Reform Scotland News: 29 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

Energy Market Transparency: MPs have warned that the failure of the six biggest energy suppliers to be transparent about their profits is undermining consumer trust in the market. The Energy and Climate Change Committee’s report said that domestic bills must be made easier to understand, and it should be easier to compare different companies’ energy prices. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, FT page 2, Sun page 2, Daily Mail page 12)
Migration Targets: Government targets to reduce net migration levels are misleading, according to Business Secretary Vince Cable. The Conservatives want to reduce net migration levels from non-EU countries to under 100,000 a year by 2015, but Mr Cable has criticised this target, distancing his party from their coalition partners on this issue. (Scotsman page 4, Herald 
page 6, FT page 2, Express page 4, Sun page 2, Daily Mail page 6)
Monarchy Referendum: The chairman of the yes campaign, Dennis Canavan, has called for a referendum on the future of the monarchy in Scotland after independence. Mr Canavan has said that the hereditary principle is an affront to democracy, although his position is at odds with the SNP, who want to keep the Queen as head of state. The idea has been called ‘foolhardy’ by Jackson Carlaw, the deputy leader of the Scottish Conservatives. (Scotsman 
page 10Lesley Riddoch in the Scotsman, Herald page 6, Telegraph page 8, Times page 13, Express page 5, Scotland on Sunday page 1, Eddie Barnes in the Scotland on Sunday, Daily Mail page 4, P&J page 11)
Referendum Poll: A Panelbase survey has revealed a nine-point lead for the No campaign, ahead of next year’s referendum. Support for the Union is at 46%, with support for independence at 37%. The poll also indicates that more pro-independence supporters intend to vote than pro-Union, as well as a three point increase in support for the SNP. (Scotsman 
page 10, Herald page 6, Times page 13, Express page 5, Record page 2, Sunday Times page 1, Daily Mail page 4, P&J page 11)
Tribunal Fee Protests:  There will be protests held today against controversial new fees of £1,200 for workers who try to take their employers to tribunal. (Herald 
page 2)
Serco Asylum Deal: The £175m contract to provide accommodation for 3,000 asylum seekers in Scotland, awarded to private security firm Serco, is to be reviewed in an enquiry. (Herald page 4)
Alcohol Crackdown: A ban on high-caffeine tonic wines like Buckfast is just one of the measures Scottish Labour will introduce as part of its plan to deal with alcohol issues in Scotland (The Times page 13, Scotland on Sunday page 1, Daily Mail page 4)

Alex NeilIan Bell and Rosemary Gallagher all write in the Sunday Herald commenting on the minimum alcohol price proposals.
Andrew Marr: BBC journalist Andrew Marr has said that claims from both the Yes and No campaign about the future of an independent Scotland are ‘exaggerated’ and should be taken with ‘a handful of salt’. (Sunday Times page 7)
Nordic-Style Intelligence Service: Scottish Civil Servants are investigating how to create an intelligence service similar to those run by the Norwegian, Swedish and Danish Governments. (Sunday Herald 
page 8)
North Sea oil: 
Ian Macwhirter, writing in the Sunday Herald, comments on the SNP’s failure to turn North Sea oil into a nationalist issue. Jenny Hjul, writing in the Sunday Times, Gavin McCrone, writing in the Sunday Herald, and Andrew Wilson, writing in the Scotland on Sunday, all comment on the SNP’s recent claims of a post-independence windfall from North Sea oil.
Labour and the Unions: 
Brian Monteith, writing in the Scotsman, comments on a poll by Lord Ashcroft which reveals that there is support for parties other than Labour amongst union members.
The Church and payday loans: 
Andrew McKie, writing in the Herald, comments on the Church of Scotland and its views on payday loan companies.
Yes Campaign Delusion: Alex Massie, writing in The Times, comments on the ‘delusion’ of Yes campaigners, and compares them to the ‘over-confident’ supporters of Mitt Romney in last year’s American Presidential election.

First-time buyers:  According to estimates from Halifax, the number of first-time buyers in the UK has reached its highest level since 2007, citing low interest rates and government support for funding schemes which help people to get on the property ladder. They estimate that there were 120,000 first-time buyers in the first half of 2013, which corresponds to 660 a day on average. (Scotsman page 12, Herald page 8)
Meanwhile, Vince Cable has spoken of his concerns over the ‘Help to Buy’ mortgage guarantee scheme, warning that it could lead to another house price bubble. (FT page 2, Sun page 2)
Economic Recovery: Vince Cable has expressed ‘cautious optimism’ that the economy is recovering, as the latest GDP figures indicate that the British economy grew 0.6% last quarter. (Herald 
page 6, Telegraph page 4)
Forecasters from the Centre for Economics and Business Research expect GDP growth of 1% for 2013, up from a forecast of 0.7% in April. (Express 
page 2)
Pension ‘Black Hole’: According to Scottish Labour, the SNP Government’s promise of guaranteed yearly increases in the annual state pension would see the cost to the taxpayers rise from £53m a year to over £700m a year by 2050 if Scotland became independent. (Herald 
page 6, Express page 5)
National Park ‘Staycations’: Visitors to Scotland’s National Parks from the UK reportedly added almost a quarter of a billion pounds to the economy last year. (Herald
page 8, Courier page 14)
University Shorfall: According to the Daily Telegraph, a vote for Scottish independence would force Britain’s universities into paying billions of pounds extra into their pension scheme. The managers of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) are implementing a 10-year plan under which higher contributions from universities would gradually reduce the £9.8billion deficit. However, if Scotland were to join the EU as a separate state this delay would no longer be allowed. (Telegraph 
page 1, Times page 1)
Barnett Formula: Council leaders in England want a review of the Barnett Formula, which sets the levels of public spending in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The system allocates spending based on the size of the population.  (Express page 2, Scotland on Sunday page 2)
Mark Carney: According to the No Campaign, Mark Carney’s warnings about the dangers of monetary union without fiscal or economic integration, which he gave as part of a speech he made in Canada two months ago, has damaged the case for Scottish independence. (Sunday Times page 7)

Boarding: Moving existing patients out of their specialty wards to make room for new patients, a practice known as ‘boarding’, is reportedly putting elderly patients at risk. Growing demand for services, a lack of beds and an increase in admissions has made boarding more common. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Express page 2, Daily Mail page 2)
Foetal Alcohol Syndrome:  Experts suspect that many cases of foetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), where children are negatively affected by their mothers drinking alcohol while pregnant, have not been diagnosed. Worldwide estimates indicate that there could be over 100 cases of FAS in Scotland every year, yet in the last three-and-a-half years there have been just 37 confirmed reports of the disorder. (Scotsman 
page 9)
NHS hired cars: The NHS are reportedly set to spend £90m on hired cars for 12,000 staff who need to travel as part of their job. (Sun page 4)

Glasgow Street Safety: Frank McAveety, the Glasgow City Councillor who is spending the summer touring the city on his bike, has admitted that the city’s streets need to be improved if more people are to cycle on them. Citing potholes, poor signs and angry motorists, Mr McAveety suggested redesigned roads, improved junctions and better availability of storage facilities would encourage more people to take to the streets on their bikes. (Herald page 1)

Exam Cheats: A third of the 324 students caught cheating in their high school exams were let off last year, according to the Scottish Qualifications Authority. (Sun page 24)