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Reform Scotland News: 10 June 2013

Reform Scotland

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 10 June 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

Tributes to Iain Banks: Many people have paid tribute to author Iain Banks who died yesterday at the age of 59. Mr Banks had announced his diagnosis of gall blander cancer and prognosis in April. (The Scotsman page 1, Guardian page 9, The Herald page 1, Daily Express page 7, Scottish Sun page 1, The Times page 2)

Alistair Darling at Conservative conference: Alistair Darling received a standing ovation for his speech at the Scottish Conservative Party conference. Speaking on behalf of Better Together, Mr Darling challenged assertions by the independence campaign about the economic prospects of an independent Scotland. Writing in the Sunday Herald, Ian Bell responds to Mr Darling’s appeals to English residents to talk up the union to their Scottish relatives. In the Herald, Andrew McKie urges the Scottish Conservatives to adopt a localised approach to rebuild support in Scotland. (Sunday Herald page 4, Scotland on Sunday page 6)

Scottish Conservative Party: Tory leader Ruth Davidson has reportedly come under fire for ‘double-jobbers’ within the party’s administration. David Mundell, the sole Tory MP took over as chairman following Ms Davidson’s election as party leader. Although this was intended to be an interim appointment, a replacement was never selected. John McLellan and Lord Strathclyde also hold double roles. Ms Davidson has also faced criticism for her willingness to explore additional powers for Scotland after pledging in her leadership campaign to draw a line in the sand. Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Alan Cochrane urges Ms Davidson to focus on securing a no vote in the referendum rather than positioning the party for the 2015 General Election. (Sunday Herald page 4, Daily Telegraph page 1)

Online surveillance: American Eric Snowden has come out of hiding in Hong Kong after releasing files that reportedly reveal the extent of American cyber and telephone surveillance. Questions have emerged about British participation in the Prism surveillance system as GCHQ did receive briefings from the programme. Foreign secretary William Hague has denied that any laws were violated and will take questions from MPs today. (The Guardian page 4, The Scotsman page 7, The Herald page 6, The Times page 4, Gabby Hinsliff in the Times)

Independence planning: Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander is expected to explain the UK government’s refusal to plan for independence, noting that the Scottish government does not yet have a mandate to negotiate the terms of independence. (Daily Telegraph page 10)

Lobbying sting: MP Tim Yeo denies any wrongdoing in an investigation conducted by the Sunday Times on lobbying interests. Mr. Yeo claims that the footage was quoted selectively. (The Scotsman page 12, The Herald page 6, Daily Record page 2, Scottish Sun page 2, The Times page 6)

Football broadcasts: Scottish Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop has asserted that Scotland’s World Cup and European Championship matches would be available on free-to-air television following independence under EU regulations. (Daily Record page 2, Scottish Sun page 2)

Economy

Labour economic reforms: Writing in the Scottish Sun, Andrew Nicoll reflects on Ed Miliband’s pledge to stick with Conservative spending plans and cap the amounts that can be spent on benefits each year. A second speech by Ed Balls indicates these caps would be dictated by the cost of living in their area despite paying the same tax. (The Times page 6, Daily Telegraph page 1)

Economic recovery: Research by the Bank of Scotland indicates that private sector numbers and employment had increased and output growth was at a 25-month high. However, exports remain weak. (Daily Record page 2, The Times page 5)

Lloyds bank sell off: Chancellor George Osborne is expected to announce the sale of shares in Lloyds currently owned by the state. The sell-off is expected to take the form of discounted shares available to the public with additional incentives to hold on to them for several years. (Daily Express page 10, Financial Times page 1)

Pension payouts: Investment experts expect a 25% increase in pension payouts in the coming years. Income for those with annuities should rise by about 10%. (Daily Express page 1)

Education

Religious education: Secular Scotland has launched calls to change the way religion is taught in schools, requiring that parents opt-in to religious education rather than opting-out as they currently do. The Scottish Catholic Education Service contested the proposals, arguing that secularists can establish non-faith schools which will meet their requirements. (Sunday Herald page 8, The Herald page 9)

Contact regulations: Children’s Commissioner Tam Baillie has called for a rethink on how adults engage with children in school settings. Professional carers and volunteers are often reluctant to touch an upset or injured child for fears that it might be perceived as inappropriate. Mr Baillie notes that the ‘pendulum of safety has swung too far’. (Scotland on Sunday page 1)

Health

Breast cancer tests: Researchers in Edinburgh are hoping that a new test might allow them to better predict how breast cancer patients will respond to a given treatment. This would allow for treatments to be targeted to the individual and avoid applying hormone treatments when they would likely prove ineffectual. (Scotland on Sunday page 1)

Alcohol risks: A new campaign is to be launched in Glasgow which is designed to increase awareness of alcohol abuse amongst parents, shift workers and young men. The programme, launched by Addaction, is designed to raise awareness of unhealthy alcohol behaviours before the problems require more intensive treatment.  GPs will be able to refer patients who appear to be engaging in problem drinking. (The Herald page 1)

Benefits support letters: GPs have been swamped by requests for supporting documents for those having their welfare benefits reviewed. The Glasgow Local Medical Committee has written to Holyrood’s Health Committee to express their concern over the amount of time taken up by administration rather than patient care. The Health Committee is expected to investigate further. (The Herald page 5)

Consultant increase: Scottish hospitals will receive a £3million Scottish government investment in consultants, which translates into 14 full-time and 4 part-time posts. (Daily Express page 6)