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Reform Scotland News: 6 December 2012

Reform Scotland

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 6 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

EU membership: The European Commission has said that an independent Scotland would have to re-apply to join the EU, despite SNP claims previously denying this. In a letter to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee from the EC it was revealed that existing treaties that cover Scotland will cease to apply. (The Scotsman page 1)

 

£4m for cultural programme: A £4 million fund has been set aside for artists and art organisations to run events before and during the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. It is hoped that this will enhance the overall Games experience for spectators and visitors. (The Herald page 11)

 

Economy

Autumn Statement: In the Autumn Statement yesterday Chancellor George Osborne revealed that Britain has missed its debt-reduction targets, putting the country’s AAA credit rating under threat. He also announced that the planned rise on fuel duty is to be axed, and the personal allowance of income tax payers to be boosted. Benefits are to be limited to a 1% rise a year for the next 3 years, whilst an extra 400,000 people will be drawn into the higher 40p tax bracket. (The Scotsman page 1, Bill Jamieson in the Scotsman, The Herald page 1, Ian MacWhirter in the Herald, The Daily Telegraph page 1, Peter Oborne in the Daily Telegraph, Jeremy Warner in the Daily Telegraph, The Sun page 10, FT page 1, Daily Record page 8, The Times page 1, Sam Fleming in the Times, John Cridland in the Times, Daily Express page 1)

 

£330m building boost: It was revealed in the Autumn Statement yesterday that Scotland is to benefit from an extra £331 million for construction projects. This should allow the Scottish Government to get on with its list of 33 “shovel ready” projects. (The Scotsman page 8, The Times page 10, Daily Express page 6)

 

Repossessions rise: The number of home repossession cases is rising in Scotland, causing concerns for a homelessness crisis. In 2011-12 the number of repossession bids rose by about 20 a day, largely due to the higher costs of living and energy bills, job uncertainty and welfare cuts. (The Scotsman page 14, The Herald page 8)

 

Wind power: Energy expert Paul Younger from the University of Glasgow has warned that Alex Salmond’s drive for wind power could severely damage an independent Scotland’s finances by creating “a very expensive foreign aid programme for England”. Wind turbines tend to generate most electricity at night, meaning Scotland may be forced to buy nuclear-generated energy from the South during the day at expensive prices. (The Daily Telegraph page 11)

 

Health

Minimum alcohol pricing: Health secretary Alex Neil will meet officials in Brussels today to put the case for minimum alcohol pricing to the European Commission, despite the EC already warning that the policy is incompatible with current EU regulations. (The Scotsman page 2, The Herald page 2, The Daily Record page 2)

 

Education

Costly college merger: The cost of controversial mergers to Scotland’s colleges has now reached a cost of more than £50 million. It was hoped that the mergers would make savings capable of outweighing spending cuts to college budgets, but ministers say that this no longer seems to be the case. (The Scotsman page 12, The Herald page 8)

 

Transport

West Coast Main Line: It is expected that the government will announce today that Virgin Rail is to temporarily carry on running trains on an interim period until 2014 on the West Coast Main Line, which takes passengers from Scotland to London. This comes after the Department for Transport admitted it had made mistakes in the bidding process when giving the management of the line to rival transport company FirstGroup. Virgin Rail is reportedly now reviving plans for a Stirling to London service, as put forward in their earlier bid. (The Scotsman page 15, The Herald page 2)

 

Stagecoach: Perth-based transport company Stagecoach has urged the Government to move on from the West Coast Main Line fiasco and restart other rail franchise competitions. Fifteen rail franchise contracts are due to expire in the next 6 years but the franchising process has currently been suspended as an investigation into the West Coast Main Line bidding process continues. (The Herald page 1)

 

Justice

Corroboration: Scotland’s second-most senior judge, Lord Calloway, has reiterated his recommendation that the law of corroboration be dropped, saying that it has no place in the modern legal system and leads to miscarriages of justice. (The Herald page 10)

 

G4S court delays: It has been revealed that the security company G4S which is responsible for transferring prisoners to court has been late on nearly 22,000 occasions since taking over the contract at the start of the year. Scottish Prison Service figures show this has resulted in £334,500 in financial penalties for G4S. (The Herald page 10, The Daily Record page 4, Daily Express page 15)

 

Legal aid row: The Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill yesterday suggested raising the lower level at which contributions toward legal aid will be compulsory in an attempt to find compromise over the changes to legal aid. However, the heads of bar associations and law faculties rejected this offer, leaving the disagreement ongoing. (The Times page 17, Daily Express page 36)