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Reform Scotland News: 14 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

Rail strike: Scotrail’s main union, the RMT, has announced two 24-hour strikes planned for 22 and 24 December. Scotrail has pledged to run the majority of trains during the strike action and is training other staff to work as conductors and will draft in staff from sister train operators south of the border. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Times page 5, Telegraph page 1, Express page 1, Record page 2, Sun page 2, Mail page 7, Courier page 1, P&J page 22)

 

EU and independent Scotland: Nicola Sturgeon has conceded an independent Scotland would have to renegotiate its share of the rebate the UK receives each year from the European Union. Ms Sturgeon also said that European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso’s opinion that an independent Scotland would not get automatic EU membership should be respected; however it is not a ruling. Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph comments on Nicola Sturgeon’s statement and the challenges that Scotland could face in maintaining its current agreements with the EU after independence. (Scotsman page 4, Herald page 6, Times page 10, Telegraph page 13, Express page 2, Record page 8, Sun page 2, Mail page 1, Courier page 16, P&J page 13)

 

SNP and Bank of England: The Bank of England has denied it is in direct talks with the SNP government about the prospect of Scotland continuing to use the pound if it votes for independence. The SNP reportedly wants Scotland to retain the pound by forming a sterling zone with the remainder of the UK. (Scotsman page 5)

 

Fracking: The ban on fracking has been lifted by the UK government “subject to new controls to mitigate the risks of seismic activity”. The procedure is increasingly likely to be carried out in Scotland for the first time and ministers were warned last night that Scotland could be walking into a dangerous and needless dash for gas. (Scotsman page 8, George Kerevan in the Scotsman, Herald page 4, Times page 6, FT page 2, Record page 8, Sun page 10, Mail page 8, Courier page 23, Guardian page 23, P&J page 26)

 

Press reform: The Scottish government has unveiled the body that is to look at implementing the proposals of the Leveson inquiry on press regulation in Scotland. It is to be headed up by former High Court judge Lord McCluskey and has already faced threats of an opposition boycott over its make-up. (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 6, Times page 17, Telegraph page 4, Express page 2, Sun page 6, Mail page 20, Courier page 18, P&J page 13)

 

Expenses: David Cameron has declared his full support for Culture Secretary Maria Miller after the parliamentary watchdog opened an investigation into her expenses. Mrs Miller has insisted that her expenses are as they should be. (Scotsman page 7, Herald page 6, Times page 17, Telegraph page 1, Mail page 6, Courier page 19, Guardian page 15)

 

Emission targets: Labour MSP Claudia Beamish has told MSPs that all levels of government must make changes in spending to meet future climate change goals. (Scotsman page 18)

 

Audit Scotland report: Joyce McMillan in the Scotsman comments on the need for areas of Scotland with poor health statistics to have a better future rather than more money spent on healthcare and that low self-esteem linked to industrial decline is the underlying cause of regional disparities.

 

Keeping the pound: A report by AXA has warned that an independent Scotland would need to create its own currency rather than enter a monetary union with the UK. It also warned that Scotland would have to take on £120 billion of national debt. (Herald page 1)

 

Glasgow protests: A demonstration is due to take place in Glasgow’s George Square at midday on Saturday as loyalists protest about the number of days the Union flag is flown at Belfast City Hall. A commemoration march is being organised by republicans at the same time and police are gearing up to deal with the rival protests. (Scotsman page 2)

 

EU green funding: Shadow Energy and Climate minister Tom Greatrex has criticised the Government for failing to live up to its own financial commitment for carbon capture and storage technology by not giving enough money to businesses to help them compete for EU funding for carbon capture and storage. (Times page 6, P&J page 13)

 

Fuel poverty: Energy Action Scotland has found that two out of five Scottish households now live in fuel poverty because of energy-price rises. They have warned that urgent action is required to make homes more energy-efficient. (Record page 8, Mail page 19, Courier page 21, P&J page 11)

 

EU superstate: David Cameron has heralded plans for an EU superstate and plans for a eurozone banking union. However, speaking at the EU summit, the Prime Minister stressed that Britain would not be part of the new union. (Sun page 2, Mail page 2, Courier page 26, Guardian page 39)

 

Economy

Culture and Sport: Cultural and sporting events are worth almost £500 million to Scotland’s economy, even before the Ryder Cup and Commonwealth Games are held in Scotland. VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead revealed the figures and claimed there was potential to improve them in future years. (Scotsman page 19)

 

Pensions: The UK government’s proposed single-tier state pension will see the value of the state pension for higher earners fall by an average of £1000 a year. Exact details of the plans will reportedly be set out in a White Paper which the Department for Work and Pensions says is at an advanced stage. (Telegraph page 1)

 

Debt outlook: Credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s has become the latest agency to downgrade the outlook on Britain’s triple A rating to negative. They had become concerned by the weak and insufficient improvement in the public finances. All three large credit rating agencies have now given the UK a negative outlook. (FT page 1, Guardian page 35)

 

Bank of England inflation targets: Chancellor George Osborne has praised Mark Carney, the next Bank of England governor, for leading international debate on central bank targets. He said that whilst he had no plans of indicated scrapping the 2% inflation target, there was room for a welcome debate on the future of monetary policy. (FT page 2, Mail page 10)

 

Vion takeover: A management buy out of the UK pork operations of Dutch food giants Vion will reportedly secure around 4,000 jobs including 115 in Scotland.  However, the threat of redundancy still hangs over much of the company’s operations in Scotland. (Record page 10, P&J page 32)

 

Justice

Gun crime: Chief Constable Stephen House has indicated he plans to step up specialist armed response cover in quieter and more rural areas of Scotland with the introduction of the country’s new single police force. (Herald page 5, Sun page 2)

 

Legal aid strikes: Scottish criminal defence solicitors have warned they will intensify their industrial action in protest at changes to legal aid arrangements. Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has denounced the industrial action as being unnecessary. (Times page 10)

 

Drugs: Christine Grahame, convener of the Scottish Parliament Justice Committee, has called for research to be carried out into the decriminalisation of people who use drugs. First Minister Alex Salmond pledged to look into Ms Grahame’s proposal, but said he believes the evidence will support the Scottish government’s current policy of prevention, enforcement, treatment and recovery. (Courier page 16)

 

Education

Languages: The Scottish Parliament’s European and external relations committee have launched an inquiry to examine proposals that children should study two foreign languages while at primary school. (Scotsman page 17)