Daily Political Media Summary: 30 April 2008

All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions

Economy

Interest rates: David Blanchflower, a member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, told the Royal Society of Edinburgh last night that unless there was an urgent and aggressive cut in interest rates, the UK could end up in a full blown recession. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 3, Times page 12, Daily Express page 17, Telegraph page 2)

Mortgage rates: RBS is expected to cut mortgage rates today in a bid to kick start the property market. (Daily Mail page 2)

Grangemouth: Signs that the dispute between owners and workers at the Grangemouth oil refinery were coming to an end emerged yesterday following talks involving senior individuals on each side. A joint statement was issued following the talks which said the parties had “reached a proposal that will be considered by the union, with a view to finding a resolution to the strike”. However threats of strikes by hauliers surfaced yesterday as the cost of petrol hit £5 a gallon whilst Shell and BP announced better-than expected profits. (Guardian page 23, Times page 6, Herald page 4, Ian Bell in the Herald, Scotsman page 8, Mirror page 11, Daily Mail page 4, P&J page 8, FT page 17, Daily Record page 4, Sun page 1,Daily Express page 4&5, Telegraph page 4 and B1)

Tax exiles: George Kerevan in the Scotsman (page 37) comments on companies moving their tax bases to other lower tax countries such as Ireland and the implications this has for the UK.

Business tax inquiry: The Chancellor has established a working group to consider the future of business taxation in the UK. (FT page 1, Telegraph page B5, Scotsman page 40, Guardian page 24)

FSA: The Financial Services Authority yesterday issued an interim report from its review of the way in which financial products are sold calling for a shake up to create a distinction between independent advisers and product salesmen. (Herald page 29, FT page 2)

Inheritance tax: Two elderly sisters who live together have lost their case in the European Court of Human Rights to have the same rights as married or gay couples when it comes to inheritance tax. As a result it is likely that when one of them dies, the other will have to sell the house as they will be unable to afford the inheritance tax. (Herald page 11, Timespage 24, Mirror page 4, Daily Mail page 19, P&J page 13, Guardian page 10, Daily Telegraph page 11)

Credit crunch: Mervyn King, Chairman of the Bank of England, yesterday blamed inexperienced young staff, who had been given huge rewards for taking unacceptable risks, for the credit crunch. (Mirror page 15, P&J page 13, Guardian page 2, Sun page 2, Telegraph B5, FT page 3)

Crime

Contempt of court: Aamer Anwar last year defended Mohammed Atif Siddique of terrorism offences. Following the guilty verdict and speaking outside the court, Anwar made comments about the way the case was handled. As a result of those comments he has been charged with contempt of court, making British legal history. Yesterday Anwar appeared at the High Court in Edinburgh supported by the UK civil rights group Liberty who have concerns over the implications for freedom on speech. The case is ultimately likely to be decided in the European Courts. (Herald page 2, Scotsman page 4&5, Times page 8, Sun page 34 Daily Express page 9, Daily Telegraph page 7, Mirror page 4, Daily Mail page 11, P&J page 9, Daily Record page 25)

Business crime: Martin Rutland of the Scottish Business Crime Centre told Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce yesterday that all types of crimes against businesses were increasing and costing British firms £12.6b a year. (P&J page 17)

Cannabis: Simon Jenkins in the Guardian (page 31) comments on Gordon Brown’s decision to re-classify cannabis arguing that it goes against science.

Transport

Vehicle Excise Duty: The Treasury admitted to The Times yesterday (page 1) that they were abolishing the exemption for older cars, up to seven years old, from the highest rates of Vehicle Excise Duty.

Education

Independent schools: Figures published by the Scottish Government yesterday showed that a record number of children were attending independent schools. (Scotsman page 13, Herald page 9, Times page 4, Daily Mail page 8, Daily Record page 6, Daily Express page 2, Daily Telegraph page 6)

Health

Price fixing of drugs: The Scottish Government has accepted a £2.8m out of court settlement from Norton Healthcare Limited and Norton Pharmaceuticals over alleged price fixing of drugs. Norton Healthcare Limited and Norton Pharmaceuticals have not accepted liability. (Scotsman page 6, Times page 31, Daily Mail page 37, Sun page 2)

Heart disease: The number of people living in the most deprived parts of Scotland and dying from heart disease fell by 27% between 2000 and 2006. (Herald page 5, Daily Mail page 18, Daily Record page 6, Sun page 2)

Cancer apology: Mike Gray, a victim of bowel cancer paid £7,000 a month from his own money to pay for drugs to relieve his pain after the NHS refused to pay. Yesterday Dr Roelf Dijkhuizen, medical director of NHS Grampian, apologised to Holyrood’s public petitions committee for what had happened. The apology came two weeks after Mr Gray died. (Daily Mail page 21, P&J page 1, Daily Express page 2)

Elderly care in hospital: The Daily Mail (page 17) reveals figures showing that the number of patients over 65 being readmitted to hospital as emergency cases shortly after being discharged has risen by 25% in the past decade.

Sport: Allan Massie in the Daily Mail (page 14) comments on Scottish people’s participation in sport following yesterday’s Audit Scotland report that found that the number of adults regularly taking part in sport is falling.

Free personal care: Dorothy Grace Elder in the Daily Express (page 16) comments on Westminster’s refusal to pay £30m in attendance allowance benefit to Scots

Local Government

Aberdeen City Council: Following revelations that Aberdeen City Council sold off properties at only 40% of their value, calls have been made for the Lib Dem Leader of the Council, Kate Dean, to resign. (P&J page 7, Herald page 6, Times page 30, Daily Mail page 10, Daily Record page 2, Daily Express page 8, Sun page 14)

Traffic pollution charge: Proposals to be published later this week are to suggest the introduction of a tax to be levied on the drivers of high polluting vehicles for entering designated areas of Glasgow as well as charges for parking at shopping Centres in the city. (Herald page 1)

Politics

Labour MP supports Boris: Labour has decided that Kate Hoey, Labour MP for Vauxhall in central London, did nothing wrong in agreeing to act as a sports adviser to Boris Johnson, should he win the Mayoral election on Thursday. (Herald page 6, Daily Express page 14, FT page 4, Daily Telegraph page 10)

Salmond & Brown: Magnus Linklater comments in The Times (page 21) that Gordon Brown could learn a lot from Alex Salmond about the effect of a positive, even grinning, demeanour.

MSP payout: Keith Brown, an SNP MSP, has accepted £15,000 for stepping down as a councillor from Clackmannanshire Council last year after previously saying it would be wrong to accept the money. (Daily Record page 2)

Britain back in the 70s: Daniel Hannan in the Telegraph (page 18) comments that Britain under Labour is heading back to the situation in the 70s when Labour was last in power.

Opinion poll: A YouGov poll in the Telegraph (Page 1 and 13) shows an increase in support for the SNP though a drop in those who would support independence in a referendum.