Reform Scotland News: 20 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


Please note this will be the last newspaper summary of 2013 and it will return in the New Year.



Prisoners’ vote: A legal bid by three prisoners to gain the right to vote in next year’s referendum has been rejected by a judge. Patrick Harvie MSP has described the ruling as a missed opportunity to aid rehabilitation. (Scotsman page 18, Herald page 11, Telegraph page 10, Express page 2, Sun page 10, Mail page 24, P&J page 13, Courier page 23)


Renewables: Statistics from the UK government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change have revealed that two-fifths of electricity used in Scotland last year came from renewable energy. (Scotsman page 11, Herald page 6, Times page 23)


Year of Homecoming: Organisers have revealed that more than 430 events will be staged as part of the next Year of Homecoming. (Scotsman page 17)


Same-sex marriage: Holyrood’s equal opportunities committee have voted against changes to the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill that were aimed at providing further protection for religious bodies, potential foster carers and adoptive parents and public authority workers who do not support same-sex marriage. (Scotsman page 19, Herald page 6, Telegraph page 6, Times page 13, Mail page 33)


Cultural relations: Lloyd Anderson writing in the Scotsman comments on the recently launched Centre for Cultural Relations and the importance of cultural relations in influencing international affairs.


First Minister’s Questions: Alan Cochrane writing in the Telegraph comments on Willie Rennie, Johann Lamont and Ruth Davidson’s various criticisms of Alex Salmond during First Minister’s Questions.


Lord Provost: Donald Wilson, Lord Provost of Edinburgh, has billed taxpayers £250 to loosen his kilt after reportedly gaining weight from attending about 900 functions in the last year. The Lord Provost has since repaid the £250, insisting he always intended to. (Herald page 3, Sun page 29, Mail page 33)


Johann Lamont: Alison Rowat writing in the Herald comments on Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont and the results of a Herald survey which suggested that 41% of 1004 respondents did not know who she was.


Expenses: Police have reportedly failed to pass on evidence to prosecutors that more MPs and peers may have claimed expenses fraudulently. Campaigners have called for the investigation into MPs’ expenses to be reopened. (Times page 2)


White Paper launch: Details of the cost of the launch of the Scottish Government’s White Paper have been released in response to a parliamentary question from Conservative MSP Gavin Brown. The event in Glasgow cost £12,432 of taxpayers’ money. (Express page 2, Mail page 24, P&J page 12)


Apollo theatre: Eighty people have been injured after part of the ceiling of London’s Apollo theatre collapsed last night during a performance. An investigation into the incident is underway. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 2)



Austerity: George Kerevan writing in the Scotsman comments on the US central bank’s announcement that America was ending Quantitative Easing (QE) and contrasts QE’s success with the results of austerity measures used in the EU.


Forecasting errors: The Bank of England has acknowledged that the Monetary Policy Committee’s forecasts had “tended to overpredict growth and underpredict inflation.” It also acknowledged that the committee had been too optimistic in 2010 on Britain’s ability to sustain non-inflationary growth. (FT page 2)



Lee Rigby trial: Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale were convicted of the murder of Lee Rigby at the Old Bailey yesterday. The men will be sentenced in the New Year. Assistant Metropolitan Commissioner Cressida Dick has said British troops will always be a target and the threat could never be eliminated. (Scotsman pages 4-7, Herald page 9, Telegraph page 1, Times page 1, Guardian pages 1-7)


Housebreakers: First Minister Alex Salmond has refused to back a call to extend a crackdown on housebreakers. Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has called for the new prosecution policy to be made permanent. The policy sees people charged with breaking into someone’s home facing up to five years in jail rather than the normal one-year maximum, but it is only in place over the festive period. (Herald page 6, Sun page 2)


Lockerbie: Alex Salmond has rejected calls for a Government inquiry into Lockerbie. The calls were made by SNP MSP Christine Grahame who reportedly believes Abdelbaset al-Megrahi may have been innocent. (Record page 8, Sun page 2, P&J page 14)



League tables: A league table has revealed that three of Scotland’s top state schools are located within East Renfrewshire. The ranking is based on the percentage of S4 pupils who go on to pass five or more Highers in S5. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 7, Mail page 10, P&J page 7, Courier page 16)


Science fund: First Minister Alex Salmond has announced that a £4million fund will be split among universities to further science in Scotland. £2million of the fund will go to the Higgs Centre at Edinburgh University. (Scotsman page 10)


University places: A new report has revealed that Scottish universities are as likely to offer a place to an English applicant as a Scot since being allowed to charge students south of the Border £36,000 for a degree. The report shows that acceptance rates are now the same on either side of the Border for the first time. (Times page 13)



Diabetes: Diabetes UK Scotland has warned that Scotland has a diabetes epidemic, with more than 11,000 new cases of diabetes recorded in a year. The charity has warned that the NHS faces an increasing financial burden to treat people with diabetes. (Herald page 1)


NHS staffing: The Scottish Government is under pressure to improve NHS services at weekends after new figures revealed a dramatic drop in staffing levels. The figures were obtained by Scottish Labour and have brought renewed calls for a comprehensive review of staffing levels. (Herald page 5, Tom Gordon in the Herald, Telegraph page 10, Times page 1, Express page 2, Record page 8, Sun page 2, Mail page 4, Courier page 1)


Child nicotine levels: Ash Scotland has warned that children of parents who smoke at home are being exposed to air pollution comparable with major industrial cities. Children aged one to five were tested from 54 smoking households and all but one were found to have very high concentrations of nicotine in their saliva. The charity has called on parents to make their homes and cars cigarette-free. (Sun page 2, P&J page 8)



Haymarket: Transport minister Keith Brown has unveiled Edinburgh Haymarket train station’s new concourse in the latest milestone in its £25million overhaul. The redevelopment is due to be completed in the spring. (Scotsman page 17)