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Reform Scotland News: 24 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

 Post-independence defence: In a report from the Scotland Institute, military experts have cast doubt on the defence capabilities of an independent Scotland. In the report the panel of experts, made up of senior armed forces personnel, academics and other senior officials, suggest that Scotland’s defence force would be smaller, with a detrimental effect on jobs and economic growth. (Scotsman page 7, Herald page 6, Telegraph page 8, Times page 1, Express page 7, Scotland on Sunday page 1, Courier page 13, P&J page 12)


Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: Tributes have poured in for Conservative minister and former Lord Advocate Lord Fraser of Carmyllie who died suddenly at home on Saturday, aged 68. Peter Fraser was MP for East Angus and South Angus. He led the investigation into the 1988 Lockerbie bombing as well as the public inquiry into the construction of the Scottish Parliament building. (Scotsman page 5, Herald page 1, Telegraph page 1, Express page 7, Mail page 13, Guardian page 13, Courier page 3)

 

Gay marriage: Actor Brian Cox and TV presenter Carol Smillie are among a host of celebrities, political leaders and religious ministers to feature in a video supporting gay marriage, ahead of a bill being published in the Scottish Parliament this week. The bill has also been backed by the Humanist Society of Scotland. (Scotsman page 15, Herald page 6)

 

Workforce Equality: Nine public authorities are reportedly to face legal action after failing to publish information on steps they have taken to combat age, sex and disability discrimination. Nearly one-fifth of public authorities fell short of their legal requirements by publishing the information late, in draft form or incomplete. (The Herald page 1)

 

Young Voters: Jane Devine, writing in The Scotsman, argues that allowing 16- and 17- year olds to vote in the referendum is a good step, but only if they are given positive reasons to vote.

 

Historical Figures: Rosemary Goring, writing in The Herald, argues that historical figures like Robert Burns shouldn’t influence the way that people vote in next year’s independence referendum.

 

Robert Burns: Alex Salmond has been criticised after claiming that Robert Burns would have supported the SNP’s campaign for independence for Scotland. (Sun page 2, Rosemary Goring in The Herald, Mail page 4, Scotland on Sunday page 9)

 

GCHQ: Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has written to Foreign Secretary William Hague seeking assurances that any data obtained from Scots by GCHQ was taken legally. (Express page 4, Herald page 2, Sunday Herald page 18, Scotland on Sunday page 1)

 

Scotland in the EU: William Hague has said that Scotland would face objections from other countries with nationalist movements, such as Spain, if it sought to join the European Union as an independent country. (Sunday Times page 4)

 

Policy Scotland launch: The Policy Scotland centre at Glasgow University will be launched this week, beginning its work with a debate on currency in an independent Scotland. (Herald page 10)

 

Economy

Spending cuts: Chancellor George Osborne has revealed plans for further defence cuts ahead of the Government’s spending review, including the scaling back of major contracts and reducing the numbers of civilian staff. There are to be no further job cuts for military staff. Wednesday’s spending review will cut a further £11.5billion from UK spending in 2015-16, after the next general election. John Swinney has said that he expects the Scottish budget to reduce as a result. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 6, Jeff Randall in The Telegraph, Times page 5 & 16, FT page 1, Sun page 2, Express page 1, Mail page 10, Peter McKay in the Scottish Daily Mail, Guardian page 4, Courier page 13, P&J page 14)

 

Bankruptcy and debt legislation: The Scottish Government’s economy, energy and tourism committee will seek the opinions of people with experience of debt and bankruptcy on proposed legislation reform. (Scotsman page 9)

 

Currency in an independent Scotland: Professor Ronald MacDonald of the University of Glasgow has said that an independent Scotland would need to set up its own currency. He warns that plans to remain in the sterling zone could have a negative impact on employment and productivity, and that as an exporter of oil, Scotland would be more at risk to volatility in oil prices than the rest of the sterling zone. (Scotsman page 12)

 

Investment uncertainty over referendum: The Ernst & Young Scottish ITEM Club, an influential economic forecaster, has cut its predictions of the Scottish economy’s growth in 2014, and warned that businesses may delay investment decisions until after the referendum. However, the report also pointed out that increased publicity for Scotland in the lead-up to the referendum could actually attract more international investors. (Herald page 5, P&J page 13)

 

Commercialisation of Loch Lomond: A row has erupted over suggestions that greater commercialisation could be key to the future of Scotland’s first national park. Fiona Logan, chief executive of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National park, said that parks could become self-sustaining within 10 to 20 years with involvement from the private sector and charges to visitors. (Herald page 8, Andrew McKie in The Herald, Times page 17, Sunday Herald page 6)

 

SNP Debate: The vision of Scotland as an independent nation following the Nordic model of big-state and high taxation is to be debated at the SNP conference. (Sunday Herald page 10)


Tax rises: Scotland’s biggest businesses are reportedly concerned about the uncertainty of taxation in Scotland following independence. (Mail 4, P&J page 12)

 

Pensions: Half a million people in Scotland may be worse off when the Scotland Act 2012 comes into effect, as the new Scottish rate of income tax could mean that they would lose out on tax relief for private pensions. (Scotland on Sunday page 1)

 

Transport

Glasgow to London rail link: Network Rail is expected to announce plans to spend £40million improving the main rail link between Glasgow and London. (Herald page 7)

 

Health

NHS red tape: Doctors in the UK believe that red tape is obstructing their attempts to make improvements. In a survey by the British Medical Association, 89% of doctors claimed to have faced barriers like bureaucracy, financial constraints, and a lack of time. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 3, Guardian page 13, Jacky Davis in The Guardian)

 

Consultants’ shifts: Consultants and specialists in new hospitals in Scotland will be required to work evening and weekend shifts. Traditionally, most consultants have only worked weekdays, but it is hoped that the new move will provide patients with better and safer care. (Herald page 1)

 

‘Week after pill’: The Scottish Government has set up a panel of experts to examine whether a contraceptive pill which can be taken nearly a week after unprotected sex could be sold over the counter to teenagers in Scotland. (Sunday Times page 1)

 

Justice

Prosecutors’ Workloads: Hundreds of alleged criminals could reportedly be freed, as prosecutors may be forced to drop cases due to heavy workloads. (Mail page 1)

 

Corroboration: Kevin McKenna in the Scottish Daily Mail comments on Kenny MacAskill’s reform of Scottish law and the single police force. (Mail page 14)

 

Local Government

Clyde Valley City Deal: Councils in the west of Scotland are negotiating a scheme to fund major infrastructure project by pooling together millions of pounds, inspired by previous ‘City Deals’ in England. Glasgow City Council are spearheading the plans, and claim that investing in projects like new airport transport links and hi-tech business parks would allow the Clyde Valley region compete with other UK city-regions. (Herald page 10)