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Daily Political Media Summary: 18 August 2008

All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions.

Economy

Recession: The British Chambers of Commerce has said that Britain may be heading for a technical recession over the nest year; however the Scottish Chambers of Commerce has said that a recession north of the border was not inevitable. (Scotsman page 27, Times page 1, P&J page 1, 9, Herald page 6, Telegraph page B2)

‘Super rich’ Tax: Health Minister Ivan Lewis has called for a higher income tax level to be placed on those earning over £250,000 a year with the money used to help the middle classes survive the credit crunch (Express page 9, Mail page 4, Daily Mirror page 4, P&J page 5, FT page 2, Sunday Times page 7)

Working hours: A survey published by the Bank of Scotland shows that Scotland’s small business owners work the longest hours in the UK whilst a survey by the Clydesdale Bank suggests that nearly a third of Scots don’t take their holiday entitlement. (Mail page 11)

Immigration: Scotland will need 20,000 immigrants each year for the next 30 years in order to sustain the current level of economic prosperity, according to a Scottish Government funded report. The study reports that if such numbers are not met the working age of the Scottish population will drop by 14 per cent by 2040. (P&J page 3)

Electricity: The Scottish Government is to bulk buy electricity for the entire public sector in an effort saving taxpayers money. The current surge in energy bills has led ministers to launch a tender for a contract to supply electricity on a national basis to all public bodies including council buildings, hospitals and schools. (P&J page 1, Herald page 6, Sunday Times page 5)

“Lion economy”: Alex Salmond in the Sunday Times (page 19) argues that Scotland has the potential to create a great economy but is being hindered by Westminster.

Crime

Police pensions: The SNP has attacked Westminster for refusing to give Holyrood additional money to take account of UK wide changes to police pensions. (Scotsman page 7, P&J page 9, Herald page 6)

Fiscal fines: Defence lawyers have claimed that the Crown Office is letting violent offenders off with a fiscal fine instead of prosecuting them in court, while the Crown Office has refused to make public the guidelines issued to fiscals on the use of the fines. (Express page 3)

Transport

Road pricing: So called ‘pay as you drive’ road pricing appears to be back on the government agenda after it emerged that trials of the system including the ‘spy in the sky’ technology are to begin in 2010. The scheme could see drivers pay as much as £1.30 per mile to drive on the busiest roads during peak hours. (Daily Telegraph page 1)

Education

School investment: Ken Macintosh MSP in the Sunday Herald (page 30) argues that investment in Scottish schools is drying up.

Headteachers: Scotland’s schools are facing a leadership crisis as increasing numbers of headteachers take early retirement. (Scotsman page 1)

Cancer jags: The Catholic Church has agreed to allow girls in Catholic schools to be offered the jag against cervical cancer. (Record page 12, Fiona Gray in the Scotland on Sunday)

Expulsions drop: The number of children being suspended or expelled from state run secondary schools in Scotland’s largest local authority has fallen dramatically. Statistics from Glasgow City Council show the number of exclusions dropped from 6432 in 2006-2007 to 5416 last year, a reduction of 15.8 per cent. (Herald page 1)

Health

Alcohol gel hand rubs: Dr Charles Saunders, head of the BMA’s Consultants’ Committee in Scotland has called for the alcohol gel hand rubs in hospital to be removed as they are ineffective against the C diff superbug. He also argued they were confusing staff who were unaware they also needed to wash their hands with soap and water in between handling patients. (Scotland on Sunday page 5)

Chronic pain: Pain experts gathered in Glasgow for a conference over the weekend warned that people suffering for chronic pain in Scotland were being let down by a lack of specialist care. (Scotsman page 14)

Maternity leave: A shake up of maternity leave could see employers forced to keep positions open for up to 12 months after a woman has a baby. The proposals would double the amount of leave a woman could take and return to the same position. Maternity pay is also to be extended from 9 to 12 months. The plans have allegedly caused cabinet splits with Harriet Harman favouring the plans but Business Secretary John Hutton expressing concern for small businesses. (Sun page 2)

Flowers banned: Flowers have been prohibited in Scottish hospitals on the grounds they could transmit infection and compromise health and safety. (P&J page 1)

Drugs ban: GPs have been stopped from prescribing three drugs after it emerged that cheaper alternatives could be used, a practice which could save the NHS £500,000. However, the Scottish Government, which had previously agreed to the plan, decided it could prove to be false economy because of the implications for competition in the market. (Herald page 1, 2)

Politics

Glenrothes: Further comment and speculation over the likely candidates and dates for the Glenrothes by-election. (Hamish Macdonell in the Scotsman, George Galloway in the Record, Times page 9, Herald page 6, Telegraph page 4, Iain Macwhirter in the Sunday Herald, Scotland on Sunday page 1, Kenny Farquharson in the Scotland on Sunday, Sunday Times page 1, Jenny Hjul in the Sunday Times)

Labour and Tory pact: Scottish Labour leadership contender Iain Gray has made the suggestion of Labour working with the Conservatives in the Scottish Parliament against the SNP on issues such as council tax relief. (Scotsman page 6)

Scottish Labour contest: Ballot papers to choose the new leader and deputy leader of the Labour group in the Scottish Parliament are to be issued tomorrow. Iain Gray has called for supermarkets to sell bread and mil at a “social tariff” to ease the plight of the hard up. (Record page 2, Sun page 2, P&J page 6, Herald page 6, Courier page 3, Interview with Cathy Jamieson in the Scotland on Sunday page 12, Sunday Herald page 10, Sunday Post page 15)

Spanish alcohol summit: The Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has been accused of using an official visit Spain to attend an alcohol summit as a holiday. After spending only 1 day at the 3-day event he left to spend a long weekend in Madrid. Alex Salmond is also facing criticism after it emerged he is due to attend the Ryder Cup in America in September. The First Minister, well known for his love of golf, says the trip is a fact finding mission ahead of the 2014 Ryder Cup due to be held a Gleneagles. (Express page 2, Sun page 2)

Gordon Brown: Prime Minister Gordon Brown returns from a three week holiday this week and will immediately set about trying to quell talk of challenges to his leadership. Mr Brown has faced fresh criticism for being ‘absent’ during the recent troubles between Russia and Georgia. (Times page 18, Trevor Kavanagh in the Sun page 8)

David Cameron: David Cameron has given a number of candid interviews ahead of the release of a new book. Cameron on Cameron, written by Dylan Jones, the editor of men’s lifestyle magazine GQ, who researched the Conservative leader for a year. In the book Mr Cameron talks frankly about topics such as family and religion. (Times page 19, Sun page 2, Telegraph page 4, Guardian page 11)

Caroline Spelman: Conservative chairman Caroline Spelman is at the centre of further controversy over her expenses after it emerged she used her parliamentary allowance to pay her staff. Mrs Spelman is already at the centre of an investigation over claims she paid her nanny using taxpayers money between 1997 and 1998, money she claims was paid for secretarial work. (Daily Mirror page 4)

Voting behaviour: Any attempt by the Labour Party to brand Conservatives as ‘toffs’ at the next general election is doomed to failure according to a new study. The survey suggests that class is becoming less important in British politics. Labour unsuccessfully labelled the Conservatives as toffs during the Crewe and Nantwich by-election in May. (FT page 2)

Energy talks: Westminster has banned the Scottish Government from talking to Norwegian officials about radical plans to connect Scotland’s electricity grid to the continent. (Scotland on Sunday page 4)

Gaelic TV: Gillian Bowditch in the Sunday Times (page 19) questions the level of funding being poured into the new digital Gaelic TV station.