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Reform Scotland News: 15 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

Press regulation: The Scottish government has suggested that it might go ahead with press regulation reforms suggested by the Leveson Report. David Cameron has just walked out of cross-party talks regarding regulation, instead leaving it to Parliament to decide. These talks were mirrored in Holyrood as the First Minister gathered representatives from the press and opposition parties to discuss potential reform. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 2, Sun page 8, Guardian page 1, P&J page 19, Mail page 7, Courier page 17)

Lib Dem spring conference: In a key speech at the Liberal Democrat spring conference, Nick Clegg is expected to strongly attack the Conservative Party. Speaking in Dundee, Mr Clegg will claim that the Conservatives cannot be trusted on key issues; especially with David Cameron in such a weak position within his own party. Probably most provocatively, Nick Clegg will evoke the image of Margaret Thatcher, claiming that she ‘lives on’ in Mr Cameron. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 6, Alison Rowat expands on Cameron’s weak position, Times page 3, Telegraph page 4)

Independence campaign: Leading pro-independence politicians held a private dinner for Scottish business leaders at Gleneagles last night. It is thought that Alex Salmond is leading a campaign to get high profile figures from important Scottish companies on side. (Scotsman page 8)

Defence: The Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has warned that independence for Scotland would harm UK security. The current plans for security post independence involve slicing off a section of UK personnel and equipment. However, Mr Hammond criticised this for being narrow minded and not taking into account the strategic unity of UK armed forces. (Times page 4, Paul Cornish and Alan Cochrane comment in the Telegraph, Record page 2, Kerry Gill, Express page 2, P&J page 13, Mail page 4)

Eric Joyce: The Independent MP for Falkirk Eric Joyce has reportedly been arrested following a fight in a House of Commons bar. Mr Joyce, who faced a fine for a similar incident, was previously forced to leave the Labour Party. (Scotsman page 5, Record page 1, Express page 5)

Economy         

Scottish borrowing: A leading academic and former member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee has published a book in which he claims that Scotland would face higher borrowing cost if separated from the UK. Professor Charles Goodhart claims that international markets unsure about Scotland’s future performance are likely to charge a higher borrowing premium. This would hinder Scotland’s ability to fill its deficit, adding an extra squeeze on public spending. Professor Goodhart suggests that borrowing might be up to 1% more expensive than the UK. (Scotsman page 12, Charles Goodhart)

Monetary policy: George Osborne is looking to spark a new era of monetary activism. He has sent his chief economic advisor to the US to sound out new ideas that could promote growth through monetary policy. (FT page 3)

North Sea oil: The debate over the future prospects of North Sea oil is continuing as Alex Salmond reasserted the security of the industry amidst claims that revenue was likely to fall. (Sun page 2, P&J page 17, Mail page 12, Courier page 18)

Petrol prices: George Osborne has reportedly decided to scrap plans to raise the price of petrol as part of his budget announcement. (Express page 2)

Health

NHS death rates: A review has been triggered by a Stornoway hospital after its ‘standardised mortality rate’ grew above an acceptable level. The review, which is in its early stages, has prompted other leading hospitals to address its safety procedures to try and curb death rates. (Herald page 1)

Malpractice: Dr. Colin Mainds, a surgeon found guilty of operating inappropriately, is still in a job. The surgeon who was prosecuted for surgeries carried out between 2008-9 has yet to be punished by the BMI and is still able to practice. (Herald page 7)

Justice

Miner’s strike review: Following the success of the inquiry into the policing during the Hillsborough disaster, calls have been made to conduct a similar inquiry into conduct during the miners’ strike. Particular emphasis has been put on the criminal convictions faced by striking miners that are thought to have been unfair and politically motivated. However, during a charged debate in Parliament, the SNP rejected proposals. (Scotsman page 6

Armed forces: A recent study has revealed that young men who have served in the armed forces are up to three times more likely to commit violent crime. The research was based on up to 14,000 police records for a sample of men and women who have served in the army. Further findings include an increased propensity for crime among those serving in a combat role and a strong link between post-deployment and alcohol misuse. (Scotsman page 14, Courier page 20)

Church abuse claims: Cardinal Keith O’Brien remains under pressure as fresh allegations of sexual misconduct emerge. A former trainee cleric has come forward and says that he is prepared to face Cardinal O’Brien in court. He is reportedly in the process of suing Cardinal O’Brien. (Herald page 1)

Education

Scottish education system: Graham Leicester argues in The Scotsman that Scottish education needs a stronger sense of direction. This is in response to several reports concluding that education in Scotland is lagging behind. Alex Wood in The Herald also comments on the recent Commission on School Reform report.

Teacher training: A government-backed report has suggested that teachers should undertake work experience placements in industry in a drive to make lessons relevant to real world circumstances. (Herald page 8)