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Daily Political Media Summary: 11 November 2008

All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions.  

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Economy

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Tax cuts: Gordon Brown has signalled that he will use tax cuts to aid the slowing UK economy.  The Conservatives and Lib Dems are also calling for tax cuts, with the Tories offering a national insurance tax holiday for every unemployed person they take on. (Scotsman page 6, Bill Jamieson in the Scotsman, Herald page 6, Sun page 1, Record page 2, Mail page 6, Patrick O’Flynn in the Express, Times page 16 and page 17, Rachel Sylvester in the Times, Guardian page 4, Courier page 1, P&J page 1, FT page 2, Telegraph page 4)

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House prices: House prices continued to fall across Scotland last month. The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors also reported a rise in the number of houses coming onto the market and in the number of potential buyers. (Scotsman page 6, Times page 38, Guardian page 35, FT page 1, Telegraph page 4)

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HBOS: Bank of China has been revealed as the potential backer of an alternative takeover deal for HBOS. David Mitchell, president of the Scottish Conservatives, accused Sir Peter Burt and Sir George Mathewson of “gross impertinence” and “enormous self-conceit” following their intervention in the debate. (Scotsman page 8, Express page 2, Times page 5, Alf Young in the Herald, Telegraph page 1, Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph, Telegraph B1, Damian Reece in the Telegraph)

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Bank bailout: The Chief executive of HSBC has warned that the state sponsored bail-out of western banks could encourage a return of reckless behaviour in the City. (Guardian page 24)

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Job losses: Cable & Wireless are to cut 350 jobs in Scotland. (Herald page 2)

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Sterling: Sterling fell to an all-time low against the Euro yesterday. (Herald page 32, Mirror page 6)

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Scottish recession: Whitehall officials yesterday said that Scotland can only endure ‘financial shocks’ if it remains part of the UK. (Mail page 1)

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Post Office: Lord Mandelson has suggested that the current economic downturn presents an opportunity for the Post Office to take on a new range of tasks. (Guardian page 1)

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Crime

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Babies born in prison: A record number of women held in Cornton Vale are giving birth.  In 2005 only three babies were born to women at the prison, six have already been born in 2008, with further births expected before the end of the year. (P&J page 3, Telegraph page 12)

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Education

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Inspection regime: A new inspection regime for schools which was introduced to make the process less stressful has been welcomed. (Herald page 9)

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Bus strike: About 4,000 pupils in Aberdeenshire and Highland council areas will be affected by a strike by Stagecoach drivers over pay. (Courier page 1, P&J page 7)

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Health

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Drug rehabilitation: Jennifer Veitch in the Scotsman (page 38) comments on a new drug rehabilitation programme, Lothians and Edinburgh Abstinence Programme (Leap), which involves intensive rehabilitation and supported accommodation and after care.

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Elected health boards: NHS Tayside has rejected Scottish Government plans to introduced elected health boards claiming it will be divisive and draw officials into political controversy. (P&J page 1)

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Local Government

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Council debt: Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen City councils face a combined deficit in the current financial year of £150m.  At least 12 councils have said they do not have enough resources to implement policies, such as freezing council tax and smaller class sizes, which are part of the concordat between local authorities and the Scottish Government. (Herald page 1)

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Asylum seekers: Millions of pounds of Scottish taxpayers’ money is being spent by councils on asylum seekers even though their applications to stay have been rejected. (Mail page 1)

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Politics

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Nuclear power: The UK Government is apparently looking for a way to end the Scottish Government’s effective veto over the building of nuclear power stations north of the border. The issue is said to be being looked at by the Calman Commission.  Westminster is also said to be keen to improve the ‘financial accountability’ of the Scottish Parliament. (Scotsman page 1, Ross Lydall in the Scotsman, Herald page 1, Torcuil Crichton in the Herald, Sun page 2, Express page 2, Times page 10, Courier page 11, P&J page 10, FT page 2, Telegraph page 8)

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Iain Gray: Robbie Dinwoodie in the Herald (page 13) comments on Iain Gray’s role in the Glenrothes by-election.

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Civil servants’ pensions: Scotland’s top civil servants are having nearly £3,000 a month paid to top up their pensions. (Sun page 2)

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Opinion poll: A poll for the Times shows Gordon Brown beating David Cameron as the leader best able to handle the recession and cuts the Conservatives lead over Labour to six points, with Labour on 35% and the Tories on 41%. (Times page 1)

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Labour Party: The Labour Government’s new Chie Whip, Nick Brown, is proposing that any Labour MP who voted against the government in the past year should not be recommended to sit on all-party parliamentary select committees. (Guardian page 12)