Reform Scotland News: 14 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.



Further Education: Reform Scotland’s latest report ‘A New Deal for Scotland’s Colleges’ has been published today. The report calls for the vital role that colleges play to be more widely recognised and for them to be given greater independence so that they can respond more effectively to the needs and wishes of their local communities and students. (Scotsman page 14, Alison Payne in the Scotsman, Herald page 6, Times page 20, Courier page 18)


Rural schools: Education Secretary Michael Russell has said he will not change legislation forcing councils to demonstrate the educational benefit of closing a rural school and moving pupils elsewhere. He broadly accepted 38 recommendations of the commission on the Delivery of Rural Education but Cosla’s education spokesman said they were disappointed Mr Russell did not agree to the whole package of recommendations. (Herald page 1, Telegraph page 4, Record page 2, Mail page 19, P&J page 6)


Tuition fees: Andrew Denholm writing in the Herald comments on the findings of an Edinburgh University study into the social mix of students at UK universities.



Defence and independence: Holyrood may have to negotiate a reciprocal agreement with London to keep Ministry of Defence contracts in Scotland after independence. Dr O’Brien from Glasgow University has also warned that few European countries build military vessels outside their own borders. Concerns have also been raised over claims that Scottish defence firms could lose security clearance to handle classified material after independence and UK Government officials have warned that separation from the UK would mean Scotland would lose its share of Britain’s existing multibillion pound defence export industry. (Scotsman page 12, Herald page 6, Times page 21, Sun page 2. Express page 1, Mail page 10, Courier page 18)


Independence: Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that Scots will be given a clear picture of the consequences of either a Yes or a No vote to independence before the referendum next year. (Scotsman page 13, P&J page 15)


Protests: Joyce McMillan writing in the Scotsman criticises the police, media and general public for their attitudes towards protestors and finds similarities between the treatment of protestors in London and Istanbul.


BBC and referendum: BBC chairman Lord Patten has described the independence referendum as arguably the biggest domestic political event in his lifetime. He has insisted that the BBC is prepared to cover the 2014 referendum but admitted that it will be challenging. (Herald page 6)


First Ministers Questions: Alan Cochrane writing in the Telegraph comments on Johann Lamont’s questioning of Alex Salmond’s plans for independence and the division within the SNP party over what independence actually means.


Lobbying: The Scottish Government has announced plans to introduce a Bill on lobbying transparency. The move follows a public consultation by Labour MSP Neil Findlay who proposed the Bill. (Times page 2, Sun page 2)


Referendum offer: Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy is expected to argue that the SNP are afraid of full independence and are watering down their referendum offer. In a speech in Edinburgh today, the Labour MP is also expected to criticise the SNP’s defence plans. (Record page 2)


Edinburgh Question Time: Anti-racism campaigners have criticised the BBC for inviting Ukip leader Nigel Farage to appear on Question Time in Edinburgh. Mr Farage avoided protestors by entering the TV studio via the back door. The Scottish Green Party also criticised the BBC for failing to include them in the independence special edition of the show. (Sun page 2, Mail page 10, Guardian page 6)



RBS: Following the resignation of Stephen Hester as chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland, Chancellor George Osborne has been accused of engineering the resignation. Concerns have also been raised that a pre-election sale of RBS may be used to boost Conservative votes. The Conservatives have also criticised Labour for paying too much to bail out the bank under Gordon Brown’s Government. (Scotsman page 1, George Kerevan in the Scotsman, Herald page 2, Alison Rowat in the Herald, FT page 1, Express page 2, Mail page 12, P&J page 18)


Bank HQs: UK banks in Scotland will be forced to decide whether to keep their headquarters north of the Border if Scotland becomes independent according to legal banking expert Rod MacLeod. (Scotsman page 5, Herald page 2)


Business loans: Finance secretary John Swinney has called for an official inquiry into the mis-selling of “interest-swap” loans to be expanded. Tailored business loans have been excluded from the Financial Conduct Authority’s inquiry but My Swinney plans to ask them to extend the remit of the review to include them. It is thought that thousands of small Scottish businesses may have lost out in the scandal. (Scotsman page 5, Courier page 31)


Bedroom tax: First Minister Alex Salmond has said that the Scottish Government would abolish the “bedroom tax” within a year of independence. The pledge has come after an expert group recommended that the current system for administering pensions and benefits should continue for a transitional period after independence. (Scotsman page 12, Herald page 6, Courier page 18)


Poverty levels: Official figures have shown that one in seven Scots are living in poverty and the Scottish Government has warned that many more could be plunged into poverty as controversial changes to the benefits system come into action. Child Poverty Action Group has called on the Government to widen free school meal entitlement, improve access to childcare and ensure working parents receive a living wage. (Scotsman page 17, Herald page 6, Times page 18, Mail page 18)



Scottish Police Authority: Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has suggested Alex Salmond attempted to hide problems in the Scottish Police Authority by not informing MSPs of the departure of Andrea Quinn as chief executive of the SPA as two other senior officials step down. (Telegraph page 4, Times page 21, Courier page 18)



Nursing care costs: Health secretary Alex Neil has said Scottish patients wrongly charged for nursing care will get their money back. Yesterday it emerged that the number of Scots receiving funding for nursing care costs had dropped by 26 per cent in four years. The figure was expected to rise due to an ageing population. (Scotsman page 16, Herald page 10, Express page 2, Mail page 1, Courier page 18)


Local Government

Strong alcohol sales: Tesco has agreed not to sell strong beers, ciders and caffeinated alcoholic drinks in a move to secure a licence from West Dunbartonshire Licensing Board. The move may set a precedent for other boards. (Herald page 1


Payday loans: Research for Glasgow City Council has revealed that people in the city are borrowing £57million a year from payday loan companies and pawnbrokers. The research was carried out amid concerns that vulnerable people are being trapped in a cycle of debt. The council intends to open credit union accounts for all children entering secondary school to promote saving and give people the option of borrowing from unions in later life. (Times page 18, Guardian page 10)


Wind farms: Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser has accused ministers of attempting to bully councils in a bid to encourage the building of wind farms.  The comments come after a freedom of information request revealed three councils had been advised to alter planning guidelines to be more positive towards wind farms. (Courier page 1)