The week outside Westminster

A look back at the week's political news in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

All three first ministers expressed their “extreme anger” over plans to hold a referendum on electoral reform on the same day as next year’s elections to the devolved bodies.


• Government chief economist, Dr Andrew Goudie, calculated that Scotland faces £42 billion of cuts.

• The Sunday Herald reported a senior Scottish Conservative as admitting that their party was “toxic” north of the border.

• Labour called for NHS Scotland’s communication’s budget to be better used to recruit more medical staff.

• David Miliband declared: “Labour’s fightback starts in Scotland.”

• There were suggestions that the Lockerbie bomber could live for up another 10 years. Four US Senators called for a review into his release.

• Labour sought the credit following confirmation that a new £3.4 million fund to help buses go green was launched.

• The Scotsman reported that some newly qualified teachers faced having to pay hundreds of pounds for background checks.

• The Royal College of Nursing concluded that health boards across Scotland needed to make savings worth £250 million to break even next year.

• It was reported that 20 Scottish councils had failed to give children in care the £100 top-up payments legally owed to them under the Child Trust Fund scheme.

• Senior Police Officers were told the savings they needed to make were double what was initially thought.


• The Holtham Commission called for greater financial freedoms for Wales.

• The Assembly Government pledged to bring broadband internet to Wales’s “none spot” areas.

• Welsh Labour MP Ann Clywd said that sick ex-miners were “upset and insulted” by the Government”s plans for incapacity benefit.

• All of Labour’s leadership contenders supported extra powers for the Assembly Government.

• The Assembly’s Health Committee warned that babies’ lives were at risk due to under-staffed and ill-equipped neonatal units.

• The Royal College of Nursing warned that up to 2,000 Welsh nursing and midwifery posts could be under threat.

• It was reported that “hundreds” of temporary jobs at the Assembly Government are to go.

• Wales’s top Civil Servant called for an end to the “macho” atmosphere surrounding the debate on cuts and job losses.

Northern Ireland

• It was announced that the first and deputy first ministers would meet victims of the Catholic church’s child sex abuse scandal.

• Democratic Unionist Party MP William McCrea accused the British government of allowing IRA terrorism to continue for 30 years without determining to defeat it.

• Following Ian Paisley Snr’s comments that Pope Benedict’s visit to the UK was a “mistake”, Canon Ian Ellis of the Church of Ireland Gazette described the remarks as “most disappointing”.

• The Drumcree Orange parade passed of peacefully.

• Former first minister Ian Paisley took his seat in the House of Lords.

• Health minister Michael McGimpsey concluded that the decision not to exempt health from further cuts was politically motivated.

Rumours abounded about an electoral pact between the DUP and the Ulster Unionist Party.

• At a Government away day, Ministers were given a clear picture of the “enormous” economic difficulties facing Northern Ireland.

• The Royal College of Nursing warned that up to 1,300 health and social care posts could be under threat across Northern Ireland.

• The Orange Order rejected new proposals for dealing with contentious parades.

• Home secretary Theresa May suspended the use of stop and search powers by the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Quote of the Week

“At a time when public spending is under unprecedented pressure, it would be regrettable if the UK Government persisted with an unfair, outdated and arbitrary system for allocating funding to the devolved nations.”

Gerald Holtham calling for a fairer funding system for Wales

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