Chief Secretary to the treasury, Danny Alexander, has ignited a
dispute with the SNP over whether Scotland subsidises the UK or
the other way round
Scottish News: News in Scotland -Thursday
Channel 4 offered key role in independent Scotland
Channel 4 (C4) has been highlighted as a potential Scottish broadcasting station by the first minister. Alex Salmond outlined plans in August to replace BBC Scotland with a new Scottish public service broadcaster if the yes vote is cast. Last year, C4 spent 10 percentage of its £592mn budget across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Scottish administration would like to see 9 percent of the budget spent on Scotland alone. The proposals are likely to be published in a white paper on Scottish independence next year, which will include details of plans to break up the BBC.
Mutant superbug hits Scottish hospital
Known as ribotype 244, the emerging strain of Clostridium difficile (C.diff), reportedly discovered in a hospital in East Kilbride, is of the same variety as the bug which devastated the Vale of Leven Hospital in West Dunbartonshire in 2007. Dr Camilla Wiuff, healthcare scientist at Health Protection Scotland, said: “There are no implications for the population of hospital patients as yet, but we will keep an eye on it and monitor it very closely.”
- SNP under pressure to reevaluate EU policy
- Independence dividend of Trident equates to 18 hospitals, claims SNP
- SNP hit back at Lib Dems over home rule
- US-made weapons found in Syria amidst threat of regional conflict
- Scottish North Sea - Shell deal provokes call for revenues not to be milked by UK treasury
Scottish airport chiefs call for tax freeze
Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen airport executives have called on the UK government to abolish, or freeze and then reduce air passenger duty (APD) tax. The three main airports claim that Scotland will lose two million passengers and £210mn a year in lost tourist spending because of tax increases. The level of tax is expected to be raised in Chancellor George Osborne’s autumn statement next month. Transport Minister Keith Brown has repeated his call for APD to become devolved, as it was in Northern Ireland a year ago.
Scots receive higher benefit of Union per capita, claims treasury
Treasury documents emerged yesterday which shows government spending per head dropped everywhere in the U.K in 2011-12, but dropped nearly twice as quickly per head in England as in Scotland. Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander claimed last night the figures demonstrated that Scots continued to see a “real financial benefit” from being part of the UK. The subsidy claim was immediately rejected by the Scottish government, which highlighted alternative figures showing Scotland paying a larger percentage of U.K tax revenue than the share of U.K expenditure it received back.
Swinney puts faith in RBS
Recent speculation surrounding RBS has called into question the bank’s commitment to Scotland, with Sir Phillip Hampton stating the bank wanted to “achieve clarity” before any decisions were made on its future strategy as a Scottish bank. However, Finance Secretary John Swinney has said: “As the chief executive of RBS has made clear, Scotland is the bank’s heartland and they operate within whatever the politicians or people decide are the rules of the land.” Owen Kelly, chief executive of Scottish financial enterprise, said last night that the SNP’s plans “need to be tested” to see whether they are viable under EU treaties.
UK and WORLD
Cameron suffers defeat following EU budget row
The prime minister encountered trouble in parliament this week with Eurosceptic members of his own Conservative Party joining forces with Labour MPs to defeat the government by 307 votes to 294 over European funding. Senior Conservative MPs are demanding that Cameron must harden his position on EU funding at a summit later this month. The rebel amendment demanded that the next seven-year EU budget should be “reduced in real terms.” Labour have seized the opportunity to exploit Cameron’s first defeat with Ed Balls stating: “This is a humiliating defeat for David Cameron…[he] has failed to convince his own backbenchers, just as he is failing to convince other European leaders.”
CBI: Britain must adapt to a 'new norm' in economy
Employers' organisation, the CBI, has warned of a "new normal" of minimal growth forecasting that the UK economy's protracted emergence from crisis would not be fast. John Cridland, director-general of the CBI, called on Chancellor George Osborne to 'stimulate' the economy by spending on public infrastructure projects. However, as debt saturation is the cause of the UK's economic crisis, there is the risk that borrowing to spend on public projects will deepen the crisis.
Barclays trial: Charges against the bank
Having already been implicated in the Libor (London Interbank Offered Rate) scandal, a British court will consider a litany of charges made against the bank including: Manipulating energy prices, Manipulating interest rates, Mis-selling interest rate swaps, Libor/interest rate swap mis-selling, Mis-selling payment protection insurance, Investigation into 2008 fundraisings, Potential breach of US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Lloyds faces £5bn insurance mis-selling bill
Claims by customers mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI) against 40 percent taxpayer-backed Lloyds Banking Group have surpassed £5bn. Chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio said the the group had made "significant progress" and was confident that it could "rebuild the trust" of its customers.
