Author Archive

hospital Wednesday

July 4, 2013

4 July 2013 Tuesday Hospital

Off around the park listening to the Navy Lark, A counterfeiter persuades the crew to take him to Norway and Germany, Alterted they arrest Captain Povey by mistake Priceless.
Off out to see Mary with Astrid and Anna, and see Joan whoo is in hospital as well.
Mary still in hospital for a tests I hope all will be well.
I watch The Invasion its not bad
No Scrabble no Mary


Molly Clutton-Brock
Molly Clutton-Brock, who has died aged 101, was the wife and devoted collaborator of Guy Clutton-Brock, a campaigner for racial justice in white-ruled Rhodesia who became the first and only official white “hero” of Zimbabwe on his death in 1995.

Molly Clutton-Brock (left) and nurses at her clinic for handicapped children 
6:00PM BST 03 Jul 2013
The Clutton-Brocks, who described themselves as “practical Christians”, travelled from Britain to what was then Southern Rhodesia in 1949. In Africa, they established a series of non-racial, cooperative farming enterprises — most notably Cold Comfort Farm on the outskirts of Salisbury (now Harare), which they founded in the early 1960s.
While Guy Clutton-Brock worked to teach modern agricultural techniques and encouraged young black nationalists (including the ANC activist Didymus Mutasa) to develop their political ideas, Molly established clinics where physically handicapped black children were treated using the latest “Neumann-Neurode” remedial exercise and physiotherapy techniques.
The Clutton-Brocks became, depending on political viewpoint, either the most celebrated or the most infamous couple in Rhodesia. In 1957 Guy helped to draft the constitution of the African National Congress (ANC), and during the emergency two years later was detained and briefly imprisoned with other ANC members.
Then, in 1971, after Rhodesia declared independence from Britain, he was stripped of his citizenship by the government of Ian Smith and deported as a “threat to public safety”. Cold Comfort Farm was taken over and sold to a white businessman. As the couple boarded a plane for Britain, hundreds of Africans turned up at the airport to say goodbye.
Although they kept in touch with their friends in Rhodesia, the Clutton-Brocks returned only once, in 1980, after the country had won its independence as Zimbabwe. But when Guy died in 1995, Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe attended his memorial service at Saint Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square, then carried his ashes back for burial in Harare’s Heroes’ Acre.
Clutton-Brock always argued that people could not expect Zimbabwe to be perfect after 100 years of colonial capitalism. But it was perhaps fortunate that he did not live to see his protégé Didymus Mutasa morph into Mugabe’s ruthless and hated minister of national security and head of secret police — or see his beloved Cold Comfort Farm (which Mutasa and others had reconstituted after independence) appear on international lists of companies under targeted sanctions as a suspected front for foreign investments by the country’s corrupt ruling elite.
Molly Allen was born in Cheshire on February 3 1912. Her father died when she was two, after which her mother moved the family to Eastbourne.
After leaving school she became a handicrafts teacher, and it was while she was working at a Borstal in the East End of London that she met Guy Clutton-Brock, a Rugby and Cambridge-educated idealist who had scorned his privileged background to work among the poor. They married in 1934.
During the Second World War they moved to Oxford House, an Anglican “settlement” in the East End which Guy developed as a community centre, offering employment to many conscientious objectors. Their daughter was born there, and Molly also undertook training in the Neumann-Neurode system.
After the war they travelled to Berlin, where Guy served briefly as head of the religious affairs section of the British Control Commission, then worked for Christian Reconstruction in Europe. In 1947 they moved to a tiny cottage in Pembrokeshire, where Guy worked as a farm labourer. They went to Africa two years later to work at St Faith’s Mission, an Anglican centre near Rusape.
Molly’s work with handicapped children began on a table on their farmhouse veranda. To begin with she worked with babies, but as word spread older children and patients from further afield began turning up, and, with financial help from supporters overseas, a makeshift clinic was built equipped with an exercise ladder, trapeze and other aids for physically handicapped children. It became known as the Mukuwapasi Clinic.
Molly Clutton-Brock went on to found several more clinics in Rhodesia and Botswana, training local people in physiotherapy techniques.
After they were thrown out of Rhodesia, the Clutton-Brocks bought a small cottage in Denbighshire, where they continued to live simply, with only cold water and no electricity.
Molly Clutton-Brock is survived by her daughter.
Molly Clutton-Brock, born February 3 1912, died April 27 2013

It is extraordinary, when the US has deeply offended France by being found snooping on its communications, that France should apparently accede to an American request to refuse permission for a plane to enter its airspace because that plane might be carrying the very person who revealed the snooping (Bolivian jet diverted on Snowden escape fears, 3 July). It is more remarkable still when that plane was carrying the president of a third country with which France has had good relations – up till now. France was probably within its legal rights, but it will be most interesting to see the American reaction when some country refuses overflying rights to USAF1 and compels it to make an unscheduled landing with President Obama aboard so that it can be searched for the presence of someone suspected of spying, the director of the National Security Agency perhaps.
Anthony Matthew
• Your editorial (3 July) states “Over the weekend, Ecuador aborted the idea that he might find sanctuary in Quito.” This is completely false. Rafael Correa has made a clear distinction between considering Snowden’s asylum request and committing to provide him safe passage to Ecuador, where he must be to make such a request. The thuggish treatment France and Portugal just delivered to Evo Morales reveals how important that distinction is. Correa has always said he would seriously consider Snowden’s asylum request if he arrives on Ecuadorian soil.
The incident with Morales reveals how foolish it would be for any Latin American country to attempt to move Snowden around within Europe. European governments must be pressured to honour Snowden’s right to asylum and international law generally by explicitly allowing him to move. That is the responsibility, primarily, of Europeans. Others can only implore the Europeans to behave in a civilised manner.
Joe Emersberger
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
• Isn’t it rather naive of the Guardian to suggest that Edward Snowden gives himself up to face trial in the US? This is the country that has 166 men locked up illegally in Guantánamo, 86 of whom have been cleared for release; a country that justifies the use of torture and the killing of innocent civilians with its drone attacks; a country that pardons members of its armed forces who have admitted the indiscriminate killing of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.
And what about the terrorist Orlando Bosch, who walked the streets of Miami freely despite his involvement in the bombing of a Cuban airliner in the 1970s, where all 73 passengers and five crew were killed? I submit that Edward Snowden could expect little justice from the US and I hope he is awarded protection and support from other countries with more humane governments.
Maisie Carter
•  It seems that the US government has already convicted Mr Snowden, by denying him the use of his passport and by obstructing the fundamental human right to seek asylum from prosecution. The absence of any legal due process speaks volumes about how the government views itself – judge, jury and prosecutor – on any and all actions that may reveal the truth about its covert activities and schemes of privacy destruction – especially when they involve billions of dollars in profits for its corporate subcontractors. The pressures and blackmail applied by the US government on other nations’ leaders also seem to confirm American officials’ views of other countries as mere pawns in a global chess game of domination, in which sovereignty means little and can be trampled on whenever circumstances require it.
Professor Luis Suarez-Villa
University of California, Irvine, US
•  Mark Weisbrot suggests a number of useful ways in which governments can assist Edward Snowden, instead of allowing him to hang out to dry (We can help Snowden, 2 July). I would like to see the Norwegian Nobel committee convene five months earlier than usual and award Snowden with the Nobel peace prize. Such a bold act of solidarity would offer the American whistleblower great comfort at a critical period in his life, and wrongfoot those who wish to bring him down.
Paul Pastor
Ormskirk, Lancashire

