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Reform Scotland News: 10 Jan 2013

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

Coalition report card: The UK government has published an audit of its first two-and-a-half years in government detailing what progress, if any, had been made on its pledges.  It is reported that audit was held back from the mid-term review published on Monday to avoid overshadowing any good press coverage that could have been expected following Monday’s event.     Labour released its own audit of the government’s progress which listed 40 areas where the government had failed to meet its pledges. (Scotsman page 4, The Herald page 6, Courier page 16, The P&J page 17, Record page 2, FT page 2, Telegraph page 4, Guardian page 12, Mail page 12)

Pound U-turn: Alistair Darling has accused the SNP of  creating a U-turn for nationalists on its plans to use the pound after the ‘Yes’ vote for independence, as it may not be able to secure a currency union with the rest of the UK.  Stewart Hosie raised the prospect of a stability pact based around debt and deficit levels which he states would be perfectly sensible. (The Herald, page 6)

Tax powers row: Nick Clegg has reportedly indicated the UK Government will not devolve corporation tax power to Northern Ireland due to the knock on effects in Scotland.  (The Herald page 6)

Oil tax claim: The SNP Government was yesterday accused of trying to mislead voters over the value of North Sea oil and gas reserves, claiming a one percent increase in production would lead to a £22billion tax windfall for Scots, without outlining the time frame the money would be raised over. (Express page 2, Courier page 14, The P&J page 16)

Shetland: SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has reportedly said that Shetland had too few residents to have any say legally in the destination of the money generated from the oil in its waters.  Tavish Scott MSP responded by saying that it wasn’t Scotland’s oil, it was Shetland’s.  (Telegraph page 1)

Europe: Philip Gordon, Assistant US Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia has reportedly suggested that the UK risked damaging its relationship with America if it left the EU. (Times page 8, FT page 1, Telegraph page 1, Guardian page 1, Mail page 2)

Trident: Scottish CND has insisted there are no viable alternatives in the UK or abroad for the Clyde nuclear base, which could mean that independence is more likely to lead to full nuclear disarmament in Britain.  (The Herald, page 6, Iain MacWhirter in The Herald, Courier page 14)

SNP at Holyrood: Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph criticises the SNP for failing to answer questions on the future of the Faslane following independence and for suggesting that Shetland was too small to have a say on the future of its oil.

BBC: Bill Jamieson in the Scotsman comments on the state of the BBC, suggesting that there is too much emphasis on celebrity interviews, formulaic hospital dramas and bland sitcoms while BBC Scotland is facing cuts when it needs to be stepping up its political and current affairs coverage.

Sectarianism: Michael Kelly in the Scotsman comments that agonising over sectarianism is going to exaggerate its importance in the list of social problems Scotland faces.

Economy

Jessops: High street camera chain Jessops went into administration yesterday.  The firm employs about 2,000 staff across its 192 UK stores. (Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 5, Record page 2, Guardian page 9, Mail page 10)

Independence threat to business: Martin Beck of Capital Economics has suggested that some or all of Scotland’s big six companies would be tempted to relocate south or the Border if Scotland voted in favour of independence. (Times page 6)

Early retirement: Pensions minister Steve Webb has reportedly said that the age of early retirement is over as the growing number of people living into their late eighties would leave taxpayers with an unaffordable bill if people continued to retire in their late fifties. (Telegraph page 1)

Pay increases: Scottish Tory MP David Mundell has branded the SNP hypocrites over their opposition to UK benefits being capped at 1 per cent as the Scottish government is asking nurses to take a one per cent pay rise. (The Sun, page 2)

Welfare: Jackie Brock in the Scotsman argues against the 1 per cent cap on most benefits being proposed by the UK government.

Justice

Car theft: According to Grampian Police, more than 100 cars worth £1m have been stolen in the North-east of Scotland in the past three months.  In 90 per cent of the crimes, the thieves used the owners ignition keys to take the vehicles. (Scotsman page 19)

Pressure: Scottish police leaders are facing increasing pressures to agree safeguards for officers who may be deployed to Northern Ireland, to assist the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) during the extreme unrest in Belfast. (The Herald, page 5) 

Health

NHS secrecy: Internal emails from the chairman of NHS Lothian reveal plans to drip feed Audit Scotland details of private meetings. Scotland’s health boards are required to provide full information of all private meetings to Audit Scotland.  NHS Lothian’s attempt to drag its heels and attempt to selectively provide details and hold back information from Audit Scotland means the Scottish government must now intervene and send in a taskforce to clear up the mess and turn around the present performance failings. (The Herald, page 1 and page 2)    

Fertility unit: Inspectors from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority was warned that staff shortages at the assisted conception unit at Glasgow’s Royal Infirmary could post a “considerable risk of harm” to women treated there. (Times page 1)

Transport

Buses: Labour MSP Iain Gray is launching a consultation over the next three months to identify the best form of bus regulation with the intention of lodging a private member’s bill in the Scottish Parliament before the summer. (Scotsman page 14, Iain Gray in the Scotsman, The Herald page 6)

 

A9 Speed Limit: Scotland’s deadliest road could face a raise in the HGV speed limit from 40mph to 50mph due to statistics in accidents resulting from slow moving lorries, according to Transport Minister Keith Brown. (The Sun, page 2, Courier page 18)

Education

School inspectors: Tavish Scott in the Scotsman comments that as the Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education has been merged with Learning and Teaching Scotland into Education Scotland its independence and perception of independence has been lost.

Cost-cutting: Staff have reportedly hit out after the Church of Scotland froze the pay of teachers working at their care organisation, CrossReach, which looks after young people with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.  Teachers argue they now get paid 3.4% less than colleagues in mainstream schools.  However, Reverand Syd Graham states CrossReach has to respond to budget pressures in order to sustain and develop viable services to those in need throughout Scotland. (The Herald, page 5)