Reform Scotland News: 11 October 2013

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 11 October 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

Energy firms: Ed Miliband yesterday accused David Cameron of failing to get a grip on profiteering energy companies, as Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE) became the first of the ‘big six’ energy companies to raise its prices after the Labour leader’s pledge at the Labour party conference, promising a freeze on energy prices until 2017 should Labour win the next General Election.

SSE responded by urging Ministers to debate the country’s green agenda, blaming rising costs on government-imposed levies, which go towards green energy, and the cost of using newly upgraded networks.

(Scotsman page 1, Ann Robinson and Terry Murden in the Scotsman, Herald page 1, Times page 4, Telegraph page 1, FT page 1 and page 2, Express page 1, Sun page 6, Record page 2, Guardian page 4, Courier page 20, P&J page 10)

Oil fund: Alex Salmond has come under fire over plans to establish an oil fund in an independent Scotland after advice prepared by civil servants, released under the Freedom of Information laws, showed that the SNP government had been warned that the creation of an oil fund would lead to a rise in taxes, borrowing or spending cuts.

The paper also reportedly showed that taking into account Scotland’s geographical share of oil revenues; Scotland ran a deficit for all but one year between 1990 and 2011. Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont responded by labelling Mr Salmond as “dishonest”, resulting in her being cautioned by Holyrood’s presiding officer.

(Herald page 6, Times page 21, Telegraph page 1, Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph, Express page 4, Courier page 17, Mail page 4, P&J page 13)

Scottish Secretary: Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael has used his first public appearance in Scotland since his appointment on Monday to warn Westminster politicians against using campaign visits to Scotland as a “lecture tour”. He also claimed that it was “eminently possible” Scotland could back independence in next year’s referendum, as he warned about “dangers” in assuming a majority ‘No’ vote. (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 6, Times page 9)

Guardian leaks: Nick Clegg has pledged to start conversations regarding new surveillance technologies, amid concerns about the accountability of the security services. (Guardian page 1, Mail page 6)

Holyrood tax powers: New financial powers agreed for Scotland that will see MSPs given more power in deciding how to raise cash will be difficult to implement, a Holyrood committee has warned. (Scotsman page 10)

Independence: David Cameron yesterday claimed that an independent Scotland would be at a greater risk of terrorism as a result of the splitting of intelligence and security services. First Minster Alex Salmond yesterday branded Mr Cameron’s remarks as “distasteful” and a “new low”. (Herald page 1)

Economy

Royal Mail: The Royal Mail is to be valued at £33billion when it makes its first appearance on the stock market. More than 690,000 private investors are set to receive shares, though bids for more than £10,000 worth of shares have been refused due to oversubscription. The Treasury is set to raise £1.72billion from the privatisation, as the government looks to float up to 52.2 per cent of the value of the company. (Scotsman page 8, Times page 1, FT page 3, Guardian page 3, Mail page 1)

Shale gas: Alex Massie in the Scotsman comments that the SNP could become less reliant on oil revenue in the economic case for independence by pledging to produce fuel in the form of shale gas in Scotland.

Justice

Crime figures: Chief Constable Sir Stephen House has revealed that rape cases in Scotland increased by 35 per cent to 905 between April and September, meaning that for the first time in Scotland, there have been more reports of rape than robbery. (Scotsman page 20, Times page 8, Mail page 17)

Scottish courts: Senior lawyers have backed plans to make proceedings in Scottish courts more transparent by allowing the media to challenge gagging orders before they are imposed. The Faculty of Advocates said reform to Scots law was necessary in compliance with article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the right to information. (Scotsman page 24)

Health

NHS Scotland report: A report by Audit Scotland has warned that NHS Scotland is showing signs of strain, highlighting evidence of growing pressure on hospitals in their latest analyses of NHS finances. (Herald page 9)

Education

Youth unemployment: Joyce McMillan in the Scotsman argues that young people in the UK have less incentive to perform well in education due to a lack of job prospects, while also commenting on figures that would suggest the UK is increasingly un-meritocratic.

Local Government

Fines and charges: Figures published by the RAC Foundation have shown that Scottish councils have made a total of £29million profit from parking charges and fines, leading to accusations that councils are using the fines and charges as “big cash generators”. (Scotsman page 22, Herald page 14)