The decision by the European parliament to lift Marine Le Pen’s parliamentary immunity opens the way for her to be prosecuted in France for remarks made in 2010 likening Muslims praying in the streets to the Nazi occupation. It may be right that this threatens to upset the Front National leader’s strategy of projecting a “more palatable face of the far right in France” (Report, 2 July). But to judge by a recent Ipsos survey (France 2013: The New Fracture Lines) in which most respondents “no longer feel at home” (62%) in a country where there are “too many foreigners” (70%), many may find Ms Le Pen’s views very palatable indeed.
Professor James Shields
Aston University
• I hope that the person at RBS who found the extra £20bn “in untapped cash” for lending to small businesses (Report, 3 July) will get a massive bonus, to stop them moving abroad. We can’t afford to lose talented people like this.
Simon Hunter
Brookmans Park, Hertfordshire
• ”Steinway Musical Instruments, which manufactured the piano on which John Lennon wrote and recorded Imagine” (Report, 2 July). I’m afraid we’re a long way yet from seeing a whole G2 on the Proms (Letters, 2 July).
Colin Bradbury
•  £30 each for both of us to attend the degree ceremony for our daughter, Jenni, BA media and cultural studies at UWE Bristol. But it is in the cathedral; where is Nottingham’s, cheap at a mere £20 (Letters, 3 July)? This would make a good league table; Guardian, get to it!
Dave and Rea Walters
Exeter, Devon
• Vandalism is always “mindless” (Letters, 3 July). Since it is also usually anonymous, how do we know? It might have been carefully planned and precisely targeted.
Rita Gallard
• Just rediscovered David McKie’s definitive Elsewhere piece on cliches (The sexlife of head lines, 22 February 2007). Sample quotes: “Words, like people, have a tendency to snuggle up to each other.” “They have entered into the lexicographical equivalent of a civil partnership.”
Carol Stringer

Lord Adonis (The cure for jobless youth, 2 July) joins the chorus calling for more and better apprenticeships. In the 50s, when I served a five-year engineering apprenticeship, the nationalised industries and local council direct works departments set the standards the private sector had to match, a paid day off a week to study and fees paid for two evenings at night school. Thatcher brought that to an end and the education ministry in which Lord Adonis served did nothing to recapture the esteem in which apprenticeships were once held even though the need was glaring – at least to those of us with an industrial worker’s background.
Lord Adonis now calls for government training handouts to employers. This is not the way. Instead, bring in a training levy rebated for those with approved schemes; establish modern training workshops on suitable secondary school sites for 16- to -25-year-olds; restart industrial training boards to set standards and inspect. Future profits depend totally on well-educated and fully trained workers. They don’t come cheap.
Ken Purchase
Labour MP, 1992-2010
• Lord Adonis advocates increasing the number of apprenticeships. Such sentiments carry support across the political spectrum: the challenge lies in making it happen. The solution always seems to be another hortatory campaign or “shout a little louder”. Given the seriousness of the youth employment and training crisis, it is time for Labour to seek more radical solutions. These should include a change in the Companies Act to ensure larger employers meet social as well as business objectives.
Professor Martyn Sloman
Kingston Business School

Professor John Sutherland’s article (What should a chef with dyslexia read?, G2, 27 June) itself made surprising reading, coming from a former university teacher, with its inaccurate, outdated and stigmatising description of a condition that many of his own students will have successfully overcome as “lifelong, life-depriving, and for those who have it, deeply shameful”. While it is true that there is, strictly speaking, no cure for dyslexia, early diagnosis and targeted teaching can enable the development of effective coping strategies, and nowadays talking books, spell-checks and voice recognition software can make reading and writing easier to manage.
Although my own mild dyslexia has often been a nuisance, I would certainly never describe it as a curse; indeed it has probably made me both a more understanding tutor and, given the need to revise even the briefest email, a more meticulous writer. As for the assumption that the publisher of a dyslexic “author” must have “more ghosts roaming its corridors than the Tower of London”, we don’t need the assurance of Penguin’s Tom Weldon that Jamie Oliver “writes every word of his books himself” to realise that someone so articulate, determined and independent-minded is more than capable of getting his own words, rather than those of a ghostwriter, on to the page. After all, Professor Sutherland would hardly suggest that Henry James, whose late great novels were taken down from dictation by an indomitable typist, was the “author” rather than the author of The Golden Bowl.
Dr Judith Woolf
Department of English and related literature, University of York
• Re plans to remove coursework from GCSEs (Report, 12 June), I took exams in 1984 and 1986, including O- and A-level technology and O-level photography. If they hadn’t relied heavily on coursework, I am fairly sure that, like so many with dyslexia, I’d have be consigned to a completely different life to the one I have.
Michael Sanders

Patients (and taxpayers) should be assured that despite your report (NHS evaluations ‘deter stem cell treatments’, 1 July), the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) can and does evaluate and recommend “expensive one-off interventions that are likely to cure patients”.
As we made clear to the House of Lords inquiry into regenerative medicine, Nice has robust methods and processes in place to assess the considerable potential of these technologies on behalf of the NHS through our independent advisory committees. A recent example is our recommendation of the bone cancer drug mifamurtide (Mepact), which is costly but can provide a transformative step change in curing some patients.
These exciting regenerative technologies can benefit both patients and the economy, but as always we have to be sure that we do not displace existing healthcare that is more clinically effective. Our methods continue to evolve so that each new treatment is considered systematically and objectively.
Professor Carole Longson
Director, Centre for Health Technology Evaluation, Nice

Whether or not Unite has used dubious tactics in recruiting members to the Labour party has yet to be established (Editorial, 1 July), but the problem is symptomatic of what has happened to the party under New Labour. Parliament is no longer a truly representative body while working people are not sitting on the green benches. Where are the MPs who are seafarers, printers, shopworkers etc? Working people were represented in parliament until the Blairites determined that they made the party unelectable. That pendulum has swung too far and it’s hardly surprising that the working class feel alienated from parliament and fail to vote. The turnout when working people sat in the Commons was near 70% rather than the dismal turnouts of recent elections. How refreshing it would be to see a nurse condemning the changes to the NHS, a builder condemning the failure to build enough affordable homes or a bank worker condemning the receipt of big bonuses by their employers while they receive peanuts themselves. Let’s have a true representative of the labouring classes as a candidate in Falkirk.
John Geleit
Epsom, Surrey
• Phillip Inman warns that Mark Carney “may just be the marketing man that the worst spivs in the City have been looking for” (Report, 1 July) and follows this with the news that “while workers’ pay increases have failed to rise above 2% on average, senior directors and board members have enjoyed rises of 17.8%” (Bonus bonanza for bosses, 1 July). In the light of which, it is hardly surprising that trade unionists should want to return a worker to represent them in parliament. Lord Meddlesome is doing Labour no favours by using the byelection in Falkirk as an opportunity to try to return the party to the days when it was intensely relaxed about City spivs getting filthy rich (albeit with the rider, “as long as they paid their taxes”).
John Airs
• Unite succeeded in getting one of their members selected as Labour candidate for directly elected mayor of Bristol. He then lost to an independent, apparently because half the Labour vote stayed at home and the rest of the city united against Unite. So Unite imposing its candidates on Labour constituency parties may be a threat to Labour, but seems unlikely to trouble the country as a whole.
John Hall
•  My union, Unite, has followed the rules in encouraging local workers to join the Labour party in Falkirk. The right in the party is panicking at the success of this strategy. However, if ordinary Unite members are to be treated less favourably than other Labour party members and not to be able to play a full part in the party’s democratic process, then the leadership of Unite must draw the logical conclusion – found a new party for working people, with other trade unions, where workers can play an active role in selecting its parliamentary candidates.
Nick Long
Unite Lewisham local government branch
• Len McCluskey should stand as the Unite candidate in Falkirk West and see what kind of MP the actual electorate wants. Sadly, it would be ordinary union members who paid for his lost deposit.
Brian Wilson
Glossop, Derbyshire



