Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing has described the latest
Westminster report into the 'consequences' of independence as "flawed"
Scottish News: News in Scotland - Wednesday
SNP promises ‘job for life’ in the army of an independent Scotland
Recruits who sign up to the army in an independent Scotland, will be offered a job for life under plans being considered by the Scottish government. The proposal follows recent claims from defence experts that Scotland could struggle to recruit enough personnel to defend the nation. During evidence to the House of Commons defence committee on the impact of independence, Veterans Minister Keith Brown said the job for life offer would make Scotland's forces more attractive to recruits than the British Army. Last month the Ministry of Defence announced almost 4500 army personnel would be axed in the latest cutbacks following the 2010 defence review, with more than 500 Scottish members of the armed forces already having lost their jobs since the coalition government came to power.
‘Project Fear’ Update: SNP claims more scaremongering from Vince Cable and Coalition
Independence could raise the cost of posting letters and lower the quality of service, according to the latest in a long line of Westminster papers on the potential consequences of Scotland leaving the UK. The paper states that the current system subsidises around 7000 non-commercial post offices, to the tune of £210mn. "In the event of a vote for independence, an independent Scottish state would have to consider how to fund the significant non-commercial elements of their post office network if it wished to maintain the current level of service," according the coalition paper. In response, Fergus Ewing, the Scottish government's enterprise minister, dismissed the "flawed report" as "simply a set of assertions by an organisation that is opposed to independence". Independence, he argued, would allow the Scottish government to do more to improve business opportunities, ensuring broadband and mobile technology reached all parts of the country, and maintaining a postal service that suited Scotland's needs.
More Scottish news:
- Scottish independence: Man's limitations and Scotland's money
- 'No' vote to independence risks population exodus
- Bank of England should be abolished
- Scottish Times announcement - let us write for you!
New air route between Scotland and Canada takes off
A new link between Scotland and North America starts operating today with Air Canada now serving Edinburgh Airport directly from its hub in Toronto. The service will see three scheduled flights per week between July and October and is expected to bring an economic boost to both the local and national economy. The service is also one of the first to operate under the new ‘Air Canada Rouge’ brand, a subsidiary of Air Canada. Welcoming the start of the service, SNP MEP Alyn Smith said: “Canada is one of Scotland’s largest international visitor markets with more than 100,000 visitors in 2011, injecting £83mn into the economy. This new direct route to Toronto will increase on that and provide a boost for economies both sides of the Atlantic, as well as the huge cultural and business links that already exist between the two countries … With a ‘Yes’ vote next year will be able to capitalise on the fantastic services we have to offer in Scotland, boosting our economy and options for consumers”.
Partners set up North Sea deal to tap into stranded oil and gas fields
A company that states it can reduce the cost of developing stranded oil and gas fields by using unmanned buoys has agreed terms to undertake its first development in the North Sea. Enegi Oil and its partner ABTechnology have signed agreements to acquire a 50 percent interest in the 10 million barrel Fyne field off eastern Scotland from Antrim Energy in a landmark deal for the sector. Over 116 North Sea fields have not been brought into production because they have been seen as too small to make it worthwhile investing in production kit such as platforms and pipelines. However Enegi and ABT say it will be much cheaper to use unmanned buoys than conventional techniques. The buoys sit just beneath the surface of the water and can be connected to wells on the seabed, and include facilities to separate oil from gas and to store the output.
MONETARY INDEPENDENCE v UNION LATEST
(International news on monetary union to inform the Scottish referendum debate)
Portuguese government on verge of collapse
After the resignation of two high-profile politicians, Portugese share prices tumbled today (Wednesday) plunging the nation into a political crisis and threatening its €78bn bailout package. In return for the bailout Portugal agreed to an 'adjustment programme' in 2011 which meant the Portuguese government was forced to accept Troika (IMF/EC/ECB) taxation policies involving deep austerity cuts. The leader of one of the coalition government parties, Paulo Portas, resigned and was joined by the Finance Minister Vítor Gaspar. Further resignations are expected and there are widespread calls for fresh elections to resolve the crisis. Portugal is in the euro currency union.
