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Reform Scotland News: 9 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

Nelson Mandela: Tomorrow’s memorial service in Soweto for Nelson Mandela will see the gathering of 59 foreign heads of state, in what will be the biggest gathering of world leaders in decades. As millions of South Africans prepare to pay their respects to the former President, Alex Salmond has written to South African President Jacob Zuma to express Scotland’s sorrow at the passing of “one of the most remarkable people of the 20th Century.” (The Herald page 7, The Scotsman pages 1, 10&11, Daily Telegraph page 1, Guardian pages 6&7, The Times page 1, Daily Mail page 8, Press & Journal page 20, The Courier page 16, The Sun page 13, The Sunday Times page 1)

MP pay rise:  The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) will this week release its Westminster pay and expenses proposals, including increasing MPs’ salaries by 11% to £74,000 a year after the 2015 General Election.  (The Herald page 1, The Scotsman pages 1, 6&7, Daily Telegraph page 4, Financial Times page 2, Guardian page 4, Daily Mail page 4, Daily Express page 1, Press & Journal page 12, The Sun page 2, Daily Record page 2, The Sunday Times page 1)

The Scottish Parliament has said it “would be wrong to assume any pay rise will automatically apply at Holyrood”, as it looks to cut the link between MPs’ and MSPs’ salaries as defined in the 1998 Scotland Act (The Herald page 1)

Clutha helicopter crash: The funerals of Mark O’Prey and Gary Arthur – who lost their lives in the Glasgow helicopter crash – will be held today, with services for several of the other victims taking place this week. The first of the funerals took place on Saturday, for helicopter pilot captain David Traill at Glasgow University. Meanwhile, Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland, QC, has implored prosecutors to take a hard line in any case related to the “sickening” hate comments published online about the tragedy. (The Herald pages 1&3, The Scotsman page 5, Daily Telegraph page 13, Press & Journal page 11, The Courier page 18, The Sunday Herald page 1)

Independence debate: The Scottish Government has been forced to dispute claims that food would cost more if Scots vote Yes, as some supermarkets are apparently considering ending the practice of absorbing the extra cost of business in Scotland should it become independent. (The Herald page 1, The Scotsman page 5, Financial Times page 1, Daily Mail page 1)

Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander has said that Scotland should back the Union to demonstrate “solidarity” with the poor in the rest of Britain and that a Yes vote would see Scots “walking away” from impoverished families south of the Border. (Daily Telegraph page 12, The Times page 14)

Nobel Prize winner Professor Peter Higgs has revealed he would consider voting for independence if it looked as though Britain was going to remove itself from the EU. (The Sunday Times page 9)

Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney has said that more foreign students would be encouraged to stay in an independent Scotland after graduation, in a bid to improve the country’s economy. (The Sunday Times page 9)

Government archives have revealed that plans were drawn up to introduce a Scottish passport over 50 years ago under Harold Wilson’s Labour government. (Daily Record page 2)

Lesley Riddoch writing in The Scotsman discusses the fact that while Scotland is drifting further and further from the current British political mindset, the way ahead is still not clear cut, arguing that more detailed evidence is needed.

No campaign: Senior pro-Unionist leaders have reportedly prompted further calls for an urgent overhaul of the No campaign, after Labour figures were reported to have criticised the Better Together leader Alistair Darling as “comatose and lazy”. (The Times page 5, The Sunday Times page 9)

David Torrance writing in The Herald argues that the No campaign should be more proactive rather than reactive in its bid to keep Scotland as part of the Union, adding that their policies are just “plugging gaps”.

Labour MP selection: In a bid to rebuild its fortunes in Falkirk ahead of the 2015 General Election, Labour has selected former MSP Karen Whitefield as its candidate to become MP. (The Herald page 6, The Scotsman page 4, The Times page 2, Guardian page 2, Daily Mail page 2, Press & Journal page 13, The Courier page 13, The Sun page 2, Daily Record page 6)

Ed Balls: The Shadow Chancellor has said he has “never been less bothered” over calls for him to be sacked, following his response in the Commons to last week’s Autumn Statement. (The Scotsman page 8, The Times page 6, Guardian page 2, Daily Express page 2)

Benefits: Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has revealed that some 977 households in Scotland have had their benefits capped to ensure they do not receive more than the average working household. (The Herald page 3, The Scotsman page 12, Daily Telegraph page 2, Guardian page 8, The Sun page 2)

Retirement age: According to a leading chartered accountant, the government’s hike in the pension age could have a “devastating” effect on young people when they stop working, with Scottish youngsters being hit harder than their counterparts in the South. (The Herald page 6)

Andrew Nicoll in The Sun discusses the argument for independence following Westminster’s proposals to increase the retirement age to 70. (The Sun page 8)

Economy

Sickness at work: In a study commissioned by the private health care provider Bupa, disengaged and ill employees were shown to have cost the Scottish economy £486million last year, with the total for the UK hitting £6billion. (The Herald page 7)

Transport

Rail travel: A report by the consultancy firm Credo, in association with the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT), has found that there are wide disparities in the quality of rail travel in the UK, with rail services in Scotland highlighted as some of the most efficient in the country. (The Herald page 2, The Scotsman page 17, The Courier page 19)

Health

Alcohol-related deaths: A new NHS report has suggested that the reduction in the number of alcohol-related deaths may be linked to the economic downturn rather than government policy, as more evidence supports the link between the affordability of alcohol and harmful drinking. (The Herald page 8, Daily Mail page 11)

Cancer treatment: As part of a ground-breaking medical trial by the NHS, cancer patients in Scotland are to be treated with ketamine and cannabis, both of which have pain-killing properties. (The Herald page 7, The Scotsman page 5, Press & Journal page 13)