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Reform Scotland News: 27 February 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

Independence: In a speech at the 80 Club in London, Lord Wallace, the UK Government’s law officer for Scotland, is today expected to dismiss the Scottish Government’s claims that an independent Scotland would be able to use British institutions such as the bank of England. He is also expected to say that there would be no legal reason to create a sterling zone. (Herald page 6, Press and Journal page 11)

Alex Salmond has said that the rest of the UK should not have a vote on whether Scotland enters a formal currency union with them, and that it should instead be a “negotiating position” between the two governments after a Yes vote. (Scotsman page 6, Telegraph page 1, Times page 4)

After conducting in-depth research into the matter, Scottish engineering giant Weir Group has declared that there are “very serious questions” regarding the implications of independence for business, particularly in categories such as currency, taxes, trade agreements and pensions. (Herald page 6, Scotsman page 6, Guardian page 25)

Despite reportedly remaining confident that he will win on September 18th, Alex Salmond has vowed to continue to fight for independence even if there is a No vote. (Herald page 6, Daily Express page 2, Daily Record page 2, Sun page 2, Daily Mail page 6, Press and Journal page 12)

In a consultation report based on feedback from 900 people at 32 events nationwide, the Church of Scotland has called for the independence referendum debate to focus on “integrity and community, not just cash and constitutions”. (Scotsman page 6, Times page 2, Press and Journal page 14, Courier page 14)

Scotland’s industry leaders have clashed over claims that uncertainty over independence is choking off major investment in the country. Holyrood’s economy committee is taking evidence from both sides in the debate. (Scotsman page 6, Telegraph page 7, Times page 2, Daily Express page 2, Press and Journal page 12)

Alan Cochrane comments in the Telegraph on Rupert Soames, and how his speech stressing his support for the union was a “Churchillian lesson” for nationalists.

UK Culture Secretary Maria Miller has said that Scotland will be forced to “leave” the BBC if there is a Yes vote in the referendum. A government official has also said that Scotland would not get “special treatment” and that it would be the BBC, not the government, who will decide the terms of any agreement reached between the two countries. (Financial Times page 4, Times page 11, Daily Express page 2, Sun page 2, Guardian page 5, Daily Mail page 7, Press and Journal page 13, Courier page 14)

Bill Jamieson comments in the Scotsman that the social union with the rest of the UK will be tested to the point of destruction in the lead-up to the referendum, and that, as the rhetoric from each side is ramped up, a “velvet divorce”, as the Yes campaign are so sure it will be, is beginning to look increasingly unlikely.

 

2015 general election: Nick Clegg has responded to claims that David Cameron or Ed Miliband could govern the UK at the head of a minority government, branding them “preposterous”. (Herald page 6)

 

Unite and Labour: Len McCluskey, leader of the Labour Party’s biggest affiliate, Unite, has hinted that his union may cut its ties to the party, and that the union’s executive will meet next week to make a decision. (Herald page 2, Guardian page 7)

 

Joan McAlpine: There was further coverage of the allegations regarding Salmond’s aide Joan McAlpine and the misuse of public money. (Herald page 6, Telegraph page 6, Scotsman page 2, Times page 15, Daily Express page 7, Daily Mail page 1)

Economy

Minimum wage: Vince Cable has revealed that the Low Pay Commission has recommended a 3% rise in the minimum wage to £6.50 from October, which, if accepted by the Government, would be the first real-terms increase since 2008. (Herald page 4, Financial Times page 4, Daily Record page 2, Sun page 2)

 

Housing market: According to figures released by the Local Council of Mortgage Lenders in Scotland, last year saw the highest number of loans provided to prospective house buyers since 2008. 54,100 people secured finance to buy a house last year, providing further signs that the property market revival is gathering pace. (Herald page 11)

 

Education

School curriculum: Amid growing concern over upcoming examinations, MSPs have rejected calls for a review into the implementation of Scotland’s school curriculum. (Scotsman page 11)

 

Justice

Corroboration: Opposition parties in Holyrood are to set aside their differences today to try and fight Kenny MacAskill’s bid to abolish corroboration. During today’s stage one vote, an amendment by Conservative MSP Margaret Mitchell will call for the change to be removed from the Criminal Justice Bill, over fears that it will lead to miscarriages of justice. (Scotsman page 12, Daily Express page 10)

 

Health

Hospital beds: Leading clinician, Dr Neil Dewhurst, has hit out at Health Secretary Alex Neil’s claims that Scottish hospitals have increased bed numbers, calling them “misleading”. To make his point, Dewhurst quotes Scottish Government statistics which show that the number of hospital beds has actually fallen by more than 400 in the last two years. (Herald page 1)

 

Waiting times: Helen Puttick comments in the herald that it should be acknowledged that the Scottish Government has done much to cut waiting times for hospital treatment in Scotland, but also that the whole waiting times system in Scotland is “something of a dog’s breakfast”, with not everybody being included in official results lists.