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Daily Political Media Summary: 18 July 2008

Local Government

Local fiscal autonomy: Geoff Mawdsley, Director of Reform Scotland, comments in the Herald (page 17) on the need for greater local autonomy, including local authorities aiming to raise at least 50% of their income from taxes where they set the level and keep the income.

Local income tax: Labour again called on the Scottish Government to scrap its plans for a local income tax yesterday. At the end of the consultation period on the proposals local income tax has been criticised by business organisations and some trade unions but received the support of Cosla, the body which represents all of Scotland’s 32 councils. The Scottish Government said it was studying the responses to the consultation (Telegraph page 2, Scotsman page 16, Peter Jones in the Scotsman, Mail page 19).

Aberdeen City Council: Finance Secretary John Swinney has said that Aberdeen City Council will be given no extra cash to help relive its current financial problems (Scotsman page 10).


Economy

Tourism: Scotland saw an increase in the number of US visitors at the start of 2008, while the UK as a whole saw a decrease (Herald page 1).

Credit card fraud: UK wide figures indicate that the incidences of credit card fraud increased by 20% to 2.7 million, with losses increasing by 25% to £535m over the past year (Herald page 5).

Savings rates: Savings rates are at a 7-year high as banks fight to attract customers (Herald page 7).

Energy prices: Gas bills could rise by up to 70% because of the rising price of oil, according to a report commissioned by Centrica, the owner of British Gas (FT page 3, Times page 1, Mail page 1).

IMF forecast: The International Monetary Fund has predicted that the global downturn this year will be less severe than it previously expected. It said that Britain is likely to avoid recession and upgraded its UK growth forecast for 2008 to 1.8% (Times page 46, Telegraph page B1, Scotsman page 29).

Crime

Mixed sex prisons:
The Scottish Prison Service is considering plans to keep prisoners in mixed sex prisons closer to their homes in order to maintain better links between prisoners and their families as well as services like GPs and housing (Herald page 1)

Women in prison: Lucy Adams in the Herald (page 15) argues that locking up women is not the best way to deal with female offenders.

Two abscond from open prison: Two more prisoners have absconded from Castle Huntly open prison, failing to return to from home leave (Herald page 15, Telegraph page 10, Courier page 1, P&J page 1, Scotsman page 12, Record page 31, Mail page 8).


Transport

Speeding and parking fines: Speeding and parking fines cost Scots £20m last year. Speed cameras generated 100,000 fines, equivalent to one every five minutes and representing a four-fold increase since 1997 (Mail page 12)

Education

Sex education:
Charles Saunders, Chairman of the BMA’s Scottish consultants’ committee has called for specialist teachers to be used to deliver sex education in every school (TESS page 1).

Health

Provision for premature babies: A woman who went into early labour had to travel nearly 100 miles to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee because of a shortage of cots in the neonatal unit at Aberdeen Maternity Hospital (P&J page 1, Mail page 41).

Organ donation: Professor Hugh McLachlan in the Scotsman (page 28) suggests consideration should be given to buying and selling of human organs and body parts.

Politics

By-election: Further coverage of the Westminster by-election in Glasgow East. William Hague visited the constituency yesterday while the SNP candidate John Mason argued that there was little difference between the policies of Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. It also emerged that an actor campaigning for Labour candidate Margaret Curran had previously expressed support for independence (Herald page 6, Robbie Dinwoodie in the Herald, Telegraph page 6, Courier page 14, Times page 5, Scotsman page 15, Record page 2, Mail page 2)

Trade unions and Labour: Trade unions are expected today to present ministers with a list of 130 demands which they plan to table as motions at Labour’s national policy forum in a week’s time. These include extending the adult minimum wage to 18- to 21-year-olds and a plan for city academy staff to be paid at the same rate as other teachers (Guardian page 1)

House of Lords reform: Martin Kettle thinks that Labour has given up on reform of the second chamber (Guardian page 35).

Liberal Democrats: Nick Clegg outlined plans for a new tax-cutting agenda, saying that the current level of public spending was “not set in stone forever”. The Lib Dems aim to cut £20bn of government spending and lower taxes for low- and middle-income earners (Telegraph page 14, Iain Dale in Telegraph page 21, FT page 3).

EU Reform Treaty: The UK’s ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon has been completed. The Shadow Foreign Secretary, William Hague, said the Prime Minister had no moral authority to proceed with it (Express page 1, P&J page 5).

Fiscal rules: The Treasury is planning changes to the government’s fiscal rules which may initially allow it to borrow more (FT page 1). The Conservatives plan to make the Treasury’s rules about spending and borrowing subject to independent review (FT page 3, Telegraph page B1).

Lib Dem leadership: Tavish Scott, the front-runner to replace Nicol Stephen as leader of the Lib Dems, has called for the Scottish Parliament to have control over most of the taxes raised in Scotland (Scotsman page 12).