Reform Scotland News: 22 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



Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill: A Bill that will allow health professionals to share data if they have a concern about a child’s welfare has been backed by MSPs. However, concern has been raised over the inclusion of a state-appointed guardian for every child until they reach the age of eighteen. (Scotsman page 11, Herald page 6, Mail page 6, Courier page 19)


First Minister’s Questions: First Minister Alex Salmond has claimed that an independent Scotland would have more liberal immigration policies than the UK with the claim made during First Minister’s Questions.  Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont also highlighted the report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies that said Scotland would face a “fiscal gap” after independence. (Scotsman page 7, Herald page 6)


Immigration: Home Secretary Theresa May has warned that if an independent Scotland fails to keep an opt-out from the Schengen agreement, the rest of the UK would be forced to create passport controls at the Border. Alex Salmond has also claimed that Scotland would have a more relaxed immigration policy than the rest of the UK after independence to help boost the economy. (Times page 17, Express page 1, Record page 2, Mail page 8, Carwyn Jones in the Mail, P&J page 17, Courier page 14)


Labour and Co-op Bank: Ed Miliband has accused Prime Minister David Cameron of trying to score “cheap political points” over Labour’s relationship with the disgraced former chairman of the Co-op Bank Paul Flowers. An inquiry into the bank’s ailing finances and the decision to appoint Mr Flowers has been announced. (Scotsman page 10, Joyce McMillan in the Scotsman, Herald page 2, Telegraph page 1, Times page 1 and page 6, Mail page 12)


Natural resources: Alex Salmond has given his support to the new Scottish Forum on Natural Capital, a scheme that will put a price tag on Scotland’s natural resources as a means to saving the country’s assets. (Scotsman page 16)


White Paper: Despite fears that a vote for independence could jeopardise the UK’s £3 billion annual EU rebate, David Cameron is expected to take a back seat on next week’s independence White Paper. (Herald page 6)  The former deputy First Minister and Scotland’s advocate general, Lord Wallace of Tankerness, is expected to say today that the SNP’s upcoming White Paper cannot be compared to the blueprint which paved the way for devolution. (P&J page 16)


Referendum: Alistair Carmichael has warned cabinet ministers that they could be facing defeat at next year’s referendum despite a consistent poll lead for the pro-union campaign. Mr Carmichael reportedly warned ministers at his first cabinet briefing that many voters remained undecided. (FT page 4, Guardian page 11)


Pound and independence: The SNP have been criticised after John Swinney, the Scottish Finance Secretary, argued that the UK Government would have to respect the SNP’s pledge to keep the pound if Scotland voted to become independent. However, Scotland Secretary Alistair Carmichael has reiterated Chancellor George Osborne’s previous comments that it was “highly unlikely” Scotland would be able to keep the pound. (Telegraph page 1, FT page 1)


Defence: The Ministry of Defence has warned that an independent Scotland would not receive the defence benefits of being part of the UK and would be unable to replicate them. The MoD also warned Scottish recruits could be banned from joining the British Army. (Express page 2, Sun page 11, Mail page 8)


TV and independence: Yes campaign leader and former BBC Scotland executive Blair Jenkins has criticised “ridiculous claims” that there could be no guarantee Doctor Who would be aired in Scotland after independence. The claims were made by Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson and backed by Scotland Secretary Alistair Carmichael. (Sun page 2)


‘Bedroom tax’: Local government body Cosla has claimed the controversial changes to housing benefits will cost millions more to implement in Scotland than it will save. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 9, (P&J page 23)



Public spending: Official figures have reportedly shown that Scots receive £1,300 more spending per head on public services such as the NHS and schools than the average UK citizen. Pro-union campaigners are claiming that the figures show Scotland gets a good deal out of the UK, but Nationalists insist Scotland is short-changed compared to its contribution from taxes. (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 6, Telegraph page 10, Sun page 2, Mail page 8, P&J page 16, Courier page 14)


Oil tax rise: A survey carried out by accountancy firm EY has revealed that 64 per cent of oil executives said the referendum debate was having no impact on North Sea investment. However, 79 per cent expect taxes on the industry will rise if Scotland becomes independent. (Scotsman page 7, Telegraph page 13, Times page 11, Express page 2, P&J page 1, Courier page 14)


Pensions: A report on the potential impact of independence by the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) had identified four key areas where Scottish and UK Governments must set out greater detail, including on regulations and cross-border schemes. (Scotsman page 7, Herald page 6, Telegraph page 6, Times page 2, Express page 2, Record page 2, Sun page 2, Mail page 2, Courier page 14)



Higher exams: The implementation of Scotland’s new Higher exams has been derailed after the Scottish Government reportedly bowed to pressure from teachers. Unions have welcomed the decision by Education Secretary Michael Russell. (Herald page 1)


Charitable status: Fettes College and St George’s School for Girls in Edinburgh have retained their charitable status after making changes to increase access to pupils from poorer backgrounds. (Scotsman page 15, Herald page 5, Telegraph page 10)



Rail improvements: Network Rail has revealed £224million of work has been done between April and September to improve Scotland’s rail network. Work included rebuilding Edinburgh’s Haymarket station and construction of the 30-mile Borders Railway. (Scotsman page 12)