Daily Political Media Summary: 5 September 2008


All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions.

Tax powers for the Scottish Parliament
: In a speech to the CBI in Glasgow last night the Prime Minister signalled his willingness to allow the Scottish Parliament to set its own taxes. He added that a “critical part” of the Calman Commission would be to tackle Holyrood’s lack of accountability for its spending. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Sun page 1, Express page 4, Mirror page 4, Times page 1, Mail page 4, Record page 1, Courier page 1, Telegraph page 1)

Interest rates: The Bank of England yesterday held interest rates at 5% for the fifth month in a row. However a growing number of economists now expect a rate cut in November as the economy slides toward recession. (Scotsman page 5 and page 29, Herald page 4, Times page 7, Guardian page 27, Nils Pratley in the Guardian, Courier page 3, P&J page 19, Telegraph page B1, FT page 4)

Winter payments: The Prime Minister said yesterday that the Government would unveil proposals to assist with rising gas and electricity prices. However there is unlikely to be a one off payment to families on child benefit, which had previously been suggested. (Mirror page 6, Mail page 2, Guardian page 12, Courier page 13, P&J page 5, FTpage 2)

Economic outlook: Further comment and analysis on the likelihood of the UK economy entering a recession. (Peter Jones in the Scotsman, Alf Young in the Herald, Kerry Gill in the Express, Guardian page 1, Martin Wolf in the FT)

Working in old age: David Blunkett yesterday said that pensioners should work as long as they are physically capable and take greater responsibility for paying for their own care. His comments came as pensions experts warned that almost a million fewer employers were paying into private pension schemes and savings are at their lowest since the 1950s. (Scotsman page 14, Herald page 6, Express page 1, Mirror page 9, Mail page 6, Record page 12, Guardian page 29)

Licensing: The Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill will re-instate a clause in liquor licensing laws which allows the police to object to a licensee because the individual is not a “fit and proper person” without having to show criminal convictions. (Herald page 2)

Car sales:
New car sales have fallen to their lowest level since 1966 according to the Scottish Motor Trade Association. (Sun page 14, Times page 6, Mail page 10, P&J page 19)

University funding:
Rectors from Scottish universities have joined forces to accuse the Scottish Government of failing to support higher education by giving the sector only £30m last year instead of the £168m universities claimed they needed to compete with England and Wales where students are charged fees. (Scotsman page 10)

Testing: Glasgow City Council is planning to set up its own testing regime to replace the national 5-14 tests. (TESS page 1)

NHS top ups to be allowed in Scotland:
The Scottish Government agreed yesterday to allow cancer patients to pay privately for cancer drugs unavailable on the NHS but still keep their free NHS care in certain circumstances. (Scotsman page 8, FT page 4)

Superbug: A hospital ward at the Royal Alexandria Hospital in Paisley has been closed to new admissions following the death of a patient from the superbug Clostridium Difficile. (Herald page 1, Sun page 17, Express page 17, Times page 27, Record page 30, Courier page 3, Telegraph page 5)

Childhood obesity: The BMA yesterday outlined a 5-point plan to tackle childhood obesity and called on the government to take tougher action to address the problem. Public Health Minister Shona Robison announced that health boards are to share in a £19m funding package to help address the issue. (Herald page 7, Mail page 12, P&J page 15)

Pests: NHS Tayside has dealt with 321 pest outbreaks this year which required the intervention of pest controllers including 174 incidents involving ants and 45 occasions involving rats and mice. (P&J page 1)

Local Government
Local income tax: Further comment and analysis on the SNP’s plans to replace the council tax with a local income tax. The UK Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg yesterday gave his blessing to the Scottish Lib Dems working with the SNP towards introducing a local income tax in Scotland. He hinted that he believed that the SNP would drop its insistence on a centrally set rate which would allow the Lib Dems to back the scheme. Bill Jamieson in the Scotsman (page 24) questions what the Scottish Government’s Council of Economic Advisers thinks of the proposals. (Scotsman page 5, Hamish Macdonell in the Scotsman, Herald page 6, Robin Galloway in the Sun, Express page 2, Mirror page 4, Mail page 4, Simon Jenkins in the Guardian, Courier page 11, P&J page 12, Telegraph page 9)

Wendy Alexander:
Yesterday the Scottish Parliament voted against the recommendation of the Standards Committee to suspend Wendy Alexander from Parliament for a day. The vote of 70 to 49 is the first time the recommendation of the committee has been overturned. (Scotsman page 13, Herald page 6, Sun page 2, Express page 2, Mirror page 4, Times page 23, Mail page 2, Record page 4, Courier page 1, P&J page 9, Telegraph page 9, Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph)

Labour in-fighting: Following Charles Clarke’s call yesterday for the Prime Minister to be replaced within three months if the polls don’t improve, Cabinet ministers Ed Balls and Harriet Harman rallied round Gordon Brown trying to quash any questions of leadership challenges. (Herald page 7, Sun page 6, Mirror page 4, Telegraph page 4, Iain Martin in the Telegraph, FT page 2)

Calman Commission: Sir Kenneth Calman in the Herald (page 15) outlines the work of the Commission on Scottish Devolution as it looks to holding its first public meeting next week.

SNP councillor: The 17-year old daughter of suspended SNP councillor Janagir Hanif has written to the First Minister arguing her father should be sacked from the party arguing “My siblings and I were put in an environment where people were pointing loaded AK-47 guns at each other… I think he should be fired to make an example.” (Record page 11)