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Reform Scotland News: 23 November 2012

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 23 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

Politics

Michael Russell: Michael Russell has told MSPs that he will not resign after renewed calls for this resignation from the three main opposition parties over his conduct in regard to colleges in Scotland. [Scotsman page 1, Herald page 6, Telegraph page 16, Record page 8, Express page 2, P&J page 14]

New BBC general-director appointed: Lord Tony Hall is to be the new director-general of the BBC. The former news executive and chairman of London’s Royal Opera House is to earn a £450,000 yearly salary and takes over from George Entwistle who resigned amid the Newsnight scandal after 54 days as BBC director-general. [Scotsman page 3, Herald page 9, Times page 1, Telegraph page 1, FT page 2, Express page 4, Guardian page 8, Mail page 6, P&J page 18]

Holyrood Presiding Officer accused of being biased: Labour has reportedly claimed that Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick is biased towards the SNP and ought to resign following the “unjust” barring of Labour MSP Michael Mahon who was given a one-day ban from Holyrood following an outburst in the chamber. Tricia Marwick resigned from the SNP last year to become Presiding Officer and has been accused of being too lenient towards the SNP in recent weeks. [Telegraph page 1, Express page 2, Times page 8, Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph, P&J page 12]

Lord McAlpine reaches settlement with ITV: ITV are to pay Lord McAlpine a £125,000 settlement in relation to the This Morning broadcast on 8 November in which Phillip Schofield inadvertently showed the names of alleged paedophiles as he handed the list to Prime Minister David Cameron. Lord McAlpine’s lawyer announced plans to seek settlements with 20 high profile twitter users in relation to the allegations. [Scotsman page 3, Herald page 9, Guardian page 9

Committee supports independence referendum powers: The referendum bill committee have unanimously supported a move to grant Holyrood temporary powers to hold a referendum that will be beyond effective legal challenge following the Edinburgh Agreement. The committee recommends that there ought to be only a Yes-No question and the vote should be held before the end of 2014. [Scotsman page 5, Herald page 6]

Cameron attends talks to cut EU budget: David Cameron arrived in Brussels last night for talks over the EU 2014 budget and demanded cuts to the projected £973bn budget. He arrived ahead of the summit to give a paper setting out how Brussels could cut at least £4.8bn in staff costs by increasing retirement ages and trimming ‘lavish’ salaries to president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy and president of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso. [Scotsman page 10, Herald page 1, Sun page 2, Guardian page 2, P&J page 16, Mail page 2]

Banks will avoid new reforms to reduce risk: In evidence given to the parliamentary Banking Commission, Sir Mervyn King has warned that banks will attempt to avoid reforms aimed at preventing future tax-funded bailouts of the banking sector. Paul Tucker, favourite to be the next governor of the Bank, supported Sir Mervyn King and said more reforms needed to be made in order to reduce risk. [Scotsman page 14, FT page 3]

Holyrood ‘Tipp-Ex culture’ needs stricter rules: The Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee has announced that it would look favourably on stricter rules concerning the correction of the Official Report of parliamentary procedure making the proceedings published more openly. This follows criticism of a ‘Tipp-Ex culture’ in Holyrood after recent amendments to incorrect college funding figures announced by Alex Salmond and Michael Russell. [Herald page 1]

Legal Aid reforms to continue: Kenny MacAskill, the Justice Secretary, confirmed that he will not stop plans that would force lawyers to collect payments from clients in new Legal Aid reforms. The proposed plans prompted lawyers to vote in favour of striking at some time before Christmas. [Herald page 5]

Energy Bill: Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary, is expected to announce today that the proposed target to decarbonise energy production by 2030 will not be included in next week’s Energy Bill. The Bill has been a key source of recent conflict within the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government. [Herald page 6]

Prisoner votes: UK Justice Secretary Chris Grayling outlined alternative plans to giving prisoners serving up to six months or potentially 4 years the ability to vote and warned of the ‘political cost’ if the UK defies the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights to give prisoners the vote. The Scottish government has announced that it does not support the plans and would not give prisoners the right to vote in the 2014 independence referendum. [Herald page 6

EU may stop corporation tax plans for an independent Scotland: Plans for an independent Scotland to cut corporation tax may be thwarted if Scotland becomes a European Union member state. The key objective by the SNP and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland may be denied under codes of conduct for business taxation agreed by and applicable to EU member states. [Times page 28].

Economy

Scottish salary increases: Scottish salaries are increasing faster than those in any other part of the UK according to figures from the Office for National Statistics. The average Scottish salary has increased 2.8% within a year to £25,142 as many private sector employers have began to offer staff above inflation pay increases. [Mail page 17]

Local Government

Council workers pay freeze ends: Local government bosses have offered Scotland’s 250,000 council workers a 1% pay rise as the two-year pay freeze finishes. 32 Scottish councils have agreed to end the pay freeze in April 2013 and this would guarantee all council workers a Living Wage of £7.50 an hour as part of a £60million national deal. [Scotsman page 13, Herald page 1]