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Reform Scotland News: 12 March 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
Mark Carney: Yesterday Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, gave evidence to the Treasury select committee at Westminster.  He commented that there was “a distinct possibility” that RBS would relocate in the event of Scottish independence.  He also said that an independent Scotland would need currency reserves “multiple times” its GDP to withstand tests by international markets if it used the pound.  However, Mr Carney did not say whether he was for or against a currency union. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 6, Express page 2, Times page 4, Record page 8, Telegraph page 6, Courier page 17)

Scottish debt: A Treasury paper has suggested that the Scottish Government has under-estimated the Scottish deficit.  Treasury officials put the estimate at £9.1bn for 2016-17, while the Scottish Government put the estimate at £5.5bn. (Scotsman page 5, Telegraph page 2, FT page 3, P&J page 14)

Bob Crow: Bob Crow, the leader of the Rail Maritime and Transport Union for the past 12 years, died yesterday at the age of 52 of a suspected heart attack. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 8, Express page 5, Sun page 15, Times page 5, Record page 12, Telegraph page 6, FT page 2, Guardian page 1, Mail page 12, Courier page 21, P&J page 19)

Wealthy nation: Based on GDP per head, Scotland is reportedly the 14th wealthiest country in the OECD, four places above the UK at 18th. (Scotsman page 5, Herald page 1, Sun page 2, Times page 4, P&J page 14)

White paper: More than £1.3million of tax-payers’ money has reportedly been spent on producing, publishing and distributing Scotland’s Future, the independence white paper. (Scotsman page 5, Express page 2, Sun page 2, Times page 4, Record page 9, Telegraph page 1, Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph, Mail page 2, Courier page 17, P&J page 15)

Nigel Evans: Coverage of Tory MP Nigel Evans trial at Preston Crown Court, where he is accused of two counts of indecent assault, six of sexual assault and one of rape.  (Scotsman page 11, Herald page 5, Express page 25, Sun page 18, Times 5, Record page 10, Telegraph page 11, Mail page 20, P&J page 18)

Ed Miliband and EU: Ed Miliband has ruled out an automatic in/out EU referendum if Labour wins the general election. In a speech yesterday he said he would offer a referendum if more powers were to be transferred to Brussels, something which he thought was “unlikely” in the next Parliament. (Express page 4, Sun page 2, Times page 2, Telegraph page 1, FT page 1, Ed Miliband in the FT, Guardian page 1)

Alex Salmond & BBC: Professor John Robertson’s report into the coverage of the referendum on TV news has accused the BBC of portraying Alex Salmond as a “figure of fun”. (Scotsman page 12, Herald page 7, Express page 2, Sun page 2, Courier page 17)

Faslane: The Unite union has commented that 800 workers took part in the two-hour strike at the Faslane nuclear base yesterday, the first strike at the base in 42 years. (Scotsman page 17, Herald page 11, Times page 7, Mail page 10, Courier page 15)

Catholic parishes: Catholic leaders in Scotland are reportedly considering options to close half their parishes in the West of Scotland due to the fall in the number of priests. (Herald page 1)

Dounreay: Scottish Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead has commented that he is prepared to legislate to remove Crown immunity from the Ministry of Defence over environmental issues following the recent incident at Dounreay and the Ministry of Defence’s reporting failures. (Herald page 6, Record page 4, Courier page 16, P&J page 17)

Joan McAlpine: Allegations that SNP MSP Joan McAlpine reportedly used parliamentary expenses to pay a former partner’s wife for photography work and back-dated the invoice to a previous financial year. (Mail page 1)

Gordon Brown: George Kerevan in the Scotsman criticises Gordon Brown’s proposals for further devolution, arguing that without a proper federal system, the former Prime Minister’s proposals would bring instability.

Voter turnout: Allan Massie in the Scotsman considers voter turnout at different elections and what, if any conclusions can be drawn ahead of the referendum and next year’s general election.

Economics
Personal allowance and tax rates: The Institute of Fiscal Studies has suggested that the lowering of the 40p tax bracket to allow for an increase in the tax-free personal allowance will bring more than a million extra middle income workers into the 40 tax bracket. (Times page 1)

Interest rates: Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, has suggested that interest rates could increase to 3 per cent within three years. (Telegraph page 1)

Justice
Fire service:
The Chief Officer of the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service, Alasdair Hay, has told MSPs that modern life and commuting had “obliterated” the retained, on-call element of the fire service. (Scotsman page 13, P&J page 13)

Health

GP wait: Patients within the NHS Lothian Health Board area are reportedly waiting up to four weeks to see a GP for a routine appointment. (Express page 5)