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Reform Scotland News: 21 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

 

Aberdeen Donside by-election: The SNP candidate Mark McDonald was elected after polling 9,814 votes. His majority over the Labour candidate in second place was down from 7,175 at the 2011 Scottish Parliament election, when the seat was won by the late Brian Adams, to 2,025. (Scotsman online, Herald online, Record online, Press and Journal page 1)     

 

Referendum: The UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has argued that the UK would be ‘diminished’ on the world stage if Scotland votes for independence in the 2014 referendum. In his speech, delivered to consuls in Edinburgh, he also claimed an independent Scottish foreign policy was misguided. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 6, Telegraph page 1, Times page 1, Sun page 2, Press and Journal page 12, Courier page 19)

 

Pete Martin writes in the Scotland that both sides of the referendum debate need to discover big themes and emotional depth if they hope to engage more voters. Failing to do so, he contends, will result in many people choosing not to take part in the referendum.

 

Public Bodies: The Scotland Office and the UK Government have produced a list of over 200 public bodies which an independent Scotland might have to replace. Scottish Tory MP and Scotland Office minister David Mundell said the list served as a reminder of the changes that would follow a yes vote. (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 6, Press and Journal page 13, Courier page 19, Mail page 27)

 

Housing Association Review: The Scottish Conservative housing spokesman Alex Johnstone has called for a wholesale review of housing associations because there are fears the Scottish Housing Regulator is failing in its statutory duties. He claimed there was growing concern about the way social landlords conduct investigations into themselves and appoint their own experts when faced with a serious complaint. (Scotsman page 20)

 

Pensions: The Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont claimed during exchanges at First Minster’s Questions that Alex Salmond will retire with five pensions. (Times page 11, Record page 2, Mail page 6)

 

 Alan Cochrane writing in the Telegraph criticises the lack of clarity from the SNP on the fate of pension schemes in an independent Scotland. He also highlights Ms Lamont’s claim that the First Minister has five pensions backed by the UK Government.  

 

Economy

 

Banks: The Prudential Regulation Authority has ordered five high street banks to raise a combined £13.4 billion by the end of the year or early 2014 in an attempt to plug a £27.1 billion hole in their finances. The banks have already had discussions about the remaining £13.7 billon shortfall. (Scotsman page 12)

 

Tax Evasion: Michael Fry argues in the Scotsman that the G8’s ten-point plan to tackle global tax evasion is unrealistic and fails to take into account the fact international business thrives on evasive practices. He also questions David Cameron’s new-found enthusiasm for the issue despite his failure to seriously tackle domestic banking reform.

 

Royal Bank of Scotland: George Osborne’s announcement that he was considering splitting RBS led to a fall in the bank’s share price. The CBI criticised the proposal, saying it was an idea whose time had passed. (Financial Times page 3)     

 

Transport

 

Transport Spending: The public spending watchdog Audit Scotland claims the Scottish Government has not properly informed the public and Scottish Parliament about the true costs of major transport infrastructure projects such as the Aberdeen bypass and the new Forth crossing. The report, published today, is expected to criticise the government for not properly reporting ‘combined estimated financial commitment arising from these projects’. (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 7, Press and Journal page 1, Mail page 10)

 

Driving Licences: Drivers in an independent Scotland might still need to apply for a UK licence under proposals drawn up by Scottish Government ministers. According to reports, ministers hope to open negotiations with the DVLA about arrangements following independence. (Express page 25

 

Health

NHS Private Contractors:  An advert in the British Medical Journal has invited private firms to bid for a ‘range of inpatient procedures, clinics and outpatient services’ provided by the NHS in Scotland just days after the health secretary Alex Neil described the use of the private sector as a ‘temporary phenomenon’. It has led to claims that the NHS cannot cope with patient demand or meet treatment-time targets. (Herald page 1)

Asbestos Fine: NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Scotland’s biggest health board, has been fined £6,000 for failing to manage asbestos after pleading guilty at Glasgow Sheriff Court. (Herald page 10, Times page 11)  

 

Education

 

Sex Education: Joyce McMillan, writing in today’s Scotsman, argues we must find ways to educate young people about sex that take into account the complex realties of life in 2013. She believes educating children at a younger age is unlikely to be successful in reducing teenage pregnancy rates.

 

Justice

 

Corroboration: According to the Scotsman, plans for the abolition of the corroboration principle in Scots law will be put before the Scottish Parliament today. Such a move is expected to cause a rift between the Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill and critics, including judges and lawyers. (Scotsman page 1)

 

Police Attacks: There were more than 5,500 attacks on Scottish police officers between April 2012 and April 2013, an average of 15 a day. New figures released yesterday for attacks on police officers across the UK, show Scotland has a higher rate than elsewhere in the UK. (Scotsman page 14, Sun page 6, Mail page 9)