Daily Political Media Summary: 9 December 2009

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Media Summary: 9 December 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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Pre-Budget Report: Alastair Darling will today unveil his third pre-budget report amid reports that Britain will struggle to climb out of recession by the end of the year and risks losing its triple-A credit rating. He is expected to outline measures to reduce the UK economy’s dependence on the financial services with a return to manufacturing and announce cuts across the public sector to reduce the record £175 billion deficit. Schools, hospitals and police are reportedly the only front-line services to be spared the fourteen per cent spending cuts. The Chancellor has been warned against ‘bank bashing’ after a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers revealed that financial services contributed 12.1 per cent of the Treasury’s total tax take. Scotland’s Finance Secretary John Swinney has warned of “a huge political backlash in Scotland” if the pre-budget report fails to bring forward £350 million to help the Scottish Government through the recession.(Scotsman page 2, Herald page 2, Daily Telegraph page 1, Times page 1, Press and Journal page 11, Financial Times page 1, Guardian page 1)

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 Crime

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Prostitution: Glasgow City Council has called for a zero tolerance approach to prostitution as it launched the “End Prostitution Now” Campaign aimed at criminalising the purchase of sex. Support groups who give advice to sex workers have warned, however, that new legislation could drive prostitution underground and make women more vulnerable. (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 4, Daily Express page 11)

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 Legal Services Bill: Professor Alan Paterson, a senior legal academic, has criticised the proposed Legal Services Bill that would see non-lawyers permitted to own law firms, arguing there is little evidence to suggest it will improve access to justice in Scotland. (Scotsman page 15)

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 Transport

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Funicular Rail: Highlands and Islands Enterprise has said that it plans to retain ownership of the controversial Cairngorm funicular train for another two to three years before seeking a new operator or buyer. In the meantime, the organisation will spend up to £4 million public money on repairs and maintenance and improved marketing. (Scotsman page 22, Herald, Courier page 3)

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 Aberdeen Bypass: Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson has assured a north-east MSP that an announcement on the long-awaited Aberdeen bypass will be made before Christmas. (Press and Journal page 1)

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 Education

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Graduate Jobs:  According to new statistics, the number of Scottish students achieving graduate-level jobs within six months of completing their course has dropped. Critics have warned the problem will escalate in the future with record numbers going to university this year and a lack of jobs due to the recession. (Scotsman page 16)

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 Absenteeism: Scottish Government statistics have revealed that more than 43,000 pupils are absent from primary and secondary schools across Scotland every day, with 5,800 playing truant and 2,600 taking unauthorised holidays. The Scottish Government is issuing a guide to parents stressing the active role they must play in ensuring their child’s attendance. (Scotsman, Herald page 10, Daily Telegraph page 6, Press and Journal page 8, Courier page 9, Daily Express page 10)

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 Health

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Swine Flu Vaccination: There are concerns about a postcode lottery and delays for swine flu vaccinations across Scotland as deadlock continues between doctors and the four UK administrations. Scottish Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has said help will be given to health boards to carry out the programme in Scotland which will see vaccinations offered to healthy children aged six months to five years. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 2, Daily Telegraph page 1, Times page 21, Press and Journal page 9, Courier page 11, Daily Mail page 13)

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 Hospital Bug:  Five wards at a hospital in Glasgow have been closed to new admissions following a rise in the cases of the winter vomiting bug with ten patients now showing symptoms of the virus. (Scotsman page 2, Herald page 5)

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 Local Government

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Glasgow City Council: Glasgow City Council will lose 600 jobs, close community halls and swimming pools and shut half of its museums one day a week in an effort to save £60 million next year. Coinciding with an expected austere pre-budget report from Chancellor Alistair Darling’s, Glasgow’s measures give the clearest indication so far of how the squeeze on public finances will affect public services and people in Scotland. (Herald page 1)

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 Politics

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Climate Panel:  Alex Salmond has chosen Ian Marchant as the chairman of a group advising on climate change despite his role as Chief Executive of Scottish and Southern Energy, a company that disagrees profoundly with the Scottish Government’s position against the building of new nuclear power stations in Scotland. (Times page 3)

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 Megrahi Case:  Members of Holyrood’s Justice Committee have criticised Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill over the way he handled the release of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi. They argue the minister did not follow Scottish Prison Service guidelines in allowing the release and that he should have sought a second opinion. (Scotsman page 15, Herald page 4, Courier page 3)

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