News in Scotland - Tuesday

The boom in Scotland's North Sea oil sector continues as Norwegian firm
Statoil announces a further 1,000 job

Scottish News: News in Scotland - Tuesday


Scottish independence: vote ‘yes’ to abolish the bedroom tax

An independent Scotland could “abolish the bedroom tax” and still be better off than the remainder of the UK, finance secretary John Swinney has said. Mr Swinney fired the opening salvo amid the debate over Scotland's cut of the £1tn plus UK debt mountain tonight, saying that decades of oil and gas wealth could reduce the country’s liability - although the Treasury are reluctant to release figures. The SNP believes that Scotland has consistently been in a stronger fiscal position than the UK as a whole in recent decades. Nationalists point to the latest official GERS figures on Scotland’s finances which show that the country contributed 9.9 percent of all UK revenues in 2011-12, with only 8.4 percent of the total UK population.

1000 North Sea jobs as energy giant launches recruitment drive

The North Sea was given another jobs boost yesterday as Norwegian energy giant Statoil said it aims to employ around 1,000 people out of Aberdeen within four years. It has already launched a recruitment drive for 700 people to oversee a multi billion-pound project east of Shetland - but said it could need hundreds more if plans for a similar development is given the go ahead. Statoil’s ambitious plans centre around the Mariner and Bressay fields, which both represent around £4.5bn of investment.


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Cameron urges FM to support UK press regulation decision

The UK prime minister will attempt to convince Alex Salmond to implement press regulation plans backed by a royal charter in Scotland, after the Conservatives reached an agreement on the matter with Labour and the Liberal Democrats in Westminster. Scottish ministers have so far distanced themselves from a press regulation report by Lord McCluskey, which was commissioned by the first minister post-Leveson. MSP’s hope that UK Culture Secretary Maria Miller will soon visit Scotland to clarify proposals formed in London. Sources close to Alex Salmond last night told the Herald that the Scottish government "at no point favoured compulsory regulation". 

New report shows Scots desire for devolution

ERS Scotland have launched a joint report with Scotcen to illustrate an alternative view on Scottish independence.  ‘More Devolution: An Alternative Road?’ uses evidence from the Scottish Social Attitudes, highlighting that while polls suggest the majority of Scots do not support full independence, they would like all major powers over tax and benefits to be governed from Holyrood - a level of devolution which are not on offer from Westminster. A majority of Scots have supported the prospect of welfare and tax benefits being devolved to Edinburgh.  Writing on the Electoral Reform Society’s news blog, Willie Sullivan, Director of ERS Scotland said: “to ignore other options for devolving power for 2 years is potentially ignoring what the public actually want from their democracy.”  He said that George Osborne’s decision to follow Lord Heseltine’s recommendation to put more money into the English regions in Wednesday’s budget will spark a debate on the continued bias of wealth and power in London throughout the Union.  “The Scots desire for more powers – irrespective of the Independence vote – will not remain separate from the discussion about the costs and benefits of most power and wealth being concentrated in a small part of the UK.” he added.

Greens challenge SNP to support public workers

Scottish Greens have called on the SNP government to stop cutting the pay of public sector workers. The opposition party insists that SNP ministers are mirroring the UK coalition’s treatment of public workers. Speaking ahead of members of the PCS union preparing to go on strike on March 20th, Patrick Harvie, Green MSP for Glasgow and co-convener of the Scottish Greens, said:  "SNP ministers have imposed a further real terms pay cut which, along with increased pension contributions, means yet further raids on the pockets of people working to deliver the public services we all depend on. The Scottish government likes to blame the UK Coalition but the truth is we have the power in Scotland to end this unfair squeeze.”                                           

Scots still clear in their opposition to the Iraq war

Nearly three-quarters of people think the decision to invade Iraq was wrong, the Dundee Courier has found. Few respondents to the survey believed that weapons of mass destruction were the driving force behind the war, with most saying economic stability and toppling Saddam were the real reasons - and dozens called for Tony Blair and George W Bush to be tried as war criminals. The Courier begins their four-day series on Tuesday, marking the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. The series will tell the story of the war from the eyes of servicemen and women, those who were injured physically and mentally, and the Iraqis themselves.

