Reform Scotland News: 13 December 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

MP pay rise: Westminster MPs’ salaries are to increase by 11 per cent to £74,000 in 2015 as part of a package announced by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Agency. The package also includes MPs losing resettlement grants and changes to pensions that will reportedly save millions of pounds. Party leaders and MPs have strongly criticised the decision however some MPs have not commented on the decision. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 2, Telegraph page 8, Express page 4, Record page 8, Guardian page 4, Mail page 12, P&J page 16, Courier page 7)

 

EU and independence: Alex Salmond has faced claims he misled voters over the prospect of an independent Scotland being kept out of the European Union after independence. Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said yesterday that Holyrood officials had received a letter from the European Commission stating that Scotland would have to renegotiate membership of the EU. (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 6, Tom Gordon in the Herald, Telegraph page 4, Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph, Express page 2, Sun page 2, Mail page 8, P&J page 12, Courier page 16)

 

Payday loans: The Scottish Government has called for swift action to cap the interest rates charged by payday loan companies. The UK Government has announced that caps will be put in place by January 2015 but Scottish Enterprise Minister Fergus Ewing has asked for action to be taken sooner. (Herald page 6)

 

Assisted suicide: Liberal Democrat peer Lord Purvis of Tweed has called on Holyrood to clarify Scotland’s legal stance on assisted suicide. Independent MSP Margo MacDonald has launched a new bill in the Scottish Parliament to allow assisted suicide in Scotland. (Herald page 11)

 

Call charges: Ofcom has confirmed plans for a major overhaul to make telephone charges and dialling codes clearer. Under the plans, freephone numbers will become free from mobiles and call charges to premium rate numbers will be capped. (Herald page 11)

 

Food prices: Alex Salmond has reportedly dismissed warnings that food prices may increase in an independent Scotland as “ridiculous scaremongering”. However, Asda’s chief executive confirmed that being part of the UK kept costs down. (Telegraph page 1, Express page 2, Mail page 8)

 

Opinion polls: A YouGov poll has revealed that Labour is now level with the SNP at 38 per cent on the constituency vote, and ahead in the regional vote by three points. (Express page 2, P&J page 12)

A YouGov survey for the Sun found that 60 per cent of Brits think they would either be worse off or no wealthier if Labour were in power in Westminster. (Sun page 2)

 

Childcare: Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has called on the SNP to bring forward the post-independence plan to give two-year-olds free childcare. (Sun page 2)

 

Helicopters: Police and air ambulance helicopters have returned to service today after being grounded due to safety concerns. The Eurocopter EC135 helicopters were reportedly grounded as a precaution after an issue with the fuel gauge was found in north-west England. The EC135 is the same type of helicopter that crashed into Glasgow’s Clutha Vaults and calls have been made for a public inquiry into helicopter safety. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Times page 1, Telegraph page 1, Express page 1, Record page 1, Sun page 1, Guardian page 18, Mail page 1, P&J page 11, Courier page 1)

 

Weddings: According to the National Records of Scotland, the number of couples getting married this summer fell to a 40-year record low. The number of civil partnerships for same-sex couples also fell. (Express page 2, Mail page 6, Courier page 22)

 

Economy

Welfare cuts: Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael has reportedly said that the UK Government’s benefit sanctions may be forcing Scots to use food banks set up to help families in poverty. (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 6, Record page 2)

 

Pay gap: Figures from the Office for National Statistics has revealed that while wages have increased, rises are still falling behind inflation. The figures also revealed that the gender gap between men and women has increased to 10 per cent this year. (Scotsman page 9, Herald page 9, Guardian page 15)

 

Banks: George Kerevan writing in the Scotsman criticises the banking industry and argues that not enough has been done to regulate them.

 

Reducing deficit: The division between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats over how to reduce the deficit ahead of the 2015 election has grown as Chancellor George Osborne announced plans to overhaul Britain’s public finances. Mr Osborne’s plans include reductions in public spending, allowing him to cut national debt and reduce taxes. Liberal Democrat Treasury chief secretary Danny Alexander has criticised plans to reduce the public spending. (FT page 1, George Parker in the FT, Guardian page 1, Mail page 2)

 

Justice

Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Bill: Under laws passed by MSPs yesterday, people convicted of assaulting police officers could be fined up to £10,000. Offenders in general may have to pay a new “surcharge” to support services for victims. A new National Confidential Forum has also been created for adults who suffered abuse in residential homes. (Scotsman page 10, P&J page 11)

 

 

Education

Teacher numbers: Alex Salmond has reportedly blamed Westminster budget cuts and Glasgow City Council’s reduction in teachers for the Scottish Government failing to reach its targets for smaller primary school classes. (Herald page 6, Courier page 6)

 

Tuition fees: Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon defended plans to charge the rest of the UK tuition fees for Scottish universities after independence. (P&J page 13)