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Daily Political Media Summary: 5th June 2008

All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions.

Economy

Offshore wind farms: Yesterday the Crown Estate announced 11 new sites on the British seabed for the expansion of offshore wind farms with the potential for 7,000 more turbines to be built within the next 10 years. The potential sites include two in Scotland. (Scotsman page 1, Times page 22)

Economic outlook: The OECD said yesterday that the UK faced a struggle to keep the national debt below 40% of GDP and predicted the UK was heading for a “significant downswing”. (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 31, Telegraph page 1, Guardian page 24, Daily Mail page 4, Times page 5)

Northern Rock: The European Commission has expressed serious reservations about the government’s plan to save Northern Rock fearing state aid and restructuring may end up dragging on for too long. (FT page 1, Times page 40, David Wighton in the Times)

Planning Gain Supplement: James Aitken, Senior Associate in private client and financial services at HBJ Gateley Wareing and a Trustee of Reform Scotland, outlines in the Scotsman (page 38) five different alternatives to planning gain supplement that the Scottish Government could introduce.

Services Sector: A survey published yesterday by the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply found that the UK’s service sector contracted in May for the first time since March 2003 when the invasion of Iraq occurred. (Herald page 11)

Bradford and Bingley investigated: The Financial Services Authority is investigating potential insider trading in Bradford and Bingley stock in the days leading up to the buy-to-let lender’s shock profits warning. ( Telegraph page B1)

Tax Cuts: Seumas Milne in the Guardian (page 31) comments on the political class calling for tax cuts, despite opinion polls that show that there is little enthusiasm for tax cuts paid for by lower spending on public services.

Crime

Detention without charge: The governments concessions on 42-day pre-charge detention for terrorism suspects have left the legislation in breach of human rights law, the joint select committee on human rights will say today. (Herald page 6, Guardian page 13 )

Tory position on 42 day limit: Norman Tebbit in the Sun (Page 2) argues that David Cameron is wrong not to support Gordon Brown’s decision to extend the time limit for holding terrorist suspects without charge from 28 to 42 days.

New “Superjail”: A new £100m “superjail” is to replace both Peterhead and Aberdeen and is to be built on land inside the current Peterhead prison. (Herald page 10)

Transport

Vehicle Excise Duty: During Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday Gordon Brown said he would not back down over plans to increase vehicle excise duty. (Scotsman page 6, Daily Mail page 2, Sun page 2, Daily Express page 2, Telegraph page 12 )

Fuel in remote areas: The Treasury has said it may consider fuel tax concessions for remote areas of the Highlands and Islands to help the increasing price of fuel. (P&J page 12)

Strike action: Tanker drivers, including 60 who work out of Grangemouth, have voted to go on strike over pay if talks being held today fail. The strike could affect one in three forecourts in Scotland. (Daily Express page 1 )

Ferry Terminal Open’s: A new £37m ferry terminal for journeys between Northern Ireland and Scotland will strengthen economic co-operation between the regions, Alex Salmond said yesterday. (Telegraph page 11, Sun page 2)

Education

University drop out rates: Scotland has the highest student drop out rate throughout the UK with nearly one in three undergraduates in Scotland failing to complete their courses. (Daily Mail page 8)

Student backgrounds: Scottish universities are attracting more students from state schools, but have reported a fall in the proportion of students from lower socio-economic groups. (Times page 13 )

Teachers’ pay: Magnus Linklater in the Times (page 24) comments that teachers have benefited from a generous pay settlement over the past few years following the McCrone Report and there will therefore be little support for teachers who are currently threatening strike action over cut backs.

Health

Ambulance service: The Scottish Ambulance Service has been given one month to bring forward plans to end the single staffing of emergency ambulances. (Scotsman page 7, Daily Mail page 28, Courier page 3, P&J page 1 )

Cancer treatment centre: The future of the Scottish Photodynamic Therapy Centre, which uses ligh-sensitive drugs to attack cancer growths, is under threat. The specialist unit lost its funding following the death of its main benefactor. (Courier page 2, P&J page 1)

Politics

George Younger and Margaret Thatcher: Papers released yesterday show that in 1984 Scottish Secretary George Younger threatened to resign in order to successfully fight off a bid by Margaret Thatcher to reduce funding in Scotland. (Sun page 2)

Scottish Cabinet roadshow: Four Scottish Cabinet meetings over the summer will take place outside of Edinburgh in Inverness, Skye, Dumfries & Pitlochry. (Scotsman page 18Courier  page 8 )