Reform Scotland News: 3 May 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

Crematorium investigation: Lord Bonomy, a senior judge who presided over the war crimes tribunals for the former Yugoslavia, has been appointed as the head of a commission looking at the cremation of infants across Scotland. The commission has been set up by the Scottish Government in the wake of the Mortonhall scandal. (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 5)

 

Brian Adam tribute: Tributes were paid to SNP MSP Brian Adam from all parties at Holyrood yesterday. First Minister Alex Salmond led a special debate as Mr Adam’s wife and children watched. (Scotsman page 12, Herald page 1, Record page 2, Courier page 24, P&J page 11)

 

Independence debate: Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander is expected to encourage all parties in the referendum campaign to condemn statements and actions that “poison the well of debate” in a speech today. (Scotsman page 12, Herald page 5, Telegraph page 1, Express page 2, Mail page 4)

 

Creative Scotland: Robert Palmer, former director of Glasgow as European City of Culture in 1990, is thought to be set to become the new chief executive of Creative Scotland. (Herald page 3

 

First Minister’s Questions: Alan Cochrane writing in the Telegraph comments on First Minister’s Questions and asks why the SNP seem unprepared for the attacks on independence by the Better Together campaign, Labour, Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives.

 

Economy

Dunfermline branches: Nationwide is set to close half of Dunfermline’s branches and incorporate the remaining branches into various operations the building society plans to expand. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 10, Courier page 1)

 

Independent currency: Dr Angus Armstrong, director of macroeconomic research at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, has warned that a separate Scottish currency after independence could prompt savers and depositors to move their funds to banks south of the Border. His comments come after leading pro-independence figures voiced support for a new Scottish currency despite the SNP wanting to keep the pound. Alex Salmond yesterday refused to rule out an independent Scotland having its own currency during First Minister’s Questions. (Scotsman page 6, Sun page 2, Courier page 17, P&J page 14)

 

RBS and Lloyds: Chancellor George Osborne has been warned not to short-change the taxpayer with a cheap bank sale. The warning came from SNP and Labour politicians as a report revealed that state-owned RBS and Lloyds could be sold before the UK general election at share prices well below the levels the government paid for them in 2008. (Scotsman page 7, Herald page 6, Mail page 32)

 

 

Globalisation: Graham Leicester writing in the Scotsman comments on Ian Goldin’s speech at the Scottish Council for Development and Industry’s annual forum and argues that regardless of the outcome of next year’s referendum, the Scottish Government will need to change its way of thinking as the world becomes increasingly globalised.  

 

Single parents: Holyrood’s Equal Opportunities Committee has heard that welfare reforms introduced by the UK Government threaten the viability of childcare services and many single parents are unable to take up work opportunities or are giving up work because of difficulties with childcare. (Herald page 5, Mail page 22)

 

Benefit reforms: Apex Scotland, a charity that works with ex-offenders and vulnerable young people, has indicated that benefit reforms are undermining efforts to rehabilitate former prisoners. (Herald page 5)

 

Pension funds: First Minister Alex Salmond has confirmed during First Minister’s Questions that companies operating across the UK could be forced to split their pension funds into separate Scottish and English schemes under post-independence plans. The First Minister told MSPs that three options were being considered in response to EU rules in the event of Scotland leaving the UK. (Herald page 6, Telegraph page 12, Mail page 4)

 

Justice

Police ICT support: The Scottish Police Authority have told Holyrood’s Justice Sub-Committee on Policing that ministers had underestimated the cost of integrating the computer systems of the old police forces. The SPA has warned that they may have to sell off police buildings to make up the shortfall. (Herald page 2)

 

Court fines: During a debate on the future of the justice system, the SNP was criticised by Tory MSP Margaret Mitchell over its poor record on court fine collections after it emerged that £18.5million of fines were still owed. (Express page 12)

 

Community payback orders: Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has told MSPs that community payback orders have been successfully implemented with offenders carrying out almost 935,000 hours of unpaid work. However, Labour’s Lewis Macdonald added that 12 per cent of the orders handed down were breached and Tory MSP Margaret Mitchell added that less than a third of CPOs were completed within a year. (Sun page 2)

 

Transport

Borders railway: MSPs have called for an inquiry into claims that the consortium building the Scottish Government’s flagship Borders railway blacklisted workers while running another transport project. Unions had lobbied MSPs claiming they have evidence that BFK consortium was responsible for terminating the contracts of 28 workers who raised concerns about health and safety at a project in London. (Scotsman page 22, Record page 2)

 

Health

NHS drugs decisions: A review into access to new medicines ordered by the Scottish Government will release its findings today. The report is expected to say that the public must be allowed in to meetings where vital decisions about which new drugs are available on the NHS in Scotland are made. (Herald page 1)

 

Education

Numeracy: Education expert Keir Bloomer has called for primary teachers to have a Higher in maths to be allowed into the profession. The calls have come as part of a wider drive to improve basic numeracy in the classroom. Mr Bloomer has also called for a change in attitude towards maths and criticised the tolerance of poor standards of numeracy. (Herald page 7

 

University places: Andrew Denholm writing in the Herald suggests a debate on how to fund a gradual expansion in university places is in order.