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Reform Scotland News: 4 June 2014

Daily Political Newspaper Summary:  4 June 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: Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called for a deal between the main unionist parties on extending devolution if Scotland rejects independence at the referendum. Mr Brown, describing the devolving of more powers to Holyrood as “inevitable”, said that moves towards a deal between the three main parties could begin during the next few months.

(Scotsman page 6, Herald page 6, FT page 4, Telegraph page 5, Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph, Times page 10, Express page 2, Record page 8, P&J page 13, Mail page 4)

Alex Massie in the Scotsman comments on the role of the UK parliament if more powers are devolved to Holyrood.

George Kerevan in the Scotsman comments on Mr Brown’s new work on devolution.

Independence debate: First Minister Alex Salmond is facing calls to apologise after accusing opponents of copying Ukip by using immigration as a “weapon” in their referendum campaigns. (Herald page 6, Telegraph page 6, P&J page 12)

Sweden’s foreign minister, Carl Bildt, has warned of the far-reaching consequences of Scottish independence for both Britain and the rest of Europe, commenting that Scottish independence could lead to the “Balkanisation” of Britain. (FT page 1, Times page 10)

Queen’s speech: David Cameron and Nick Clegg are expected to use today’s Queen’s speech to insist that the coalition has not run out of either energy or ideas, with a transformation of the pension system and a Bill allowing voters to sack MPs who break the law expected to be the centrepieces of the Coalition’s last legislative programme. (Telegraph page 1, Express page 5)

Salmond’s Putin remarks: Alex Salmond last night said that he regretted the way that his comments on Russian president Vladimir Putin were “characterised”.  Labour claims that his apology has not gone far enough. (Herald page 1)

Economy

Independence debate: A report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has revealed that the deficit of an independent Scotland would be unsustainable and worse than previously predicted. The IFS report said that in the first year of independence the deficit would stand at 5.5 percent of GDP; an increase of 0.3 percent on earlier estimations by the IFS, and more than double the UK’s estimated 2.4 percent deficit.

(Scotsman page 6, Herald page 1, FT page 3, Telegraph page 12, Times page 1, P&J page 12, Courier page 16)

European Commission: The European Commission has called on the UK Government to build more houses, raise council tax on higher-value properties and curb the Help to Buy scheme to prevent inflation of the housing market and to stabilise the economy. (Scotsman page 1)

Loan caps: RBS is placing restrictions on mortgage lending in an attempt to tackle rising housing prices. The bank will introduce a cap on mortgages worth more than £500,000, only allowing customers to borrow four times their income. RBS will also limit the loan period to a maximum of 30 years. (Herald page 1)

Jonathan Guthrie in the FT argues that RBS’s new caps are still too weak to curb rising house prices.

Housing prices: Housing prices in Scotland, meanwhile, are continuing to rise in price, with more homes also being bought and sold according to the latest quarterly survey by Rettie & Co. (Herald page 7)

IPOs: UK firms worth over £1million are increasingly choosing to float their businesses on public markets, leading to a sharp decrease in the number of mergers and acquisitions between UK companies. (Telegraph B5)

Education

Youth employment: A commission led by Sir Ian Wood has accused schools of not doing enough to equip young Scots for work. The commission also insisted that youth unemployment had to be halved by 2020 to boost economic growth. (Scotsman page 8, Telegraph page 1, Express page 4, P&J page 16, Mail page 10)

Youth employment Secretary Angela Constance has pledged a “hearts and minds” campaign to make studying at college more attractive in response to Sir Wood’s report. (Herald page 6)

Nursery provision: Scottish Conservative finance spokesman Gavin Brown has warned that a flagship SNP policy to provide free nursery care to vulnerable two-year olds is under-funded by more than £50million. (Herald page 6)

Justice

Safety review: Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has launched a major review of motor sport safety in Scotland following the deaths of three spectators at the Jim Clark Memorial Rally. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 2)

Health

Healthy foods: Plans to encourage retailers to offer school pupils healthier foods have been attacked by Green MSP Alison Johnstone for lacking ambition. (Herald page 11)

Euthanasia: 2,500 people have signed a new petition calling for Holyrood to pass the Assisted Suicide Bill. Following the death of independent MSP Margo MacDonald who initially tabled the bill, Green co-convener Patrick Harvie has vowed to take the bill forward. (Scotsman page 16, Herald page 5)