Barclays attempt to rebound from Diamond’s tainted name
Barclays, which has already been fined £290mn this year for Libor rigging, have revealed another fine could be on its way from the US Federal Energy Commission - the institution investigating its western US power trading operations between 2006 and 2008. Barclays’ shares have closed up 11.3p, or nearly five percent, following the scandals. Analysts have said that while the figures were in line with forecasts the new inquiries and cautious outlook weighed on investor sentiment. The new chief executive Antony Jenkins admitted the third quarter had been difficult quarter had been difficult for the bank with the departure of Mr Diamond over the Libor-rigging scandal and the exit of chairman Marcus Agius, who will be replaced by Sir David Walker today.
Barclays: U.S. regulator seeks £290mn compensation
UK bank Barclays are being threatened with fines totalling £290mn ($470mn) in order to settle allegations that the bank manipulated the California electricity market. The fine may be the largest laid by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), surpassing the fine Barclays received in relation to the Libor rigging scandal which led to the resignation of Chief Executive Bob Diamond.
Heathrow: China acquires 10 percent airport stake
The Chinese state’s sovereign wealth fund has taken a ten percent stage in the U.K’s largest airport. Heathrow is now more than forty percent controlled by the Chinese, Qatari and Singaporean governments. The deal involved Spain’s Ferrovial relinquishing five percent of its stake in the airport, lowering its total to thirty-four percent. Heathrow executives have said the deal with China Investment Corporation (CIC) would help ensure the airport retains its position as “one of the best infrastructure assets in the world.”
Savile’s estate frozen over abuse claims
The executors of the late Jimmy Savile’s will have frozen his estate over mounting allegations of sexual abuse. NatWest bank have been the acting executors of Savile’s assets since the death of the star last year. A spokesperson for the bank stated: “Given the claims raised, distribution of the estate has been put on hold.” The Financial Times reported Savile’s estate as totalling £4.3mn, of which £3.7mn was to be held by NatWest on behalf of Savile’s charitable trust. Lawyers representing his alleged victims are expected to sue for damages.
Greek trial of journalist leaking Swiss bank data begins
A Greek journalist, Costas Vaxevanis, will face trial today after he published the names of Swiss bank accounts which he is accusing the Greek government of failing to investigate for tax evasion. Mr Vaxevanis insists he was doing his job whereas government ministers were not.
Obama returns to campaign trail as Sandy’s clean-up commences
Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are set to return to campaigning on Thursday after the president postponed the political race to partake in the aid relief effort on the U.S East coast. With the election only five days away the pair tied in the polls. The president’s advisers insist his break from campaigning had minimal impact on his standing but the Democratic campaign is seeking to make up for the lost time with a heavy propaganda campaign over the next few days.
Crowds in Kuwait protest jailing of opposition leader
Musallam al-Barrak has been charged by prosecutors in Kuwait on three counts related to a speech in which he made critical remarks about the 83-year-old emir. Unrest in Kuwait comes amid rising tension caused by changes to electoral law, which the opposition had condemned as an attempt to give pro-government candidates an advantage in parliamentary elections. Kuwaiti police have used tear gas and smoke bombs to disperse thousands of protesters marching on the prison where al-Barrak is held. The Interior Ministry has blamed “violent agitators and instigators” for the trouble, warning further protests would be dealt with harshly.
130 refugees missing after boat sinks off the coast of Bangladesh
A boat carrying Rohingya refugees has sunk off the border between Myanmar and Bangladesh. Police Inspector of Teknaf, Mohammad Farhad, said: “The boat was heading to Malaysia illegally.” Farhad added that a 24-year-old survivor was being held in custody but has little to no information. Hundreds of thousands of Muslim Rohingya have fled Myanmar in past decades to escape persecution. The police have been criticised by the United Nations, but Bangladesh said it was already overwhelmed with approximately 300,000 Rohingya.
Japanese tsunami funds diverted to unrelated projects
A quarter of the ¥11.7tn (£91bn) the Japanese government allocated to rebuild the region destroyed by last year’s earthquake and tsunami has been spent on projects unrelated to the disaster. A government audit also found over half the reconstruction budget had not yet even been allocated to communities in need, due to red-tape and indecision over which communities were affected the most. 325,000 people are still living in temporary accommodation following the disaster and ensuing radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Spending thus far has included ¥330mn to repair a sports stadium in Tokyo; ¥10.7bn for a nuclear power research organisation; and subsidies for a contact lens factory – ignoring the Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures where almost 20,000 people were killed last March.
Chinese J-31 Stealth Aircraft takes maiden flight
China’s second fifth-generation stealth aircraft, the J-31, has completed its first flight. Bearing the tail designation “31001,” the aircraft, accompanied by two Shenyang J-11Bs, reportedly conducted a high-speed taxi run, and followed by a ten minute flight with its landing gear in the lowered position. It is likely to be over half a decade until the Chinese Air Force and Navy will see the flight-generation commence operations in their respective services.
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