Daily Political Media Summary: 4 September 2008

All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions.

Economy
Interest rates: The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee will decide later today whether to keep interest rates on hold. The MPC is facing growing pressure to cut rates due to the pound falling to a 2 and a half year low against the dollar yesterday and the TUC joining a number of organisations calling for a cut in rates to help halt the slide to recession. (Scotsman page 10, Burning issue in the Scotsman, Telegraph page B2)

Recession: According to a poll published by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, nearly two-thirds of Scottish company finance executives believe the UK economy has slipped into recession or is likely to do so. Fears of recession also grew as the services sector saw its fourth straight monthly decline in new orders. (Scotsman page 29, Peter MacMahon in the Scotsman, Herald page 32, Anatole Kaletsky in the Times, David Wighton in the Times, FT page 1, Seumas Milne in the Guardian)

Battle of the sexes: Research by the Equality and Human Rights Commission Scotland has revealed that the proportion of women in some of the most powerful positions in Scottish society has declined or stagnated in the past five years. Inflexible working practises were said to be preventing many women from making their full contribution. (Herald page 1, Alison Chiesa and Damien Henderson in the Herald, Scotsman page 11, FT page 4, Guardian page 4, Telegraph page 1)

Job losses: Private equity owned insurance company Pearl Group has announced it is scaling down its Scottish HQ with the loss of 270 jobs while Thomas Cook has announced it is to shut down a Scottish call centre with the loss of 158 jobs. (Scotsman page 12, Herald page 5, Express page 15, Courier page 15)

Windfall tax: Gordon Brown is apparently holding the threat of windfall taxes over energy companies unless they introduce their own financial packages to help poorer families. (Herald page 7, FT page 2, Guardian page 4, Telegraph page 8, P&J)

Shop prices: According to the Scottish Retail Consortium shop prices in Scotland have risen faster than the rest of the UK. (Express page 8)

Transport
A92: In a members’ debate at the Scottish Parliament yesterday MSPs from all political parties called on the Scottish Government to upgrade the A92. (Courier page 8)

Health
Day surgery: The NHS in Scotland could save £8m a year by carrying out more day surgery according to Audit Scotland. (Scotsman page 9, Herald page 4, P&J)

Local Government
Local income tax:
Yesterday the Scottish Government announced that it would bring forward legislation to replace the council tax with a local income tax despite widespread opposition to the tax. Tavish Scott said that introducing a local income tax only in Scotland and not the rest of the UK would be impractical. (Scotsman page 1, Hamish Macdonell in the Scotsman, Herald page 7, Sun page 2, Andy Nicoll in the Sun, Express page , Times page 1, Mirror page 6, Mail page 1, Record page 1, FT page 2, Guardian page 15, Telegraph page 1, Courier page 1, P&J)

Politics
Legislative programme: Yesterday the Scottish Government announced its legislative programme of 15 bills for the next year. Proposals include raising the legal age for the sale of alcohol from off-licenses to 21; reducing the number of quangos; creating a sentencing council; and controlling the availability and promotion of tobacco. (Alex Salmond in the Scotsman, Scotsman page 6, Herald page 1, Douglas Fraser in the Herald, Sun page 2, Express page 4, Times page 6, Angus Macleod in the Times, Mirror page 6, Mail page 5, John MacLeod in the Mail, Record page 4, Telegraph page 10, Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph, Courier page 2, P&J)

Scottish Secretary: The post of Secretary of State for Scotland is to be scrapped and replaced by a Secretary of State for the Nations, which will cover Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. (Scotsman page 7, Herald page 2)

Charles Clarke: In an article in the New Statesman the former Home Secretary said that Labour will not allow itself to be led to “utter destruction” increasing speculation of a leadership contest within the Labour party. (Scotsman page 10, Express page 2, Macer Hall in the Express, Times page 18, Mirror page 8, Mail page 2, Record page 2, FT page 2, Guardian page 2, Telegraph page 1, Courier page 14, P&J)
Anti-bigotry summits: Jack McConnel has attacked his successor Alex Salmond for ending a series of summits aimed at tackling sectarian abuse. (Scotsman page 17, Herald page 7, Sun page 2, Times page 5, Courier page 3, P&J)

MSP sprint: Labour MSP Frank McAveety has challenged Alex Salmond to a 100 meter print over a “pie and beans” jibe the First Minister made four years ago. (Courier page 7)