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Daily Political Media Summary: 17 November 2008

All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions.

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Economy

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Tax cuts:  Alistair Darling is expected to announce a multi-billion pound package of tax cuts pre-Christmas to help stimulate the economy with government sources hinting the cuts will be included in the pre-budget report to be delivered next week. (Scotsman page 5, The Herald page 6, Janet Daley in The Telegraph, FT page 2, The P&J page 5, The Courier page 1, John Grieve Smith and in The Guardian, Daily Record page 4, Allan Massie in the Daily Mail, Daily Mail page 2)

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Sterling: Shadow Chancellor George Osborne has defended his warning that the sterling was facing “collapse” after he came under fire for talking down the pound. (Scotsman page 14, Martyn McLaughling in the Scotsman, The Sun page 2, The Herald page 1, The Telegraph page 4, FT page 2, The P&J page 5, The Courier page 10, The Guardian page 1, Daily Mail page 4, The Times page 19, Daily Express page 4, Sunday Post page 2)

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Recession:  The CBI has warned that the recession could prove to be “tougher and longer” than first thought, with more than a million being made redundant. (Scotsman page 25, The Herald page 4, The Telegraph page 4, FT page 1, The P&J page 1, The Courier page 14, Daily Express page 4)

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HBOS: Sir Peter Burt, HBOS’s former deputy chairman, has said that the battle to stop the proposed takeover by Lloyds TBS was gaining support amongst shareholders, though Jim Spowart and Alex Neil MSP admitted defeat at the weekend in their attempt to find an alternative bidder. (Scotsman page 1, Burning Issue in the Scotsman, Bill Jamieson in the Scotsman, The Sun page 2, Alastair Balfour in The Herald, The Herald page 30, The Telegraph page 1, The P&J page 9, The Courier page 14, Daily Record page 4, Daily Mail page 4, The Times page 4, Daily Express page 2, Sunday Herald page 2, Sunday Times Ecosse page 4)

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Scottish Economy: Tom Gordon in the Sunday Herald (page 10) examines the options open to the Scottish Government to deal with the economic slowdown.

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Crime

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Tackling violence: Joan McAlpine in the Sunday Times (Ecosse page 8) comments on the growing number of people standing up against knife and gun crime south of the border and asks what is being done in Scotland.

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Local Government

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Hovercraft:  SNP led Fife Council is facing an investigation into why it has earmarked £1m of public money for a transport project planned by one of the Nationalists’ main donors. (Sunday Herald page 1)

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Education

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Children: A YouGov survey carried out on behalf of Barnardo’s has found that nearly half of Scots think children behave “like animals” with 41% believing children are increasingly a danger to themselves and adults, despite, as Victim Support Scotland points out, the fact that less than 1.5% of young people commit crime.  (Scotsman page 11, The Herald page 7, The P&J page 9, The Guardian page 15, Daily Record page 8)

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Higher education: Hundreds more Scots from more deprived backgrounds are entering higher education as a result of efforts made by Universities and Colleges to widen access. (The Herald page 1, Daily Express page 19, Scotland on Sunday page 1)

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Health

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Methadone: The Conservatives have said that Scotland is over dependent on the use of methadone as a heroin substitute. (Scotsman page 10, The P&J page 9, Sunday Herald page 23)

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Parkinson’s: Parkinson’s patients are too often being failed by the clinic system as their needs are not always recognised to devastating effects. (The Herald page 1)

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Politics

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Calman Commission: The report prepared by Anton Muscatelli for the Calman Commission is expected to only outline the options of devolving more fiscal powers based on evidence from other countries rather than make any specific recommendations. (Scotsman page 6, The Sun page 2, The Herald page 6, The Telegraph page 14, Daily Mail page 2, The Times page 4, Daily Express page 2, Sunday Herald page 16, Sunday Times page 4, Scotland on Sunday page 1)

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Act of Settlement: Gordon Brown is proposing to repeal the Act of Settlement, which bans Catholics from inheriting the Crown, within the next 18 months and it is understood that ministers have told the Queen that changes are now under “active consideration”. (Scotsman page 8, Daily Mail page 8, Sunday Times page 1, Scotland on Sunday page 3)

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Pension rise: MSPs have awarded themselves an above inflation pension rise which could result in packages worth £1 million. The crash in the stock market wiped nearly £3 billion from the pension funds of Scottish Councils (also including other public sector bodies); this is a shortfall which will have to be made up by the tax-payers. (The Sun page 2, The Telegraph page 1, The Courier page 9, Sunday Times page 2)

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Housing market: Homeowners who fall behind on their mortgage payments will be able to avoid eviction under a new Scottish Government initiative. Those unable to meet their mortgage payments will have a 25 to 75% stake in their homes taken over by the government, whom they will have to repay when their finances improve. (The Sun page 6)

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Nursery teachers: A Labour MSP has said that Alex Salmond misled the Parliament, when he insisted that the number of qualified nursery teachers is substantially increasing. This it is suggested is contrary to the official figures which are produced. (The Herald page 6)

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Tory lead falls to 5%: The Conservatives lead over Labour has fallen as Gordon Brown benefits from his handling of the financial crisis. (The Herald page 6)

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Tory policy review: George Osborne has signalled that the Tories will recast their economic policy to reflect the impact of the recession, targeting areas of gross waste in public spending. (FT page 2, Jackie Ashley in The Guardian)

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Helpline:  A national hotline is being promoted to help Scots with debt problems during the financial crisis, free advice will be given by this service which is being backed by the Scottish Government. (The Courier page 9)

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Donations: The Tories have blamed a clerical error after it emerged that it had been falsely noted that the teenage daughter of a foreign arms dealer was reported to have given £47,000 despite not having the finances to make such a gesture. The family claim that the donations were actually made by her mother whose initials she shares, and the error was made by the Conservatives. (The Guardian page 5, Daily Mail page 19, Sunday Times page 9)

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Energy: Energy companies will be urged to pass on price cuts in oil and gas to consumers, by the energy and climate change secretary Ed Miliband today. In addition at the meeting of the six main providers and Mr. Miliband, he will question the status of the unjustified premiums on pre-payment meters which effect the most vulnerable in society. (The Guardian page 4, Daily Express page 1)

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Scottish Green party: Patrick Harvie previously awarded “the one to watch” at Scottish Politician of the Year Awards will effectively take control of the Green Party becoming co-convenor. (The Times page 9)

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MSP expenses: Tory MSP John Lamont has allegedly claimed overnight expenses for staying in Edinburgh despite owning a flat in the City.  The MSP cannot claim allowances for staying in his own flat as he bought it before becoming an MSP. (Sunday Herald page 5)

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SNP employment tribunal: The SNP are facing the first employment tribunal involving a MSP due to s dispute between Bob Doris MSP and his assistant Craign Munro. (Sunday Herald page 24)

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Jack McConnell: The Former First Minister is under growing pressure to resign as an MSP as he has one of the poorest records for voting and asking questions at Holyrood. (Sunday Times page 4)