Majority of Scots support wind farms, poll suggests

More than three in five Scots would support wind farms to be included in their communities, according to a YouGov poll commissioned by Scottish Renewables. Out of the 1000 Scottish adults asked, 69% said their decision to visit an area of Scotland would not be changed by the presence of a wind farm. Similarly, wind power was favoured at 62% compared to nuclear power plants (32%) and shale gas drilling, commonly known as fracking (24%). A further four-fifths would support a large local hydro project, notably more than any other form of energy generation such as gas (42%), oil (37%) and coal (34%), according to the Courier.


UK crisis: inflation continues to rise

British inflation hit a nine-month high in February and looks set to rise further, but many economists say they still believe the Bank of England (BoE) will stick with its low interest rate policy. The bank's governor Mervyn King and two other policymakers voted to resume the central bank's programme of asset purchases last month - but other policymakers think there could be better ways to deal with Britain's economy, which is continuing to deteriorate since the crash of 2008. The BoE forecasts inflation will exceed 3 percent later this year due to upward pressure on the cost of imported goods and raw materials caused by sterling's rapid decline against other currencies - a byproduct of quantitative easing (money printing).                                 

Bloggers could face huge fines under Leveson deal

Bloggers could face high fines for libel under the new Leveson deal with exemplary damages imposed if they don't sign up to the new regulator, it has been claimed today. Kirsty Hughes, the chief executive of Index on Censorship, which campaigns for press freedom around the world, said it was a "sad day" for British democracy. "This will undoubtedly have a chilling effect on everyday people's web use," she said. Critics have panned the deal for fears that damages and costs enforced by courts to penalise those who remain outside the regulatory agreement could run to hundreds of thousands of pounds - enough to close down smaller publishers.

Eurozone crisis: France and Germany insists levy was decision of Cyprus

As outrage mounts over an unprecedented bank tax in Cyprus, Europe's biggest economies, France and Germany, have put the blame for the bank levy on Cyprus. Both France and Germany, along with the European Central Bank, have hastened to emphasise that they were not behind the decision to impose a tax on savings in Cyprus – a move which has impacted on markets worldwide. The move comes after European finance ministers demanded Cyprus seize a significant portion of all deposits in the country’s banks in order to secure a €10bn bailout. Cyprus insists however that Brussels gave it no choice but to accept a painful tax on the country’s bank deposits in return for international aid.

Syria accuses rebels of using chemical weapons

Syria's government have accused rebel forces of using chemical weapons, with state media saying "terrorists" had fired "rockets containing chemical materials" in Aleppo province - killing 15 people. The accusation is the first such claim by President Bashar al-Assad's government against rebel forces, though the international community has warned against deploying its own stocks of chemical weapons. Syria's chemical weapons stockpile, which dates back to the 1970s, is the biggest in the Middle East, but its precise scope remains unclear according to analysts, and the regime has not acknowledged having the arms. The West continues to support rebel forces in an attempt to topple Assad in the geopolitically strategic region. Syria’s death toll now sits at 60, 000 - many of whom are women and children.            

Iraq still endures fatal attacks ten years on

At least 48 people have died and many more wounded as bombs exploded across Iraq today - the 10th anniversary of the U.S. Invasion. The attacks, including 17 car bombs, seven roadside bombs, and two shootings, tore through Shiite neighbourhoods of Baghdad. It is the second time in less than a week that Baghdad has endured major coordinated attacks. The recent attacks in Shiite areas have spread fear among Iraqis that sectarian warfare between Sunnis and Shiites may take hold of the country again – compounding critics' comments that the country faces crippling instability ten years on – despite US claims to the contrary.                              

Human Rights watchdogs have little reaction to Gitmo hunger strike

Despite the prisoners' hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay being acknowledged by the US military, there has been little reaction from the international humanitarian organisations to the action, which enters its 42nd day on Tuesday. Although military censorship has made it difficult to access any information about Gitmo prisoners – the Red Cross have been the only organisation to respond to detainees attorneys expressing grave concern over the life threatening strike. According to the Centre for Constitutional Rights, 130 prisoners went on a hunger strike to protest the alleged confiscation of photos, mail and the sacrilegious handling of their Korans.


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published this page in News 2013-03-19 14:02:18 +0000