News in Scotland - Thursday

stephen-hester.jpg
RBS boss Stephen Hester will receive a bonus despite post a £5bn loss

Scottish News: News in Scotland - Thursday


SCOTLAND

Scots council tax freeze envy of English
News that council tax payers in England are facing an increase in their payments this year shows the difference between Scotland and the Westminster government, claims the SNP. All of Scotland’s local authorities are benefiting from a freeze in their payments for the sixth year in a row however reports today say that 41 percent of councils in England are planning to increase council tax this year – up on the 15 percent rise last year.

Scottish independence: Scottish economy will be simpler to regulate post-independence
The fraud tsunami which hit the UK's financial sector partly due to a dysfunctional UK regulatory system would be less likely to happen in an independent Scotland. Finance Minister John Swinney has said that an independent Scotland's regulatory system "would be simpler" and so improve the oversight and performance of industries such as the financial, energy, telecommunications, postal services and rail sectors.

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Scotland and EU membership questioned again
A third European foreign minister has told the BBC an independent Scotland would have to apply for EU membership. Latvia's Edgars Rinkevics said Scotland would be considered a "new country". The Latvian foreign minister also raised the possibility that the rest of the UK might not automatically inherit the UK's membership of the EU either. In a speech in Brussels on Tuesday, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish government would seek to negotiate continued membership. Ms Sturgeon said: "On issues like the Euro, Schengen (free area of movement within Europe) and the rebate, our aim would be to retain the prevailing terms”.
                                               
No campaign ‘in tatters’ after misleading leaflets
Reports that the Treasury had been set to release an anti-independence paper based on the UK’s lost triple-A credit rating shows that the No campaign has been left “in tatters”, warns the SNP. Despite the UK’s downgrade which reflects lack of confidence by global markets in UK’s ability to pay its debts, people across Scotland have continued to receive misleading leaflets from the anti-independence campaign which falsely claim that the UK holds a triple-A rating. Commenting, SNP MSP John Mason who sits on the Finance Committee said: "These anti-independence papers were promised by the UK Government at the beginning of the year, and they have clearly been delayed - now we know why, because the No campaign's assertions are crumbling one by one”.

INTERNATIONAL
                                               
RBS admit losses despite paying bonuses
Stephen Hester, the boss of RBS has admitted 2012 losses of more than £5bn – despite paying staff bonuses of £600mn. Hester who has been in the job four years - attempting to turn the bank around after record losses in 2008 - said he believed that privatisation of the bank was drawing nearer: "The light at the end of the tunnel is coming much closer". At present the bank is 82 percent owned by the taxpayer. Asked on ITV Daybreak if the taxpayer would ever get back its money, RBS chairman Sir Philip Hampton said: "I don't know. We'll do our best". Labour described the public would be "astounded" by the bonuses.

Those on low incomes may refuse to pay council tax
Local authorities have conceded that up to 84 percent of people on low incomes will refuse to pay council tax after being caught in the net by benefit changes this April, and admit there is little they can do about it. Nationally the council tax benefit cuts will mean the poor face an average bill of £247 a year from April, a charge from which they are currently exempt. But because the sums average less than £5 a week, councils are warning that in many cases it could mean recovery costs will be higher than the bill. A False Economy spokesman said: "Some councils look set to pursue people with no money through the courts, reviving memories of the poll tax”.

Army forced to release documents in Bradley Manning trial
After over a thousand days of secretive legal proceedings, the United States’ government has released a small amount of the thousands of pages of courtroom documents from the case against alleged WikiLeaks source Pfc Bradley Manning. Last May, the Centre for Constitutional Rights sued the US government over the lack of transparency in the Manning trial, with David Coombs, his defence attorney unsuccessfully asking the judge to dismiss all charges against his client due to the lingering, three-year process. Pfc Manning is expected to testify on Thursday this week when he is scheduled to formally offer a plea. He may avoid a life sentencing by pleading guilty to lesser charges.

Syria: Lebanon warned to be neutral by UN
Lebanese leaders must eschew their temptation to be involved in the Syria conflict and hold to their declared neutrality or there is a real danger of fighting spilling over the border, according to UN leader Ban Ki-moon. There have been reports that many of the 300,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon are being refused support unless they declare opposition to President Assad. There are also reports that Hezbollah fighters are active inside Syria.

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published this page in News 2013-02-28 11:41:31 +0000