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Reform Scotland News: 03 December 2012

 

Reform Scotland

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 3 December 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

Benefits changes: New ‘workfare’ placements will become mandatory today. Opponents of the changes to the welfare system say that sick and disabled citizens will be forced to work without pay in order to retain their benefits. Over 340,000 people have been placed in the Work Related Activity Group which will require them to undertake training, job-hunting, and mandatory work placements. (Sunday Herald page 4)

Press regulation: While David Cameron has asked the media to strengthen self-regulation, opposition leader Ed Miliband has given the Prime Minister a Christmas deadline to introduce a press law. The Leveson report has faced criticism for its recommendations to set up a newspaper regulator underpinned by statute, which may violate the Human Rights Act. In the Sunday Herald, Iain MacWhirter questions the wisdom of recommendations that would require journalists to ensure that material leaked complied with data compliance regulations. (Daily Record page 2, Financial Times page 4)

Leveson in Scotland: Scottish politicians are responding to the Leveson report, with First Minister Alex Salmond calling for Scottish regulations, questioning the report’s recommendation to use Ofcom as a ‘backstop regulator’ for titles which refuse to consent to the self-regulation system. Opposition parties have urged him to let Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon lead talks with the Scottish Parliament given that the First Minister was named in the report for his relationships with Rupert Murdoch. Writing in the Sunday Herald, the First Minister Alex Salmond proposes the adoption of a model of press regulation similar to that adopted in Ireland. Writing in Scotland on Sunday, Eddie Barnes challenges proposals for unique Scottish legislation. In the Scottish Sun, Andrew Nicoll argues that a ‘light-touch’ approach to state control of newspapers is inadvisable, saying that it is up to the readers to influence the press. (Sunday Herald page 10, Scotland on Sunday page 1, Scottish Daily Mail page 8, The Scotsman page 8, The Times page 10, The Daily Telegraph page 10)

Case for independence: In a speech at Strathclyde University today, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will outline her case for independence and outline plans to ensure that people in Scotland are well informed on the issues. (The Scotsman page 6, The Herald page 6)

Watchdogs: Writing in The Scotsman, Lesley Riddoch urges both financial and media watchdogs to have increased powers, particularly given the close relationships between business, the media, government and the police.

Seal shooting at fish farms: The Scottish Government faced criticism when it refused to name fish farms which shoot seals, claiming that naming companies could put workers at risk of violence from protesters. The Scottish Information Commissioner rejected this claim and will require the government to name the firms licensed to kill seals by 10 January. (Sunday Herald page 9, The Times page 7)

Army proposals: A report by the Sunday Times indicates that a proposal to bring thousands of army jobs to Scotland has been scrapped by the MOD. Plans for a ‘super garrison’ have been shelved due to cuts in army manpower and troops have been diverted to Southern England. (The Sunday Times page 1)

Economy

Autumn Statement: In advance of his autumn statement, George Osborne has admitted that his plans to eliminate the deficit have veered off track but insisted a change of course would be catastrophic. His statement is expected to outline plans for economic recovery as well as a crackdown on tax evasion and avoidance in an attempt to recoup the suspected £2 billion a year lost to tax schemes. The plan will award £154 million to HMRC to go after high earners, the recipients of secret windfalls, and corporations. The Chancellor is also expected to confirm a deal with Switzerland and the US to tax income sitting in foreign banks and announce additional cuts to tax relief on pensions, cutting the amount that could be saved without facing tax. Writing in the Herald, Andrew McKie points to the Chancellor’s contrarian impulses, pointing out an increase in borrowing and attacks on pensions. (The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 1, The Times page 1, Financial Times page 1, The Telegraph page 4, Scottish Sun page 2, Daily Record page 2, Sunday Times page 1)

Scottish economy: A report issued by Ernst & Young Scottish Item Club reveals that Scotland’s economic output has declined by 4 per cent over the last four years, and predicts that the Scottish economy won’t rebound to 2007 levels for four more years. In light of these findings, Peter Hughes, the chief executive of Scottish Engineering, has expressed concern about the impact that the referendum is having on investment and economic confidence in Scotland. (The Scotsman page 35, The Times page 3, Scottish Sun page 2)

Job plans: Members of the finance committee at Holyrood have expressed concerns about current job training and employment plans, urging organisers to work with the private sector and critically evaluate existing programmes to seek out inefficiencies and redundancies. (The Scotsman page 10)

Transport

Bus stop decline: A report issued by the Strathclyde Partnership for Transport has found that only 28% of homes within the area are within walking distance of a bus stop with frequent service. The report raises concerns about mobility for older people. (The Scotsman page 8)

Health

NHS chief suspension: Two top NHS executives from NHS Tayside have been suspended due to allegations by watchdogs that the health board attempted to distort the reporting of waiting times by contacting patients at inopportune times. (The Herald page 3)

Doctor skills check up: Scotland’s doctors will be taking part in ‘revalidation’ procedures to ensure that they are adequately prepared for treating patients. The new checks will apply to all doctors in the UK. (The Herald page 8)

Justice

Legionnaire’s outbreak: Jennifer Lonnie, the widow of the third person to die in this summer’s outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease, has engaged a solicitor to pursue a civil claim in response to what she describes as a ‘wall of silence’ regarding the source of the outbreak. (The Scotsman page 7)

Education

Higher education access: St. Andrews University has pledged to accept 6 more students from deprived backgrounds each year, going directly to schools to identify promising students. However, NUS Scotland’s head Robin Parker has called on the University to be more ambitious and adopt ‘contextual’ admissions criteria which would identify promising students. (Sunday Herald page 18)