Reform Scotland News: 31 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

Referendum spending: The heads of the Yes and No campaigns have reportedly expressed concern that strict spending limits in the weeks before the independence referendum next year could lead to the formation of “dummy” bodies by wealthy backers on either side. (Scotsman page 6)

 

SNP tax policy: Alex Salmond has been criticised by Labour leader Johann Lamont for SNP plans to reduce corporation tax in Scotland to 3 per cent below the UK level if Scotland becomes independent. Professor Joseph Stiglitz, a nobel-prize winning economic advisor to Alex Salmond, has expressed concern over the plans. (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 6, Tom Gordon in the Herald, Telegraph page 7, David Torrance in the Times, Times page 12, Mail page 20, Courier page 17)

 

Benefits access: Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has vowed to fight the European Commission after it demanded restrictions on immigrants’ access to benefits be eased. Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has also criticised the EC’s position and there has been support from Labour for a strong residence test before access to some benefits is granted. (Scotsman page 14, Express page 2, Herald page 6, Mail page 8, Guardian page 12)

 

Private rental sector: The Scottish government has announced plans to work with letting agents to develop regulations in an attempt to modernise the private rented property sector. Housing minister Margaret Burgess has said the regulations will aim to improve management and quality of service for tenants and landlords. (Scotsman page 19)

 

Fisheries: The European Parliament and Commission have reached a deal to place regional decision making and an end to dumping dead fish back into the sea at the centre of fisheries management. It is hoped that the new system of devolved decision-making will be a major boost for the Scottish fishing industry. (Scotsman page 21, Herald page 9, Mail page 12)

 

Crematorium probe: Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has renewed calls for a public inquiry into the baby ashes scandal following the establishment of an independent commission. The commission will review policies and practice but will not tell parents what happened to their children’s ashes. (Scotsman page 23, Sun page 2, P&J page 8)

 

EU and independence: David Lee writing in the Scotsman comments on the former Labour defence secretary and former NATO secretary general Lord Robertson’s comments on the impact of Scotland’s independence on European separatist movements.      

 

Ukip: Ukip leader Nigel Farage has announced plans to return to Scotland to campaign in the by-election for the Holyrood seat of Aberdeen Donside. (Herald page 1)

 

Child protection: A report by the Care Inspectorate has said that councils and health boards need to cooperate more to protect neglected children. The report concluded that schools and health services sometimes undermine attempts to protect children on the child protection register. (Herald page 2, Courier page 1, P&J page 12)

 

Independence debate: Alison Rowat writing in the Herald comments on the negative effect ‘cybernats’ have on the Yes campaign and criticises attempts by both campaigns to obtain celebrity endorsement.

 

First Minister’s Questions: Simon Johnson writing in the Telegraph gives comment and analysis on First Minister’s Questions.

 

Cost of independence: Yes Scotland has stood by their claims that the costs to establish an independent Scotland would be covered by no longer paying for the £250million Trident nuclear weapons system and the £50million cost of MPs in Westminster. (Times page 5)

 

Rockall Yes poster: Yes Scotland campaigner and former advisor to Alex Salmond Jennifer Dempsie has reportedly denied being involved in plans to take a pro-independence poster to Rockall, Britain’s most remote outpost. Nick Hancock, who plans to raise £10,000 for Help for Heroes by staying on the outcrop for almost two months, reportedly refused the take the poster but it is thought that it will be held up on the boat that will take him to Rockall. (Express page 2, Mail page 20)

 

Economy

College construction: A £50million public-private partnership deal to build a new Inverness College campus is expected to employ 300 people including at least 25 apprentices. The college is the first to be built under the Scottish government’s non-profit distributing financial model. (Herald page 12, Record page 2 )

 

Justice

Police ICT: MSPs have heard that Police Scotland’s civilian oversight body may approach the Scottish government for more funding as a priority computer system could face a funding shortfall. (Herald page 3)

 

Drink-driving: Police Scotland will launch a month-long crackdown on drink-driving tomorrow in an effort to discourage drivers from using their vehicles while over the limit. (Express page 2, Mail page 26, P&J page 9)

 

Unpaid fines: The Scottish Court Service’s arrears for the last four years have been revealed as more than £17million. The SCS insisted the backlog is being pursued. (Sun page 2, Record page 2, Mail page 10)

 

Sex industry: Legislation to make buying sex a crime has been overwhelmingly backed. Almost 1,000 people responded to Labour MSP Rhoda Grant’s plan. (Sun page 2, Mail page 47, P&J page 21)

 

Sectarian laws: The Scottish government has reportedly been criticised by football fans after it emerged that Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has not discussed the controversial practice of “kettling” with police despite concern over the criminalisation of fans. A spokesman for the Scottish government has responded that they do not interfere with or direct police operational matters. (Record page 2)

 

Education

University tuition: Legal advice obtained by Universities Scotland has suggested that the Scottish government may be able to add a residency requirement for access to preferential fees and grants regimes. This could avoid an influx of students from the rest of the UK coming to Scottish universities after independence to take advantage of the free tuition available to Scots and EU nationals. (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 6, Telegraph page 1, Times page 11, Courier page 15)

 

Research funding: Concerns have been raised over the future of research funding at Scottish universities if Scotland becomes independent by the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Royal Society of Chemistry. The worry is that if Scotland becomes independent there may be less incentive for English-based research councils to allocate funds to Scottish universities. (Herald page 7)

 

Class sizes: Parents have accused education officials of exploiting legal loopholes after it emerged that a primary school in Edinburgh has enrolled 46 pupils into one class. The council has defended its decision, saying they planned to employ two teachers for the class and to put ‘team teaching’ in place. The Scottish government has said officials were in talks with the council over its laws on class sizes. (Telegraph page 10, Record page 2)

 

Transport

Glasgow-Edinburgh train: The Scottish government has reportedly admitted that the faster train service between Edinburgh and Glasgow will not be completed until 2018. The service, which could reduce journey times between the cities from 50 to 42 minutes, was expected to be completed in December 2016. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 7, Sun page 2, Record page 2, Mail page 29)

 

Perth-Edinburgh rail link: Transform Scotland has renewed calls for the restoration of a railway line connecting Perth and Edinburgh. A direct service between the cities could cut journey times by 35 minutes. (Courier page 18)