Reform Scotland News: 13 March 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
Votes for 16 and 17-year-olds:
The Scottish Referendum (Franchise) Bill was published by the Scottish government yesterday.  The bill proposes allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in the independence referendum. (Scotsman page 1, John Curtice in the Scotsman, Herald page 6, Record page 9, Times page 6, John Curtice in the Times, Sun page 2, Telegraph page 1, Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph, Elizabeth Kosman in the Mail, P&J page 13, Courier page 17)

Defence: In a letter to the First Minister, David Cameron has reportedly admitted that the UK government has gone back on a promise to double the size of the army in Scotland, but he also challenged Alex Salmon to explain what the military structures would be in an independent Scotland. (Scotsman page 14, Herald page 6, Times page 12, Express page 4, Telegraph page 5, Mail page 8, Courier page 16)

Trident:  A TNS BMRB poll has indicated that a majority of Scots are opposed to replacing Trident, with 75 per cent of people planning to vote no in the referendum opposed, and 87 per cent of people planning to vote yes opposed. (Herald page 1, Sun page 2)

Head-to-head debate: The SNP have accused David Cameron of “running scared” after the UK government made it clear that there was little chance of a head-to-head televised debate on independence between David Cameron and Alex Salmond. (Herald page 6)

Mansion tax: The Lib Dems yesterday reportedly refused to back a Labour motion calling for the introduction of a mansion tax, despite the Lib Dems previously calling for a tax on houses worth more than £2million. (Record page 8)

Bedroom tax: Iain Duncan Smith yesterday announced that foster carers and parents of serving Armed Forces personnel would be exempt from the bedroom tax if they have spare rooms. (Times page 1, Sun page 4, Telegraph page 14, FT page 4, Guardian page 4)

Independent Scotland: Gus O’Donnell in the Scotsman sets out how he thinks an independent Scotland could achieve a sustainable economy.

Act of Union: Allan Massie in the Scotsman comments on the history of the Act of Union and Sir Walter Scott’s opinion of it.

Yes campaign: Gregor Gall in the Scotsman comments that voters need a compelling reason to vote for independence, and answers should focus around social justice

Ed Miliband: Mary Riddell in the Telegraph comments that Ed Miliband needs to be more pro-active rather than simply waiting for David Cameron to fail.

Economy         
Cost of living: According to figures from uSwitch, essential household bills, including food and fuel, have risen by 25 per cent in the past five years.  The figures state that in 2008 households spent on average £1,264 a month on essentials and that has risen to £1,575. (Scotsman page 1, Mail page 1)

Triple-dip fears: There are reported increased fears of a triple-dip recession following a steep drop in manufacturing output and Sterling reaching a three-year low. (Times page 4, Guardian page 24)

Scottish fish: Lib Dem MSP Tavish Scott has accused the Scottish quango Seafish of promoting fish caught in Iceland rather than fish caught by Scottish fishermen. (Scotsman page 7)

Budget: Eddie Barnes in the Scotsman comments on the challenges facing the Chancellor ahead of this year’s budget.

Austerity: Martin Wolf in the FT argues that the UK’s austerity is indefensible.

RBS shares: Vince Cable has warned that Scottish taxpayers would not receive the Treasury giveaway which is being proposed in the run-up to the next election based on RBS shares if Scotland became independent. (Herald page 1)

Health
Assisted suicide:
Dr Ian Kerr, who worked in the Williamwood Medical Centre in East Renfrewshire, has confessed to assisting in the suicide of a number of patients who wanted to end their lives. (Herald page 1)