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Reform Scotland News: 18 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

Childcare costs: Prime Minister David Cameron is set to announce that two million families across the UK, including 200,000 in Scotland, will receive one-fifth of childcare costs for under-12s, up to £2000 per year. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 6, Times page 2, Daily Telegraph page 1, Guardian page 1, Scottish Daily Mail page 8)

Independence debate: Highland MP Charles Kennedy, former Liberal Democrat leader, has said that the Better Together campaign must be more positive or risk putting off voters. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 6, Daily Express page 2, Kerry Gill in the Daily Express, Press and Journal page 13)

Vice-Admiral John McAnally has said that a Yes vote would result in England and Scotland as just “two struggling nations on Europe’s periphery”, if the UK ditches its nuclear deterrent and loses its seat on the UN Security Council. (Scotsman page 4)

A survey by Edinburgh University business school has found that 90% of employers interviewed believed risks of independence outweighed the opportunities. (Scotsman page 4, Herald page 6, Times page 8, Scottish Daily Mail page 6)

Angus Robertson, the MP co-ordinating the SNP’s referendum campaign, has said that 40% of Scottish voters have yet to make up their mind and are reachable by the Yes campaign. (Herald page 1)

Alan Cochrane comments in the Daily Telegraph on the “extraordinary behaviour” of Alex Salmond in the last few days.

Benedict Brogan in the Daily Telegraph comments on how Scotland’s referendum could provide a model for the 2017 vote on Britain remaining in the EU.

Jim Murphy, senior Labour MP, has stated that “things can indeed get worse” at a speech in Glasgow yesterday. (Press and Journal page 12)

Johann Lamont: Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont will today release plans for taxing wealthy Scots at a higher rate than the rest of the UK, as well as the transfer of reportedly 40% of tax-raising powers to Holyrood as part of Labour’s Devolution Commission. (Daily Record page 2, Times page 2)

Nicola Sturgeon: Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced six reasons to vote Yes in the referendum, which is exactly six months away. (Scotsman page 4)

Economy

Wind turbines: A survey conducted for the Mountaineering Council of Scotland has revealed that more than two-thirds of hill walkers and climbers believe that parts of the country are less appealing due to the wind farms, which could be a “disaster” for Scottish tourism. (Times page 1, Daily Express page 22, Daily Telegraph page 7, Courier page 18, Press and Journal page 10

Health

NHS prescriptions: Joan McAlpine comments in the Daily Record on the importance of maintaining free prescriptions in Scotland.

Education

Educational Institute of Scotland: Scotland’s largest teaching union has warned that its members may be forced to take action over refusal to delay introduction of new Higher exams. (Scotsman page 14)

SQA Chief: Roderic Gillespie, Head of Curriculum for Excellence at SQA for five years is to leave the Scottish Qualifications Authority six weeks before the first students take the new tests. (Times page 13, Daily Telegraph page 15, Scottish Daily Mail page 19, Courier page 2)

Justice

Human trafficking: Labour justice spokeswoman Jenny Marra has said that “Scotland will be a beacon to the world” after plans have been released to crack down on human trafficking in Scotland with tough new laws. (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 5, Daily Record page 2, Times page 16, Courier page 9, Press and Journal page 13)

Courts Reform Bill: Both the Law Society of Scotland and the Faculty of Advocates have said that the Bill, which proposes moving the majority of personal injury cases to sheriff courts, could adversely affect access to justice for ordinary people. (Herald page 1)

Transport

Edinburgh trams: A £9.1million programme has been recommended by officials, which would see the tram line extend down Leith Walk, as originally planned. (Scotsman page 11, Herald page 11)