Reform Scotland News: 22 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

Referendum: First Minister Alex Salmond has announced that the referendum on Scottish independence will take place on Thursday 18th September 2014. The unveiling of the Scottish Independence Referendum Bill was done yesterday amidst supporters of independence outside Holyrood. This announcement means that campaigners have 546 days to persuade the Scottish people to vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. (Herald page 1, Alison Rowat, Scotsman page 1, Times page 1, FT page 4, Sun page 6, Express page 1 Kerry Gill, Record page 1, Telegraph page 1, Alan Cochrane, Guardian page 4, P&J page 12, Mail page 1, Courier page 1)

Independence white paper: Opposition parties in the Scottish Parliament have urged the SNP to bring forward the publication of the white paper outlining the plans for independence. This comes after the date for the referendum was announced. MSPs and campaigners are eager to read about proposed plans in order to begin engaging with the debate of independence. (Herald page 6, Times page 4)

North Sea oil: Ken Clarke has warned First Minister Alex Salmond not to rely too much on profits from North Sea oil in upcoming decisions on the potential future of Scotland’s economy. (Telegraph page 22)

Economy

Housing: George Osborne has been defending the headline issue of his 2013 budget announcement – the ‘Help to Buy’ scheme. There have been criticisms that the scheme will act to aid wealthy families buying second homes. Further criticisms have come from economists who warn against using housing to stabilise the economy. (Scotsman page 8, Martin Wolf, Telegraph page 4, Guardian page 18, Polly Toynbee)

Education

Universities: The number of people dropping out of higher education in Scotland has increased over the last year. 8.9% of people attending universities in Scotland are failing to finish, this is in comparison to the 7.4% UK average. More figures released from the Higher Education Statistics Agency reveal that Scotland is also falling behind in widening access to students from underprivileged households. Last year, only 26.6% of undergraduates were from the poorest homes. Once again, this compares unfavourably with the 30.7% UK average. (Herald page 10, Scotsman page 15, Jim McDonald and Simon Jennings)

Health

Cancer risks: Researchers from the Universities of Glasgow and Dundee have published a study today revealing that many women suffering from breast cancer are not completing their full course of treatment. By not being treated for the full five years many women are increasing the risk of the cancer returning despite an initial recovery. (Herald page 4, Scotsman page 6)

Transport

Drink-drive limit: The Scottish government will lower the drink-drive alcohol limit. The current limit stands at 80mgs of alcohol in 100ml of blood; however, under new plans this will be decreased to just 50mgs. This means that drivers will reach their limit after one pint of 3.5% beer, one small glass of wine or one measure of spirit. This decrease will bring Scotland in line with other European countries. (Herald page 9, Scotsman page 13, Sun page 2, Express page 13, Record page 2, Telegraph page 22, P&J page 14, Mail page 14)

Local Government

George Square redevelopment: Plans to redevelop Glasgow’s George Square have finally been approved. The plans are a modest compromise to be implemented over a two stage process. The negotiations over plans had been marred by budget implications and political infighting. (Herald page 7, Scotsman page 14)