Reform Scotland News: 4 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 price freeze: Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing has ruled out the introduction of Labour’s energy price freeze in an independent Scotland. Mr Ewing claimed the policy would cause blackouts, price rises and job losses. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 6, Times page 2, Express page 2, Sun page 2, Courier page 15)

 

Payday loans: The Financial Conduct Authority has warned payday lenders that tougher regulation will be brought in to better protect consumers. Lenders are also expected to be required to place risk warnings on their promotions and advertisements. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 11, Alison Rowat in the Herald, Guardian page 4, Mail page 10, Courier page 13)

 

Gay-marriage bill: Health secretary Alex Neil has dismissed claims from the Church of Scotland that it could be forced to stop conducting weddings. Mr Neil also said there was “no prospect” of a successful court challenge forcing unwilling churches and ministers to conduct gay marriages after they become legal. (Scotsman page 10, Times page 20, Mail page 13)

 

Ed Miliband: The editor of the Mail on Sunday has apologised after a reporter for the paper allegedly tried to question Ed Miliband’s relatives who were attending a memorial for the leader’s uncle. Ed Miliband has called on the owners of the Daily Mail to conduct an urgent inquiry into the “culture and practices” of their newspapers. (Scotsman page 14, Herald page 4, Times page 1, Guardian page 3, Polly Toynbee in the Guardian, Mail page 4, Telegraph page 2)

 

Referendum vote: Children of armed forces personnel living abroad with their parents will be given the opportunity to vote in next year’s independence referendum. Young people aged 16 and 17 are eligible to vote in the referendum but no mechanism existed to allow children of overseas armed forces personnel to vote. MSPs approved the reform however it does not extend to over 18s living abroad with serving parents. (Scotsman page 16, Express page 2, P&J page 13)

 

Elderly vote: Politicians have been warned not to neglect older people in the run-up to the referendum, as Age Scotland described the progress in key policy areas as “far too slow”. (Scotsman page 20)

 

Tory conference: Joyce McMillan writing in the Scotsman criticises the Conservative Party for being out of touch with Britain and accuses them of bullying those falling on hard times.

 

TV debate: George Kerevan writing in the Scotsman criticises David Cameron’s continuing refusal to engage in a televised debate with Alex Salmond over Scotland’s referendum.

 

Wind farms: The Scottish Government and energy regulator Ofgem are working together in a bid to save a number of major wind farm projects potentially at risk from a legal ruling. Permission for a wind farm in Shetland was overturned on the grounds that a generating licence had to be granted before the scheme could go ahead. (Herald page 6, Mail page 8, P&J page 2)

 

Climate change: The Scottish Government has made plans for a £10.3million scheme to help local communities across Scotland tackle climate change. Under the scheme, £100,000 will be spent on making artists’ studios greener and £3.6million will initially be handed out to communities and groups nationwide to help meet SNP climate change targets. (Mail page 6, Courier page 13)

                 

Economy

Independence and the pound: Ed Balls has reportedly indicated that Alex Salmond’s plans for a separate Scotland to form a currency union with the rest of the UK may not be accepted if he were Chancellor. (Ed Balls in the Scotsman, Times page 20, Sun page 2, Mail page 2)

 

Pensions: Danny Alexander has criticised the Scottish Government’s figures when they unveiled their plans for the state pension following independence. Mr Alexander warned that the plans could cost Scotland £1 billion and tens of thousands of jobs. (Herald page 6, Mail page 1)

 

Welfare cuts: Councils across Scotland have been allocated a share of an extra £20 million from the Scottish Government to help those struggling as a result of welfare cuts. Housing benefit recipients in financial difficulty will be able to apply for help to meet their accommodation costs. (Herald page 13)

 

Justice        

Police control rooms: Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has claimed there are plans to shut seven of ten police emergency control rooms. His claims came after it emerged more than 70 police stations are to close their front desks to the public or significantly reduce opening hours. Alex Salmond has defended the decision saying most people contact the police by telephone or online. (Scotsman page 9, Herald page 2, Express page 4, Sun page 2, Record page 4, Mail page 12, P&J page 13, Courier page 1)

 

Education

University access: A study by academics at Edinburgh University has found that Scotland’s universities have a “major problem” with unequal participation from different social groups. (Scotsman page 20, Mail page 21, P&J page 12)

 

Sciences: A report from inspectors from Education Scotland has revealed that most Scottish schools do not know how well pupils are performing in the sciences. The report also found that some secondary schools are asking pupils to choose science subjects too early affecting their breadth and depth of knowledge. (Herald page 7)

 

Loretto charity status: Loretto School has been criticised by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator for the level of bursaries it offers to pupils. The school has until March 2015 to overhaul its pupil support system or it will lose its charitable status and associated tax benefits. (Scotsman page 4, Herald page 13, Times page 6)

 

First Minister’s questions: During First Minister’s questions, Alex Salmond was accused of “displacement activity” by Labour leader Johann Lamont after he refused to say if college student numbers had gone up or down under the SNP and talked about problems in England instead. (Tom Gordon in the Herald, Times page 6, Record page 2, Courier page 1)

 

Local Government

Child care: Stirling’s Labour-led Council is set to become the first to offer 600 hours-a-year of free early-years child care. The change will be in effect from January and comes months before it becomes a national policy. (Herald page 6)