Reform Scotland News: 14 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. 


Pope Francis: Yesterday evening the conclave of cardinals in Rome elected Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, as the new Pope.  He has chosen the name Pope Francis and is the first Jesuit and the first person from South America to be Pope. (Scotsman page 1, Tom Devine in the Scotsman, John Haldane in the Scotsman, Herald page 1, Tom Devine in the Herald, Times page 1, Eamon Duffy in the Times, Sun page 1, Record page 1, Tom Brown in the Record, Express page 1, Ann Widdecombe in the Express, Telegraph page 1, Damian Thompson in the Telegraph, FT page 1, Guardian page 1, Lizzie Davies in the Guardian, Andrew Brown in the Guardian, Mail page 1, P&J page 1, Courier page 1)

Independence debate: Michael Kelly in the Scotsman comments that Sir Tom Farmer is wrong to seek to postpone debate on a number of the consequences of independence until just before the referendum.

Defence: Alex Salmond yesterday accused Defence Secretary Philip Hammond of lying in the House of Commons to justify cuts to the army in Scotland. However, the Defence Secretary has commented that the SNP’s defence plans for an independent Scotland were “incoherent”. (Record page 8, Telegraph page 1, Mail page 10, P&J page 14, Courier page 17)


Budget: Iain MacWhirter in the Herald and Chris Giles in the FT speculate ahead of next week’s budget statement.

Charitable donations:  According to a study organised by New Philanthropy Capital and carried out by Ipsos Mori, Scots donate more to charity than the English and a third more than Londoners.  The study found Scottish mainstream donors gave, on average, £356. The only English region to give more was the Midlands, with £375.   (Guardian page 15)

Local government

Council debt: According to the Accounts Commissions, Scottish local authorities combined debt levels have increased from £9.3bn in 2007/8 to £12.9bn in 2011/12. (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 13, Times page 15, Sun page 2, Express page 2, Telegraph page 10, Mail page 19)


Minimum pricing in England & Wales: The SNP has accused the UK government of a “dereliction of responsibility” following reports that the coalition is to drop plans to introduce a minimum price for alcohol south of the Border. (Scotsman page 12, Herald page 6, Express page 10, Telegraph page 8, FT page 2, John Gapper in the FT, Mail page 10, P&J page 11)

Assisted suicide: The police have reportedly been told to follow up comments made by Dr Ian Kerr that he had helped patients wanting to take their own lives.  The Crown Office has commented that while there is no crime of assisted suicide in Scotland, new evidence may mean that the law of homicide applies. Dr Kerr reportedly decided to speak out as Margo MacDonald MSP brings forward her bill on assisted suicide. (Scotsman page 13, Herald page 1, Times page 20, Sun page 4, Express page 1, Kerry Gill in the Express, Telegraph page 9, Mail page 21, Courier page 14)

Kidney disease: According to a survey carried out by Kidney Research UK, kidney disease is one of the fastest-growing illnesses in Scotland, yet 84 per cent of people do not know its causes or symptoms. (Scotsman page 14)

Waiting lists: NHS Tayside has apologised after an investigation found that staff faced “inappropriate behaviour including pressure” to class patients as “unavailable” for treatment so they wouldn’t feature in waiting list figures. Derek Feeley, the chief executive of the NHS in Scotland has commented that he did not discuss the issue with the former Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon. (Scotsman page 15, Herald page 2, Times page 14, Sun page 2, Record page 8, Express page 2, Keith Aitken in the Express, P&J page 23, Courier page 16)


Teaching standards: The General Teaching Council for Scotland have unveiled new standards, to be used from August, to help teachers develop their professional skills. (Scotsman page 16)

Children’s potential: Peter Peacock in the Scotsman comments that too many children from disadvantaged backgrounds don’t have the opportunity to reach their full educational potential, and that the recommendations contained in the Commission on School Reform’s final report could help address this problem.