Reform Scotland News: 28 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

Expenses: The bill to taxpayers for MSPs’ expenses has risen by £1million in 2011-12 compared to the previous year. Holyrood staff have said this was due costs associated with a number of MSPs retiring or losing their seats in the May 2012 elections. Some of the expenses claims include a claim for the book ‘Public Speaking and Presentation for Dummies’ and a staff training course in dealing with difficult people. (Telegraph page 1, Record page 9, Sun page 2, Times page 17, Herald page 6, Mail page 4, Courier page 15, P&J page 10)

 

Leveson Report: MPs from Labour, Liberal Democrats and Conservatives have written to newspapers warning David Cameron that enforcing a new tough law in light of the Leveson report would hurt the press. (Telegraph page 1, Dominic Raab in Telegraph, Sun page 8, FT page 4, Times page 6, Herald page 6, Guardian page 1, Mail page 8, David Davis in the Mail)

 

BBC: Stewart Maxwell, head of Holyrood’s education and culture committee, has accused BBC Scotland executives of not taking the Scottish Parliament as seriously as Westminster after they did not attend a meeting to answer questions regarding job cuts. (Scotsman page 1)

 

Independence: Scottish Secretary Michael Moore has said that Scot’s do not need to prove anything nor feel insecure about their identity as part of the United Kingdom in a speech marking St Andrew’s Day. (Scotsman page 8))

 

Banning from Parliament: Brian Wilson comments in the Scotsman on Michael McMahon MSP being banned from the chamber for showing “gross discourtesy and disrespect” and criticises the Scottish Parliament for being undignified.

 

EU vote: Seumas Milne in the Guardian comments on the debate over whether there should be a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU.

 

MSPs using social media: Jenny Hjul in the Courier comments on MSPs use of social media.

 

Economy

Welfare to work scheme:   Data for the first 12 months of the welfare to work programme reportedly shows that the £5bn scheme has secured lasting employment for only one in every 50 people referred. (Mail page 12)

 

Local Government

Council funding: Plans for Scottish councils to share just under £10million next year have been criticised by unions claiming that local government is bearing the brunt of austerity measures. The plans have been defended by Finance Secretary John Swinney as the best outcome achievable in the current economic climate. (Herald page 5)

 

Aberdeen business rates: Aberdeen Council finance convener Willie Young has commented that Aberdeen was the “powerhouse” of the Scottish economy and, for the first time, was paying out more to Holyrood in business rates than it received in government funding. (P&J page 1)

 

Justice

Police merger: The Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill, has been blamed for a loophole in the legislation that creates the new Police Service of Scotland. The loophole may mean that Stephen House, the new chief of the force, is not in charge of office staff or finance. (Telegraph page 1, Scotsman page 6, Record page 17, Express page 8, Times page 10, Herald page 2, Mail page 24, Courier page 13)     

 

Lawyers’ strike: Many people accused of crimes were forced to represent themselves yesterday as criminal courts in three cities were crippled by industrial action. The row between Kenny MacAskill and the Bar Associations continues as plans for controversial reforms to legal aid go ahead. (Times page 1)

 

Education

Education Minister inquiry: The SNP have blocked an inquiry into the Education Minister Mike Russell’s behaviour after a college chairman resigned amid allegations of intimidation. (Telegraph page 9, Express page 10, Times page 10, Herald page 6)

 

Health

Nurses: The number of nurses working for the NHS in Scotland has fallen by 2,000 since the SNP came to power. There are also 1,390 nurse and midwife vacancies in Scotland caused by jobs being downgraded and nurses taking pay cuts to do the same job, according to the Royal College of Nursing. (Scotsman page 5)

 

Waiting Times: A&E waiting time targets have been missed by 12 of the 14 regional health boards in the last quarter. (Scotsman page 5)

 

Minimum pricing: Catherine Day, general secretary of the European Commission has reportedly threatened legal action against the UK over the minimum pricing of alcohol, claiming the policy would be “disproportionate” and “in breach” of EU laws.  The Scottish Parliament had passed legislation to introduce a minimum price of 50p per unit from April 2013.  Advocate General Lord Wallace of Tankerness has commented that the UK Government will stand ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’ with the Scottish Government’ on the issue. (Mail page 1)