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Daily Political Media Summary: 16 February 2010

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Media Summary: 16 February 2010

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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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House Prices: Scottish house prices have risen to their highest level since the end of 2008, up 5.9 per cent to £160,074. However, prices are still 6.8 per cent lower than one year ago. (Scotsman page 22, STV)

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PFI/PPP Financing: The estimated cost of servicing PFI/PPP debt has reached over £28 billion, close to the figure for total annual Government spending in Scotland. (Herald page 4, Daily Telegraph page 2)

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Credit Cards: The interest rates on credit cards have risen to a 12-year high. The average rate of interest on a credit card is up to 18.8 per cent, with some card holders forced to pay as much as 46 per cent. Nearly seven million credit card holders saw their interest rates increase over the last year, despite the fact that the Bank of England has held its rate steady at 0.5 per cent since last March. (Daily Telegraph page 1)

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Transport 

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First Buses: FirstGroup have been awarded a £20 million bus contract for the 2012 Olympic Games. (Scotsman Business page 2, Press and Journal page 10, BBC)

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Transport Inquiry: SNP Glasgow Councillor Graeme Hendry has called for an investigation into Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, the largest public transport organisation in Scotland. Mr Hendry said there are “real questions” to be answered about the managers of the organisation, particularly their expenses, travel, and use of consultants. (Herald page 6)

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Health

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DNA Testing: Scientists at the University of Edinburgh have developed a test to determine a person’s chances of developing certain inherited diseases. The test would require one drop of saliva and takes only 30 minutes to produce results. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 7, Daily Express page 7, BBC, STV)

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Breast Cancer: Scientists at Dundee University have found a link between poverty and a rogue gene, possibly explaining why women from poorer backgrounds are less likely to survive breast cancer. (Scotsman page 5, Herald page 8, Guardian page 13, Courier page 10, Daily Expres page 7, BBC)

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Alcohol Labels: Proposals are being put forward for mandatory tobacco-style warning labels on bottles of wine, beer and spirits. The effort is a joint consultation by the Scottish Government, UK Department of Health and other devolved administrations. (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 12, Guardian page 4, Daily Express page 8, Caledonian Mercury)

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Education

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University Funding: A report from the Scottish Funding Council will specify the financial pressures that universities are set to face. (Herald page 1)

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Politics

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Lib Dems: Senior Liberal Democrat politicians have denied reports that they are not interested in entering a coalition government in the event of a hung parliament after the UK General Election. (Scotsman page 2, Opinion page 30, Herald page 6)

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Public Sector Pay: Glasgow City Council leader Steven Purcell is calling on the Scottish Government to implement a “living wage” for all public sector workers. Glasgow City Council was the first (and only) council in the country to introduce the measure, which guarantees its employees an hourly rate of £7. Mr Purcell is also expected to call on Nicola Sturgeon to implement the change across the NHS. (Scotsman page 15, Opinion page 30)

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Trams: Allan Alstead has written an open letter to Jenny Dawe, leader of Edinburgh Council, urging her to justify the cost of the tram system. (Scotsman page 30)

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Recycling: Councils across Scotland are failing to meet the 40 per cent recycling target set by the Scottish Government. The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) has reported that just 12 out of 32 councils are recycling or composting 40 per cent of municipal solid waste. (Herald page 11)

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Lockerbie: East Renfrewshire Council has refused to publish details of Mr al-Megrahi’s medical condition, saying he has the right to privacy. (Times page 14)

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Asylum Seekers: Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy has said SNP ministers consistently defend the rights of every failed asylum seeker. Mr Murphy said that Scotland has the responsibility to help those seeking asylum that genuinely need it, but that it must not encourage an open door policy in Britain. (Times page 18)

\r\nNicola Sturgeon: Brian Currie in The Herald wonders whether Nicola Sturgeon’s blunder requires her resignation. (Herald page 16)