Reform Scotland News: 30 September 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
Welfare: George Osborne will reportedly today announce plans to target long-term unemployed benefit claimants. The ‘Help to Work’ package will affect 200,000 people who have been unemployed for over two years. They will be forced to do community work (for example, picking up litter or cleaning up graffiti) to continue receiving their benefits, or have to attend intensive programmes designed to help them get work. The Chancellor promised the move would put an end to the ‘something-for-nothing culture’. (Scotsman 
page 1, Herald page 1, Telegraph page 1, Guardian page 1, Times page 6, FT page 2, Express page 5, Record page 6, Sun page 2, Mail page 1, P&J page 12, Courier page 12)
 
Meanwhile, the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations has claimed that Scotland needs a separate welfare system from the rest of the UK, regardless of the result of next year’s referendum. (Herald 
page 7)
 
Devolution: Holyrood may be given the power to abolish the ‘bedroom tax’ if Scots vote No in next year’s referendum. Control over the benefit cut could be one of the powers devolved from Westminister if the Scottish people vote to remain in the UK. (Herald 
page 7, Scotland on Sunday page 1, Lesley Riddoch, writing in the Scotsman, Express page 5)                                          
David Cameron is expected to signal his support for further devolution this week, in an attempt to wrongfoot the SNP and the Yes campaign. (Times page 1)
 
TV debate: Alex Salmond has said that the case for a televised debate on independence between him and David Cameron is ‘unanswerable’. Last week, the Prime Minister rejected the First Minister’s call for a debate and accused him of ‘deflecting attention away from the real issues’. (Scotsman 
page 1, Herald page 6, Telegraph page 14, Sun page 2, Mail page 4, Courier page 2)
 
Human rights: David Cameron has said that he would be prepared to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights if it would help to keep the UK safe. The Prime Minister said he would do ‘whatever it takes’ to get rid of people who pose a threat to the nation and do not have a right to be here. However, he indicated this would not be possible if he was ruling in coalition with the Liberal Democrats. (Scotsman 
page 5, Herald page 6)
 
Catholic marriage: Catholics in Scotland may have to exchange their vows twice, following the introduction of gay marriage. Leo Cushley, the new Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, said that Catholics may need to get married in a registry office and at the altar so the Church can avoid legal challenges over its opposition to gay weddings. (Scotsman 
page 7, Times page 7, Sun page 6, Sunday Times page 1) 

Falkirk: Labour and Scottish Labour are reportedly at odds over the allegations of vote-rigging in Falkirk, with the UK party refusing to let the Scottish party view the findings of its report into claims of dirty tricks in the candidate selection process. (Sunday times page 7)
 
General Election: Andrew Mckie, writing in the Herald, comments on how David Cameron can attract voters at the next general election. He argues that the Prime Minister can use the UK’s economic recovery to convince voters, and that Labour’s policy pledges are ‘pipe dreams’.
 
Energy: 
Tim Sharp, writing in the Herald, comments on the row over energy policy following Ed Miliband’s pledge to freeze bills, and argues that the state will always have a role in the operation of the private sector.
 
Chris Huhne, writing in the Guardian, argues that the UK needs to import shale gas from the USA to help keep energy prices low, and that the Prime Minister should be putting pressure on Washington to help this happen.
 
Marriage tax allowance: 
Tanya Gold, writing in the Guardian, comments on the marriage tax allowance, and points out that it will not benefit single mothers or widows.
 
Labour: 
Ian Macwhirter, writing in the Sunday Herald, comments on Labour’s apparent shift towards social democratic values, and discusses whether this could be problematic for the SNP.

Economy
North Sea Oil: Michael Fallon has warned that Scottish jobs in the oil industry and energy prices could soar if Scotland becomes independent. The Conservative energy minister said that only the UK could finance the incentive schemes which drive investment in the North Sea. (Herald 
page 6, Telegraph page 8)
 
£32bn black hole: Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davison is set to challenge the SNP over a £32bn ‘black hole’ in its proposed post-independence spending. At an address to a fringe meeting today she will question how the SNP would fund pledges including the renationalisation of the Royal Mail and undercutting UK corporation tax. (Scotsman 
page 6, Telegraph page 8, Express page 5, P&J page 13, Courier page 15)
 
 
Justice
Rape law change:
 Lawyers have warned that changes to the way rapes and sexual offences are prosecuted may lead to fewer convictions. Removing the need for corroboration in criminal trials may cause investigators to stop looking for such evidence entirely, weakening the case against the accused. (Herald 
page 1)
 
Education
Revision materials:
 The National Parent Forum of Scotland has called for better revision materials for secondary pupils who are preparing for new exams. This group of parents and teachers believes that there are insufficient sample papers and support materials for the National 5 exams, which will replace standard grades in 2014. (Herald page 4)
 
Gaelic: Despite large amounts of public money being used to promote the language, the number of Gaelic speakers is continuing to fall. Over £400million has been spent by Scottish Governments since 1999. (Sunday Times page 16, Express page 4)
 
Health
Cancer fund: 
SNP ministers have been criticised for their failure to set up a Cancer Drugs Fund in Scotland. A similar scheme in England, which gives cancer patients access to over 100 drugs which have been approved by doctors but are not yet available from the NHS, was last week extended for a further two years. (Scotland on Sunday 
page 6, Express page 7)
 
Flu jab: Alex Salmond has urged Scots to get vaccinated against flu ahead of winter. The jab will be available for free to a fifth of the population, including all children. (Scotland on Sunday 
page 9, Express page 4)