Reform Scotland News: 19 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



Press regulation: A last minute deal has been agreed by the three main parties at Westminster to introduce rules on press regulation and will be set up under Royal Charter. UK Culture Secretary Maria Miller will meet an all-party group in Scotland to discuss the implications. The Scottish Government has said it needs time to look at the proposals and will not report on plans for Scotland until after Easter. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Times page 1, Hugo Rifkind in the Times, FT page 2, Janan Ganesh in the FT, Express page 4, Telegraph page 4, Sun page 1, Record page 8, Guardian page 1, Polly Toynebee in the Guardian, P&J page 12, Courier page 13)


Cyprus crash: Treasury minister Greg Clark told MPs yesterday that the government was putting pension payments for British ex-pats with Cypriot bank accounts on hold to ensure they receive them. The move has come as the Cypriot parliament prepares to vote on a bank deposit tax as part of a wider bailout package. (Scotsman page 8, Peter Jones in the Scotsman, Herald page 2, Times page 4, Alan Posener in the Times, FT page 1, Gideon Rachman in the FT, Express page 1, Telegraph page 1, Guardian page 1, Mail page 1, Richard Littlejohn in the Daily Mail, P&J page 22, Courier page 28, Jack Mckeown in the Courier)


Holyrood powers: A survey by Scottish Social Attitudes has found that the majority of people in Scotland would support remaining within the UK, but giving Holyrood responsibility for everything apart from defence and foreign affairs. (Scotsman page 10, Rachel Ormston and John Curtice in the Scotsman, P&J page 16)


Green homes: Scottish Government ministers have committed £13.5million for a scheme to build more than 300 greener homes. The scheme could also support about 250 construction jobs. (Scotsman page 18, Herald page 6, Courier page 14)


Open spaces: The Big Lottery Fund’s Community Spaces scheme will reportedly see almost £5million of lottery money spent on playgrounds, skate parks and gardens across Scotland. The Big Lottery Fund in Scotland is also to launch a new £10million fund to help alleviate domestic poverty in Scotland. (Herald page 3, Scotsman page 19)


School meals: Child poverty campaigners have urged the Scottish Government to link free school meals to the new universal credit. The move could see half of all pupils entitled to a free school meal. (Herald page 7)


Energy: Energy Secretary Ed Davies has warned that an independent Scotland’s wind farm companies would face serious competition from other countries to sell their energy to the remainder of the UK. Shadow minister Tom Greatrex also warned that Scottish households could see annual energy bills rise by more than £800 if subsidies were no longer shared across Britain. (Telegraph page 10, Mail page 8, P&J page 15)


Currency union: Finance Secretary John Swinney has suggested that there is no alternative to keeping the pound in the event of Scotland becoming independent. Swinney also admitted that negotiations on key elements of a separation deal are unlikely to happen before next year’s referendum. (Mail page 19)


EU talks: Scottish Labour MEP Catherine Stihler has warned that any discussion between Scotland and the EU over an independent Scotland’s’ membership cannot go all Scotland’s way. She has also warned that the process of joining the EU can be a slow one as the Scottish Government has previously stated they would carry out negotiations between the referendum in 2013 and Independence Day in 2016. Iceland, who started the process of gaining membership in 2010, is still to be accepted. (P&J page 16, Courier page 15)



Childcare costs: Westminster will today reportedly reveal a £1billion childcare voucher scheme to lighten the burden of childcare costs. To be eligible both parents in a family must be working, earn less than £150,000 a year and not receiving tax credits. Those eligible for the scheme will receive £1,200 a year per child. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 6, FT page 4, Telegraph page 1, Sun page 2, Guardian page 1, Mail page 2)


Scottish share of debt: Finance secretary John Swinney has suggested that the starting point for working out an independent Scotland’s share of UK debt may be Scotland’s contribution to the Treasury from oil and gas wealth over the last 30 years. (Scotsman page 10)


Housing market blow: On Friday lawyers will vote on proposals which would require buyers and mortgage lender to be represented by separate solicitors. The proposals could mean home buyers would face a rise in costs delivering a blow to the fragile Scottish housing market. (Scotsman page 14)


Budget: Paul Johnson writing in the Scotsman comments on Britain’s economy in advance of tomorrow’s Budget and argues that despite households struggling, the pain has been spread across the board and many people remain in employment.


Stephen Pollard writing in the Express argues that tomorrow’s Budget is likely to be the deciding factor in whether or not the Conservatives win the next election and argues that Osborne should cut public spending and cut taxation.


Benedict Brogan writing in Telegraph comments on the forthcoming Budget and how it may be received in light of the doubt caused by events in Cyprus.


Sir Terry Leahy writing in the Daily Mail argues that the coalition’s plan is not working and that public spending and taxes should be cut.


Bedroom tax:  Joan McAlpine writing in the Daily Record criticises plans for the bedroom tax and argues that it is a cruel tax on the poor and disabled.



Female police: Scotland’s most senior female police officer has warned that there are too few women in the service and the issue should be a key priority for Scotland’s new single force. (Herald page 5)


Local Government

Statutory repairs: Auditing experts are to pursue residents for debts from Edinburgh’s controversial statutory repairs scheme. Edinburgh City Council had previously been unable to recover the costs due to a police fraud investigation and a separate internal probe relating to the overcharging of residents. (Scotsman page 17)


Edinburgh Film Focus: Edinburgh Council leaders have intervened in the row over cutbacks to the capital’s film locations unit Edinburgh Film Focus. (Scotsman page 16)