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Reform Scotland News: 6 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
Independence Day
: The SNP said yesterday that Scottish independence would be declared in March 2016 if people vote yes in the referendum next year.  The timetable reportedly sets out the process for negotiating separation from the UK as well as creating a Scottish constitution. (Scotsman page 1, Jim Gallagher in the Scotsman, Brian Wilson in the Scotsman, David Torrance in the Scotsman, Eddie Barnes in the Scotsman, Sun page 2, Times page 1, Adam Tomkins in the Times, Telegraph page 1, Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph, Herald page 6, Ian Bell in the Herald, Mail page 6, P&J page 12)

Gay marriage: Legislation to allow gay people in England and Wales to get married were supported at a second reading yesterday with 400 MPs in favour and 175 against.  Although Prime Minister David Cameron supported the proposals, more Conservatives voted against the bill than in favour. (Scotsman page 6, David Torrance in the Scotsman, Allan Massie in the Scotsman, Sun page 6, Record page 2, Times page 1, Telegraph page 1, Tom Chivers in the Telegraph, Herald page 1, FT page 4, Elizabeth Rigby and George Parker in the FT, Mail page 11, Guardian page 1, Simon Jenkins in the Guardian, P&J page 17, Courier page 13)

Investment in public projects: According to a publication by the Scottish Futures Trust, the Scottish government failed to deliver £333m in funding for key projects in 2012-13.  The figure represents the difference between what was forecast for the projects and the amount actually raised by the Non Profit Distribution funding model. (Scotsman page 10, Times page 9, Telegraph page 5, Mail page 16)

Chris Huhne: Nigel Farage has confirmed that he will not be standing in the Eastleigh by-election, triggered by Chris Huhne’s decision to stand down as an MP. Further coverage and comment on Chris Huhne’s decision to plead guilty to obstructing justice by persuading his former wife to take responsibility for a speeding offense he had committed.  (Scotsman page 10, Sun page 9, Record page 11, Times page 9, Telegraph page 6, Herald page 9, FT page 2, Mail page 8, Guardian page 6, P&J page 16, Courier page 20)

Press laws: The House of Lords yesterday voted for an amendment to the Defamation Bill to introduce a cheap arbitration service between newspapers and people who feel wronged by the press.  The amendment was against the wishes of the government. (Telegraph page 2)

Neoliberalism: Michael Fry in the Scotsman defends neoliberalism.

Economy
RBS:
The head of RBS’s investment arm, John Hourican, is expected to step down at the end of the month.  The news comes as the bank is likely to face fines around £400m from regulators in the UK and US regarding the Libor rate-rigging scandal. (Scotsman page 1, Record page 2, Herald page 1, Guardian page 23)

Business Secretary Vince Cable is reportedly expected to revive a radical plan to return RBS to the private sector by distributing free shares to the public. (FT page 1)

Defence work: Labour MP Thomas Docherty has claimed that as official figures show that Scottish firms are getting more than one-quarter of the sub-contract work on the Royal Navy’s two new aircraft carriers, this proved that claims from the SNP that Scotland does not get its fair share of defence work were wrong. (Herald page 6)

Justice
Domestic abuse: The Chief Constable of Scotland’s new single police force, Stephen House, has backed a comparison between domestic abuse and terrorism and has set out plans for a new domestic abuse task force. (Scotsman page 1, Record page 2, Mail page 1)

Transport
Trams:
It is reported that up to £3.2m a year will be set aside from Edinburgh Council’s budget to cover the start-up costs and operational losses over the first five years the trams are in operation. (Scotsman page 15)

Health
Hospital inspection: Healthcare Environment Inspectorate (HEI) chief inspector Susan Brimelow has commented that spot checks carried out on hospitals were a success as the latest annual report showed wards and equipment were generally cleaner.  (Herald page 8, Mail page 4)

Health board elections: The elections to health boards held in Fife and Dumfries & Galloway reportedly cost the taxpayer nearly £12 for every vote cast. (Herald page 11)

Education

College students: College principals yesterday told Holyrood’s education committee that older and part-time students were being squeezed out of colleges by the Scottish government’s rush to reform the sector. (Scotsman page 18, Record page 6, Times page 12, Herald page 5)