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Daily Political Media Summary: 17 February 2010

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Media Summary: 17 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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Inflation: January’s Consumer Prices Index inflation rate was 3.5%, the highest level since November 2008. Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England, blamed the increase on the increase in VAT in January, but argued the increase was “temporary”. (Scotsman page 6, Press and Journal page 8, Daily Telegraph page 1, Guardian page 2, Financial Times page 2)

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Unemployment: Unemployment in Scotland has risen again, with a rise of 10,000 in the last three months, bringing the total to 206,000. (Herald, BBC, STV)

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Retail Figures: According to the Scottish Retail Consortium, retailers have suffered their worst January sales figures for four years, though sales were better in Scotland than they were across the UK as a whole. (Scotsman page 6, Herald, Press and Journal page 16, Daily Express page 2, BBC)

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Scottish Lending: Peter Hughes, chief executive of Scottish Engineering has said banks are still failing to provide affordable funding for Scotland’s engineering businesses, despite official attempts to spur lending. (Herald page 28)

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Crime

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Drugs: The Scottish Government is proposing a change in drugs law to criminalise the act of selling or manufacturing recreational drugs rather than banning the substance itself. These efforts are targeted at the growing use of legal highs that remain outside of the illegal drug classifications. (Times page 3, Daily Express page 8)

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Transport 

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Rail: Peter Jones in the Scotsman argues that Scotland can benefit from Crossrail in London.

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Health

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Cancer Treatment: The NHS in Scotland has met its cancer treatment target with 96% of cancer patients being treated within 62 days of urgent referral. (Scotsman page 23, Press and Journal page 10)

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Student Nurses: An investigation by Nursing Standard magazine suggests that Scotland has the highest dropout rate in the UK at 30% for student nurses at university. (Scotsman page 13)

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Diabetes Risks: A Glasgow University study has revealed that widely-used cholesterol-lowering drugs increase patients’ risk of developing diabetes.(Herald page 7, Daily Mail page 17, Scotsman, Daily Express page 4)

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Local Government

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Donald Trump: The masterplan for Donald Trump’s £1 billion golf resort in Aberdeenshire was unveiled yesterday. The opponents of the scheme say the plan assumes the eviction of four families living in the area. (Scotsman page 7, Herald page 11, Courier page 3, Press and Journal page 7, Times page 26, Daily Mail page 12)

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Gritting:  A poll of drivers found that three quarters thought the local authorities had not dealt with the cold weather adequately, especially in gritting side roads and pavements. (Herald page 9)

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 Education

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University Funding: The Scottish Government is defending its stewardship of higher education, citing increases in public funding, higher student numbers and greater student support as evidence of Government support, in response to a report from the Scottish Funding Council outlining the financial pressures on the sector. The report confirmed that Scottish universities could turn away over 10,000 applicants unless extra funding is found. (Herald page 6, Courier page 10, Daily Telegraph page 6, Daily Express page 8)

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University Research: John Haldane, Professor of philosophy at St Andrews University has said that the growth of research at Scotland’s universities might have become a “drag” on the main pursuit of educating students. (Scotsman page 1, John Haldane in the Scotsman)

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Politics

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MPs’ Expenses: Sir Ian Kelly, head of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority has called for MPs to be forced to surrender any profits they make from selling taxpayer funded second homes, but this will not apply in Holyrood where action has already been taken to end this practice. (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 6, Daily Telegraph page 12)

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Quango Officials’ Expenses: Two senior officials from the Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) quango were paid almost £30,000 in travel expenses for using their own cars. The SPT has been under recent pressure to account for £117,573 of claims, and has been criticised in the past for accepting thousands of pounds worth of junkets. (Herald page 1)

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Nicola Sturgeon: Nicola Sturgeon remarked that she would not be resigning over the controversy surrounding her involvement in urging a sheriff not to give a custodial sentence to one of her constituents. (Herald page 6)