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Reform Scotland News: 7 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

Defence: A Ministry of Defence report to be unveiled tomorrow, finds that the SNP’s proposed Scottish Defence Force would be a significant budgetary burden to an independent Scotland, which would no longer benefit from UK defence protection. Similarly, Scottish regiments would remain under the British Army. (The Herald page 6, The Times page 1, The Daily Telegraph page 7, The Guardian page 6, The Scottish Sun page 2, Daily Express page 2, Financial Times page 4)

The SNP has asked Defence Secretary Philip Hammond to apologise for “the litany of closures, disproportionate cuts, capability gaps and broken promises” upon his arrival in Edinburgh tomorrow. (The Scotsman page 6)

Alan Cochrane in the Daily Telegraph discusses the 86-page defence report to be released tomorrow and questions the practicalities of the SNP’s defence policy.

Local authorities: On the launch of a new commission looking at reforming government in Scotland, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) has said the council tax freeze is not sustainable as new forms of taxation must be considered in order to meet growing gaps. (The Scotsman page 1)

Scotland’s councils should force their future and the role of public services onto the referendum agenda in the first ever commission into local democracy. Professor Richard Kerley of Queen Margaret University argues that COSLA is taking a brave initiative by probing what kind of local government people in Scotland want in 2014, regardless of how the majority vote. (The Herald page 2)

Taxation: According to the Scottish Government’s Fiscal Commission Working Group, an independent Scotland could save money by establishing a simplified, more efficient tax system (The Herald page 6)

European Union: According to Home Secretary Theresa May, Conservative Party backbencher Adam Afriyie’s pursuit of an early EU vote before the General Election may jeopardise the whole referendum, while Downing Street dismisses the Windsor MP’s proposal. (The Scotsman page 8, The Herald page 6, The Times page 15, The Guardian page 7)

Oil strikes: Union leaders call for an emergency summit and a parliamentary debate in order to avert a proposed all-out strike at the Ineos petrochemical and oil refinery plant in Grangemouth, as workers today begin industrial action. (The Scotsman page 9, The Herald page 6, The Times page 11, The Sunday Times page 1, The Daily Telegraph page 14, Daily Express page 11)

Independence Referendum: Lesley Riddoch in The Scotsman argues that “independent-mindedness” in Scotland is lacking and questions the mental, physical and emotional demands necessary for independence.

Economy

RBS split proposal: George Osborne has requested permission from Brussels to split the Royal Bank of Scotland, with the aim of avoiding stricter EU conditions on state support to banks. (Financial Times page 1)

Energy: A report by the Jimmy Reid Foundation – launched yesterday at the Green Party Conference – claims that an independent Scotland should nationalise energy and quit the UK-wide energy market. (The Scotsman page 12, The Herald page 6 The Sunday Times page 5)

Financing independence: The head of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) has reportedly claimed that an independent Scotland funded by oil is unthinkable, claiming that most of the North Sea oil fields are now “depleted”. (The Daily Telegraph page 1)

Health

Smoking advertisements: A recent survey by The British Heart Foundation suggests Scottish teenagers would be less likely to start smoking if standardised advertising for cigarettes was introduced, claiming that current health warnings on packaging are “not up to the job”. (The Scotsman page 17, The Herald page 9, The Guardian page 7)

Junior doctors: The British Medical Association warns of the dangers of junior doctors working 90 hours weeks in some Scottish hospitals. (The Herald page 1)

NHS pay-rises: Unlike their English counterparts, Scottish NHS workers will not have their pay frozen and will instead receive a 1% pay rise next year. (The Times page 5, The Daily Record page 13, Daily Express page 10)

Andrew McKie in The Herald comments on the SNP’s approach to health and welfare spending.

Decision on drink-problem drug: The Scottish Medicines Consortium will today decide whether or not to approve Nalmefene, a drug which supporters believe could have a positive impact on alcohol addiction. (The Herald page 5)

Education

Home-schooling: New figures reveal an increase in the number of Scottish children being educated at home. (The Herald page 4)

Special needs provision: Charities including Spark for Genius, accuse the government of avoiding their responsibilities to pupils, following a legal ruling which threatens to erode the rights of parents of youngsters with conditions such as autism. (The Herald page 9)

Cost of nursery places: Ministers and local authorities clash as concerns arise over the cost of extending free nursery education to pre-school children in Scotland – which is predicted to peak at £108million in 2016-2017 – as documented by COSLA in a report emerging before tomorrow’s education committee at Holyrood. (The Times page 3)

Justice

Surveillance agency launched: Launched today, the UK-wide National Crime Agency (NCA) aims to put notorious offenders under constant surveillance under new crime-fighting initiatives (The Herald page 5, The Daily Record page 2, Financial Times page 4, The Guardian page 7)

Crime statistics: The Scottish Conservatives question the veracity of crime statistics in Scotland, claiming almost 6,000 assaults have been omitted from official figures. (The Sunday Times page 7)