Reform Scotland News: 26 July 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



Alcohol pricing: Health Secretary Alex Neil has indicated that the SNP’s plan to bring in a minimum price for alcohol may be decided at the European Court of Justice. France, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Bulgaria have heavily criticised the plans saying they are “illegal, unfair and ineffective”. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 6, Sun page 2, Record page 2, Express page 2, Telegraph page 8, Times page 8, Mail page 6, P&J page 14)


Scotland’s seas: The Scottish Government has announced plans for a public consultation on the future management of Scotland’s seas. At the heart of the proposals which will form the National Marine Plan is sustainable economic growth that is sensitive to the environment. The RSPB has expressed concern over another Scottish Government proposal for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) saying that it will do nothing to protect most of Scotland’s seabirds. Lloyd Austin, head of conservation policy at RSPB Scotland, has urged the Scottish Government to designate MPAs for seabirds at sea. (Scotsman page 7, Herald page 3, Courier page 17)


Public services complaints: The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman received a record number of complaints last year. The watchdog dealt with 4,120 cases, 5 per cent more than the previous year. (Scotsman page 17, Record page 2, Mail page 2, Courier page 17)


Referendum: George Kerevan writing in the Scotsman expresses his concerns about next year’s independence referendum in an open letter to Alex Salmond.


BBC in Scotland: Jennifer Dempsie writing in the Scotsman criticises the BBC for failing to properly represent Scottish interests and expresses concern over the licence fee paid by people in Scotland for the service.


Religion and education: Reverend Sandy Fraser writing in the Scotsman argues that faith still holds an important role in education and criticises the argument that religion has no significance in 21st century Scotland.

Andrew Denholm writing in the Herald comments on the move towards criticism of religion in non-denominational schools and away from criticism of religious state funded schools.


Farming for Yes: Yes Scotland will launch a new group targeting rural voters in next year’s referendum tomorrow. The Farming for Yes campaign will begin at the Borders Union Show and will argue that independence would lead to higher subsidies from the EU for Scotland’s farmers. (Herald page 6)


Islands and independence: The Scottish Government has indicated that it may be willing to give Scotland’s island councils more autonomy in the event of a yes vote at next year’s referendum. (Herald page 6, Sun page 2, Telegraph page 7, Times page 17, Mail page 6, P&J page 12)


Royal Navy: Alex Salmond has criticised the lack of major Royal Navy warships in Scotland as “absurd”. During a speech in Lerwick, he went on to say that the largest protection vessels in Scottish waters were fisheries protection vessels run by the Scottish Government. Mr Salmond also indicated that an independent Scotland’s defence strategy would be rooted in parliamentary consensus. (Herald page 6, Sun page 2, Telegraph page 7, Courier page 17, P&J page 13)


Falkirk selection: Falkirk West SNP MSP Michael Matheson has called on Labour leader Ed Miliband to reveal the findings of a probe into alleged vote-rigging during Labour’s Falkirk selection process. Police Scotland have said there were insufficient grounds for a criminal probe but the Information Commissioner’s Office announced it will be investigating claims that data protection rules were broken. (Herald page 8, Sun page 2, Record page 2, Express page 23, Times page 18, Guardian page 4, Courier page 17, P&J page 20)


Sharkey fire: Scott Snowden and Robert Jennings have been sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of three members of the Sharkey family by setting fire to their home. Thomas Sharkey and his two children died in the fire in 2011. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1)



Economic growth: The Office for National Statistics has announced that GDP rose 0.6 per cent from April to June; double the rate of the previous three months and three times the Government’s forecasts earlier this year. Chancellor George Osborne has said the figures show his policies are working and that Britain’s economy is “on the mend”. (Herald page 6, Sun page 2, Express page 2, FT page 2, Telegraph page 3, Robert Winnett in the Telegraph, Times page 1, Ian King in the Times, Guardian page 1, Mail page 10, Courier page 18, P&J page 33)


Highlands boom: Christine Jardine writing in the Scotsman comments on the economic growth being experienced in the Highlands and shows that the region does not just rely on tourism, agriculture and whisky.


Benefits testing: The Scottish Government’s Housing and welfare minister Margaret Burgess has criticised Atos, the firm carrying out health assessments for the UK Government, for causing undue stress and hardship to families. She has also written to the UK Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith calling on him to ensure there is no repeat of the welfare reform controversies. (Herald page 2)


Welfare costs: A report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has warned that Britain’s ageing population could cause the health and pensions systems to collapse. (Telegraph page 1)



Carstairs bonuses: The row over bonuses paid to senior executives at the State Hospital, Carstairs has escalated following concern expressed by the former chairman Gordon Craig. Mr Craig revealed that First Minister Alex Salmond and the Health Secretary Alex Neil have given conflicting statements. Mr Salmond has suggested that the payments were a contractual obligation, but Mr Neil later said that there was no contractual obligation for the payments to be made. (Scotsman page 1)


Elderly care: A report from Healthcare Improvement Scotland has found that hospital staff in Scotland do not always treat older patients with the compassion and respect that should be standard practice. Health Secretary Alex Neil has said that the report helps pinpoint areas that need improvement. (Scotsman page 14, Herald page 5, Telegraph page 1, Times page 8)