Reform Scotland News: 30 October 2013

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 30 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 companies: The Chief Executive of EON, one of the ‘Big Six’ energy firms, has called for an investigation into the energy market, acknowledging that his industry is not trusted by consumers. Calls into an inquiry come amid accusations from rival Ovo that the ‘Big Six’ overcharge customers and exaggerate their costs. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 2, Times page 16, Telegraph page 1 and page 16, FT page 1, Matthew Engel in the FT, Express page 7, Sun page 4, Record page 1, Guardian page 1, Courier page 13, P&J page 11, Mail page 11)

Independence: Home Secretary Theresa May has said that an independent Scotland’s ability to fight terrorism would be damaged as key intelligence from MI6 and MI5 would dry up, requiring the establishment of its own spy networks. May also suggested that independence would help criminals evade justice, as police would lose the power to make arrests either side of the border. (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 6, Times page 1, David Pratt in the Herald, Telegraph page 9, Express page 4, Sun page 2, Record page 4, Guardian page 4, Courier page 17, P&J page 9, Mail page 4)

Falkirk enquiry: Former Home and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has suggested that Ed Miliband should actively consider reopening the investigation into the Falkirk candidate selection process. Straw’s intervention comes amidst the discovery of emails apparently showing Unite’s involvement in causing the original selection inquiry to be dropped. (Herald page 2, Times page 2, Mail page 1)

Tony Blair: Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has conceded that Labour should have made cuts to public spending before the financial crisis hit Britain, saying that he regretted not following through with plans to weed out billions in ‘unnecessary’ spending. (Times page 20, Alex Massie in the Scotsman)

Grangemouth: Tory MSP Murdo Fraser has suggested that fracking for shale gas could secure the future of the Grangemouth industrial plant. (Courier page 1)

Alex Salmond: Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph comments on reports that the intervention of First Minister Alex Salmond was central to the ‘saving of grangemouth’.

Economy

Housing market: Housing sales in Scotland have reached their highest level in five years, figures from the official Registers of Scotland show. Between July and September 24,274 houses were sold, a 22.5 percent increase on figures for the same period last year, amid signs of a revitalised residential property market. The average price of homes across Scotland also rose by 1.5 percent, a further indicator of a reviving housing market. (Scotsman page 18, Herald page 5, Times page 5, Express page 2, Mail page 9)

Pension charges: Charges on a number of pension funds could be capped at 0.75 percent, affecting approximately 186,000 pension pots currently subject to an annual charge of more than 1 percent. Any new cap will apply only to schemes used by companies using automatic enrolment, one of the Governments flagship schemes. (Times page 2, Telegraph page 1, Express page 1, Mail page 17)

Health

Maternity unit cleanliness: The Aberdeen Maternity Hospital, one of Scotland’s leading maternity units, has been reported to the Scottish Government over serious concerns after inspectors from the Healthcare Environment Inspectorate found bloodied mattresses and dirty cots during an unannounced visit. (Herald page 10, Scotsman page 19, Telegraph page 4, P&J page 3)

Justice

Police cuts: Scotland’s top police officer Sir Stephen House yesterday warned Holyrood’s justice committee that though Police Scotland faced a £64million shortfall this year, it was just £2million – £3million short of balancing its budget. House warned that cuts would inevitably lead to redundancies, the closure of more police stations, while also suggesting the selling off of part of its property portfolio, including a ‘significant’ number of homes for police officers. (Scotsman page 9)

Education

Inequality: Students from the poorest backgrounds are reportedly being “failed” by the Scottish Government, according to the Scottish Labour Party. The claims come after the release of figures by the Students Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) showing money paid in grants to students from the lowest family incomes fell by nearly 3% last year. (Herald page 7)

Transport

Drink-drive limit: The introduction of a new, lower drink-drink limit in Scotland risks being delayed until as late as 2015 due to delays reportedly caused by Home Office red tape. Home Office experts essential in the implementation and recalibration of testing equipment have been diverted into producing ‘drugalysers’ for use on motorists south of the border, threatening to delay the move. (Herald page 1)