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Daily Political Media Summary: 14 January 2009

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Media Summary: 14 January 2009

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All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions. Where there is a link to a newspaper’s website, the relevant page reference is blue and underlined.

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Economy

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RBS: The Royal Bank of Scotland is raising around £1.6bn by selling its entire holding in Bank of China. (Herald  page 28, Guardian page 24, FT page 17, page 18, Times page 43)

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Economic Confidence: An international poll published today shows that people in the UK are less likely to trust banks, the stock market or the government’s economic management than people in comparable nations. (Guardian page 1)

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Whisky: Whisky makers are to be hit hardest under the UK government’s VAT plans. Whisky prices will rise again when VAT returns to 17.5 percent next January and it was revealed last night that the 4% increase in duty tax will not be lowered. (Scotsman page 10)

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Debt-Relief: The Scottish Government will set up an expert group to recommend measures to study debt relief and offer advice for those struggling with debt. The group will be chaired by Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing. (Courier page 3)

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Rural Fuel Duty: The Scottish Government has been rebuffed by Alistair Darling in a fight to get petrol prices cut for remote areas of the UK by applying a reduced rate of fuel duty. The Chancellor said drawing the boundaries of any fuel duty rebate area would be ‘extremely complicated’. (Herald page 3)

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Green-collar Jobs:  George Kerevan comments on calls from the UK Government to subsidise green-collar jobs as a path to recovery. (Scotsman page 31, Guardian page 12)

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Housing Prices: Housing prices are falling at a slower rate in Scotland than anywhere else in the UK, according to new government figures.  The UK average has fallen 8.6%, while Scotland has fallen by 3.9%. (Herald page 10)

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Crime

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Racial Assault: A young woman was attacked in the early hours of Saturday morning in Aberdeen for speaking with an English accent. A spokesman for Grampian Police confirmed they were treating the incident as a potentially racially motivated assault. (Scotsman page 11, Times page 5)

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Local Government

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Council Reform: Politicians, business leaders and academics today unite in calling for fundamental reform of Scotland’s councils to help them survive the current economic crisis and the pressure of making multi-million pound savings. (Herald page 1, page 5)

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Health

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Super bug: Nurses at Vale of Leven Hospital will be questioned by police over an outbreak of Clostridium Difficile(C Diff), a super bug, after it was linked with the death of 18 people. (Herald page 3)

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Education

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Independent Schools: Andrew Collier writes in a special report on Scottish independent schools. (Scotsman supplement)

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Politics

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Budget: The Scottish Government looks set to get parliament to agree to the general principles of its budget today after weeks of brinkmanship. However, SNP ministers have been warned that they face two weeks of hard negotiations if they are to win the final vote on 28 January. (Scotsman page 8, Times page 8, Courier page 8)

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Royal Mail: Gordon Brown faces the biggest backbench revolt since he became Prime Minister as 66 Labour MPs prepare to oppose the planned part-privatisation of the Royal Mail. (Scotsman page 8)

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Pesticides Ban: Scotch whisky may have to be distilled from French barley in the future as a result of EU laws banning at least 22 pesticides from fields across Europe. (Scotsman page 13, Courier page 15, Daily Mail page 2)

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China: The First Minister plans to visit China this year with the aim of building economic and cultural links. The visit is expected to take place in April and a programme of events will be announced nearer the time. (Herald page 8)