Daily Political Media Summary: 13 May 2008

All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions.

Economy

Energy bills: Scottish Gas owner Centrica signalled yesterday that it may increase its prices. The indication follows the announcement that wholesale gas prices for the second half of this year are double those of a year ago. As a result the price comparison site uSwitch.com has suggested that household bills will rise by about 10%. (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 3, Courier page 15, Telegraph page 6, Daily Express page 1, Daily Mirror page 11)

Green jobs: 50,000 ‘green’ jobs in areas such as renewable energy are expected to be created over the next ten years. (Scotsman page 17)

Retail figures: The British Retail Consortium has revealed that in April the high street suffered its worst performance for three years with like for like sales falling by 1.5%. (Herald page 36, Scotsman page 36)

Interest rates and inflation: Amid revelations that factory gate prices grew at their fastest monthly level since record began, there is comment and speculation on the Bank of England’s need to balance the need to help the economy against rising inflation. (Herald page 35, Alf Young in the Herald, Telegraph page B5, Times page 38)

Housing market: The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors indicates a growing belief that falling property prices are deterring both buyers and sellers. (FT page 2, Telegraph page 1)

Crime

Fraud: Paddy Tomkins, Chief Inspector of Constabulary, has voiced concerns that Scotland could be falling behind the rest of the UK in the fight against fraud and has identified a number of improvements needed. (Scotsman page 12, Herald page 8, Courier page 10, Daily Record page 12)

Education

Private schools boycott new curriculum: The Scotsman (page 10 and 11) reveals that Mary Erskine and Stewart Melville, two popular private schools in Edinburgh, will not be following the new “Curriculum for Excellence”, set to be introduced in Scottish schools in August. David Gray, the Headteacher of the schools, has said that the new curriculum is not ready for implementation as a number of areas are unclear and incomplete.

Exams: Alex Wood, Headteacher of Wester Hailes Education Centre, comments in the Herald (page 18) on the Scottish Government’s proposals to abolish Standard Grades.

Health

Enbryology laws: The controversial Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill passed its second reading in the House of Commons yesterday, with Labour MPs whipped to support the bill whilst Conservatives and Lib Dems were given a free vote. (Scotsman page 2, Herald page 2, Telegraph page 4, Times page 26)

Breastfeeding: A Scottish Government drive to increase the number of new mothers who breastfeed has had little impact. (Scotsman page 19)

Rural hospitals: The future of six rural hospitals in the Highlands will be secured today by Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon. (P&J page 12)

Transport

Rail strike: The Rail Maritime and Transport Union has said that maintenance and signalling workers will vote next week on strike action over pay and conditions, threatening the first national rail strike in 14 years. (Courier page 11)

A9: Stewart Stevenson, the Transport Minister has announced that the Scottish Government is “committed” to dualing the A9. (Courier page 1)

Politics

Bute House: Figures released by the Scottish Government show that over £230,000 has been spent on the upkeep of Bute House, the First Minister’s official residence, over the past four years. (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 6, Courier page 3, P&J page 3)

Gordon Brown to be ditched as PM: Frank Field, the Labour MP who led the 10p tax rebellion, has claimed that Gordon Brown will be removed as Prime Minister before the next election. (Scotsman page 12, Herald page 6, Douglas Fraser in the Herald, Courier page 14, FT page 2, Telegraph page 1, David Hughes in the Telegraph, Guardian page 10, P&J page 5, Times page 2)

Independence referendum: Wendy Alexander is to meet with her Scottish Parliamentary group amid continuing problems between Labour at Westminster and Holyrood over the party’s stance on an independence referendum. The Scottish Government has announced the Referendum Bill will be launched on January 25th – Burns Night. (Scotsman page 12, Hamish Macdonell in the Scotsman, Courier page 10, Jim Crumley in the Courier, Philip Stephens in the FT, Times page 27, Angus Macleod in the Times, Sun page 7, P&J page 12, Daily Express page 2, Daily Record page 6)

Margaret Thatcher: Richard Finlay, professor of Scottish History at Strathclyde, comments in the Herald (page 17) on Margaret Thatcher and her relationship with Scotland when she was Prime Minister.

Scottish Parliamentary history: St Andrews University have created a £1million parliamentary record of the proceedings of the Scottish Parliament between 1235 and 1707 (Courier page 9, Times page 29)