Jo Clarke got an apology from Sainsbury’s after being  refused service at a checkout while on her mobile phone – yet another milestone along the retreat from civility.
It is Ms Clarke who should apologise to the checkout assistant. It is common courtesy to acknowledge the presence of a human being with whom you come into contact in the course of everyday life. It is rude to act as if the other person were a mere cipher and to give the impression that your own business is of far greater import than the pleasantries involved in living in the human zoo.
Derek Watts, Lewes, East Sussex
Lack of courtesy can prevail “in reverse” at supermarket checkouts. More than once recently, at the small “basket only” tills of my local Waitrose, where I invariably pay in cash, the checkout girl has carried on a conversation with her colleague while she took my money and handed back the change, without uttering a word to me, the supposedly valued customer.
Alan Bunting, Harpenden, Hertfordshire 
Three cheers for the checkout assistant and three boos for Sainsbury’s management. How dare they side with a rude customer against their perfectly reasonable employee?
I have lost count of the times I have asked the person in front of me in the queue to put down their phone while they are being served.
David Thomas, Bowness on Windermere, Cumbria
Phone users become oblivious to the world around them. My worst example was the coffee break at a conference where delegates picked up their phone messages. Three of them were standing side by side at the gents, phones wedged on their left shoulders.  
Thanks to The Independent for raising this debate.
Phil Wood, Westhoughton, Greater Manchester
Sainsbury’s apology on behalf of a staff member who refused to serve a customer while she was on her mobile raises some interesting questions about modern checkout etiquette.
Powerful consumer technology is enabling time-poor consumers to manage their lives in infinitely flexible ways. Through mobile banking, m-commerce and 24-hour customer support, consumers are now able to engage in multiple service experiences at the same time. 
While it is of course imperative that politeness is promoted between customers and workers, it is also important for service staff to recognise the evolving needs of their customers and to manage their experiences in a consistent way.
Ultimately, organisations need to support employees by giving clear guidance and training on how to handle these situations.
Jo Causon, Chief Executive, The Institute of Customer Service, London SE1
Regarding your article (3 July) about the inappropriate use of mobiles, I hope the irony won’t be lost on you that the only method you offered readers to vote on this issue was to scan the page with their portable telephones. It’s clear whose side of the argument you’re on!
If I may “manually” add a voice, “Yes!” – Jo Clarke was rude and inconsiderate and should never have received an apology from Sainsbury’s.
Stephen Clarke, Brighton
One more step towards a police state
Revelations that GCHQ has been monitoring billions of emails worldwide, up to 600 million communications a day, for 18 months under an operation codenamed Tempora, have been described as a “Hollywood nightmare” by the German Justice Minister. GCHQ may not have the resources to read every email they capture, but by electronic screening they can monitor the correspondence of millions of innocent citizens in this country and abroad.
Now a former undercover police officer has revealed that the Metropolitan Police spied on Stephen Lawrence’s family for evidence to discredit them. Whether sanctioned from the top or not, it is clear that elements of both the police and the security services are involved in unlawful spying on innocent people on the off-chance they will catch them doing something illegal.
This country is not yet a police state. Most “stop and search” powers can only be exercised where the police have grounds for reasonable suspicion. They are not legally allowed to stop anyone speculatively, on the off-chance they may be committing an offence.
Yet this is what the security services are effectively doing by monitoring billions of e-mails. They are using the internet for a massive fishing expedition involving millions of innocent people.
Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Chairman of the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee, said GCHQ would have been “in breach of the law if it asked for data about UK citizens without the approval of ministers”. It is now obvious that GCHQ has been monitoring the e-mails of millions of people. I believe ministerial approval has to be for intercepting the communications of specific individuals or groups.
Whether GCHQ has been acting with the approval of British ministers, or unlawfully without it, the damage to Britain’s reputation around the world will far outweigh the damage any terrorist has succeeded in doing. It is also likely to fuel even further terrorism against Britain.
Claims that “anyone who hasn’t done anything wrong has nothing to fear” from this mass surveillance are clearly false. If the police and security services can spy on everyone and decide what they are looking for in those e-mails, that would be the basis of a police state.
Any police or security officer who has ordered unlawful activity must be held to account and disciplined or prosecuted.
Julius Marstrand, Cheltenham
US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once asked whom he should ring to speak to Europe. Europe, were it to ring back, might well now ask – who else would be listening?
Will Fyans, London N5
Why do we have to wait for ever at US immigration control? Surely recent revelations about covert surveillance show that they know everything about everyone anyway.
Steven Calrow, Liverpool
Puritanical urge to ban lads’ mags
Hannah Pool’s piece (27 June) uses emotive and sensationalist terms such as “racist” and “sexist” to criticise both “lads’ mags” and those retailers who sell them. What comes later, the more weighty “research”, may or may not prove that such magazines are harmful to society, but that does not mask the puritanical, almost fascist undertones of the campaign to ban them.
There are an awful lot of things more harmful and more worthy of a ban than lads’ mags, and simply outlawing something we don’t like, even if it might have some negative effects on society, has been proven to drive such activities underground and into the hands of criminals and is counter-productive to the aims of campaigners.
Far better to see lads’ mags for what they really are – a recreational activity that serves as a safe, almost laughably soft-core, outlet for the young men who buy them.
John Moore, Northampton
A new model boarding school
Durand Academy has a track record in successful delivery of innovative education projects that raise standards and deliver lasting results (“Gove censured over plan for inner-city boarders in Sussex”, 1 July). The school has invested more than £8m over the last decade to improve choice and opportunity for parents and children.
Innovation in education is never easy. But if no-one pushes the boundaries, we all end up standing still.
This is a new model, but revenue forecasts, capital costs and savings plans for the boarding school have been examined in depth and approved by the school’s financial advisers. The Department for Education has also concluded that Durand’s innovative cost plan is viable – as reflected in the school’s funding agreement with the Secretary of State.
Sir Greg Martin, Executive Head, Durand Academy, London SW9
Chaos spreads in the Middle East
When Blair and Bush dismantled Iraq society without any idea of what to replace it with, it created a domino affect across North Africa and the Middle East. That has left the world helpless as Egypt sleepwalks into the same type of chaotic civil war that is destroying Syria.
When we all celebrated the millennium, little did we know we were entering an era of the most inept politicians this world has ever known.
Brian Christley, Abergele, Conwy
Only connect…
In E M Forster’s “The Machine Stops” (1909), a planet-spanning machine that nobody really understands provides video chat, music, entertainment and everything else people need. Everybody has become flabby and pale, isolated in their own “cell” and never venturing out, despite now “knowing” thousands of other people. Others, as your correspondents have pointed out, may have predicted the technology of the internet. Forster saw the practical results first.
Neil Stewart Nichols, Glasgow
Vera Lustig (letter, 2 July) claims that “circumcision is not illegal”. Any cut through the full thickness of the skin without medical necessity and without the consent of the individual being cut is a wounding in criminal law (Offences Against the Person Act 1861). The current situation is that society tolerates an illegal practice that clearly damages children and the men they will become.
Richard Duncker, London NW1
Labour betrayal
Vaughan Thomas is quite right in saying (Letters, 2 July) that Labour’s failure to challenge Coalition policies stems from its ruthless pursuit of power. Worse, though, is that in doing so it has cynically abandoned its responsibility to its members, its supporters and democracy itself by refusing to operate as an effective and principled parliamentary opposition. 
Kate Francis, Bristol
Hunger games
If the multi-millionaire Lord Freud believes that it is the existence of food banks for the poor that has led to an upsurge in demand for them, he must, by the same token, blame the famine in Ethiopia during the 1980s on Bob Geldof.
Mark Robertson , East Boldon, Tyne & Wea


