Reform Scotland News: 4 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

EU Corruption: The EU Anti-Corruption Report has shown that corruption throughout the European Union is costing member states nearly £100 billion a year, with three out of four people in the continent believing that corruption is “widespread” in their country. (Scotsman page 1, Daily Record page 24, Herald page 2)

Same-sex marriage: MSPs are expected to support the same-sex marriage bill in the final vote at the Scottish Parliament today. (Scotsman page 6, Scottish Sun page 2, Herald page 5, Courier page 18, Press and Journal page 11)

Alex Salmond threat: A man has appeared in court charged with tweeting a threatening message about Alex Salmond when he said “think I might assassinate Alex Salmond”. (Scotsman page 7, Daily Record page 2, Herald page 3, Daily Express page 4)

George Galloway: In a speech at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh last night, George Galloway called for Scots to reject independence, despite claiming that he would like to be Prime Minister of an independent Scotland, by saying that “English people are not foreigners” but went on to attack the leadership of the Better Together campaign.  (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 3, Courier page 13)

Jim Sillars: Former deputy SNP leader Jim Sillars has written that the SNP does not have the legal or political authority needed to lead the negotiations that would follow a Yes vote. (Scotsman page 8, Courier page 13, Press and Journal page 13)

Liberal Democrats: Former party leader Sir Menzies Campbell will head a new commission setting out the Liberal Democrat’s plans for more powers for Holyrood. (Scotsman page 8)

Scottish Independence: A YouGov poll conducted for The Sun has reportedly shown that a majority of England and Wales want Scotland to remain part of the union. (Scottish Sun page 8)

Michael Portillo comments in the Financial Times on the effects Scottish independence could have on everyone in England.

Housing Bill: Jonathon Gordon in the Scotsman comments on the latest draft of the Scottish Government’s Housing Bill which will introduce a registration scheme for letting agents.

Culture: Alan Riach comments in The Herald that Scottish culture should be at the heart of the independence debate.

Falkirk Labour: Karie Murphy, the failed labour candidate for Falkirk has condemned an internal investigation into voting irregularities in the constituency. (Guardian page 1)

Economy

Bedroom tax: Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s calls to devote £15 million to neutralise the impact of bedroom tax look set to be rejected by Westminster. (Scotsman page 1, Daily Record page 8, Joan McAlpine in the Daily Record, Herald page 6, Daily Express page 16, Daily Telegraph page 6, Times page 9, Courier page 2)

Pensions: The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland has reported that key assurances that Scotland would be able to provide a pension scheme that meets the needs of the public after a Yes vote have not been made. (Scotsman page 1, Scottish Sun page 2, Herald page 6, Daily Express page 4, Daily Telegraph page 1, Times page 2)

Fuel Poverty: £3 million has been given from the Scottish Government’s Warm Homes Fund to 25 green energy projects aimed at tackling fuel poverty. (Scotsman page 12)

Independence asset split: Peter Jones in the Scotsman comments on the possibility of Scotland obtaining a fair share of the UK’s assets after a Yes vote. (Scottish Sun page 2, Daily Express page 4, Kerry Gill comments in the Daily Express)

Currency union: Conservative MPs have reportedly commented that after a Yes vote, England would deserve their own referendum over a formal proposal to create a currency union between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK. (Herald page 6)

Scottish fund managers: Scottish Financial Enterprise has warned that fund managers based in Scotland could face a multimillion pound bill to pay for setting up a new financial regulator if Scots vote for independence. (Financial Times page 1, Daily Express page 4)

Transport

Expert ferry group: Economist Neil Kay has quit the Scottish Government’s expert ferry group and called on transport minister Keith Brown to dissolve the group after he accused them of secrecy and closed-door meetings. (Herald page 1)

Health

NHS Scotland: The Healthcare Environment Inspectorate reported today that cleanliness in Scottish hospitals has improved but there are still key areas to focus on if standards are to continue to improve. (Scotsman page 10, Scottish Sun page 2, Herald page 4)

Scots drinkers: A specialist unit will be set up in Edinburgh to help the growing number of Scots whose drinking habits are causing significant brain damage, with some patients as young as their mid-thirties. (Scotsman page 13)

Tobacco: Tobacco industry companies have reportedly threatened to sue the Scottish Government for £500 million if they continue with plans for plain cigarette packaging. (Daily Record page 2, Herald page 5, Daily Express page 16, Times page 18)

Scotland’s carers: A report by Carers Scotland and Carers UK found that hundreds of thousands of carers in Scotland face financial trouble, with many being fuel poor and more than half in debt. (Herald page 1, Courier page 21)

Alcohol Pricing: Hugh Reilly in the Scotsman comments on Scotland’s relationship with alcohol and the pricing debate.

Education

Scottish colleges: A funding boost of £13 million is expected to create an extra 3,500 places at Scotland’s colleges, according to Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. (Scotsman page 2, Daily Record page 4, Herald page 6, Daily Express page 2, Courier page 19)