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Daily Political Media Summary: 18 June 2008

All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions.

Economy

Inflation: Inflation hit a 10 year high of 3.3% yesterday with the Bank of England warning it could hit 4% before the end of the year. In his letter to the Chancellor, Governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King said that the Monetary Policy Committee was not ready to alter the base lending rate to tackle inflation as this would lead to unnecessary volatility into the economy. (Scotsman page 10, Bill Jamieson in the Scotsman, Courier page 2, Telegraph page B1, Telegraph page 1, 2, Daily Record page 2, Times page 6-7, P&J page 5, William Butler in the Times, Daily Express page 4-5, Guardian page 6 & page 22, Mail page 1, Alex Brummer in the Mail, Mirror page 8, FT page 2, Martin Wolf in the FT)

Housebuilders: Scottish Housebuilders have called on MSPs to help them lobby Westminster to force lenders to pass on interest rate cuts to borrowers and introduce a freeze on stamp duty. (Scotsman page 30, Telegraph page B7, P&J page 11)

Oil windfall tax: Chancellor Alistair Darling has rejected SNP claims that the high price of oil will produce an ‘oil windfall’ which could be used to help motorists and set up an oil fund for Scotland. (Telegraph page 10)

NFU to hold talks with food giant: The NFU is to hold talks with Dutch meat company Vion after it agreed to buy the Grampian Country Food Group. The £400 million deal has raised concerns about the future of jobs in Scotland, as despite pledging to “grow the UK meat market” Vion was unable to guarantee that no jobs would be lost. (P&J page 6)


Crime

Abu Qatada: Radical cleric Abu Qatada, Osama Bin Laden’s alleged “right hand man in Europe” was released from prison yesterday after a judge ruled there was no evidence to keep him detained. This went against the wishes of the government which is still trying to get him deported to his native Jordan. (Telegraph page 1, P&J page 7, Mail page 6, Mirror page 8)

Community policing: Holyrood’s justice committee is investigating Scottish police forces and their reluctance to share information with community wardens. The committee also proposed community police officers serve for a minimum of two years to ensure “continuity and consistency.” (P&J page 3)

Transport

Tanker driver strike: A second tanker driver strike planned to begin on Friday by Shell fuel drivers has been averted following agreement between the Unite union and bosses from the haulage firms Hoyer and Suckling Transport yesterday. (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 1, 2, Courier page 1, Daily Record page 1, 5, P&J page 10, Daily Express page 5, Mail page 2, FT page 3)

Forth Bridge: Corrosion on the Forth Bridge is not as bad as originally feared following recent checks on the main cables and may mean that a predicted lorry ban from 2013 may not need to happen until 2020. (Scotsman page 15)

Education

Unfilled teaching posts: The number of teaching posts in Scotland which have remained unfilled for three months or more has risen sharply over the past year. There is particular concern over maths and home economics. Scottish Government statistics show there are over 607 unfilled positions across Scotland, 200 of which are considered to be long term. This compares with 138 in 2007. (Herald page 4, Daily Record page 2 P&J page 9, Mail page 19)

Health

Alcohol strategy: Yesterday the Scottish Government unveiled plans to tackle Scotland’s problems associated with alcohol abuse. The measures include raising the age for buying off-sales to 21, introduce minimum price of 35p per unit of alcohol for drinks in supermarkets and banning promotional offers of alcohol. The minimum prices could see strong cider increase in price by 75% and own-brand spirits rise by 37% but there would be no change in the price of Buckfast or alcopops. (Scotsmanpage 1, Sun page 6-7, Herald page 1, Courier page 9, Alan Cochrane in the Daily Telegraph, Telegraph page 1,4, Daily Record page 1,4-5, Times page 1, 11, P&J page 1, 8, Daily Express page 9, Mail page 4, Mirror page 1)

Politics

Caroline Spelman: Westminster’s standards commissioner John Lyon announced yesterday that there were exceptional reasons to conduct an inquiry into the Conservative Chairman’s use of expenses to pay her nanny, despite the matter being outwith the seven year deadline. (Scotsman page 6, Courier page 15, Daily Record page 2, P&J page 13, Daily Express page 22, Guardian page 3, Mail page 24, Mirror page 6, FT page 4)

Further security problems: Hazel Blears has had a laptop containing sensitive files on extremism stolen from her constituency office. It is unclear whether Hazel Blears may have broken strict Government rules about what information can be carried on computers used by ministers. (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 6, Courier page 15, Telegraph page 1, 2, Daily Record page 2, P&J page 17, Times page 17, Guardian page 4, Mail page 7, Mirror page 6)

MPs pay: Senior MPs have called for MPs pay to rise by 21 per cent to £75,000 a year. They argue that politicians need to “catch up” with other professions, with some politicians calling for pay to rise to £100,000. (Daily Express page 1, 5)

Cabinet ministers forgo pay rise: Prime Minister Gordon Brown and all UK ministers are to forgo their annual pay rise in an attempt to “lead by example” on pay restraint. David Cameron and the shadow cabinet will also not take a pay rise this year. (Herald page 6, Courier page 11, Telegraph page 14, Times page 8, P&J page 5)

Gordon Brown: Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian (page 27) comments on the Prime Minister’s anniversary in office on 27th June and argues that he has been held back by a lack of courage.