We are told that we need to pay for brilliant legislators to run the country, yet MPs have no authority to block Ipsa’s recommendations
Sir, The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority was set up to reduce controversy about MPs’ pay. The mechanics of pay reviews are a matter of record and should not be a subject of dispute. It would be unfair and unreasonable to expect MPs to forego a transparent procedure that was created in order to avoid the excitement now surrounding a proposed increase. Neither they nor the public have any right to interfere. If some MPs can afford to donate their pay rise to a charity, then let them do so.
Peter M. G. Hime
Sir, On the one hand we are told that we need to pay for brilliant legislators to run the country; on the other, that MPs have no authority to block Ipsa’s recommendations. If there was a problem getting applicants for the job I might believe that a rise was necessary, but I see no sign of that.
Here are a few savings of the sort that any employer in the private sector might make: abolish second homes (buy a London hotel where MPs can stay free of charge when on business); stop subsidising bars and restaurants in Parliament; stop paying subsistence allowances (MPs have to eat whether they are at home or away). Instead of paying office allowances, offices and staff should be provided. Pay travelling expenses at a mileage rate, or set up a staff travel department to make economical travel arrangements. Tax MPs’ expenses in the same way that everyone else is taxed, and if MPs have other jobs, reduce their pay and expenses proportionately. And replace the final salary pension with a money purchase scheme.
If MPs don’t like this, there are 13.4 million pensioners in this country, many of whom would be delighted to take the job at a fraction of the current salary of £66,396 plus £22,750 office costs and an average of £5,500 in expenses. Plus the final salary pension plus a “winding-up” allowance of £53,350 when they retire or get kicked out. The UK state pension is £5,727.
People would be appalled if our MPs were to accept the proposed 10 per cent increase.
Arthur Dicken
Prestbury, Cheshire
Sir, MPs could always revert to a previous arrangement where their pay was linked to that of a Grade 6 civil servant. There would be no problems with a large pay rise, because the public sector is limited to 1 per cent.
John Berry
Countesthorpe, Leics
Sir, I do not object to electors choosing an MP who already has another job if they wish to have a part-time representative (who may be very good and serve them well). But I do object to an MP receiving extra remuneration arising from the fact of being an MP.
Alistair Wilson
West Linton, Peeblesshire Sir, While reviewing MPs’ pay, a clause should be put in their contract barring them from appearing on reality TV and comedy quiz shows, thus saving them and us from the embarrassment caused.
Sara Blunt Chislehurst, Kent Sir, The gist of your leader “The Price of Politics” (July 2) seems to be that we must expect the probity of our MPs to be in proportion to the size of their remuneration. I find this infinitely depressing.
Robert Colbeck
Pollington, E Yorks

It would be wiser to spend the money on traditional rail enhancements, given the relatively short distances between UK cities
Sir, I am one of the few people in the UK who have had direct responsibility for running a high-speed railway, with London and Continental Railways and Eurostar, its subsidiary.
The rationale for Eurostar/HS1 was the same as for HS2: time equals money. Faster travel means travellers spend less time between locations and being, according to the theory then prevalent, unproductive. The new infrastructure would also generate business and profitable urban regeneration.
I inherited forecasts based mainly on this rationale. It rapidly became apparent that such forecasts were away with the fairies. I spent two years trying to defend the indefensible and knocking some commercial reality into the business. Volume in the first year or so was little more than 10 per cent of forecast.
There are lessons here for HS2. As Tim Montgomerie said (July 1), for most business users travelling time is not unproductive, so that is a limited economic justification.
The very high costs of construction and operation of high-speed rail relative to low-frills air travel on longer journeys and against traditional rail or even coach for shorter journeys will limit the growth of leisure travel.
The benefits in urban or regional development are uncertain and long term in reality. It would be wiser to spend the money — or less money — on traditional rail enhancements, given the relatively short distances between UK cities.
I love high-speed trains, and they can provide an excellent service. But in economic terms HS2 is unjustifiable.
Adam Mills
Beaulieu, Hants

As custodians of a national treasure which must be protected for future generations, British Waterways was boosted by charitable status
Sir, Richard Morrison’s comments on the new charitable status proposed for English Heritage (June 28) come as the Canal & River Trust celebrates its first year as a charity, and I would like to offer some encouragement to English Heritage.
When we proposed uncoupling British Waterways from state control and transferring it to a charity we sought advice. Those in the voluntary sector could not have been more helpful or encouraging. One year on I am pleased to say that the experience has been liberating. Our funding is more stable, we are far more inclusive of local communities, volunteering has risen by a third and we’ve raised more than £1 million to care for our historic waterways. For the first time we can plan investment for the long term.
Our canals and rivers are a national treasure which must be protected for future generations. Charitable status has given our work a huge boost.
Tony Hales
Chair, Canal & River Trust Milton Keynes

If it wasn’t for the Russian Army under Marshal Kutuzov, Prussia would not have been able to launch its war of liberation in 1812
Sir, Ivor Blight (letter, July 2) quotes Wellington’s so-called Waterloo Dispatch in which he attributed “the successful result of the arduous day” to the Prussian contribution at Waterloo.
But in his next sentence Wellington dismissed any claims to the victory the Prussians may have entertained: “the operation of Gen. Bülow upon the enemy’s flank was a most decisive one; and, even if I had not found myself in a situation to make the attack which produced the final result, it would have forced the enemy to retire if his attacks should have failed, and would have prevented him from taking advantage of them if they should unfortunately have succeeded.”
Wellington was clearly trying to claim the sole responsibility for the victory, and his mentioning Bülow was another ploy in support of his claim. Bülow was the commander of the Prussian thrust at the village of Plancenoit in the French rear but the village was held by two battalions of the Old Imperial Garde until after the French Army collapsed. The inference was that nothing decisive had been achieved by the Prussians until after Wellington’s army had routed Napoleon.
But Wellington omitted to mention the other Prussian thrust, by Zieten’s Corps. It broke through and routed the French right wing at the same moment as the Imperial Garde’s final attack was broken by Sir John Colborne’s 52nd Light Infantry, which with its comrades in the Light Brigade then routed the French left wing by advancing at speed at Napoleon at La Belle Alliance. The victory was essentially a dead heat.
Nigel Sale
Underbarrow, Cumbria
Sir, It was interesting both to read Ben Macintyre’s piece (“Without Prussia we’d all be speaking French”, June 28) and the letters (July 2) in response to it.
Wellington did jealously guard his reputation as sole victor at Waterloo in the years after the battle, but he was not alone in such behaviour. Nelson was a shameless self-publicist, as were many other British commanders.
I should also point out that if it wasn’t for the Russian Army under Marshal Kutuzov, and perhaps more pertinently, the Russian weather in 1812, Prussia would never have been able to launch its war of liberation two years before Waterloo.
Gareth Wood
Shevington, Wigan
Sir, Your correspondents make no reference to Britain’s allies in the Iberian Peninsula. The determination of Sir Arthur Wellesley to prevent the French seizing Lisbon inspired the construction of the Lines of Torres Vedras, a victory without bloodshed when the likelihood of French domination was distinctly worrying.
The successful efforts of Britain under Wellington, together with Portugal and Spain, cleared the way that led ultimately to Belgium and should not be overlooked in the imminent Waterloo celebrations.
Marjorie Napier
Tavistock, Devon

