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Reform Scotland News: 1 February 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

 Elections: There are fears that the UK-wide Electoral Registration and Administration Bill will further confuse the electorate in the run up to the independence referendum. This issue is already complex with the addition of 16 and 17 year olds being given the right to vote in the referendum. The new Bill changes the system by which you are put onto the electoral register. Experts are reportedly uneasy about the impact this new registration system may have on voters in the independence referendum. (Scotsman page 1, Express page 4)

Referendum: Alex Salmond has ignored calls for him to name a date for the independence vote. Opposition parties challenged Mr Salmond at First Minister’s Questions to clarify the exact timing of the referendum. Mr Salmond responded by saying that the Bill containing the date will be published in March. (Scotsman page 4, Herald page 6, Telegraph page 12, Record page 8, P&J page 8, Courier page 16)

SNP Building Plans: Alex Salmond has been criticised by the opposition after announcing a long list of pledged building plans that are yet to have broken ground. (Telegraph page 12)

Gay Rights: Alex Salmond has said that a consultation on a Scottish constitution would follow a yes vote in the independence referendum. However, there are fears that this will lead to sectarian divisions on issues such as gay rights and abortion. (Times page 7)

Independence: The Guardian newspaper has been criticised over a cartoon deriding the rejection of Alex Salmond’s referendum question. The cartoon has been dubbed a racist attack on Scotland. (Sun page 6)

 

Economy

Banks: A City watchdog has released findings that over 90% of financial products sold from 2001 had been mis-sold. Banks are expected to have to pay out over £1bn in compensation to companies and individuals. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Mail page 10)

Child Benefit: Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that she wouldn’t automatically overturn the UK cuts to child benefits. Ms Sturgeon has been highly critical of the cutback describing it as ‘fundamentally wrong’. However, when pushed on the issue she reportedly failed to explicitly say whether, in an independent Scotland, the benefit would be reinstated. (Scotsman page 1)

Remploy Cuts: A disabled man, employed at a factory through Remploy, has been found dead the day he was made redundant. The factory, a key Remploy site, was closed as the government pulled funding from the group specialising in employing disabled people. (Scotsman page 7, Record page 1, Mail page 5)

Defence Spending: The UK government has pledged to spend £160m on new weapons for the British Army. It is hoped that this will secure ‘thousands’ of jobs for Scotland as new projects are built at Rosyth and on the Clyde. (Scotsman page 10, George Kerevan in the Scotsman, Herald page 6, FT page 3, Guardian page 2)

High-Street Closures: Gregor Gall in The Scotsman talks about the recent spate of shop closures and how the will to resist is fading with fatigue.

Pensions: The Financial Services Authority is to investigate the transparency of pension and annuity providers. It is thought that financial service providers are not providing enough information to customers or encouraging them to search around for the most suitable deal. (Herald page 4, Mail page 1)

Ryder Cup: The Ryder Cup, set to be played in Scotland in 2014, has come into controversy over a £75 fee for volunteers. The event, the second largest golf tournament after The Open, relies on an army of volunteers for its smooth running. However, it has been revealed that all volunteers hoping to help out will have to pay a £75 registration fee. (Times, page 11, Courier page 19)

RBS: Former chancellor Nigel Lawson has said that George Osborne should fully nationalise RBS. Lord Lawson has launched an attack on the culture of banks and unfounded bank assumptions about ‘losing star performers’ should bonuses be cut. RBS is currently 82% owned by the government. (FT page 2)

Microsoft: The computer software giant Mircrosoft have outlined plans to hire 2,000 apprentices in Scotland. (Record page 2, Sun page 4, Courier page 25)

 

Justice

 

Lockerbie: Scottish police are to be allowed access to Libya in their investigation into the Lockerbie bombing. It is thought that with the downfall of Colonel Gaddafi new documents pertaining to the regime’s involvement in the bombing can be found. The deal was secured on David Cameron’s surprise visit to Libya. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 2, Telegraph page 4, Times page 9, FT page 3, Record page 8, Sun page 1, P&J page 12, Mail page 12, Courier page 3)

 

Transport

 

Highlands & Islands: Loganair, the air service providing vital transport links across the Scottish islands, have been criticised for poor service despite high government subsidy. A Freedom of Information request shed light on the fact that 296 passenger services were cancelled in the last year. (Express page 2)

Health

Mental Health: It has been reported that 88% of GPs in Scotland prescribe drugs for mental health issues that could be solved through counselling. (Scotsman page 13)

Cancer Vaccine: The Throat Cancer foundation says that cancer vaccine Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which is already given to young girls to combat cervical cancer, should be extended to boys aged 12 to prevent a throat cancer ‘epidemic’. (Scotsman page 16)

Education

Universities: Scotland’s Futures Forum has argued that Scotland’s aim for world leading academic institutions may not be compatible with equal access aspirations. However, the think tank, set up by the Scottish Parliament, has said that they do aim to predict the future, merely pose difficult questions that may arise. (Scotsman page 18)