The giant UK bank Barclays has been downgraded by rating agencies - demonstrating further the precarious situation of the UK financial sector. The news of the S&P downgrade comes after it was revealed that an investigation by the European Commission found Barclays along with RBS guilty of anti-competitive practices. Both banks have been embroiled in various financial scandals including the Libor-rigging scam and more recently the ISDAfix rigging. S&P point to problems with capital requirements and concerns over the 'unwinding' of quantitative easing (money printing) which have helped UK banks avoid insolvency. Finance Secretary John Swinney raised concerns recently when he described the current UK regulatory system as a "solid framework".
UK crisis: Former investment banker says no connection between foodbanks and benefit cuts
Wealthy Conservative Lord Freud, a Work and Pensions minister, has caused uproar by stating that the trebling in the past year of people resorting to food handouts to feed their families is not linked to benefits sanctions or delays. Challenged over whether ministers conceded a link between the benefits system and food bank use, Lord Freud stated that: “Food banks are absolutely not part of the welfare system that we run … If you put more food banks in, that is the supply. Clearly food from a food bank is by definition a free good and there’s almost an infinite demand”. Later, the minister, a former investment banker educated at Oxford University, came under fire from charities for being out of touch with the reality of life on the breadline. Campaigners have recently warned that more than 500,000 Britons are using food banks because of a combination of benefit cuts, falling wages and economic decline.
Egypt’s protesters call for Morsi’s arrest and trial
Egypt's army commander and President Mohamed Morsi each pledged to defy the other as a deadline approached today that will trigger a military takeover backed by protesters. The military chiefs claim they want to restore order in the country amass with protests over Morsi's Islamist policies and issued a call to battle in a statement headlined "The Final Hours", saying they were willing to shed blood against "terrorists and fools" after Morsi refused to give up his office. A report in Egypt's state run Al-Ahram newspaper said it is expected that Morsi step down or he will be removed from office, and that the army would set up a three member presidential council to be chaired by the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court. Meanwhile, the youth movement that organised the mass protests has urged the Republican Guard to arrest Morsi immediately and present him for trial.
President Morales’ ‘kidnapped by imperialism’
After Bolivia's presidential jet was grounded in Austria this morning over suspicions Edward Snowden was on board, Spain has authorised the jet to pass through its airspace and continue its journey to Bolivia, the Austrian President has said. Bolivian President Evo Morales' jet was forced to land in Vienna this morning after several EU countries barred the plane from entering their airspace over suspicions that NSA whistleblower Snowden was on board. The Austrian authorities searched Morales’ plane, but found no stowaways on board, Austria’s deputy chancellor has said. Snowden has requested asylum from Bolivia, which has yet to answer his request. The whistleblower had also petitioned Austria but was rejected. The number of countries that could still agree to provide asylum to Snowden continues to decrease by the day, however those such as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said he would leave the decision up to the Venezuelan people, instead of succumbing to intimidation.
US immigration deal to provide huge windfalls to defence contractors
A $46bn(£30bn) border security package the US Senate approved last week as part of a comprehensive immigration bill includes a mandate stating that certain defence equipment should be purchased for deployment along the US-Mexican border - providing a likely windfall worth tens of millions of dollars to top US defence contractors. The legislation would spend $30bn (£19.6bn) over the next decade and require the US Border Patrol to acquire, among other items, six Northrop Grumman airborne radar systems, 15 Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopters, and eight light enforcement helicopters made by American Eurocopter. However the plan has attracted criticism from watchdog groups who say that the requirements would create a troubling end run around the competitive bidding process - by earmarking spending on certain projects that lawmakers insert into legislation in order to benefit specific recipients.
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