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Reform Scotland News: 19 March 2014

Daily Political Newspaper Summary:  19 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

Devolution: Scottish Labour’s Devolution Commission yesterday produced its report which laid out plans for increased devolution as an alternative to independence. Increased control over income tax at Holyrood was central to Labour’s proposals, which also included the devolution of housing benefit, plans for a reformed property tax, and more control over railways. (Scotsman page 1, David Bell in the Scotsman, George Kerevan in the Scotsman, Herald page 6, FT page 4, Telegraph page 1, Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph, Times page 1, P&J page 13, Courier page 14, Mail page 8)

Independence debate: A poll by TNS Scotland has revealed that despite the franchise being extended to 16 year olds, younger voters are following the independence debate much less than their elders. Only 29 percent of the 16-34 year olds polled rated themselves as ‘interested’ in the debate. (Herald page 1)

Iain MacWhirter in the Herald argues that George Osborne’s declaration that an independent Scotland would not be allowed to enter into a currency union with the rest of the UK has effectively destabilised the Yes campaign.

John Curtice in the Herald argues that despite George Osborne’s currency announcement, recent polls have suggested that the No campaign’s lead in the polls is narrowing.

Pound coin: George Osborne is expected to reveal a new design for the pound coin in his Budget today. The new coin will be phased in from 2017, and will eventually replace the existing pound coin. (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 3, FT page 1, Mail page 1)

Social media: Social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook were yesterday warned by MPs that they must either do more to address the sharing of adult material, or face prosecution. (Sun page 20, Times page 2)

Economy

Budget: Chancellor George Osborne is expected in his Budget to raise the tax-free personal allowance to £10,500, up from the planned level of £10,000 that comes into effect next month; though some expect him to raise it further to £11,000. Mr. Osborne is also expected to declare that his programme of austerity should continue until 2018. (Herald page 7, Record page 2, P&J page 11, Guardian page 4)

Mary Riddell in the Telegraph comments on George Osborne’s attempts to appeal to the “struggling classes”.

Allister Heath in the Telegraph argues that George Osborne should adopt distinctive ideas to differentiate the government from Labour.

Meanwhile, Conservative MPs are said to be concerned over reports that middle-earners, those most likely to vote Conservative, are likely to benefit least from Osborne’s Budget. (Times page 9)

Inflation: Bank of England governor Mark Carney yesterday warned over the current fixation with inflation, saying that it would revive a “dangerous distraction” that preceded the 2008 crash. (Scotsman page 30, Telegraph page 1, Courier page 30)

Independence debate: Property experts at the Savills Scottish Property Outlook Conference in Edinburgh yesterday warned that Scottish independence could lead to increased mortgage rates. They also claimed that the current independence debate and resulting uncertainty was putting off would-be buyers from purchasing property within Scotland. (Herald page 9)

Health

Hospital patients: Research by the University of Glasgow has revealed that one third of patients receiving treatment in Scottish hospitals die within 12 months. (Herald page 1, Times page 18)

Retirement: British workers have the shortest retirements of any major European Union country, despite significant increases in life expectancy, a study by the Organisation for Economic and Co-operation and Development (OECD). (Telegraph page 10, Mail page 20)

Education

School buses: Every school bus in Scotland is to be fitted with seatbelts if planned changes to the law are approved by the Scottish Government. (Scotsman page 9, Herald page 1)

Justice

Corroboration: James Wolffe QC, dean of the Faculty of Advocates, has warned that the Scottish Government’s plans to abolish the requirement for corroboration could cause long-term damage to Scots law. (Scotsman page 3)