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Reform Scotland News: 5 June 2014

Daily Political Newspaper Summary:  5 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

Welfare: An increase in benefit payments and the minimum wage should be part of an independent Scotland, a report by an export group appointed by the SNP Government has said. The report has been welcomed by Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. (Scotsman page 9, Herald page 2, Times page 9, Express page 8, Sun page 2, Mail page 10)

Childcare: The cost of implementing the SNP’s flagship policy of providing free childcare to disadvantaged two-year-olds has risen by 50 percent from £41million to £61million. Cosla, an umbrella group whose job it is to implement the policy across local councils, placed the costs higher yet at £114million. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 11, Times page 9, Express page 10, Sun page 2, Telegraph page 11)

Queen’s speech: Keeping Scotland within the UK figured as a key theme in the Queen’s speech yesterday, with a number of legislative bills also set to affect Scotland. The ability of constituents to recall MPs and the planned overhaul of the pension system featured as centrepieces of the coalition’s last legislative programme before the next general election.

(Scotsman page 4, Tom Peterkin in the Scotsman, Herald page 6, Iain Macwhirter in the Herald, FT page 3, Express page 6, Record page 9, Sun page 2, Guardian page 9)

The SNP have claimed that the Queen’s speech overlooked Scotland, with Angus Robertson, the SNP leader in Westminster, claiming the “absence of plans” for Scotland was “extraordinary”. (Times page 14)

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) have welcomed the Queen’s Speech and the limited number of bills, though warned the government would be judged on its actions rather than the number of bills that it passed. (FT page 3)

Public finance: A report by the Auditor General for Scotland and the Accounts Commission has called on public bodies to prioritise and improve long term planning as finance remains scarce.  It also warned that irrespective of the outcome of September’s referendum pressure would remain on public finances. (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 9, Times page 9)

Bill Jamieson in the Scotsman comments on the importance of the non-partisan economic advisors.

Alistair Darling comments: First Minister Alex Salmond has demanded an apology from Alistair Darling, leader of the Better Together campaign, for reportedly likening him to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il. (Scotsman page 13, Herald page 1, Times page 1, Express page 2, Record page 9, Telegraph page 1)

Increased devolution: Tom Peterkin in the Scotsman suggests that Ruth Davidson’s U-turn on Scottish devolution risks angering members of the party.

General Election: A tax cut for Britain’s lowest earners, via a reduction in national insurance payments, is reportedly being considered by the Tories in an attempt to win votes at the next election. (Times page 14)

Cabinet row: Theresa May, the Home Secretary, and Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, are reportedly in dispute over Mr Gove’s handling of the alleged attempt of hard-line Islamists to seize control of classrooms in Birmingham. (Herald page 3, Mail page 2)

Independence debate: The Swedish Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt, has warned that the breakup of the UK could lead to the “Balkanisation” of Britain, with the consequences of Scottish independence also set to affect the rest of Europe. (Express page 2, Sun page 2)

The leaders of the Scottish Labour Party, Scottish Conservatives and Scottish Lib Dems have all signed a letter asking Alex Salmond to reveal the start-up costs of public bodies required after independence. (Sun page 2, Courier page 23, page 6)

Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph comments on the impact of Gordon Brown on the independence debate.

State guardians: The parents of children who fail to arrive at hospital appointments are being reported to state guardians, with doctors now required to alert the relevant authorities. (Express page 1, Mail page 1)

Economy

Independence debate: A new report by the Fraser of Allander Institute has claimed that 18 percent of North Sea oil and gas firms believe that independence would have a positive impact on the industry, compared to 12 percent who believe it would be negative. (Scotsman page 9, Express page 2)

In contrast, a report by the Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce has suggested that the oil and gas industry might be weakening, with the report also contending that uncertainty caused by the independence debate was affecting the investment plans of almost half of oil and gas firms in the North Sea. (Herald page 30, Times page 9, Telegraph page 8)

Property prices: The value of homes in Aberdeen and surrounding areas has nearly doubled over the last 10 years despite the recession, with the Registers of Scotland attributing this to the oil and gas industry boom. (Herald page 9, P&J page 1)

Education

Private education: The education union the EIS will debate whether private schools should have their charitable status – which is worth millions in tax breaks – removed, despite attempts to widen access to poorer pupils. (Herald page 7)

Health

Global recruitment: Health Secretary Alex Neil has revealed that the NHS intends to attract foreign doctors to Scotland in an attempt to address staffing shortages in under-pressure hospital departments. (Herald page 1)