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Daily Political Media Summary: Wednesday 28 May 2008

All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions.

Economy

Oil prices: Further coverage on the growing price of oil its consequences including rising fuel costs which yesterday to protests by hauliers in London and fishermen are threatening to blockade Grangemouth in protest. Business Secretary John Hutton has hinted that the Government may u-turn and drop the proposed 2p increase in fuel duty expected for October. Whilst the Prime Minister and Chancellor are expected to meet representatives of oil companies in north-east Scotland today where they will ask industry leaders what help the companies need from the government in order to increase production. (Scotsman page 1, Ross Lydall in the Scotsman, Herald page 1, 2, Daily Mail page 6-7, Edward Heathcoat Amory in the Daily Mail, Daily Express page 1, 4-5, Kerry Gill in the Daily Express, Guardian page 9, Gordon Brown in the Guardian, Sun page 8, FT page 1, Daniel Yergin in the FT, Mirror page 1, Telegraph page 1, Courier page 1, Times page 1, Alice Miles in the Times, Daily Record page 6)

Financial services industry: Finance Secretary John Swinney spoke at a Global Financial Services Week event yesterday, suggesting that an independent Scotland could retain UK-wide regulation for the financial services industry. Mr Swinney also said Scotland’s financial services sector is well placed to grow and continue to “make a major contribution to the Scottish economy” (Scotsman page 29, Herald page 27)

Inflation: The chief executive of Europe’s biggest lender HSBC Holdings, has called for the world’s central banks to raise interest rates in order to combat inflation. Michael Geohegan said more regulation was needed in order in to overcome the ongoing global credit crunch. (Herald Business page 26)

Mortgage approvals: The number of new mortgages approved by the UK’s top banks rose slightly in April, however the figure of 38,704 was the second lowest figure on record, reinforcing many analysts fears about future property prices. (Herald page 27)

Bank Transfers: A £300 million banking scheme which aims to speed up cash transfers has been launched by the banking industry. The Faster Payments Service (FPS) will speed up transfers from four days to one day, however consumers will not see an immediate benefit as only 5% of transactions will be initially covered by the scheme. (Herald page 10, Times page 41)

PPP: Finance Secretary John Swinney has conceded that his plans to reform the funding of schools, hospitals and roads are part of the PPP funding scheme, something which the SNP have spent years heavily criticising. Swinney told the Holyrood Finance Committee that the Non-Profit Distributing model is part of the “Public-Private Partnerships family.” (Herald page 6, Telegraph page 1, Times page 2)

Scottish economy: A leading economist has claimed that Scotland could unlock its economic potential with “a great deal more autonomy.” Hamish Macree did however warn that its economic potential could be hindered by its preoccupation with its relationship with England and constitutional powers. (Herald page 6)

Lord Mayor & Tax: Alderman David Lewis, the Lord Mayor of London, has warned that more companies will move their headquarters overseas unless the government reduces corporation tax. (FT page 2)

Northern Rock: The Treasury is struggling to find an independent valuer to calculate how much Northern Rock’s former share holders should be paid in compensation. (TelegraphB1)

Post Offices: 79 Post Offices in Tayside and Fife are set to be closed or downgraded as part of the nationwide programme of Post Offices closures. The outlets could be replaced with mobile or “outreach” facilities. (Herald page 1-3, Courier page 1)

Crime

Railway crime: Crime on Scotland’s railways has fallen by 9% following a high visibility policing strategy. (Scotsman page 11)

Knife crime: Ian Bell writing in the Herald (page 15) questions why so many people are compelled to carry knives.

Guns: The number of guns in Scotland has reached an all time high, according to new statistics. The figures showed that there were 66,893 firearms held on certificate at the end of last year, an increase of 1% on 2006. There are also 301 registered firearms dealers in Scotland, an increase of 6%. (Herald page 5, Daily Express page 2)

Community sentences: Judges could be given a range of new powers to hand down a raft of different community services as a way to ease overcrowding. A commission led by former First Minister Henry McLeish claimed the lack of flexibility in community sentences was “at the heart of public distrust in the system.” (Herald page 6)

UEFA riots: Scottish MPs in Westminster could launch their own inquiry in to the violence in Manchester, following Rangers UEFA Cup Final defeat to Zenit St Petersburg. The Scottish Affairs Committee said yesterday it would “look very closely” at the findings of a report by Manchester City Council. (Herad page 6, Daily Record page 9)

Poster campaign: A top Scottish police officer sparked outrage yesterday when he advocated the use of posters as a measure to cut crime. Paddy Tomkins, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary for Scotland claimed that putting extra officers in to areas of high crime could make the people there more fearful. (Daily Mail page 2)

Weapons in prison: An investigation in the Sun (page 1) reveals that hundreds of weapons, many home made, have been seized from Scottish prisons, with the highest number of seizures occurring at Polmont Young Offenders’ Institute where 193 were confiscated.

