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Reform Scotland News: 28 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

Smoking: The Scottish government have set out a number of measures to reduce the percentage of smokers in Scotland to 5% by 2034.  The strategy will include improved services for those wishing to quit and standardising packaging to discourage children’s desire to smoke as well as reducing children’s exposure to second hand smoke.  (The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 8, Telegraph page 1 & 12, Times page 29, Express page 4, P&J page 23, Courier page 16, Mail page 6)

Homecoming: It has been reported, as Alex Salmond unveils events for the Homecoming, that he is confident the campaign will not become politicised, despite a clash with the independence referendum.  The First Minister stated the campaign was being timed to coincide with the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, the start of the Ryder Cup and the Commonwealth Games. (The Scotsman page 8, The Herald page 2, The Telegraph page 13, Courier page 11)

Priests: Thomas Docherty, the Labour MP for Dunfermline and West Fife, has called on the new Pope to consider allowing married men to become priests. (The Scotsman page 2)

Women MPs: Scottish Labour have reportedly suffered a setback after the UK party snubbed all-women shortlists for a number of Westminster target seats, after figures showing 48% of Labour MSPs in Holyrood are women compared to 25% of the Scottish Labour contingent at Westminster. (The Herald page 6)

Referendum Tactics: The SNP have been accused of “fighting a negative campaign” by Labour’s Shadow Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran by portraying the referendum as a choice between independence or a Conservative government at Westminster. (The Herald page 6, Sun page 2)

Economy

Benefit protest: Iain Duncan Smith was disrupted during a keynote speech in Edinburgh yesterday by protesters complaining about his welfare reforms. (The Scotsman page 14, The Herald page 3, Telegraph page 14, Alan Cochrane in Telegraph, Times page 9, Sun page 2, Courier page 18, Mail page 9)

Railways: Tony Lodge writing for The Scotsman comments on creating more private sector job opportunities by improving the quality of railway services.

Tourism: It has been reported tourism chiefs VisitScotland are preparing for tough times as the Met Office warn the cold spell should last throughout the Easter break.  Fears have been raised as holidaymakers may be put off travelling north by media images of snow blocked roads and homes without power. (The Herald page 1, The Scotsman page 1, P&J page 1, Mail page 6)

Oil and gas: Vince Cable is expected to announce an oil and gas strategy later today in Aberdeen with plans for “tax certainty”, supply chain support and skills development. (The Scotsman page 8, Courier page 2, Mail page 21)

RBS: Leading economist Charles Goodhart has claimed independence would lead to the Royal Bank of Scotland and The Bank of Scotland being based in England due to increasing funding costs that would put them at a competitive disadvantage. (Times page 1)

Bank shortfall: The Financial Policy Committee announced yesterday that UK banks have an estimated £25billion shortfall, reporting most of the black hole is concerned with The Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking group. (Financial Times page 1) 

 Justice

Prisoners: The Scottish Parliament’s justice committee has called for prisoners to experience working nine to five days in prison to prepare them for work after release and offered money in return for attending training and rehabilitation. (The Scotsman page 21, P&J page 22)

Education

Teachers’ Strike: It has been reported 90 percent of teachers who took part in the Educational Institute of Scotland’s ballot voted for industrial action in response to pension changes, resulting in plans for a national strike across Scotland.  The union is yet to decide whether to hold a second formal ballot before industrial action.  (The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 7, Daily Express page 4, P&J page 13, Courier page 19, Mail page 13)

Childcare: Holyrood’s education committee convener Stewart Maxwell has raised concerns over childcare services arguing the systems in place designed to help vulnerable children lack any cohesion and risk presenting a “confusing picture” to children.  (The Scotsman page 4 , The Herald page 8, P&J page 20)

Education Standards: In a speech yesterday, Education Secretary Michael Russell said that Scottish secondaries that underperform in national examinations are to be twinned with successful schools within the same catchment area in an attempt to raise standards. The Improvement Partnership Programme is expected to be a long term national initiative across council boundaries. (The Herald page 1, Times page 21)    

Health

Workload: The Chairman of the BMA’s Scottish GPs committee, Alan McDevitt, warned yesterday doctors are being left “emotionally and physically exhausted” by increased workloads.  (Times page 21)