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Archives for October 2009

Which drugs are the most dangerous?

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Graham Stewart | 10:04 UK time, Thursday, 29 October 2009

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The government's chief drug adviser says ecstasy, LSD and cannabis are less harmful than alcohol and cigarettes. Professor David Nutt, who heads the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, says that cannabis in particular doesn't cause major health problems.

Is he right? Which drugs have caused you the most harm? You can listen back to today's Morning Extra debate, or leave your comments below.

What does Gaelic TV contribute to Scottish culture?

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Graham Stewart | 10:07 UK time, Monday, 26 October 2009


BBC Alba brandingMany of us know BBC Alba best for its SPL football coverage. Every Saturday night you get a replay of one of the SPL games and already we're hearing that might extend to the First Division too. Why is on a Gaelic channel? Well, it's just one of the ways the channel is trying to reach beyond the Gaelic-speaking community and justify its existence.

But is it doing its job? The impact of BBC Alba is to be reviewed by the BBC Trust, which represents licence fee payers, and it will concentrate on two areas:

1. Whether the channel is achieving wide appeal to viewers beyond existing Gaelic speakers and helping to educate people in the language;

2. Whether to make BBC Alba available through Freeview.

However, to put the channel on Freeview would see BBC radio stations - Radios 1, 2, 3 and 4, as well as 5Live, Radio Scotland and the World Service - dropping off Freeview between 1700 and 2300 every evening.

So would it be worth it?

Who or what was the winner on Question Time?

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Graham Stewart | 10:01 UK time, Friday, 23 October 2009


What did you make of last night's Question Time, featuring the BNP leader Nick Griffin?

Who was the winner? Was it the BNP... or Nick Griffin's critics? Did democracy and free speech win the day? Or was it a platform for racist views?

And is any of this relevant to Scotland? Do we have issues with race and immigration here? Or is it a mainly English problem?

Swine flu vaccination advice

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Graham Stewart | 10:03 UK time, Wednesday, 21 October 2009


Hypodermic needle used during flu vaccination exercise

Dr Dean Marshall, who's chairman of the BMA's Scottish General Practitioners Committee, was on hand during today's Morning Extra to answer your questions on the swine flu vaccination programme, which is being launched this morning.

I tried to get through as many as your queries as possible, but we were inundated with your calls, texts and emails. Do listen back to see if your question was already answered. If you have any further questions it may be worth visiting the sites below, and if you're still not clear what you should do, then the advice is to contact your GP. But as Dr Marshall told us on today's programme, there's no need to rush or panic as the roll-out will be gradual over the coming weeks. His fear is that people will unnecessarily deluge their GPs' surgeries today with calls.

Scottish Government swine flu vaccination advice

NHS 24 swine flu information

Q&A from BBC Scotland's health correspondent Eleanor Bradford

The IVF postcode lottery

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Graham Stewart | 10:11 UK time, Tuesday, 20 October 2009


How difficult is it to access IVF treatment? How long you spend on the waiting list is a "postcode lottery" according to Scottish Labour, with patients in NHS Lothian waiting the longest: up to three years.

NHS Lothian says: "As part of a review of our fertility services we are investing an additional £180,000 to increase the number of IVF cycles we are able to offer by around 40 per cent during 2009-2010."

Nonetheless Jackie Baillie told today's Morning Extra that it was unfair that patients in some parts of Scotland have to wait three years for treatment when others are treated in less than 12 months.

What's your experience? We heard stories from aspiring mums and dads this morning, many of whom have been successful. But others haven't been so lucky. Sandra in Wishaw texted: "I'm not eligible for IVF as I already have a child and it's costing me £4,000 per cycle privately."

Plenty of unsympathetic texts as well. Allan in Kintail was typical of many: "Poor little spoilt brats, stamp their feet shouting, I want, I want! If they want IVF they should pay for it and the cash spent at the moment should be used to research some of the terrible diseases that afflict the living."

