News in Scotland - Tuesday

simple-minds.jpg
Scottish legendary rock band Simple Minds will headline
Edinburgh's Hogmanay celebrations

Scottish News: News in Scotland - Tuesday (23)

SCOTLAND

Scottish Labour could benefit from independent Scotland
An independent Scotland could be “the best thing to ever happen to Scottish Labour”, according to former MP Dennis Canavan. The former party member now works with the pro-independence group Yes Scotland. Canavan claimed a split from the UK could see Scottish Labour distance itself from the party in Westminster, likening it to “escaping a political straightjacket.” Mr Canavan was speaking at the first conference of Labour for Independence, which is headed by several prominent former politicians.

Tobacco giant challenges Scottish government
The Scottish government’s proposed ban on cigarette displays is set to be challenged by a leading tobacco company in the UK Supreme Court. Imperial Tobacco will attempt to persuade London judges to halt the government’s plans, which aim to remove any open advertising of cigarettes in Scotland’s shops. Lawyers representing the Bristol-based tobacco giant have previously failed to intervene with the legislation in the Scottish courts, and have instead requested that the panel of five court justices analyse the issue.

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Scottish independence: ‘Rump’ UK would cease to be one of Europe’s ‘big three’
Senior foreign policy experts have warned that the ‘rump’ UK would cease to be one of Europe’s ‘big three’ powers if Scotland votes for independence in 2014. Such fears include the UK losing influence on the world stage without Scotland; and EU status affecting the relationship with the US. Academics have also suggested in their submission to Westminster that as a result Scotland could follow the Nordic model, “becoming a power which seeks to wield its international influence acting as a part of the EU, rather than attempting to achieve independent global reach”. The fear is also of a diminished role as defence ‘agenda setter’ thus leaving room for France to accede the role. However the SNP, pro-EU as well as pro-independence will likely still campaign heavily on independence advancing their position within the European Union as opposed to reducing it.

Rise in number of Scottish homes for sale
New figures have shown the number of Scottish homes for sale has risen, but the number of buyers has not. The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) conducted the survey which revealed 3 percent of surveyors said they had seen prices rising slightly and 36 percent of surveyors saying prices had fallen last month. RICS Scotland director Sarah Speirs said: “Overall activity is still very low in most parts of the country. Government initiatives are all well and good but they need time to bed in and take effect, and access to affordable mortgage finance is still very difficult for many first-time buyers.”

SNP face criticism over hospital delays
The Scottish government is under pressure to provide details of the business case for several major building projects, including the much-delayed replacement for the Edinburgh Sick Kids hospital. Ministers have faced criticism from Mark Hellowell, a health systems lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, over their reluctance to release details of the hospital’s costs and the business case for the project. Mr Hellowell blasted the SNP’s stance as “an appalling state of affairs”, and attacked their lack of transparency over the issue. The new hospital is expected to miss its original opening date of Autumn 2016, which has been pushed back to 2017.

Edinburgh unveils Hogmanay plans
Details of Edinburgh’s 2013 Hogmanay celebrations have been revealed, as the city gears up for its 20th year of the festivities. Scottish legendary rock band Simple Minds will headline the new year’s eve party, supported by The View and Bwani Junction. Organisers have also announced plans for a five hour arts festival on new year’s day, with various events taking place across the city. Visitors will have the choice of several theatre, dance, music, spoken word and food events in locations throughout the capital.

Scottish salmon big in Japan
Richard Lochhead, Scotland’s food minister, has announced a ‘booming’ opportunity for Scottish salmon sales in Japan. After a Far East trade visit, Lochhead confirmed that Japan’s demand for Scottish Salmon has soared, overtaking the popularity of tuna as the main sushi fish. Mr Lochhead has said that if Scotland could win an extra 1 percent of Japan’s salmon import market, that would see the value of exports of the fish double to £6.4mn – a huge boost for Scotland’s economy.

Scottish government commits to ‘universal’ benefits
The Scottish government will reaffirm its commitment to universal entitlements such as healthcare and travel benefits in a Holyrood debate on Tuesday. The debate is to be raised two months after Labour raised its concerns about whether some services are affordable. Health Secretary Alex Neil stated: “Any debate around ‘free’ services must always keep in mind the real benefits that these policies deliver for people in Scotland.”

More support needed for small businesses, says report
A new report has suggested better support for small businesses could see a serious improvement in Scotland’s unemployment figures. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) study found that micro-businesses, which employ less than ten people, “are not recruiting as many people as they could.” Of all businesses in Scotland, nearly 94 percent are micro-businesses, which number around 321,000 and provide more than a quarter of all private-sector jobs. The FSB has called for more support to help businesses with recruitment issues, including legal and regulatory issues associated with hiring new staff.

