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Reform Scotland News: 11 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
Scotland and the EU:
European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso has commented that it is “obvious” that a newly independent state would need to apply to become a member of the EU.  However, Nicola Sturgeon has disputed this view and is reportedly seeking urgent talks with the European Commission to discuss Scottish independence. (Scotsman page 1, Ewan Crawford in the Scotsman, Herald page 1, Record page 4, Times page 1, Sun page 2, Express page 1, FT page 4, Telegraph page 1, Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph, Guardian page 13, Mail page 1, Courier page 14, P&J page 12)

Oil prices: Peter Jones in the Scotsman comments on the unpredictability of future oil prices.

STV competition for the BBC: Robert Beveridge in the Scotsman comments that a channel 3 license covering the whole of Scotland could provide better competition to the BBC.

Devolving power: Trevor Davies in the Scotsman argues in favour of greater devolution, not just to Holyrood, but to local communities, councils, organisations and people.

EFTA: Gordon Wilson in the Courier argues in favour of an independent Scotland being a member of the European Free Trade Association.

Economy
Property prices
: House prices in Edinburgh have reportedly fallen by more than 6 per cent in over the past year with the average price of homes sold in the past three months standing at £206,161 compared to £219,501 during the same period last year. (Scotsman page 1)

Free trade with US: Michael Moore has commented that there are still “significant barriers” to trade between the UK and US and has called for European and US leaders to hold talks aimed at securing a transatlantic free trade agreement. (Scotsman page 5)

Carbon emissions: The Scottish government’s target to reduce carbon emissions from newly built residential properties by 30 per cent has been replaced with plans to reduce it by 20 per cent instead, blaming the UK’s economic situation. (Scotsman page 18)

Workers’ rights policy: The Office for Budget Responsibility has warned that George Osborne’s “shares for workers’ rights” policy could end up costing the UK £1bn a year through lost revenues. (FT page 1, Paul Johnston in the FT)

CBI warning:  CBI Scotland has reportedly warned that the £163m boost from business taxes which is outlined in the Scottish government’s draft spending plans for 2013-14 is unlikely to be achieved while the economy is still struggling. (Mail page 4)

Education
Nursery action:
The EIS union has launched a legal bid to stop Glasgow City Council from introducing a policy which would allow individuals without teaching qualifications to run nursery schools. (Herald page 1)

Justice
Justice committee:
Holyrood’s Justice committee is to examine the benefits of schemes aimed at helping prisoners with addiction problems, offering vocational training and helping find work when they are released following HM Chief Inspector of prisons annual report which warned that prisoners were not getting access to “purposeful activity”. (Times page 15)

Email surveillance: The coalition is reportedly split over plans to extend powers to allow the government to order communications companies to keep every detail of their customers’ activities for up to year. (Telegraph page 1, Guardian page 1, Mail page 12)

Health
Smear tests:
An overhaul of smear tests in Scotland will see women not invited to be tested for cervical cancer until they are 25, instead of the current age of 20. (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 5, Telegraph page 13, Mail page 19)

Diabetics: Diabetics in Scotland are to become the first in the UK to be offered a new treatment which can help prevent blindness, following a decision by the Scottish Medicines Consortium to approve the use of Lucentis, an eye injection containing the drug ranibizumab. (Scotsman page 11, Express page 28, Mail page 27)