Reform Scotland News: 1 November 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



Energy reforms: The UK Government has announced a package of energy reforms in an attempt to combat growing anger over rising energy prices. The package includes the prospect of criminal charges for power company bosses and moves to make it easier and quicker to switch suppliers. Energy price rises have also seen a record number of consumers switching to smaller, independent suppliers. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Times page 9, FT page 2, Guardian page 15, Mail page 10, P&J page 12, Courier page 18)


Fizzy drinks tax: Researchers say young adults would benefit from a 20 per cent tax on carbonated drinks and half a million fewer Brits would be overweight. The tax would also raise £276million a year for the NHS. (Scotsman page 1, Guardian page 28, Mail page 20, P&J page 23)


Unions: Labour leader Ed Miliband is under pressure to condemn attempts by Unite union leaders to target managers at the Grangemouth petrochemical site. Tory party chairman Grant Shapps has insisted Mr Miliband distance himself from the ongoing dispute. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 3, Telegraph page 1, Times page 1, FT page 2, Sun page 15, Guardian page 28, Mail page 1)


Phone hacking: The prosecution in the phone-hacking trial have told the jury that Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson had an affair spanning the period of the phone hacking conspiracy charge, lasting for at least six years. The information emerged to show the closeness of the relationship between Ms Brooks and Mr Coulson. (Scotsman page 15, Herald page 1, Telegraph page 1, Times page 1, FT page 4, Express page 7, Record page 4-5, Sun page 10, Guardian page 1, Mail page 6, P&J page 16, Courier page 16)


EU membership: Former European Commission director-general David Grant Lawrence has dismissed suggestions Scots will be deprived of EU citizenship if they vote for independence. Speaking at an event in Edinburgh to mark the 40th anniversary of the UK’s membership of the EU, Mr Lawrence said anyone who claims to know for certain what will happen if Scotland votes for independence is “whistling in the wind”. (Scotsman page 7, Herald page 6, Sun page 2, P&J page 13)


George Kerevan writing in the Scotsman questions whether an independent Scotland should be part of the EU.


Ukip: Alex Massie writing in the Scotsman warns that Ukip should not be dismissed as its support in Scotland has grown over the last two years.


Women on boards: Alex Salmond has revealed that ministers are seeking new powers from Westminster to tackle the under-representation of women in Scotland’s public sector boardrooms.  (Herald page 1, Times page 17, Mail page 19)


Migrant centre poster: A controversial UK Border Agency advertising campaign in Scotland that told asylum-seekers how easy it is to go home has been scrapped by the UK Government. Politicians and the Scottish Refugee Council described the campaign as insensitive. (Herald page 2)


House of Lords: Lib Dem peer Lord Steel has called for the House of Lords to be replaced by an elected senate of 500 members. Under plans outlined yesterday, Scotland would be represented by 40 senators and they could also be given a role in the Scottish Parliament’s legislative process. (Herald page 6)


Independence and the Euro: Claims that an independent Scotland would not have to adopt the Euro to remain part of the EU have been undermined by Ivan Grdesic, Croatian ambassador to the UK. Mr Grdesic warned that nations wanting to join the EU are forced to accept the “Brussels template”. (Telegraph page 12)


Energy price freeze: Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont has challenged First Minister Alex Salmond to back Labour’s calls for an energy price freeze. Ms Lamont accused Mr Salmond of siding with the Big Six energy firms rather than consumers during First Minister’s Questions. (Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph, Times page 9, Express page 2, P&J page 12)


Unite and independence: The Unite union’s general secretary Len McCluskey has given a boost to the SNP by indicating he would have been tempted to vote Yes next year if he were eligible to vote. Mr McCluskey said he could understand why some of the union’s Scottish members will back a vote for independence. (Record page 2)


UK and EU: A YouGov survey has found that two-thirds of UK businesses back David Cameron’s plans for a referendum on EU membership in 2017. The survey also found nearly half say the costs of EU membership outweigh the benefits. (Sun page 2, Mail page 19)


Tom Utley writing in the Daily Mail criticises the EU for being too restrictive on what its member states are allowed to do. 


Foreign Aid: An independent Scotland would become a world leader in foreign aid according to International Development Minister Humza Yousef. (Mail page 2)



RBS: Royal Bank of Scotland is expected to confirm today that it will create an internal “bad bank” with £35billion of toxic assets following a review of its operations ordered by the Treasury. (Telegraph page B1, FT page 1)


Tax avoiders: Merryn Somerset Webb, editor-in-chief of Money Week, has predicted a property boom in Berwick-upon-Tweed caused by people fleeing higher Scottish taxes whatever the outcome of next year’s independence referendum. (Times page 5)


Universal Credit: The Department for Work and Pensions is proposing to write-off £119million of work in an attempt to put the troubled Universal Credit welfare reform programme back on track. (Guardian page 1)



Police station closures: As Police Scotland’s consultation on closing public counters ends, MSPs have criticised the way the force has handled the inquiry. The criticisms come after it emerged just 69 members of the public responded to the consultation. (Scotsman page 8, Record page 2, Sun page 2, P&J page 14, Courier page 19)


Police pay increases: Police Scotland have been criticised after it emerged that more than 100 senior officers are to be promoted and given pay increases, while the force faces almost £140million of cuts. (Express page 2, Courier page 2)


Victim scheme: Labour justice spokesman Graeme Pearson has called for an overhaul to the scheme notifying victims about prisoners being released. The MSP spoke out after it emerged that the mother of murdered Melanie Sturton was not told about her killer’s release until after she was freed. (Record page 2)



Drug trial scheme: NHS Grampian, Lothian, Tayside and Greater Glasgow and Clyde have entered a partnership with US drugs giant Pfizer to carry out clinical trials. The deal could see Scottish patients being among the first to benefit from cutting-edge new treatments. (Express page 10)



Religious guidance: The Scottish Government has rejected a call for religious observance in schools to be scrapped. Ministers said the sessions, usually in school assemblies, still have a “clear value” and parents can opt out if they do not want their children to take part. (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 3, P&J page 23)



HS2: UK transport minister Robert Goodwill has said taking HS2 to Scotland is not a priority. His Scottish Government counterpart Keith Brown has described Mr Goodwill’s attitude as unacceptable. (Herald page 6, P&J page 19)