Young offenders: Magnus Linklater in the Times (page 19) writes of the benefits of putting young offenders to work in communities, under proper supervision, rather than sending them to prison.

Education

Teachers and the internet: A new code of conduct for teachers in Scotland advises teachers against friendly relationships with pupils through technology such as the internet. (Scotsman page 8, Fiona Macleod in the Scotsman

Student debt: Students at Scottish universities will not now have to pay backdated interest on any student loans they have taken out. The Student Loans Company announced yesterday that students would only have to pay interest from April this year, on any loans taken out to cover the graduate endowment. (Herald page 7)

Divorce classes: Christina McGhee, an American divorce expert, is to lobby the Scottish government for the introduction of parenting classes for families going through divorce. (Daily Record page 8)

Health

Abortion: The number of abortions performed in Scotland reached a record high of 13,703 last year, an average of 38 a day. (Scotsman page 12, Herald page 1,4,14, Daily Mail page 8, Daily Express page 10, Sun page 2, Telegraph page 12, Courier page 10, Times page 4, Daily Record page 2)

Waiting times: Fewer than 1% of patients in Scotland now wait more than 18 weeks according to new figures published by the Scottish Government. (Scotsman page 12, Herald page 4, Sun page 2, Courier page 9, Daily Record page 2)

Heart patient’s failure: Many GPs are failing heart patients by often refusing to refer on patients who are suffering with heart failure. A European study found that only 45% of physicians across nine counties in the UK said they would refer an older patient to a specialist, despite the average age of people suffering with heart problems being 65-80 years old. (Herald page 13)

Dementia: A YouGov survey suggest that 47% of Scots are acquainted with someone who suffers from dementia. (Telegraph page 6)

Cancer: A new study has shown that active men are less likely to die from cancer than ‘couch potatoes.’ According to the study regular moderate exercise gives a man a 34% lower chance of dying from the disease. (Herald page 7)

Politics

Calman Commission: Finance Secretary John Swinney yesterday told the Scottish Parliament’s Finance Committee that he hoped the Calman Commission, set up by Labour, the Conservatives and Lib Dems, would call for the Scottish Parliament to be given the same borrowing power as local authorities. Mr Swinney also hoped that the commission would lead to greater financial powers for the parliament. (Scotsman page 11)

Lockerbie appeal: The Advocate General yesterday proposed a “special security vetted representative” to replace the defence team of the Lockerbie bombers. Lord Davidson told the three appeal judges hearing the Lockerbie bombers appeal that the representatives would have access to top secret material, however the releasing of such documents would cause “real harm to national security and international relations” (Herald page 5)

Scottish image: Dorothy-Grace Elder writing in the Daily Express (page 16) has claimed that Scotland has “lost the plot” with “’loony” ideas such as the storing of cigarettes under the counter and the zero tolerance attitude to smoking ban. In her opinion this risks Scotland becoming regarded as the ‘nut job of Europe.’

Labour Party: Simon Jenkins in the Guardian (page 29) writes that Gordon Brown should not waste time courting popularity “if doing what he thinks will be popular makes him unpopular, why not take a chance and do what he thinks is right?”

Conservative Party: Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian (page 27)comments that the Laboru party needs the public to start asking the Conservative Party the hard questions, as happened to Kinnock and Blair in opposition.

Lib Dems: Nick Clegg writes in the Telegraph (page 24) that the Lib Dems are a party that can make the changes necessary in the UK and details a number of policy commitments including cutting tax for low and middle earners and charging tolls for lorry road journeys and using the money to invest in high speed rail.

Green issues: Jim Pickard and Fiona Harvey in the FT (page 12) write that a number of environmental policies are being quietly dropped as voter priorities change in the current economic climate.