Money Matters Roadshow

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Graham Stewart | 19:29 UK time, Tuesday, 13 October 2009


The BBC's Money Matters Roadshow rolls into Glasgow on Wednesday and, as part of the day's activities, Morning Extra will be live from the Buchanan Galleries shopping centre to help answer your financial queries. If you're in the area do come down and join us from 9am and our panel of experts will endeavor to offer useful advice. Joining us are:

General financial advice: John Douglas from Finesco;

Pensions and Investments: Peter Haveron from French Duncan Financial Services;

Debt: Stevie Hearns of PKF;

Mortgages: Jennifer Quigley of Absolute Mortgages.

Of course you can also phone us, as usual, on 0500 92 95 00 from 8am.

Money Matters heading to Glasgow

What's it like living with autism?

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Graham Stewart | 10:00 UK time, Tuesday, 13 October 2009


People with autism are condemned to financial hardship by poor employment and benefits support, a charity says. The National Autistic Society (NAS) is calling for a national strategy to help people with autism into work.

I want to hear from you if you have autism, or someone in your family does.

Is the Royal Mail worth saving?

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Graham Stewart | 10:24 UK time, Thursday, 8 October 2009


The main postal union expects a YES vote for strike action today. The Royal Mail says its immensely worried about losing business; the union is defending its members terms and conditions.

But what kind of service do you get? Can you set your watch by your local postie, or is your mail constantly delayed or even lost?

Graeme emailed to say: "I can send a card quicker to Canada , than 1st class to a friend that lives round the corner from me!"

But Dennis, who runs a business in Aberdeenshire, texted to say he thinks the postal service in Peterhead is first class. "If all my other services were this good, I'd have less to worry about!," he wrote.

Labour has delayed its plans for part-privatisation, but the Tories say they'll implement those plans if they get into power. Would Britain be worse off without the Royal Mail as we know it today?

How do we tackle Scotland's addiction to drugs?

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Graham Stewart | 10:17 UK time, Wednesday, 7 October 2009


The number of injecting drug users in Scotland is continuing to increase, according to figures commissioned by the Scottish government.

Another report estimated that the value of the illicit drugs market in Scotland was £1.4bn, while the economic and social cost was estimated at £3.5bn.

Do we need to clampdown on the dealers? Or should we consider more radical solutions such as legalising drugs? Opinion was split on today's Morning Extra, but we heard some compelling real-life stories from families whose lives have been devastated by drugs.

What's the right age to retire?

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Graham Stewart | 10:04 UK time, Tuesday, 6 October 2009


George OsborneThe Conservatives have announced plans to make millions of men now in their fifties work for an extra year before they receive their state pension.

Shadow chancellor George Osborne will raise the state pension age from 65 to 66 from 2016 if the Tories win the next election, to help tackle UK debts. The government has already announced plans to raise the state pension age to 66 but at a much later date (between 2024 and 2026).

Bringing the move forward would mean many more people than previously expected, particularly those aged between 49 and 59, having to work a year longer before qualifying for a state pension.

Is this a prudent move by the Tories to help repair the public finances? Or is it an attack on the poorer members of society who have to rely on the state pension?

An education too far?

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Graham Stewart | 10:08 UK time, Friday, 2 October 2009


Are we sending too many students to university? Subjects at Scotland's newest universities could face cuts as part of a major shake-up. But are there too many of them offering spurious subjects? Or has the expansion in higher education given opportunities to students from poorer backgrounds?That was the subject of today's Morning Extra.

Support your local high street!

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Graham Stewart | 10:14 UK time, Thursday, 1 October 2009


We're all aware of the boarded-up windows, the litany of charity and pound shops and the growth of tumbleweed blowing through many of our towns and cities, and judging by your calls on today's today's Morning Extra, you want something done about it. But what exactly?

Glasgow City Council says its taking a more precautionary attitude to out-of-town developments, so should other councils follow suit?

The other way of tackling the problem - if indeed you do see the dominanation of peripheral retail parks a problem - is to rethink our town centres. If we can't attract the big retailers, should we see them less as shopping centres and more as cultural meccas?

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