The Prime Minister needs to make commitments for cycling to become a safe, enjoyable and completely normal way for people to get around
Sir, The latest figures show cycling on Britain’s roads is increasingly dangerous but the £28 billion for road building just announced (June 28), contained not a penny for cycling, nor any funding beyond 2015 for quality cycle training or promotion.
There is now tremendous backing for cycling. Your Cities Fit for Cycling campaign was echoed by the parliamentary Get Britain Cycling report. This advocated annual spending on cycling of at least £10 per person, while noting that the Dutch spend £24. A petition in support of the report has nearly 70,000 signatures. Yet spending on cycling outside London is less than £2 per person.
Cycling provides huge benefits for our health, communities, economy and environment. It cuts congestion, increases property values, creates jobs, boosts productivity and provides enormous NHS cost-savings.
To maximise these benefits now requires the Prime Minister to make the commitments needed for cycling to become a safe, enjoyable and completely normal way for people to get around, as it is for many of our continental neighbours. That would be a truly worthwhile Olympic legacy.
Phillip Darnton
The Bicycle Association
Brian Cookson
British Cycling
Gordon Seabright
CTC, the national cycling charity

SIR – Cristina Odone (“Wild horses wouldn’t drag me to phoney Glastonbury”, Comment, July 1) misses out some other attributes of Glastonbury that are the reasons why my wife and I visit two or three times a year.
These include the historic abbey and its beautiful grounds; the quiet atmosphere of the Chalice Well gardens (where mobile phones are not allowed); and the Tor with its amazing views, and lots of fine walks through beautiful countryside.
In any case, the music festival – something of a chimera in contrast to Glastonbury itself, which retains an extraordinary inheritance – is rather a misnomer. The festival takes place miles from the town, in Pilton, and shares little more than its name with Glastonbury.
Raymond Cox
Halesowen, Worcestershire

rary to the flow of opinion in the letters page yesterday, that MPs should be paid more.
However, let the overall salary bill remain fixed, and any increase in pay be funded by reducing the number of MPs. Say, a salary of £100,000, paid to 430 MPs.
Duncan Reeve
High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire
SIR – When the top Salaries Review Board recommended an increase in MPs’ pay during the Callaghan premiership, we were told that the unions would not like it, and therefore we could have an increase in pension provision and allowances as compensation.
Arguably, this started the rot, which led to the abuse of expenses and when exposed, at a later date, a damaging loss of respect for MPs.
Related Articles
There is more to Glastonbury than the festival
03 Jul 2013
Esmond Bulmer
Conservative MP for Kidderminster/Wyre Forest, 1974-1987
Bruton, Somerset
SIR – The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority is expected to recommend a large increase in MPs’ salaries to £75,000. In the private sector, jobs with a salary at this level carry very clear individual accountabilities, and consequences for failure. MPs, by contrast, have no individual accountability nor any quantifiable measures of performance.
John Newman
Hinckley, Leicestershire
SIR – If MPs feel they deserve more money, perhaps they should be more transparent over what their job involves. While my local MP does a reasonably good job, I’d still like to know the following:
1. Number of hours spent in the House of Commons chamber; number of questions asked
2. Government/opposition positions held; achievements in those roles
3. Committees of which they are members; hours spent in each committee and useful outputs
4. Total amount of correspondence received from constituents per year; how concerns were addressed
5. Number of hours spent talking with constituents; problems raised; outcomes.
Pamela Manfield
Hitchin, Hertfordshire
SIR – Never mind an increase in MPs’ pay, George Osborne, the Chancellor, should announce a 5 per cent drop in their salary to show that we are all in it together during this time of austerity and cuts.
John Tilsiter
Radlett, Hertfordshire
SIR – Hardly a day passes without an MP expressing concern that the state cannot afford the pensioners’ winter fuel allowance and bus passes. Yet these same MPs, who enjoy pension benefits unattainable for the vast majority of taxpayers, think it’s right that they receive an excessive pay rise.
Charles Campbell
Sutton, Surrey
Referendum promise
SIR – With regard to your report “EU referendum law hits trouble” (July 1), there is nothing exceptional in principle about the current European Union (Referendum) Bill, to distinguish it from any other of the referendum Bills over the past decades. These include the European Referendum of 1975, the Welsh Assembly, Scottish Devolution and the AV referendums. Each of these required a Bill to authorise the referendum.
While, in theory, no Parliament can bind its successors, those referendums have all been carried through in practice. Of course, it is open to any future Parliament to repeal an Act of Parliament or a parliamentary order to disregard a referendum, but the same could be said of AV or indeed the European Communities Act 1972 itself.
Bill Cash MP (Con)
London SW1
Summer holiday fun
SIR – Has everyone forgotten the joy of the last day of summer term, with the glorious prospect of no school for six weeks (“Six-week school holidays under threat as heads get new powers”, report, July 2)?
Education still continues during holidays when social skills and adventure can take place. Teachers never do anything in the last two weeks of summer term, so let’s not moan about not enough school time.
Allan Crossley
SIR – Parents of young families rely on the present school holiday system – which has worked well since its inception. Imagine the situation that parents who have children at different schools will face if term dates vary. Not to worry, there is still time for the customary U-turn.
John Tyler
Sittingbourne, Kent
SIR – I doubt that teachers will give up their summer holidays.
Les Sharp
Hersham, Surrey
Long-lasting love
SIR – Your report (“For a marriage that endures, bite your tongue”, July 2) reminded me that at our son’s wedding, my husband read a poem by Ogden Nash, with the lines: To keep your marriage brimming/ With love from the loving cup/ Whenever you’re wrong admit it;/ Whenever you’re right, shut up.
We have been married for over 40 years.
Sue Gowar
Elstead, Surrey
Waspish behaviour
SIR – I know the answer to Steve Hale’s question about the whereabouts of wasps (Letters, July 2): they are in my garden shed. In a dark, quiet corner of the roof there is the most beautiful nest being tended by many of the creatures.
It has been suggested that I should destroy the nest, but it is far too exquisite a work, and the wasps, so far, are doing me no harm. However, I still don’t know what wasps are for.
Margaret Scott
Stevenage, Hertfordshire
SIR – I usually have several wasps’ nests; I found the first yesterday in a bird’s nesting box. I also have a bumble bees’ nest in the eaves of the house.
Lesley Travis
Rippondon, West Yorkshire
SIR – Around here, the wasps don’t arrive until late summer, once the plums are ripe.
Christopher Cox
Warnham, West Sussex
Employing reservists
SIR – We are proud employers of reservists. We all benefit from the experience, skills and training that our reservist staff bring to their civilian places of work.
We welcome the Government’s proposals to encourage reserve service, and we look forward to supporting measures that are designed to recognise better the employers of reservists. This includes improving communication between the Ministry of Defence and employers of reservists, and providing much greater predictability of reservist training and mobilisation; these will support the vital role businesses play.
We also welcome the training and experience that reservists gain from their service, which will be of real value to them and employers alike. These are all moves that will encourage companies to take a more positive approach to employing reservists.
Edmund King
President, AA
Richard Howson
CE, Carillion
Sir Mike Rake
Chairman, BT
Neil Robertson
CEO, EU Sector
Nigel Whitehead
David Sproul
Senior Partner and Chief Executive, Deloitte
Mark Cahill
Managing Director, Manpower Group UK and Ireland
Robert Paterson
Health, Safety and Employment Issues Director, Oil and Gas UK
Paul Pindar
CEO Capita Plc
Bat-infested churches
SIR – Julia Hanmer (Letters, July 1) is being rather disingenuous when she says the majority of churches live happily with their bats.
At Holy Trinity Church, Tattershall, we are “lucky” to have between 600 and 1,000 bats roosting in the church, and this involves a great deal of effort in trying to keep the church clean. The bats’ urine has damaged the choir stalls and the memorial brasses have to be kept under cover to prevent it causing further harm to them.
It costs us approximately £1,000 a year for plastic sheeting and cleaning materials. To be in the church late on a summer evening is like being in a nature programme.
Doug Eke
Churchwarden, Holy Trinity Church
Tattershall, Lincolnshire
Quality digging
SIR – I can sympathise with Les Hardy’s problem with gardening tools (Letters, July 1). I still use the fork and hoe that my grandfather used throughout his life as a gardener.
As he was born in 1864, I would estimate that these are both over 130 years old. Will the tools of today still be in use in 2143?
Neville Hume
Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire
Workers skilled in the art of classical whistling
SIR – Like Viv Payne (Letters, July 1), who struggles to whistle, I too am failing in the art of sustaining wordless mouth music, but his letter brought back memories.
At the printing shop where I served my apprenticeship, personal tastes in the culture contributed much to enliven a day’s work. My speciality was Bach’s third Brandenburg, while our assistant rendered Rodgers and Hammerstein while washing ink off the presses.
Once, when I launched into the waltz from Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, my attention was drawn to a couple of friends in their boiler suits, further up the workshop, performing a respectable pas de deux. The works manager was not amused.
Bernard J Seward
Wellington Hill, West Yorkshire
SIR – Perhaps Viv Payne should take a lead from the Royal Navy. Whistling is prohibited on Her Majesty’s ships on the grounds that “it is seldom tuneful except in the ears of the perpetrator and is apt to be confused with the piping of orders”.
Robert Rowley
Bere Alston, Devon
SIR – My grandma always said: “A whistling woman and a crowing hen bring the devil out of his den.”
Amanda Green
Burgess Hill, West Sussex
SIR – I found a similar problem in my seventies. While whistling softly was all right, I now find that I have mastered the loud whistle by sucking instead of blowing.
David Biddle
Ipswich, Suffolk
SIR – I was brought up to understand that it was “a little bit of fat and a little bit of gristle, that gave the English policeman the strength to blow his whistle”.
Rosemary Heaversedge
Shrewsbury, Shropshire

