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Reform Scotland News: 30 January 2014

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

Assisted Suicide: A recent poll by independent organisation My Life has revealed that more than two thirds of Scots back a bid to change the law in Scotland to legalise assisted suicide. (Herald page 1, Times page 5, Daily Express page 5, Daily Record page 2, Daily Mail page 17)

 

Syrian refugees: External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop has said that Scotland is “ready and willing” to welcome Syrian refugees, and has pledged the full support of Scotland to the aid effort. (Herald page 1, Scotsman page 10)

 

National tree: Following a national consultation, the Scots Pine has been named as Scotland’s national tree. (Herald page 7, Scotsman page 3, Telegraph page 2, Daily Express page 8, Press and Journal page 20, Courier page 16)

 

Cost of independence: UK think tank New Direction and consultants Europe Economics have suggested that independence will cost Scotland £1 billion every year if the country fails to renegotiate the same terms of EU membership as the UK after independence. (Telegraph page 4)

 

Economy

Currency: Alex Salmond is reportedly being put under mounting pressure to come up with an alternative currency plan after Bank of England Governor Mark Carney suggested in his Edinburgh speech that Scotland would have to sacrifice control over spending, borrowing and tax if it wants to enter a currency deal with the rest of the UK, or risk a Eurozone-style crisis. (Herald page 1, Scotsman page 1, Telegraph page 1, Times page 1, FT page 1, Daily Express page 1, Daily Record page 8, Sun page 1, Guardian page 1, Daily Mail page 1,  Press and Journal page 12, Courier page 14)

Iain MacWhirter comments in the Herald that there are many promising currency options for an independent Scotland, and that whether it takes the Pound, the Euro or its own nominal currency, the country will not be cutting itself off.

Bill Jamieson comments in the Scotsman that a lack of detailed information on what currency sharing involves may cause ongoing problems for an independent Scotland, and that, in the event of a monetary union, many in the rest of the UK will be apprehensive about the Bank of England’s role as a lender of last resort.

Alan Cochrane comments in the Telegraph that even after Carney ‘debunks’ the myth of a properly independent Scotland, the Nationalist position is, as ever, that Scotland, and only Scotland, will decide what is best for the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Peter Jones comments in the Times that while Carney’s comments may sound like music to unionist ears, the UK taxpayers will end up paying the price if the treasury does not respond appropriately to the questions of foreign investors, and at the end of the day decisions are made by politicians not central bank governors.

 

Top-rate income tax: David Cameron has reportedly not rejected the idea of reducing the top-rate of income tax from 45% to 40% for those earning £150,000 or more, leaving the way open for his party to propose such a policy ahead of next year’s general election. (Herald page 6, Ft page 3)

 

Health:

Dental graduates: The British Dental Association has expressed concerns that a crisis in the number of training places available will mean that graduates from Scotland’s three dental schools may be left without the vocational placement required to work for the NHS, resulting in many taxpayer-funded graduates leaving Scotland to work abroad. (Herald page 3, Telegraph page 10)

 

Legal targets: Concerns have been raised in the Scottish Parliament that the Scottish NHS will be unable to deliver the timely treatment required by new legal targets. (Herald page 6, Courier page 16)

 

Helen Puttick comments in the Herald that the prognosis for the NHS in Scotland looks optimistic and that, given the rise in patient demand, staff at all levels are deserving of praise.

 

Education

Tuition fees: Education Secretary Michael Russell has defended the charging of English students coming to Scottish universities, saying that if they didn’t have to pay, up to 80% of university places in Scotland could be filled with “fee refugees” from England. Russell argued that the EU would accept the validity of Scotland’s case in the event of a Yes vote. (Herald page 2, Scotsman page 6, Courier page 17)

 

Nursery teaching: Teachers in Scotland have called for changes to the law to ensure that only qualified teachers will be permitted to teach nursery school children. (Herald page 2)

 

Exams: It is claimed that teachers in Scotland are struggling to cope with the Government’s new flagship exams, with a recent survey from the Scottish Secondary Teaching Association revealing that 60% of teachers are not confident in their ability to deliver the courses, and 80% not ready to assess pupils. (Telegraph page 7)

 

Local Government:

Edinburgh’s Old Town: Councillors in Edinburgh have approved plans for a controversial £150 million development in Edinburgh’s historic Old Town. (Herald page 7, Scotsman page 16, Times page 4)