Reform Scotland News: 28 August 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

Westminster recall: Prime Minister David Cameron has recalled MPs from their summer recess in order to debate the Syrian crisis. Amid discussions of the legality of any such action without a mandate from the UN Security Council, the Prime Minister stated that the UK would have to act in response to the reported use of banned weapons. Westminster is expected to vote tomorrow on whether to undertake military action. (Scotsman page 1, Allan Massie in the Scotsman, Herald page 1, Times page 1, Daniel Finkelstein in the Times, Telegraph page 1, William Hague in the Telegraph, Sun page 8, Express page 1, Janice Atkinson in the Express, FT page 1, Guardian page 1, Seamus Milne in the Guardian, Mail page 1, Stephen Glover in the Mail, Bob Gillies in the P&J, Courier page 13)

Michael Moore: The Scottish Secretary Michael Moore is to accuse the SNP of “changing the packaging” of their argument for Scottish independence in a speech at the University of Glasgow’s Institute for Public Policy Research later today. He is expected to claim that the SNP are failing to set out the real consequences of a Yes vote in 2014. (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 5, Times page 16, Sun page 2, Guardian page 13, Mail page 2, P&J page 11, Courier page 11)

Gay marriage protest: Several politicians from across the party spectrum, including John Mason MSP, Murdo Fraser MSP and Michael McCann MP, are expected to appear at a rally against legalising same-sex marriage in East Kilbride today. (Herald page 6)

Scottish Constitution: Alex Salmond in the Times comments that an independent Scotland will need a written constitution, which will be the work of the Scottish Parliament, civic society and Scottish people, rather than solely the responsibility of the current Scottish Government.

Scottish Socialism: Alex Massie in the Scotsman comments that neither the Labour Party nor SNP would provide a socialist government for an independent Scotland, and that in any case there is little public support for traditional tax-and-spend socialism amongst the Scottish electorate. 

Independence: Following comments from the former head of the Scottish Civil Service, Sir John Elvidge, on the societal impact of the independence debate, Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph warns of the toxic legacy the debate might leave behind. However, Ian Bell in the Herald comments that external perceptions of Scotland being bitterly divided over the upcoming independence referendum are exaggerated.

Economy

House construction: Housing charity Shelter has joined construction industry body Homes for Scotland in warning of an impending housing crisis, following the release of new construction figures. Statistics from the Scottish Government show the overall number of homes built in Scotland dropped by 14% in the last year, with council housing stock falling by 1224 units and the number of homes built under the Scottish Government funded Affordable Housing Supply Programme also falling for the third year in a row (Herald page 7, Times page 5, Mail page 17). However, Alan Taylor in the Herald criticises the continued construction of new homes in green belt land. 

Super Puma grounding: An industry source has claimed that the suspension of passenger flights to offshore installations could cost the North Sea oil industry up to £1.5billion in lost investment in platforms, as companies cover transport costs. (Times page 12)

BT: BT has confirmed plans to create up to 150 engineering jobs as part of its roll out of high-speed broadband across Scotland. (Herald page 24)

New mums: Yvette Cooper MP has claimed new mothers are being betrayed by the Coalition Government. With Labour Party figures showing 50,000 women lose their jobs per year whilst taking time off to have a baby, the Shadow Equalities Minister said that the Government was making it easier for employers to discriminate against women, by charging £1200 to take a maternity discrimination case to an employment tribunal. (FT page 2)

Statutory bereavement leave: Labour MP Tom Harris is proposing an amendment to employment rights, in order to allow all parents compassionate leave when a child dies. (Herald page 5)

Justice

Lord Advocate: Brian Wilson in the Scotsman comments upon the importance of the separation of Government and judiciary, and the pressures upon sustaining the independent role of Lord Advocate whilst dealing with highly politicised issues.

Health

A&E: Figures published yesterday by health service data body ISD Scotland show that only six out of fourteen health boards are meeting their target of 98% of A&E patients being admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours. The Scottish Government has pledged another £6.8million investment in A&E improvements as part of their wider £50million action plan to improve emergency care. (Scotsman page 13, Herald page 4, Mail page 1, P&J page 15)

NHS Lanarkshire: The Scottish Government has launched an investigation into the high death rates at Monklands and Wishaw hospitals, following an increase in morality ratios at the beginning of this year. The assessment of quality and safety of care will be carried out by NHS watchdog Healthcare Improvement Scotland. (Scotsman page 9, Herald page 1, Times page 17, Sun page 13, Record page 2, Express page 10)

Drug deaths: Drug related deaths in Scotland remain at near record levels, with methadone the most common factor in fatalities, despite the Scottish Government’s £36million methadone programme. Whilst campaigners have praised the impact of home overdose kits, the Scottish Drugs Strategy Delivery Commission have called for a greater focus on residential care and community rehabilitation. (Scotsman page 15, Herald page 5, Times page 9, Telegraph page 6, Sun page 2, Record page 10, Express page 2, P&J page 16, Courier page 19)

Transport

Train booking: Westminster Transport Secretary Norman Baker has called on train operators to introduce a system which would inform passengers how busy services are when purchasing tickets, in an effort to prevent overcrowding and better distribute passenger numbers. Transport Scotland has said that the new Scotrail franchise could not guarantee such information would be shared with the public, although overcrowding was being tackled through the promotion off-peak travel. (Scotsman page 16)