Irish Times:

Sir, – At this stage of the voting for legislation on the forthcoming abortion Bill, the behaviour of the Government parties is as close to political bullying as one would wish to see. All I can hope is that common sense, not to mention scientific evidence, will prevail. – Yours, etc,
Nutley Avenue,
Dublin 4.
Sir, – There was not one woman among the 24 TDs who voted against the Bill on Tuesday evening, yet they all seem to know best what women should do with their ovaries, wombs, bodies, health and lives. – Yours, etc,
St James’s Place,
Fermoy, Co Cork.
Sir, – If Lucinda Creighton and others were to leave the Fine Gael party, perhaps they might consider calling their new party “Suicidal Fine Gael”? – Yours, etc,
Wilderwood Grove,
Dublin 6W.
Sir, – If TDs truly represent their constituents, their own religious convictions should not come into it. They are being selfish and forgetful of those who put them where they are. – Yours, etc,
Letterkenny Road,
Co Donegal.
Sir, – I write to comment on Patsy McGarry’s article on abortion (“Church teaching on abortion dates from 1869”, Opinion & Analysis, July 2nd). Mr McGarry twice refers to the early embryo as “a collection of biochemical elements”. But this is a true description of the embryo only in the sense that Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto is a collection of air-vibrations or that da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is a collection of specks of paint pigments.
Biology shows us that an individual human life begins at conception when a sperm cell fuses with an egg cell to form a new cell, the zygote (the earliest embryonic stage). This zygote divides into two daughter cells, each daughter divides in two, and so the process proceeds until eventually, nine months later, a baby is born, who goes on to grow and develop into adulthood and old age and who eventually dies.
The zygote is the start of a continuum of human development that ends only in death. The early embryo, far from being a mere “collection of biochemical elements”, is a marvel of sophisticated molecular orchestration. Many details of this orchestration are still not understood by science.
The early embryo works extremely hard at translating and expressing the biological instructions programmed into it, in harmony with cues it receives from its environment. Even at the two-cell embryonic stage a degree of developmental polarisation can already be discerned.
Mr McGarry also wonders why those who accord full human status to the early embryo do not extend this status to the sperm or the egg or to a surgically excised human limb. Again, Mr McGarry is guilty of a scientific misunderstanding. The zygote which begins the human continuum is entirely qualitatively different from the sperm and egg that precede the continuum and from the corpse (or excised limb) that succeeds it. Neither the sperm, the egg nor the excised limb have the power on their own to initiate a biological continuum. – Yours, etc,
Emeritus Professor of
Western Road,

Sir, – The Anglo tapes remind us of one salient point. If only it had been possible for Willie O’Dea to take corporeal form on the night of the bank guarantee, Ireland could have been saved. – Yours, etc,
Meadow Copse,
Dublin 15.
Sir, – Gerry Adams, commenting on the Anglo-Irish tapes, wonders if there is one law for the well-connected, a different law for citizens, and no law for some (Home News, July 3rd).
Perhaps there is one law for well-connected republicans, a different law for citizens, and no justice at all for the victims “disappeared” by the IRA. – Yours, etc,
Newcastle Park,
Sir, – I presume that when the man from Anglo told the Department of Finance and/or the then financial regulator that Anglo Irish needed €7 billion, that they then asked him how it had been calculated and how they could be sure that his calculation was reasonable? I presume they would have wanted to double-check his estimate and the basis for it and that their experts would have been able to do that, rather than just take his word for it.
Do I rightly recall a debacle a few years ago where the Department of Finance kept miscalculating a figure (by over a billion) even though there was a paper trail indicating that their miscalculation was repeatedly drawn to their attention and they did nothing about it?
So who have we watching out to protect us and who guards the guards? – Yours, etc,
Stradbrook Road,

