The week outside Westminster

A digest of the week’s politics news from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

SCOTLAND

• Alex Salmond was reported to be climbing down on his plans for an independence referendum, following a by-election defeat in Glasgow North East. “The SNP are desperate,” claim the Lib Dems. Nothing of the sort says the SNP’s Mike Russell.

• The Queen announces plans to implement the Calman Commission, giving more powers to Holyrood. The SNP’s Angus Robertson concludes that Calman is “nothing more than a pointless talking shop”, Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy urges the Scottish Government to end its boycott of the commission, and Tory leader David Cameron seems reluctant to implement the plans quickly if he makes it to Number 10.

The expenses bill for MSPs increases 8 per cent over the last year as calls are made to freeze councillors’ pay.

• The SNP announce plans for a new Forth river crossing, but who will pay for it?

WALES

• Welsh Labour leadership contender Edwina Hart announces that women in Wales will be allowed 2 courses of IVF on the NHS. NICE says it should be 3.

• The Government plans greater powers for Wales as our former man at the UN calls for a referendum to do the same. “Excellent” declares the Assembly Government. Steady on says the Welsh Secretary.

• Deputy Minister for Social Services Gwenda Thomas opens a debate on care for the elderly.

NORTHERN IRELAND

• Finance Minister Sammy Wilson raises questions over NHS productivity. “Nonsense” claims Health Minister Michael McGimpsey.

• The DUP warn that proposals in a report on Northern Ireland would pose “a threat to peace”.

• Concerns are raised that changes to the education system could lead to chaos.

Ian Paisley praises Sinn Fein for keeping its word on devolution. Speaking to RTÉ, he says: “What encourages me is the fact that, so far, the Sinn Feiners have kept their word and there’s no doubt that there’s a hatred coming to them from people that once were with them.”

Quote of the week

“The people of Glasgow North East says he’s loosing it big style last week”

Scottish Labour Leader Ian Gray on Alex Salmond during First Minister’s Questions

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