The Scottish parliament must now decide how to proceed with the
rules of Scotland's independence referendum after today's report
by the Electoral Commission
Scottish News: Top Stories - Thursday
Scottish independence: Electoral Commission findings released
The election watchdog is delivering its findings on the Scottish government's independence referendum question and other issues today. The Electoral Commission has spent the last few months assessing the SNP government's preferred wording on the ballot paper in autumn 2014. Responding to the finding the chief of the Yes Scotland campaign said:‘“The report is an excellent step forward. I am very pleased with this question, which officially designates the Yes and No campaigns, and with the proposed funding arrangements. The Electoral Commission was asked to come forward with proposals for a level financial playing field, taking into account the particular circumstances of Scotland's political system, and that is exactly what they have done...'I am sure that the Scottish Parliament will now move quickly to agree these matters, so that everybody knows precisely what they will be asked when they go to vote in the autumn of next year...Agreement over the referendum question will mean another major piece of the process jigsaw is in place and we can continue to move the debate from the “how” to the “why” of an independent Scotland.” Patrick Harvie, MSP for Glasgow and Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, said: "It seems perfectly reasonable to ask people if Scotland 'should' be independent rather than asking them to 'agree'. And the funding arrangements seem fair, although I feel this debate can be advanced by spreading ideas not just splashing cash.”
More Scottish news:
- Scottish independence: campaign too important to be left to politicians
- Salmond warns Osborne: Westminster austerity won’t cut it for Scotland
- Scotland should “pay for itself”, says senior Tory
- North Sea oil helps Scotland through UK crisis
More UK students seeking places at Scots universities
Figures seen by the BBC suggest applications from the rest of the UK for places at Scottish universities are markedly up, despite fees of up to £9,000 a year. Glasgow University said demand rose by almost 37 percent. The complete figures on applications for places at all UK institutions are due to be released by the admissions body UCAS later. The upturn is all the more remarkable at Edinburgh and St Andrews which charge £9,000 each year. It is believed the provision of new bursaries to compensate for fees is a factor - but there remains concern that students from less affluent homes are still deterred from applying.
Browns Food Group buys up Hall's meat brand
A Scottish food firm has agreed a deal to buy the Hall's brand from its Dutch owner Vion. The purchase by Kirkconnel based Browns Food Group does not include production facilities but sees 50 jobs retained. Vion confirmed the closure of the Hall's meat factory in West Lothian with the loss of 1,700 posts last year. A spokesman for Vion said: "Following their acquisition of the Hall's brand, we would like to wish Browns Food Group every success with their plans for the business." The Dutch company is currently in the process of closing the plant at Broxburn in West Lothian with all the jobs expected to be gone by next month.
Struggling Scots raiding savings to pay their bills
One in six Scots households are dipping into their savings to pay for day to day living expenses as they struggle to cope with higher utility, food and fuel bills in the face of another year of frozen wage packets. Almost half of people have admitted in a new poll to regularly delving into their savings last year, with one third unable to put any money aside in 2012. The Bank of Scotland study lays bare the desperate situation numerous Scots families are in. Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) Chief executive Margaret Lynch said: "This report shows the grim reality of what life is like for Scotland's families in today's economy”.
Welfare reforms threaten our dignity - Salmond
The government’s welfare reform programme was fiercely criticised last night by Alex Salmond who used a speech in Glasgow to claim that it was now the “biggest threat to human dignity” in the country. Nearly a third of people receiving an incapacity benefit in Britain have been told they are capable of working, according to new figures. The Department for Work and Pensions revealed that out of 603,000 people on incapacity benefits who have been reassessed since 2010, almost 180,000 have been told they are fit to take up a job and no longer eligible for support. They have instead been redirected on to the government’s back-to-work programmes.
EU exit threatens 'standard of living', says Pimco chief Mohamed El-Erian
Mohamed El-Erian, chief executive of Pimco, warned that David Cameron would need a 'Plan B’ to limit the impact on the economy if the UK were to exit the EU. The warning followed the pledge by Mr Cameron last week to hold a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU in 2017 should the Conservatives win the next election. Mr El-Erian said that while the promise was likely to “score some internal political points” it risked “some reduction in the country’s growth”. “At the minimum, the referendum complicates on-going efforts to overcome the region’s debt crisis. It could also detract from the eurozone’s multiyear recovery process, structural elements of which need to be put in place rapidly,” he said.
December mortgage approvals rise to highest since January 2012
Home loan approvals in Britain rose last month to the highest since January 2012, giving hope that a Bank of England scheme may be starting to be finding its way into the credit market and supporting a flagging housing market. The lack of lending has contributed to a grim economic outlook that has brought Britain to the brink of a "triple-dip" recession or depression. Peter Dixon, economist at Commerzbank said: "On the face of it, those figures would support the Bank of England's claims that the Funding for Lending Scheme is starting to make its presence felt”. “We would need to see a few more months of good data before we can validate the claim, but at least we're moving in the right direction" he said. There was no immediate market reaction to the data.
Families face battle with GSK over dangerous diabetes drug
Thousands of families in the UK could be deprived of compensation for the death or harm of a relative caused by the diabetes drug Avandia, even though the British maker has agreed to pay billions of dollars to settle similar claims in the US. The manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline has admitted concealing data about the damaging side-effects of the drug, and there is evidence of the drug's harmful effects. But, despite this, GSK is not prepared to settle claims in the UK without a court fight. Liz Thomas, policy manager at the patient safety charity Action against Medical Accidents, said it had "become increasingly difficult in the UK to challenge large corporations such as pharmaceutical companies, an incredibly expensive form of litigation".
Brahimi says Syria 'horror unprecedented'
The Syrian conflict has reached "unprecedented levels of horror", Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, has said in remarks that came just hours after dozens of people were found shot dead in Aleppo city. He told the UN Security Council on Tuesday that it must now act to halt the carnage, epitomised in the latest instance by nearly 70 young men and boys killed and dumped in a river in the conflict wracked northern city. Brahimi's warning came just hours before a UN conference opened in Kuwait on Wednesday to seek $1bn of aid for Syria's neighbours sheltering 700,000 registered refugees, and an additional $500mn to finance humanitarian work for four million Syrians inside their country.
Israel boycotts UN forum, first state in history to ignore human rights review
Israel has boycotted the UN human rights forum over fears of scrutiny of its treatment of residents of the occupied territories. Israel is now the first state in history to win a deferment of the periodical review of its human rights record. Tel Aviv has refused to send a delegation on Tuesday to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva for the Universal Periodic Review procedure where UN member states have their human rights record evaluated every four years. Israel’s cooperation with the council stopped last March after the UN set up a committee to inspect the effects of the Israeli settlements on Palestinians.
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