Sir, – I see Edward Snowden has asked Ireland for asylum (World News, July 3rd). Well, that’s one way to ensure we won’t have to entertain the Obamas again. – Yours, etc,
Wellington Street,
Eganville, Ontario,
Sir, – How convenient for those countries, Ireland and Finland among them, that application for asylum can only be made if the applicant is already in the country concerned. It now appears that an aircraft suspected of carrying Mr Snowden to any such country would be denied entry into their airspace. Thus such states reward the person who brought to their attention the fact that they and their citizens were being spied upon.
Given that Ireland was even considered indicates the desperateness of his position. Was he not aware that a proposed chewing gum tax was dropped when concern was expressed by US interests at the level of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland?
If we are not prepared to upset such a body, what were the chances that the Irish Government would incur the displeasure of the United States of America?
The disclosures and the reaction of those “sovereign states” to this affair have given credence to the assertions of those who suggest the existence of the “American empire”. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – European leaders, including François Hollande, have expressed concern at recent revelations that the United States has carried out surveillance operations in EU offices across Europe. But is this surveillance such a bad thing?
Germany, because of its financial clout, continues to influence EU policy to an unhealthy degree and there are ominous signs that Mr Hollande has hitched his wagon to the German juggernaut. Britain remains weak and directionless, while the rest simply make up the numbers.
To what other power can we turn in order to establish the true nature of EU policies that may have been hatched in Bonn and brought to fruition in Brussels? How much more power will be ceded to Berlin in the future as Germany struggles to balance its books?
The United States, for all its faults, still holds the mantle of global policeman. It is the only democratic country with the resources to keep a sharp eye on the ambitions of autocratic leaders, whether they be Christian, Muslim or agnostic. We should be thankful that we still have access to that priceless resource. – Yours, etc,
The Demesne,
Dublin 5.
Sir, – I think it is bad that no country wants to step up to the plate and offer Edward Snowden a refuge.
This young man has done the world a favour by risking losing everything to let us know just what goes on behind the closed doors of those with the most power in today’s world.
Countries, especially in Europe, should be falling over themselves to let him in.
He should be let into Ireland and accommodated in the same luxury suite Michelle Obama was accommodated in and let him tell the rest of us what he knows. – Yours, etc,
Claremorris Road,
Co Mayo.
Sir, – Since, at some considerable risk to his liberty if not to his life, Edward Snowden has performed a service for the European Union, surely the EU has a moral obligation to offer him shelter from prosecution in the United States?
What do we stand for as a European Union, if we cannot stand and defy Goliath at least once in a while? – Yours, etc,
Rockwood House,
Co Cork.
Sir, – Has Mr Snowden tried the Vatican? – Yours, etc,

Sir, – Among Conor Brady’s 10 suggestions for “reform” of the Oireachtas (Opinion, June 29th), I was disturbed to read his final suggestion that the constitutional protection for TDs and senators travelling to and from either House of the Oireachtas should be abolished.
This “privilege” (although it shouldn’t really be described as such, as it is more of a safety mechanism for democracy) which Mr Brady takes aim at, enshrined in Article 15.13 of Bunreacht na hÉireann, is in place so that, for example, no taoiseach or minister for justice could order the gardaí to prevent a member of the Oireachtas (an opposition member, for example) from attending a vote in the Oireachtas. If it were possible for the government to act in such a way, we would be on a short road to an autocratic state. Mr Brady asserts that “there has never been an instance in the history of the State in which the gardaí have sought to detain an elected representative in order to prevent them exercising their duty”. But perhaps it is because this crucial constitutional provision has been in place that there has been no such incidence of the gardaí being deployed (or taking it upon themselves) to prevent a member carrying out his duty.
In the interests of democracy, I believe that it must remain this way. As one of the leaders of the Easter Rising was fond of repeating to the men under his command in 1916: “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance”. – Yours, etc,

Sir, – So, figures released by the Central Statistics Office (Home News, June 28th) show the Irish economy has fallen back into official recession, with the second largest quarterly economic contraction on record occurring in the January-March period. Shock, or should it be mock, horror!
Nobody should be the least surprised at this “revelation” yet, incredibly it gets front-page headlines. Considering that the elements of the so-called troika (who, as recent reports showed, can’t even agree among themselves) have steadfastly continued on their kamikaze austerity experiment and that our puppet Government announced the introduction of its property tax grab during that period, it’s logical that a cash-strapped public would rein in their spending even further.
So, the economy stagnates and the problem self-perpetuates as every independent, impartial economic commentator has pointed out since about 2008 to deaf ears. The past five years have been like living through some terminally depressing “groundhog day” and with our geniuses set to roll out water charges (nothing I can do m’lud, it’s the EU, you see) in about 18 months, and God alone knows whatever other levy occurs to their febrile minds in between, we can expect only further contractions of this nature. – Yours, etc,

Irish Independent:
* While the Irish economy was faltering through the machinations of Anglo Irish Bank, contrary to popular belief Brian Cowen saw it all coming but felt helpless to stop it. It was revealed to him in a dream – a dream that was deeply symbolic.
Also in this section
No winners if austerity continues
Sneering at Germans has been deeply hurtful
Fishermen first to know
One night he dreamt he was captain of The Titanic. He stood proudly on the bridge waving to thousands of admirers who lined the quayside.
Once on the high seas he became so absorbed in the execution of what he saw as his exceptional seamanship that he began to notice less and less. For instance, he did not notice the extreme crunching noise or the iceberg that had caused it. Neither did he notice the water that was up to his knees as he stood alone on the bridge.
Suddenly Bertie the bosun arrived on the scene. Is everything in order? enquired Captain Cowen. “There are rumours that we have hit a very large lettuce, nothing to bother us,” said Bertie.
“Rearrange the deckchairs,” commanded the captain. “Aye aye captain” said the appropriately subservient bosun.
“Why is the deck sloping towards the stern,” queried Captain Cowen. “Because we are sailing uphill for the first part of the journey, then it’s downhill all the way to New York,” replied the jovial deckhand.
Soon they were joined by Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet seeking permission to look vaguely into the distance whilst holding hands on the bow of the ship, followed by a bit of familiarity on the lower deck. “Would you like to join us?” asked Kate mischievously.
Brian, with an adolescent giggle, replied “No thanks, but I think my bosun might.”
Having sought help from Freud’s ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’, he believed that his dream was not indicative of a secure future in politics, and so became convinced that he would be ill-advised to communicate it to the Dail, all the members being professional dreamers. Besides, he did not want to fuel unfounded gossip about Kate Winslet and his pal Bertie.
More significantly, he believed that the dream indicated that there was a financial disaster coming our way and he did not feel qualified to notice it.
Philip O’Neill
33 Edith Road, Oxford, OX1 4QB
* Stop the presses! Some TDs are going to vote for what they believe in. This is clearly damaging to Irish democracy, where you vote for what the leader votes for.
How dare they!
Conan Doyle
* The Fine Gael TDs who are making a stand in defying the party whip in voting against the inaccurately termed ‘The Protection of Life Bill’ can take some comfort from the words of Martin Luther King when he said:
“Cowardice asks . . . ‘Is it safe?’
Expediency asks . . . ‘Is it politic?’
Vanity asks . . . ‘Is it popular?’”
Lucinda Creighton, Peter Mathews, Brian Walsh, Billy Timmons and others yet to declare their voting intentions have restored my faith in democracy in forsaking political security and standing bravely against leadership bullying in standing up for what they believe to be right.
Frank Burke
Terenure, Co Dublin
* The furore and righteous indignation on foot of the private rantings of a group of our banking buffoons and how all this might play with our German friends, is a little hard to swallow, even to someone long accustomed to the delusion and hypocrisy that we seem to do so well here in Ireland.
God help us but didn’t even our President feel compelled to leap to the nation’s defence and assure Europe that this was all “in the past”?
It may be hard to credit but these eejits were considered by the media and political class as the elite. The cream of Irish society.
As for the German angle, it’s worth reminding ourselves that it was the German banking system that provided the fuel for the feeding frenzy indulged in by Anglo and others which finally landed us all in the smelly stuff. Collective architects of a collective demise, methinks.
JD Mangan
Stillorgan, Co Dublin
* To deprive others of the civil and free use of their conscience for upholding what they consider a correct course of action in a matter as grave as the termination of the life of a human being, is unacceptable. Such deprivation is an unjustified sanction and an attack on their personal moral identity.
Without the effective recognition that every one has a free conscience to guide their decisions and actions, there is no decent democracy and, ultimately, no morals or religion. Conscience is the moral guide and governor in the individual upon which ethics is founded; through conscience we recognise and assent to what is morally true.
So obedience to conscience is our primary moral duty, not obedience to those who force their own judgment on us.
Of course, it is possible for all of us to ignore and disregard our conscience. We may follow our interests and desires, but not the truth of what is right and good, which is what conscience is all about. Yet nature sends us warnings for good reason, the sting and pangs of remorse and guilt that emerge and re-emerge within. That is why we say “I have to live with my conscience”, that is, in harmony with it, not at odds with it.
Teresa Iglesias
Professor Emeritus of Philosophy,
UCD School of Philosophy
* Thank you for your coverage of the recent launch (June 26) of the Irish Hospice Foundation report on access to specialist palliative care.
I would welcome an opportunity to clarify one point. It has been reported that there is no hospice service in three regions of the country – the north east, the midlands and the south east. These areas do have a hospice home care service. But they do not have a hospice inpatient unit.
The health service has also acknowledged the need for hospice inpatient units in Wicklow, Mayo and Kerry.
In fact, every part of Ireland has access to a hospice service – the invaluable hospice home-care service. But not every county has access to a hospice inpatient unit. National policy dating to 2001 acknowledges the role of a hospice inpatient unit as a “hub” for the entire hospice service in an area.
If a person lives in a county with no access to a hospice inpatient unit, he/she will be able to use the hospice home-care team and if their symptoms cannot be controlled at home, they will be transferred to their local hospital for care.
If a hospice inpatient unit was in place, they would have the choice of using it rather than dying in hospital.
Sharon Foley
Chief executive officer,
The Irish Hospice Foundation
* The language in the recently-exposed Anglo Tapes brought back sad memories of an otherwise happy holiday in Ireland.
When my wife and I visited Ireland in 2006 we were astonished and upset that the ‘f word’ seemed to be an integral part of discussion in most segments of Irish life.
No matter where we were the ‘f word’ was a regular and, seemingly, necessary component of discussions.
A sad reflection indeed.
Dennis J Fisher
555 Letitia Crt, Burlington, Ontario, Canada
Irish Independent

