News in Scotland Tuesday

News in Scotland Tuesday

The Bank of England which was recently implicated in the Libor scandal has not undertaken any analysis on the monetary changes which will take place if Scotland becomes independent

Scottish News: News in Scotland – Tuesday


Cameron “running scared” of independence debate with Salmond
Number 10 sources have ruled out the prospect of David Cameron engaging in a head-to-head debate on Scottish independence with Alex Salmond. A senior Whitehall source said the Prime Minister was not going to fall for one of the First Minister’s “wheezes” and any debate should be with Better Together leader and former Labour Chancellor Alistair Darling. The SNP have said that Alistair Darling is being used as a “human shield” by the Tories in London.

Scottish independence: Bank of England have done no analysis
The Bank of England has held back on any analysis of the possibility of Scottish independence, internal e-mails have revealed. In response to a question from a Treasury official, a relevant Bank official said: “The Bank has not done any analysis on this issue. The only staff engagement has been for a small group of experts…to meet with representatives of the Scottish civil service, in order to provide strictly technical advice on related economic issues.” The SNP have confirmed that they intend to use the Bank of England if independence is a success and would continue to use sterling with the bank setting monetary policy. Observers are concerned that by keeping sterling, a combination of BoE quantitative easing (money printing) and leveraged buyouts could see an asset spree across Scotland whose government will be helpless to defend the nation’s economic interests or prevent inflation being imported from England.

Oil revenues could triple by 2018
Scotland’s oil and gas industry could see tax revenues increase to £12bn in the next six years, three times more than official estimates, say the Scottish government. Alex Salmond unveiled the Oil and Gas Analytical Bulletin, which predicts that oil tax revenues could increase to £11.8bn the year after Scotland becomes independent. This is a significant increase on the estimate by the independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) which set the figure at £4.1bn. In a meeting with industry leaders in Aberdeen yesterday, the first minister announced that Scotland is expecting a “second oil boom” with production set to rise to two million barrels a day.

Voting legislation for 16 and 17-year-old Scots brought to parliament
Young people may have their say in Scotland’s constitutional future as legislation allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in the Scottish independence referendum has been formally brought to parliament. SNP ministers want to lower the voting age from 18 – a long standing policy which has seen the backing of numerous organisations including the EIS, Scottish TUC, National Union of Students and the Electoral Reform Society. Prior to the move, pro-independence campaign group Yes Scotland appointed 16-year-old Ellie Koepplinger to its Advisory Board to emphasise that young people have a role in the debate. Commenting on the legislation reaching parliament, Yes Chief Executive Blair Jenkins said: ‘Yes Scotland fully supports this move, not because we think it will influence the vote one way or the other, but because it is correct and democratic thing to do.”

Westminster acknowledge bedroom tax especially bad deal for Scots
SNP MP Eilidh Whiteford today asked Minister of State for Pensions, Steve Webb whether Westminster had considered the impact of the bedroom tax on Scotland, where more than half of homeless temporary accommodation is owned by local authorities, compared to a majority leased to the private sector in the rest of the UK. Mr Webb responded: “[this] is something that we now need to address but we do recognise there may be particular issues in Scotland partly with rurality and partly with the housing stock and we’re certainly happy to continue the conversation with honourable members.”

Scottish government praised for emission target success
Scotland is making good progress on reaching its climate change emission targets, according to an independent report. Targets were only missed by 2 percent last year, but the report by the UK Committee on Climate Change pointed out that the targets would have been hit if it were not for the exceptionally cold winter. The report states that Scotland continues to lead the UK on renewable power with 36 percent of electricity consumption met from renewable energy, exceeding the 31 percent target and above the UK’s 9 percent. The Scottish government has committed to a series of annual emission reductions targets, which are currently legislated from 2010 to 2027 including plans to cut carbon emissions by 42 percent by 2020.

Concern raised about depleted uranium weapon use in south of Scotland 
Controversy has arisen regarding the legality of weapon testing using depleted uranium in southern Scotland following EU legislation which aims to protect the marine environment by banning the dumping of waste at sea.  Depleted Uranium shells have been fired off the coast at the Dundrennan range near Kirkcudbright, Dumfries and Galloway for over 30 years.  The Ministry of Defence said that the range has experienced full monitoring over the period.  However, thousands of rounds have been fired into the Solway in aid of testing.

Lib Dem crisis: Prof Philippe Sands third to leave party over secret courts
The prominent international lawyer Prof Philippe Sands QC has resigned from the Lib Dems in protest at the leadership’s support for expanding the use of secret courts. His decision, explained in an article for the Guardian, is the third high-profile departure from the party. Sands is professor of international law at University College London – famous for his book Lawless World which highlighted the means by which George Bush and Tony Blair damaged the rule of international law in the run-up to the Iraq conflict. Such opponents of the bill have also accused the government of rushing the legislation through parliament in which critical safeguards have been removed.

UK crisis: failing FLS scheme to be put “on steroids”, says Clegg
Chancellor George Osborne and senior Liberal Democrats including Nick Clegg and Vince Cable want The Funding for Lending Scheme to be prolonged beyond summer 2013 and “put on steroids”, after admitting that the programme is failing small businesses.  The Deputy Prime Minister said the solution to minimal lending in the final three months of last year was to put the scheme “on steroids”.  According to the Financial Times, a senior Lib Dem yesterday: “We are pushing for FLS to be extended and there is general agreement between both sides of the coalition,”.

UK crisis: Barclays suggests prevention of future rate-rigging
Barclays Plc, which was the first bank to be held accountable for Libor-rigging with a £290m fine, has said benchmark rates should be fixed to actual market transactions or prices and not estimates.  The UK’s second largest bank, along with RBS group, were both fined for involvement in the Libor scandal, which saw traders manipulating estimated rates.

Poll shows that the public want Tories to swing right
Conservative demands that David Cameron return to traditional Tory values will be bolstered by a Guardian/ICM poll which finds that the public overwhelmingly believe a hard line on Europe, immigration and traditional families would make the party more appealing. This “back to basics” agenda finds support across the political spectrum – even among Labour and the Lib Dems. The depth of pessimism about prospects for eventual economic recovery remains evident however in the rejection of the view that “in the long run, younger people will enjoy a more prosperous life than their parents” – a stark reality that most parties, in times of austerity, appear unable to tackle.

Pakistan to Iran gas pipeline goes ahead despite US opposition
Iranian and Pakistani leaders have celebrated the construction of a heavily delayed gas pipeline linking the two countries, defying US threat of sanctions. The $7.5bn pipeline, intended to help Pakistan overcome its increasing energy crisis, has been opposed by the US who’ve claimed that the plans go against their Iran sanctions act. US regulations list a wide range of business-related activities that can trigger US sanctions. US state department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said: “If this deal is finalised for a proposed Iran-Pakistan pipeline, it would raise serious concerns under our Iran Sanctions Act. We’ve made that absolutely clear to our Pakistani counterparts.”

US escalates tensions with North Korea
The US has dismissed North Korea’s declaration that the 1953 armistice with Seoul is nullified as “bellicose rhetoric” – using bellicose rhetoric in response by saying Pyongyang will face “the full range of our capabilities” if it were to carry out its threat of a nuclear attack. Barack Obama’s top national security adviser, Tom Donilon, on Monday called on China to join in further isolating Pyongyang. Unless North Korea is to ‘change its course’, Donilon stated that “the United States will continue to work with allies and partners to tighten national and international sanctions to impede North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes”. Many critics view this response as a sign that the US could easily justify a military confrontation and so increase patriotism and support for its government at home.

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