Reform Scotland News: 30 January 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

Referendum question: The SNP is reportedly expected to consider a recommendation from the Electoral Commission that the wording of the independence referendum should be “Should Scotland be an independent country?”. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 6)

Benefit claimants: The Department of Work and Pensions has revealed that nearly one third of people receiving incapacity benefit who have been reassessed since 2010 have been told that they are fit for work and are no longer eligible for the benefit. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Record page 1)

Boundary changes: The Liberal Democrats yesterday voted against a government bill to change parliamentary boundaries for the 2015 election.  This was the first time the coalition had agreed to set aside the convention of collective responsibility. (Scotsman page 5, Herald page 6, Record page 2, FT page 4, Mail page 6, Guardian page 11, P&J page 18)

Army recruiting offices: The UK government is to close 14 of Scotland’s 19 army recruitment offices as part of plans to shut a total of 83 across the UK. (Scotsman page 14, Herald page 5, FT page 2, P&J page 19)

Climate change: A report by the Scottish government which updated efforts to meet Scotland’s target to cut harmful emissions by 42% by 2020 compared to 1990, has been criticised as failing to make the changes necessary to meet the target. (Herald page 6, Times page 18, Telegraph page 10)

Tax breaks: Ministers are reportedly pressing David Cameron and George Osborne into making a budget announcement in March regarding the Conservative Party’s pledge to introduce a married couples’ tax break.  It is reported that this could be a way to placate Tory MPs concerned about plans to legalise gay marriage. (Times page 1)

Unionist campaign: Brian Wilson in the Scotsman comments that the unionists need to consider starting to negotiate what a revised balance of powers could look like after the referendum is over.

Yes campaign: Eddie Barnes in the Scotsman comments that the Yes campaign using the ideas of fairness and inequality is a gamble.

Economy

RBS: Trade unions and politicians have warned that customers and businesses could lose out following RBS’ decision to pay out up to £250m in bonus to staff in its investment arm implicated in the Libor scandal. (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 8, Record page 4)

Savings: A study by the Bank of Scotland has revealed that one in six Scottish households are using savings to pay for day-to-day living expenses. (Herald page 1, Express page 2)

House prices: The average price of a flat in Scotland fell by 5% last year.  (Herald page 11, Express page 15)

Halls: Browns Food Group is expected to announce a deal today to buy the Halls brand. (Record page 2)

Government spending: Michael Fry in the Scotsman comments that Alex Salmond should consider the warnings of Nobel prize-winner James Buchanan who commented that the state is not the omniscient, omnipotent, omnicompetent organ collectivist thinking assumes it is.

Justice

Phones for prisoners: The chief executive of the Scottish Prison Service, Colin McConnell, has said that he things prisoners should have phones in their cells so that they can keep in closer contact with their families. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Times page 8, Sun page 4, Record page 1, Express page 2, Telegraph page 1, Mail page 1, Courier page 15)

Legal Aid: The Scottish Parliament yesterday voted in favour of changes to legal aid which will mean that accused individuals with disposable income of £82 a week or more, or savings of more than £750, and who are not in prison, will have to contribute toward the cost of their defence. (Scotsman page 14, Herald page 9, Sun page 2, Mail page 16, Courier page 20)

Transport

High-speed rail: Ian Bell in the Herald comments about Scotland being left out of plans for the HS2 high-speed rail link.

Health

Fizzy drinks: SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn has warned that imposing a tax on sugary drinks could lead to job losses at AG Barr. (Scotsman page 13)

Care profession: Iain Gray in the Scotsman outlines his concerns regarding changes in the care profession.

Education

Access plans: In written evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s finance committee, Universities Scotland has questioned the Scottish government’s suggestion that the cost of extending access to higher education would only have marginal costs. (Times page 13, Telegraph page 4)