UK AND WORLD

Probe into alleged gas price fix
The Financial Services Authority (FSA) and Ofgem are investigating allegations of price fixing by UK wholesale gas providers. The inquiry follows allegations from a whistle-blower. Four of the UK's big six energy suppliers have released statements to deny any involvement, however the Guardian newspaper, which received a separate tip-off from the whistleblower behind the allegations, said the investigations were into "some of the big six" energy providers, but the brief statements released by both Ofgem and the FSA do not name any companies.

Nick Clegg unveils new terms for parental work leave
The UK deputy Prime Minister will today announce plans to allow new parents to have control over 12 months’ worth of parental leave after 2015. Business groups warned that changes to parental leave rules could create conflicts between staff and employers, who may be unwilling to allow time off.

George Osborne takes lessons from US Republican loss
The UK Chancellor has insisted that same-sex marriage should be at the centre of the Tories 2015 election campaign, hinting that the party may move away from some conservative values. He alluded to the U.S. election, blaming the Republican’s loss on ‘traditionalist’ views such as its opposition to gay marriage and controversial views on rape had alienated voters.

Google, Starbucks and Amazon grilled over tax avoidance
Executives from huge global firms have been interrogated by MPs over allegations of tax avoidance. Google UK, Amazon and Starbucks appeared before the Public Accounts Committee with the former two admitting European tax jurisdictions for their UK businesses and the latter confirming tax deals on its European headquarters.

BBC executives could face sack over Newsnight controversy
Two BBC executives could face disciplinary action following “unacceptable” editorial failings in a BBC Newsnight broadcast. BBC sources said that Liz Gibbons, the programme's acting editor, and Adrian Van Klaveren, the supervising executive could even face dismissal from the corporation after child abuse allegations were reported to involve a senior public figure were discussed on the programme.

UK Labour fails to delay fuel price rise
UK Labour has failed in its a bid to delay an increase of 3p a litre on fuel duty planned for January losing by 48 votes in the House of Commons. The party hoped to delay the rise of fuel prices until April while the treasury said fuel was "now 10 pence a litre lower than under the previous government's plans".

Abu Qatada: Terror suspect set to be released
Abu Qatada is set to remain in the UK after his successful appeal against extradition to Jordan. The cleric, who has been detained in Long Lartin prison in Worcestershire since April, is being granted bail after judges ruled that sending him to his home country would breach his human rights. His release is a serious blow to Home Secretary Theresa May who was furious at the decision, calling it "deeply unsatisfactory" and stating that the government intends to appeal the decision. The home secretary told the Commons: "Qatada is a dangerous man, a suspected terrorist, who is accused of serious crime in his home country of Jordan."

IMF and eurozone split over Greece debt-measures
Greece’s international lenders have agreed to allow the debt-ridden country to make the cuts necessary to reduce impossible debt-rates, however, the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) clashed over the target date to do so. Christine Lagarde, IMF chief said the economics organisation did not agree with Jean-Claude Juncker, chairman of eurozone finance ministers, who said a target to reduce Greece's debt should be moved back by two years.

Israel continues air raids on Gaza
The Israeli airforce has launched air raids on the Gaza Strip, one day after Palestinian forces in the territory favoured a ceasefire if Israel "stops its aggression". No casualties were reported after air raids hit an uninhabited area to the west of Gaza City this morning - an Israeli army spokesman claimed the planes attacked an arms dump and two rocket launch sites. The air raids came hours after Gaza fighters on Monday fired six rockets at southern Israel.

Arab League welcomes Syrian opposition coalition
The Arab League has endorsed the formation of a new coalition of Syrian opposition parties, calling on other parties to join, but did not give the group full recognition as the only representative of Syrian people. Launched in Doha on Sunday, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces aims to unite groups seeking to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.

Top US commander under investigation
General John Allen who is the leading US commander in Afghanistan is currently under investigation for alleged inappropriate communications with a woman involved in a scandal featuring former CIA director David Petraeus, a senior US defence official said today. The official said that the FBI has accessed between 20,000 and 30,000 pages of communications between Allen and Jill Kelley who is said to be a long-term friend of the Petraeus family.

States petitioned to secede from U.S.
In the wake of Barack Obama’s victory in the presidential election, over 100,000 Americans have signed petitions asking for their states to secede from the U.S. Of the twenty states that have petitioned, the majority voted for Republican candidate Mitt Romney, and Texas has already passed the 25,000 signature mark at which the White House promises a response. There has been widespread discontent with the results of last week’s election, in which President Obama decisively defeated his opponent after a close campaign.



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published this page in News 2012-11-13 15:16:51 +0000