Scottish news bulletin - 11th May 2009

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All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions. Where there is a link to a newspaper’s website, the relevant page reference is blue and underlined.

Economy

Tighter Laws: Laws dealing with the failure of investment banks are to be tightened to allow clients fast access to assets. Chancellor Alistair Darling will today set out plans to improve the ability of clients to secure an early return of their assets. (FT page 3)

Banks Inquiry: A powerful Holyrood committee is drawing up plans for an investigation into the collapse of the country’s two largest banks. MSPs want an inquiry into how HBOS and RBS turned from profitable institutions into firms requiring a bail-out. (Sunday Herald page 13)

Crime

15-Person Jury: Plans to axe the historic 15-person jury in Scottish criminal trials have been dropped by ministers. Kenny MacAskill, Cabinet Secretary for Justice, said that after extensive consultation, he had decided the only system of its kind in the world should be retained. (Scotsman page 2)

Prison Sentences: Kenny MacAskill sparked a furious backlash last night after describing jail as a ‘bit of a skoosh’ for short term prisoners. Mr MacAskill said his plans for community sentences would be tougher than jail sentences for many short term prisoners who, he claimed, lie in their cells watching television, playing video games and plotting new crimes with friends. (Sunday Herald page 1, Scotsman page 8, Lesley Riddoch, Herald page 6, Times page 19, Daily Express page 8, Daily Mail page 4)

Transport

Edinburgh Trams: The front man for Edinburgh’s troubled tram scheme is facing the axe over claims that he has lost control over the project. Liberal Democrat councillor Phil Wheeler could be ousted by his colleagues within days as part of a major reshuffle of the majority party in the coalition running the capital. (Scotsman page 16)

Local Government

Freeze Public Sector Pay: Ministers have been urged by Scotland’s largest local authority to step up to the mark and freeze public sector pay or risk tens of thousands of jobs. Gordon Matheson, treasurer of Glasgow City Council said yesterday he was prepared to take the lead and sacrifice any pay rises in the foreseeable future, but it was a matter for the government to implement a freeze across the board. (Herald page 2)

Health

Swine Flu: Seven new cases of swine flu have been confirmed across the UK yesterday, taking the total to 55. None of the new cases were in Scotland. (Scotsman page 7, Herald page 2)

Education

Free Tuition: The SNP’s flagship policy of scrapping university tuition fees has been branded a failure after new figures revealed that the number of Scots applying to Scottish universities has risen by just 8%, compared with a rise of more than 12% in English students applying to English universities in England. Ministers had hoped that abolishing the levy would fuel a huge rise in the number of those going on to further education. (Sunday Times page 7)

Politics

Expenses: Shamed MPs are to rush forward the official release of their expense claims in an attempt to quell growing outrage over thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money being used to pay for items ranging from mending pipes under a tennis court to toilet seats. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Telegraph page 1, Times page 1, FT page 2, Guardian page 1, Press and Journal page 4, Daily Mail page 3)

Replicate Holyrood Expenses: The First Minister has called for Westminster to release expense details quarterly, in the same way as the Scottish Parliament. Mr Salmond’s own expenses came under scrutiny after it was revealed that he claimed £800 for food during a period when the Westminster Parliament was not sitting. (Sunday Herald page 2, Scotsman page 5, Herald page 6, Times page 18, Press and Journal page 5, Daily Express page 4, Daily Mail page 9, Scotland on Sunday page 1)

Labour Party: Gordon Brown, battered by revelations over ministerial expenses and a series of embarrassing climbdowns, is heading for a humiliating third place in next month’s local elections. (Sunday Times page 1)

David Cameron: David Cameron has insisted that he would treat the people of Scotland with respect if his party came to power. However the Conservative leader said he would expect the Scottish Government to respect Westminster on certain issues too, such as nuclear weapons. (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 6, Telegraph page 12, Times page 19, Courier page 3, Sunday Herald page 1, Scotland on Sunday page 2, Sunday Times page 7)

Conservative Party: The Scottish Conservatives will gather in Perth this week for their annual conference, where David Cameron will be in attendance. (Sunday Post page 15)

Foster Care: Scotland is heading for a crisis in foster care, with over two-thirds of current carers approaching potential retirement age. (Herald page 1)

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