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Reform Scotland News: 5 March 2014

Reform Scotland

Daily Political Newspaper Summary:  5 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

Independence debate: A report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has said that the financial outlook for an independent Scotland looks better than initially forecasted, though must still subscribe to spending cuts implemented by Westminster. The report states that the Scottish economy looks healthier in the medium term, a result of a higher than expected economic growth forecast and the Chancellor’s decision to freeze public sector spending for another year. The IFS also warned that forecasts by the Scottish Government regarding oil revenue were “too optimistic”. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 6, Times page 7, Telegraph page 1 and B1, Express page 1, Mail page 8, P&J page 13)

Meanwhile, Alex Salmond has described London as “the dark star of the economy”, stating that Scottish independence would benefit the whole of the UK by ‘rebalancing the UK economy’. He also suggested that an independent Scotland would not restore the 50p tax rate for those earning £150,000 or more, while an independent Scotland would lower corporate tax to 12.5 percent. (Scotsman page 8, Record page 10, P&J page 11)

Scottish Office Minister David Mundell has warned Alex Salmond’s promise to make Scottish Independence Day 24 March 2014 will only be possible by making “huge concessions” to the UK Government following a Yes vote. (Herald page 1)

David Pratt in the Herald comments on international support for Scottish independence.

Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph comments on Alex Salmond’s continued insistence that there will be a currency union.

PM aide: Prime Minister David Cameron has said he is “profoundly shocked” by allegations against Patrick Rock, a senior Downing Street aide, who is being investigated for offences relating to child abuse images. (Scotsman page 10, FT page 4, Sun page 12, Record page 21, Times page 21, Telegraph page 1, Mail page 1, Richard Littlejohn in the Mail, Courier page 17, Guardian page 3)

Spending cuts: Scottish Labour has accused finance secretary John Swinney of attempting to ‘hide plans’ for spending cuts. (Scotsman page 8)

Food banks: Charities charged with the administration of food banks have warned MSPs of the “terrifying” increase in the number of people seeking emergency food relief in the last year. (Scotsman page 12, Herald page 10, Sun page 2, Times page 2, P&J page 9)

The Coalition: Relations between the Lib Dems and the Conservative party are reportedly strained, with the Prime Minister and Chancellor accused of ‘ambushing’ Lib Dem Nick Clegg over Britain’s membership in the EU. (Herald page 6, FT page 4, Telegraph page 8, Guardian page 4)

Holyrood election: The SNP have stretched their lead over Scottish Labour to 7 percents since December, with 38 percent of people intending to vote SNP, according to a new poll by Ipsos MORI. (Courier page 16)

Minimum wage: Prime Minister David Cameron has confirmed the government intends to raise the minimum wage by 3 percent to £6.50 an hour. (Guardian page 10)

UKIP: It has emerged that Ukip leader Nigel Farage lobbied for e-cigarettes after reportedly receiving £36,000 in donations to the party from e-cigarette manufacturer Pillbox38. (FT page 2)

Economy

Business confidence: Confidence among Scottish businesses has risen to a record high as the economy continues to grow, according to the Business Confidence Monitor by ICAEW/Grant Thorton. (Scotsman page 6, Courier page 32)

Independence: The executive chairman of Breedon Aggregates, Peter Tom, has said that the referendum is undoubtedly delaying investment decisions as a result of increased uncertainty. (Herald page 6)

Education

Industrial action: Members of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) have accepted the offer of a new pay deal, ending the threat of strikes in Scotland’s schools. (Scotsman page 7, Herald page 3, Record page 6, P&J page 19)

Emigration: A report by former SNP leader Gordon Wilson has claimed that the Scottish education system is “subsidising” the English economy by £30billion a year, through the education and training of young people who then move to other parts of the UK. (Scotsman page 9, Times page 7, P&J page 12)

Health

Accident and Emergency: Patients visiting A&E units when they do not need to will now be sent away to other services in efforts to cope with increased demand. (Scotsman page 18, Herald page 11, P&J page 17)

Justice

Sectarian laws: Celtic Football Club has called for MSPs to review anti-sectarian football legislation, calling it “unhelpful and counter-productive”. (Scotsman page 14, Herald page 1, Sun page 1, Express page 4, P&J page 13)

Phone-hacking scandal: Former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks has said that she received death threats after it was revealed that murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s phone had been hacked. (Scotsman page 9)

IRA amnesty: Secret letters sent to 200 IRA “on the runs” did not amount to immunity or exemption from arrest, the government has insisted. (Scotsman page 15, Herald page 6, Daniel Finkelstein in the Times)

Local government

National property tax: A report commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has found that two-thirds of households would see bills fall by more than 10 percent if council tax was replaced by a more progressive national property tax. (Herald page 5)