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Daily Political Media Summary: 28 July 2009

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Media Summary: 28 July 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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Banks: The UK Government last night raised the spectre of referring Britain\’s major banks to the Office of Fair Trading, amid accusations they are withholding credit and forcing high interest rates on business customers. The threat came at a meeting convened by Chancellor Alistair Darling, who hauled executives from the main lenders into the Treasury yesterday. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 2, Times page 34, FT page 1, Press and Journal page 11, BBC)

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Diageo: There is an "air of confidence" that the fight to save 900 jobs at drinks giant Diageo\’s plants in Kilmarnock and Glasgow can be won, a union leader said yesterday. Jim Winter, of Unite, said he was hopeful an alternative business plan ordered by the Scottish Government could save "the vast majority, if not all of the jobs". (Herald page 4)

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Lloyds Banking Group: Bank of Scotland owner Lloyds Banking Group has confirmed former Citigroup director Sir Win Bischoff is to replace Sir Victor Blank as company chairman. Bischoff will take over on September 15 after Blank, architect of Lloyds\’s takeover of Edinburgh-based HBOS earlier this year, retires. (Herald page 27, Telegraph page B1, FT page 13, Guardian page 18, Press and Journal page 11)

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50p Tax: The new 50p tax rate will stifle the economy and increase unemployment, a study has claimed. The report calls for the upper band for high earners, which will be introduced next April, to be abandoned, saying it would discourage entrepreneurs from starting a business and result in fewer jobs. (Telegraph page 6)

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Transport 

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National Express: Perth-based transport group Stagecoach yesterday said it is in talks to pick up parts of beleaguered National Express in a move that could see it extend its influence over the UK bus market. Stagecoach said it is in exclusive talks with the Cosmen family, who have an 18.6% stake in National Express, and its consortium partner private equity group CVC Partners.  National Express confirmed yesterday it had received a cash offer from the consortium. (Herald page 28, Telegraph page B3)

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Local Government

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Edinburgh Refuse: Private contractors have been drafted in to help to clean up the streets in Edinburgh as a dispute over refuse collectors’ wages enters its sixth week. Refuse collectors in the city have been working to rule over plans to change their pay structure. They claim that their wages would be cut from £18,000 to about £12,000. (Times page 19, Telegraph page 8, STV)

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Health

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NHS: Almost one in three patients in Scotland experience problems with their NHS care, but it goes unrecorded because many believe nothing will be done. A report commissioned by the Scottish Health Council highlighted poor communication and staff attitude as the most persistent problems, but found "significant" barriers to making a complaint. (Herald page 1)

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High-Alcohol Beer: A brewery has been branded "irresponsible" by health campaigners after it launched what it claims is Britain\’s strongest beer, with an 18.2% alcohol content. A 330ml bottle of Tokyo*, made by BrewDog, contains six units of alcohol, twice the recommended daily limit. Its creators claim the beer will help alleviate the country\’s irresponsible binge-drinking culture because it is so rich that people will consume less of it. But health experts warn that a high alcohol percentage can cause as much damage as drinking to excess. (Scotsman page 2, Press and Journal page 7, Courier page 3, STV)

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Minimum Pricing: The Scottish Government’s campaign against binge drinking has received a significant boost with the company that produces Britain’s biggest-selling lager calling for minimum pricing for alcohol to be investigated. Molson Coors, which makes Carling along with Grolsch and Coors, has broken ranks with the rest of the brewing industry and big supermarkets by saying that the system of minimum pricing adopted by most Canadian provinces should be studied as a way of preventing massive discounts on drink in the UK. (Times page 11)

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Education

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Physical Education: The  Scottish Government has been accused of "failing to deliver on key promises to Scotland\’s pupils" after it emerged that only three of the country\’s 32 local authorities have formally agreed to deliver two hours of PE for every pupil, every week.

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Information obtained by the Scottish Conservatives shows only North Ayrshire, Argyll and Bute, and Angus councils mention the SNP\’s manifesto pledge in their Single Outcome Agreements – individual contracts for funding between councils and government. (Scotsman page 19)

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