Daily Political Media Summary: 29 May 2008

 All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions.

Economy


Gas bills: Consumer watchdogs yesterday warned that householders should brace themselves for huge rises in gas bills which could reach over £1,000 a year due to increases in the price of wholesale gas. (Scotsman page 7, Telegraph page 4, Sun page 5 Herald page 1, Daily Mail page 10)

Petrol duty: Alistair Darling yesterday ruled out a quick u-turn to scrap the proposed 2p increase on fuel duty due to be introduced in October saying he would make up his mind nearer the time. Accountants Grant Thornoton have calculated that the Prime Minister could use the windfall received fuel duty due to rising prices to cut 12p off a litre.(Anatole Kaletsky in the Times, Express page 1 Daily Mail page 6, P&J page 10, FT page 3, Scotsman page 7, Courier page 10, Guardian page 14)

North sea oil tax: The Prime Minister and Chancellor held out the prospect of regulatory and tax changes yesterday to attract more North Sea investment and provide incentives to develop new discoveries. However the remaining oil and gas will be much more expensive to obtain from mature field and smaller fields. (Telegraph B1, P&J page 1, FT page 3, Herald page 4 , Sun page 1, Daily Mirror page 6, Sun page 1, Alf Young in the Herald)

Tax freedom day: Monday 2nd June is tax freedom day this year, the day when individuals start earning for themselves rather than the Government. It has increased from May 26 in 1997. (Daily Express page 4)

Bank of England post: Howard Davies in the FT (page 15) comments on the vacant post of Deputy Governor of the Bank of England for Monetary Stability and how it should be filled.

Employment regulation: Business Secretary John Hutton is to say to the Fabian Society today that the government is moving away from introducing more employment regulation. He is expected to say government has “reached the end of the era of considering major new regulation as the best way to improve standards” . (FT page 2)

Fresh talent initiative: Research commissioned by the Scottish Government has shown that the fresh talent initiative, aimed at attracting migrants to Scotland, is in need of reform due to poor links with employers. (Herald page 6)

Financial services regulation: Peter MacMahon in the Scotsman (page 31) comments on the level of regulation facing the financial services industry and how that could change if Scotland was independent.

Public sector procurement: Writing in the Scotsman (page 39) Finance Secretary John Swinney outlines the government’s changes to public procurement.

BBC: BBC to dramatically increase TV production in Scotland. The pledge by the BBC trust could mean an extra £40m being pumped into the industry by 2016.( Sun page 4)

Budget process: Derek Brownlee MSP comments in the Scotsman (page 38) on the budget.

Crime

Organised Crime: Organised crime costs Scotland £2 billion a year. (Daily Record Page 6)

Crime Bosses: Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill yesterday vowed to crack down on Scots crime bosses living overseas. (Sun page 6)

Drug free prison wings: Scottish Conservatives are calling for prisons to have drug free wings following publication of figures which shows that the number of drug seizures in prisons has doubled in the past five years. (P&J page 11, Daily Mirror page 8)

Transport

M74: work began yesterday on a five mile stretch to link the end of the M74 with the M8 at Tradeston. (Herald page 8, P&J page 6, Telegraph page 9)

Rail Strike: Managers at Scotland’s busiest rail stations are to be balloted on strike action over pay and conditions. (Herald page 7)

Alloa train station: Passengers travelling on Scotland’s newest rail link between Alloa and Stirling, which takes 10 minutes, have to wait 20 minutes for tickets because the new multimillion pound station does not sell tickets. (P&J page 6)

Rosyth ferry: Superfast Ferries is to axe its ferry link between Rosyth and Zeebrugge, ending Scotland’s only mainland ferry link to Europe. The last sailing will take place on 13th September. (Scotsman page 17, Telegraph page 1, Daily Record page 12, Courier page 1, Sun page 6, Herald page 1, Times page 11, Daily Express page 6, Daily Mail page 6, Telegraph page 9, P&J page 1, FT page 4, )

Education

Confusion over Curriculum for excellence: Teachers and parents’ groups are making last ditch attempts to get more detailed information on the Government’s new school curriculum, Curriculum for excellence, which is due to start being taught from August. David Eaglesham, General Secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association said “It is not that people don’t want to do it, but if they don’t know what they are doing or have the resources to implement it, it could be disastrous” (Scotsman page 1)

University funding: Andrew Taylor in the FT (page 4) writes that UK universities have a lot to learn from their US counterparts in attracting money from alumni.

University teaching deal: Glasgow Caledonian University has formed a partnership with London based Into, which will run an international foundation college from the University’s campus on Cowcaddens Road in Glasgow. (Herald page 3)

Language education in school: A study by the Scottish Funding Council found university and college language departments believes that the way languages are taught in schools actively discourages pupils from going on to study them at a higher level because they focus too much on passing exams. (Herald page 9)

Local Government

Local income tax: Professor Richard Kerley of Queen Margaret University suggests that the Scottish Government’s proposed replacement of the council tax, local income tax, could end up being challenged in the courts. (Scotsman page 28, Courier page 7, P&J page 9, Herald page 6, Daily Express page 2,Daily Mail page 1)
Health

Care Centres: Residential homes for children: According to the Care Commission 52% of Scotland’s 224 residential care homes for children fell short of required standards in at least one of three critical areas. (Herald page 1, Daily Record page 4)

Politics

SNP wobble: Speculation on the end of the SNP honeymoon due to problems with the three key manifesto commitments – the legality of local income tax, the cost of delivering smaller class sizes and Scottish Futures Trust being similar to PPP. (Times page 4, Angus Macleod in the Times, Telegraph page 9, Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph, Daily Record page 2, Daily Mirror page 8)

Labour: Further comment and analysis on the state of the Labour party. Former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescot admitted yesterday that the government was at a potential “deadly point”. ( Telegraph page 2, Peter Wilby in the Guardian, Harry Reid in the Herald)

Calman Commission: Sir Kenneth Calman, chair of the commission into Scottish devolution set up by Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems, is to be questioned by the Scottish Affairs Committee at Westminster about the work of the commission. (Herald page 6)

Labour cash crises: The party has 5 weeks to find £7.45m to pay off loans to banks and wealthy donors recruited by Lord Levy, Tony Blair’s former chief fundraiser, or senior officials in the Labour Party could become personally liable. (Guardian page 1)