Reform Scotland News: 3rd 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.
 

Politics
Scottish defences: Scottish Veterans Minister, Keith Brown, yesterday reportedly admitted to the House of Commons defence select committee that an independent Scotland’s membership of Nato would not be automatic. However, he also pledged that army recruits in an independent Scotland’s would have a job for life. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Express page 12, P&J page 13, Sun page 2, Telegraph page 8, Mail page 4, Express page 2, Times page 6)
 
Independence: Research from AXA Business Insurance has suggested that 52 per cent of Scottish SMEs favour independence. (Scotsman page 5, Courier
page 14)
 
BBC pay-offs: Tory MP Rob Wilson has written to the National Audit Office asking them to consider whether criminal offences occurred at the BBC following the NAO’s report that the BBC spent £25m on severance payments for 150 staff over three years. (Scotsman page 6, Times page 10, Telegraph
page 1, Mail page 8)
                  
Trade union: Steel workers’ union Community yesterday backed the Better Together campaign for Scotland to remain in the UK. (Record page 2)
 
Vince Cable: A Coalition paper on the potential consequences of Independence has highlighted fears over the future of the postal service and VAT rates. Business Secretary Vince Cable claimed that an independent Scotland would have to apply VAT to items which are currently exempt from the tax, such as food and children’s clothing.  The existing exemption is due to a deal between the EU and the UK and Mr Cable argues that all existing derogations would have to be renegotiated for Scotland. (Herald
page 6, Ian Bell in the Herald, Times page 6, Courier page 15,Record page 8, Sun page 2, Mail page 1)
 
MPs pay rise: Kerry Gill in the Express comments that voters will not accept an increase in MPs salaries, whilst a substantial number of MPs recognise that such a rise could damage their image in the eyes of their constituents.  
Simon Jenkins in the Guardian argues reigning in MPs’ pay will help them ensure that  MPs keep a tighter grip on the salaries and bonuses awarded to very senior people within the public sector.
 
Labour Party: Labour has reportedly been forced to seize control of 14 of its constituency parties.  David Blunket has reportedly urged Ed Miliband to publish an internal report into alleged candidate selection rigging in the party’s Falkirk association. (FT
page 2, Telegraph page 2, Guardian page 10, Mail page 10,Times page 1)
 
Illegal immigrants: Boris Johnson has reportedly called for illegal immigrants who have lived in the UK for 12 years to be allowed to stay. (Telegraph
page 4)
 
Iain Gray:
Eddie Barnes in the Scotsman comments on Iain Gray’s appointment as Labour’s shadow finance secretary.
 
Aberdeen by-election:
Christine Jardine in the Scotsman comments on the Aberdeen Donside by-election result.
 
Housing: Dave Watson in the Scotsman argues for an expanding social housing as well as rent control and improved regulation of landlords for private sector tenants.
 

Economy
Finance: Royal Bank of Scotland is to review its small-business lending after discovering £20 million in small-business deposits that could be used to support firms (P&J page 16)
 
Economic recovery: The Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, has reportedly commented that the UK is in a “20 year generational battle” to rebalance the economy, and that austerity measures would have to continue for “at least” another four years. (Telegraph
page 1)
 
Michael Moore: The Scottish Secretary has been forced into a U-turn over unemployment statistics by a House of Commons committee (Herald
page 6)
 
Trade minister: Labour MP Ann McKechin has asked David Cameron to refer his new trade minister Ian Livingston to a parliamentary watchdog over his multi-million pound stake in BT (Herald
page 3)
 
Wave power: E.ON has pulled out of the Pelamis wave power research project in Orkney over concerns that development of the technology has been too slow (Herald
page 4)
 
Green Energy: David Ross in the Herald comments that the green energy link between the mainland and the Western Isles faces a setback.
 
Paying the bills:
Grahame Barn in the Scotsman comments that public bodies paying SMEs on time, rather than waiting up to 120 days, or more, would be a boost to the sector.
                          

Transport
Trams: Business leaders in Edinburgh were reportedly told that the trams could be running by mid-December.  However, council leaders have denied this. (Scotsman page 1

HS2: Lord Mandelson has warned that High-Speed Rail 2, running from London to Manchester and Leeds, could be a “monumental mistake”.  Senior Labour figures including Ed Miliband and Ed Balls reportedly still back the proposal. (FT page 1, Peter Mandelson in the FT)

Justice
Police computer: Deputy Chief Constable Neil Richardson has commented that a new £60m IT system will allow Scottish police officers to spend twice as much time on the beat and make it policing more effective at tracking violent criminals. (Scotsman page 16

Health
Sex selection: A report by ethicists from Keele University has commented that there is no ethical justification for the UK’s ban on couples selecting the sex of their children. (Scotsman page 1)
 
Bounty parenting club: NHS Highland is to end its contract with sales company Bounty, which pays for access to new mothers on maternity wards. NHS Lothian, NHS Fife, NHS, Lanarkshire, and NHS Grampian are also to reconsider their relationship with Bounty after thousands signed a petition to the UK Health Minister to stop Bounty representatives from visiting new mothers. (Herald
page 4)
 

Local Government
Unison: Unison has balloted its members in Scottish councils asking for their support in calls for a pay rise. (Herald page 5)