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Reform Scotland News: 19 May 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: An online poll by independent financial firm Carrington Dean has revealed that almost two thirds of Scots aged 16 and 17 are worried about the economic future an independent Scotland might have. (Herald page 1, Times page 1, Daily Express page 2)

In an unprecedented appeal, the Queen has expressed her concern with what has become an increasingly divisive debate over independence, and urged both sides to work together, whatever the outcome. (Times page 9, Daily Express page 2, Press and Journal page 14)

European Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Fule has said that prices for items including Children’s clothing and books could be higher in an independent Scotland because the country faces losing the UK’s opt-out on VAT rates due to rules stating that new members must apply a 15% minimum. (Scotsman page 1, Telegraph page 4, Daily Express page 2, Daily Mail page 6, Press and Journal page 13, Courier page 14)

After insisting yesterday that the Bank of England would be the central bank in an independent Scotland -which would have a non-voting observer role on its monetary policy committee- Alex Salmond has been accused of “watering down” his currency policy in an attempt to get some sort of deal on sharing the pound. (Telegraph page 1, Press and Journal page 13, Courier page 14)

Fresh claims have been made that the pro-independence campaign has been organising cybernat attacks on pro-union figures. Yes Scotland yesterday denounced the “unsubstantiated claims”. (Herald page 6, Daily Express page 2, Courier page 8)

An ICM poll has found that support for independence has fallen to its lowest level since September 2013, with just 34% of people supporting the break-up of the Union, down 5 percentage points since the pollster’s last analysis a month ago. Another poll by ICM, however, showed that one in five Scots will be more likely to vote Yes in the referendum if UKIP is successful in this week’s European election. (Daily Express page 2, Daily Mail page 7, Scotsman page 4)

 

Further devolution: Nick Clegg has insisted that further devolution of powers to Scotland is now inevitable if there is a No vote in the independence referendum, and that he would make this guarantee one of the prices for agreeing a coalition government with either the Conservatives or Labour in the event of a hung parliament after the 2015 general election. (Herald page 6, Scotsman page 5, Time page 9, FT page 3, Sun page 2, Press and Journal page 13, Courier page 15)

David Torrance comments in the Herald on how Alex Salmond is stuck in the past, still using the example of Thatcher not delivering further devolution in 1979 as evidence that Independence is the only way for Scotland to get more powers, despite all the major parties now being on board for further devolution in the event of a No vote.

 

Paternal rights: Holyrood’s Equal Opportunities Committee has published a report suggesting that fathers are being marginalised, and that more should be done to ensure that they have the same access to NHS parenting classes and right to flexible working hours as mothers do. (Herald page 1, Scotsman page 17)

 

Children in care: According to a study from organisation Parenting Across Scotland, the number of children in care has risen 50% in the last decade, with the number being cared for by grandparents increasing four-fold. (Herald page 8, Scotsman page 16, Courier page 22)

 

Commonwealth Games: The head of Scotland’s fire service, Alasdair Hay, has warned that an additional £2 million is needed to pay for extra staffing costs and fire safety preparations for this summer’s Commonwealth Games. (Herald page 5)

 

Church walk-out: 250 worshippers from one of Scotland’s biggest congregations, Stornoway High on Lewis, have quit en masse, switching to the Free Church, claiming that the church was departing from biblical teaching on various issues, including allowing gay clergy. (Herald page 8, Scotsman page 14, Press and Journal page 15)

 

Audit Committee: Brian Monteith comments in the Scotsman that the Public Audit Committee (PAC) of the Scottish Parliament, once hailed as one of the most successful parts of Scottish devolution for bringing accountability to the parliament, has now lost its credibility because the SNP majority can now control what is published in any of its reports.

 

European elections: Macer Hall comments in the Daily Express on how UKIP has the potential to rewrite the electoral map after Thursday’s European elections.

 

Ed Miliband: A YouGov poll for the Sun has revealed that only 15% of the nation believes Ed Miliband looks like a Prime Minister. (Sun page 2)

 

Economy

Housing market: Amid fears that a new property bubble could derail the UK’s economic progress, Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England has suggested that he is ready to cool the heat in certain parts of the housing market by advising the reining in of schemes like Help to Buy in England. This could have a knock-on effect on the Scottish Government’s similar initiative. (Herald page 2, Scotsman page 6, Guardian page 1, Daily Mail page 2, Courier page 13)

 

Minimum wage: Revealing the next part of his strategy for winning power in 2015, Ed Miliband is to announce today that a future Labour government would raise the minimum wage significantly to tackle what he believes is the continuing scandal of low pay in Britain. (Herald page 3, FT page 2, Guardian page 1)

 

Wealth gap: Anti poverty campaigners have raised fears over a growing divide between Scotland’s rich and poor after the Sunday Times Rich List revealed last week that Scotland’s most affluent people increased their wealth by 20% last year. (Herald page 10, Daily Mail page 19)

 

Education

Dyslexia help: According to SQA figures, Scotland’s best-performing schools are also the ones in which most dyslexic pupils received extra help before exams. The Scottish Parent Teacher Council said the figures show that there is no level playing field for children in Scotland with Dyslexia. (Herald page 4)

 

Justice

Buckfast in cans: Dr Peter Rice, chairman of the Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems has praised the launch of controversial tonic wine Buckfast in cans, hoping it might reduce Scotland’s high levels of bottle attack injuries. (Herald page 3)

 

Armed police: Police Scotland has said that it now has 440 specialist firearms officers who have been authorised to carry weapons while on duty. This has led to anger from politicians and activists who say that parliament should have been consulted before the move. (Scotsman page 9, Daily Mail page 4)

 

Health

Medical marijuana: In one of the first trials of its kind, a marijuana-based drug will be given to children in Scotland in the hope of improve the treatment of those with severe epilepsy. (Herald page 3)

 

Alex Neil: Health Secretary Alex Neil is facing demands to make a statement to parliament over his role in a health shake-up in his constituency, Airdrie and Shotts. (Times page 21, Daily Express page 4)

 

Methadone profits: Chemists in Scotland are making millions in taxpayers’ money for giving methadone to drug addicts under the Government’s heroin-substitute scheme. Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw called for the government to move away from handing out methadone and to divert the millions spent into treatment programmes to help users kick the habit. (Daily Express page 4)