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Daily Political Media Summary: 29 April 2008

All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions

Economy

Grangemouth refinery: Alex Salmond and Gordon Brown held talks yesterday to discuss the situation at the Grangemouth refinery. John Swinney, the Finance Secretary, will visit the plant today whilst talks are expected to be held in London between Jim Ratcliffe, owner of Ineos and Unite officials. (Scotsman page 6, Sun page 2, Herald page 1, Alf Young in the Herald, Douglas Fraser in the Herald, Daily Express page 1, P&J page 8, Courier page 1, The Times page 4, Daily Record page 1, Daily Mail page 2, Financial Times page 4, Guardian page 24, Daily Telegraph page 1)

Price fixing: Manufacturers of leading household brands including Procter & Gamble, Unilever and GlaxoSmithKline are being investigated for price fixing. (Scotsman page 2, Daily Telegraph page 1)

10p tax rate: The Prime Minister apologised yesterday for the handling of the scrapping of the 10p tax rate. When asked if he was “sorry” about the handling, he replied “Of course, because it’s unfortunate when things go wrong for people and we’ve tried to sort that out immediately over the last few days”. (Scotsman page 13, Sun page 2, Daily Record page 6, Daily Mail page 4, Daily Telegraph page 4, Financial Times page 2)

VAT on building work: Tricia Morrison, partner at HBJ Gateley Wareing, comments in the Scotsman (page 29) that cutting VAT on building work could combat cowboy tradesman.

Tax exodus: The CBI has warned that the UK faces an exodus of companies switching their tax bases abroad. The comments come on the back of United Business Media’s move to create a holding firm with tax residence in Ireland which the company felt was a less complex system of taxation. (Daily Express page 42, Financial Times page 21)

Trade unions: The Conservative Shadow Chancellor, George Osborne, has suggested that a Conservative government may look to introduce methods to curb the power of unions. (The Times page 2, Financial Times page 2)

Crime

Asset confiscation: Over £2.7million in cash and assets has been confiscated from criminals in the past years. (Scotsman page 5, Courier page 3, Herald page 8, P&J page 11, Daily Mail page 20)

Cannabis: Gordon Brown is expected to press ahead with reclassifying cannabis to a class b drug, going against the advice of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. (Scotsman page 8, Courier page 13, Daily Mail page 1, Guardian page 2)

Benefit fraud: A mother of four from Edinburgh who falsely claimed £23,000 in benefits she wasn’t entitled to has been spared jail due to the additional public money required to look after her children if she was in jail. (Herald page 7, Daily Express page 23)

Underage drinking: The Scotsman (page 16) reports on the problem of teenage drinking.

Transport

Dundee airport: Business leaders have welcomed news that Loganair is to resume passenger flights from Dundee to Belfast and Birmingham from next month. (P&J page 3)

Cheap flights: Rising oil prices could put up the cost of flights, increasing pressure on companies to pass on the increases to customers in higher ticket prices. This is expected to affect cheap flights in particular. (Guardian page 13)

Health

Free personal care: Lord Sutherland’s review into free personal care in Scotland, published yesterday, suggested that the cost of the policy will increase to £831m a year by 2031 due to the number of elderly people rising more rapidly than anticipated. Lord Sutherland also stated that the policy was currently facing a shortfall of £40m a year and accused Westminster of unfairly withholding benefits of £30m from Scottish pensioners. (Herald page 1, Scotsman page 1, Henry McLeish in the Scotsman page 5, Sun page 4, Daily Express page 2, P&J page 9, Courier page 1, The Timespage 1, Daily Mail page 8, Financial Times page 4)

Sport: A report by Audit Scotland has revealed that despite £558million of public money being spent on sport each year; many facilities are not up to acceptable standards and the number of adults regularly taking part in sport is falling. (Herald page 1 and 5, Daily Express page 6, P&J page 7, Courier page 11)

Fizzy drinks ban: The Scottish Government has called for a pilot scheme in NHS Tayside which banned sugary drinks from hospital vending machines to be rolled out across Scotland. (Courier page11)

Osteoporosis: Researchers yesterday reported that women using Fosamax to deal with osteoporosis were almost twice as likely to develop irregular heartbeats. (Daily Mail page 21)

Local Government

Land sales: Police are investigating potential fraud in property sales by Aberdeen City Council. (Heraldpage 1, P&J page 1)

Wind farm: It has been reported that one of two backers of Perthshire’s largest wind farm, General Electric, has dropped its interest in the scheme leaving a funding shortfall. The Griffin wind farm was given approval by the Scottish Government earlier this year. (Courier page 1)

Advisers: Local authorities in Scotland spent £67million hiring external advisers last year according to figures released under Freedom of Information. (Daily Record page 6)

Politics

Gordon Brown: Further coverage of the problems facing Gordon Brown and the Labour Party. (Scotsman page 13, Patrick O’Flynn in the Express, P&J page 5, Courier page 11, David Aaronovicth in The Times)

SNP Government’s 1st anniversary: Hamish Macdonell comments in the Scotsman (page 28) ahead of the SNP’s first anniversary in office suggesting that the next 12 months will be tougher than the last 12.

Thatcherism in Scotland: Brian Monteith comments in the Scotsman (page 32) that Margaret Thatcher’s legacy in Scotland is more positive than many give her credit for.

Devolution commission: The membership of the commission set up by Labour, the Lib Dems and Conservatives was revealed yesterday. Members include former MSPs James Douglas Hamilton and Jim Wallace, CBI boss Iain McMillan, former Lord Advocate Colin Boyd and president of the Scottish Youth Parliament and star of Big Brother, John Laughton. Sir Kenneth Calman will chair the commission. (Sun page 2, P&J page 11, Courier page 3, Daily Mail page 19, Daily Telegraph page 4)

Postal voting: Libby Purves in the Times (page 19) calls for postal voting to be abolished.

Lord Laidlaw: Tory leader David Cameron has said the revelations about Conservative Peer Lord Laidlaw’s sex addiction have been “hugely embarrassing”. (Daily Mail page 24)