter by Richard Keen, QC, Dean of the Faculty of Advocates. (Herald page 3)



College funding: Education Secretary Mike Russell has been accused of misleading MSPs and the Presiding Officer by claiming errors made in official figures relating to college funding only came to light last Thursday. However, he allegedly wrote to the Education and Culture committee last October saying that there had been a decrease in college funding. (Scotsman page 4, Telegraph page 14, Herald page 6, Record page 2, Courier page 17, Mail page 10)


Scottish university places: The University of Glasgow has expressed concerns that a 25% rise in applications from EU students to Scottish universities could reduce the number of Scots studying at the institutions. (Scotsman page 9)


Curriculum for Excellence: Val Corry writes in the Scotsman about the benefits Curriculum for Excellence will offer to school pupils.