Hospital Tuesday

July 3, 2013

3 July 2013 Tuesday Hospital

Off around the park listening to the Navy Lark, Back from leave and Captain Povey is attempting to divide the crew of Troutbridge he puts Murray against Pertwee and Leslie. But the Afdmiral is Murray’s godfather. Priceless.
Off out to have my feet done by Caroline, such a shame mary can’t be there to have her hair done.
Mary still in hospital for a tests I hope all will be well.
I watch The Invasion its not bad
No Scrabble no Mary


Professor Kenneth Minogue
Professor Kenneth Minogue, who has died aged 82, was a leading figure in Britain’s conservative intellectual life.

Professor Kenneth Minogue Photo: MICHAEL WEBB
6:36PM BST 02 Jul 2013
He was Professor of Political Science at the London School of Economics from 1984 to 1995, and became widely known there as a central figure in a group of prominent conservative political philosophers and commentators that included Maurice Cranston, Elie Kedourie and Bill Letwin. He sat on the board of the Centre for Policy Studies (1983-2009), and from 1991 to 1993 was chairman of the Euro-sceptic Bruges Group.
In his final book, The Servile Mind: How Democracy Erodes the Moral Life (2010), Minogue addressed “the remarkable fact that, while democracy means a government accountable to the electorate, our rulers now make us accountable to them. Most Western governments hate me smoking, or eating the wrong kind of food, or hunting foxes, or drinking too much, and these are merely the surface disapprovals, the ones that provoke legislation or public campaigns. We also borrow too much money for our personal pleasures, and many of us are very bad parents.”
He complained that governments — far from being content simply to represent their electorates — were increasingly in the business of “turning us into the instruments of the projects they keep dreaming up”. “The business of governments,” he went on, “is to supply the framework of law within which we may pursue happiness on our own account. Instead, we are constantly being summoned to reform ourselves… Life is a better teacher of virtue than politicians, and most sensible governments in the past left moral faults to the churches… our rulers have no business telling us how to live… Nor should we be in any doubt that nationalising the moral life is the first step towards totalitarianism.”
Kenneth Robert Minogue was born in New Zealand on September 11 1930 and educated in Australia — at Sydney Boys’ High School and Sydney University — before coming to Britain to study at the LSE, under Michael Oakeshott. After a brief spell as a schoolmaster in London, he spent a year as an assistant lecturer at Exeter University, then, in 1956, returned to teach at the LSE, where he was appointed a senior lecturer in 1964 and Reader in 1971.
Unwaveringly sceptical of ideologies, he set out his stall in his first book, The Liberal Mind, published in 1961, a critical account of what he described as “a sentimental kind of egalitarianism”. The story of liberalism, Minogue argued, is like the legend of St George and the dragon. Having successfully disposed of despotic kingship and religious intolerance, the liberal engaged with issues such as slavery and the plight of the poor: “But, unlike St George, he did not know when to retire. The more he succeeded, the more he became bewitched with the thought of a world free of dragons, and the less capable he became of ever returning to private life. He needed his dragons. He could only live by fighting for causes — the people, the poor, the exploited, the colonially oppressed, the underprivileged and the underdeveloped.”
Minogue came to take a jaundiced and uncompromising view of contemporary British universities, in 2006 describing most of them as decadent institutions “full of unsophisticated people with opinions about how society and its members ought to conduct themselves”.
An implacable critic of the European Union, he believed that successive British governments had surrendered the nation’s political, legal and economic rights to unaccountable international bureaucrats; and he lamented “the curious form of idealism that disdains pride in Britain and British culture”.
Minogue was a prolific contributor to newspapers and periodicals . Among his other books were Nationalism (1967); The Concept of a University (1974); Alien Powers: the pure theory of ideology (1985); Politics: a very short introduction (1995); and The Silencing of Society (1997) .
In 2003 he was awarded Australia’s Centenary Medal for services to political science.
Sharp-witted and socially gregarious, Minogue was also noted for his old-fashioned courtesy and his gift for friendship. He had a light touch and strong sense of irony as a writer, lecturer and as a conversationalist. Outside his work, he was a keen tennis player.
Ken Minogue died suddenly on board an aircraft while returning from a conference on the Galapagos Islands of the Mont Pelerin Society, of which he was the retiring president.
He married, in 1954, Valerie Pearson Hallett, with whom he had a son and a daughter. The marriage was dissolved in 2001. His second wife, Beverly Cohen, predeceased him.
Professor Kenneth Minogue, born September 11 1930, died June 28 2013


I continue to be astonished at the hypocrisy of both David Cameron and Tony Blair in their dealings with the Kazakh regime of Nusultan Nazarbayev. You correctly highlight the lack of human and democratic rights that exist there (Report, 2 July). I visited Kazakhstan last November as part of a trade union delegation to investigate the killing of oil workers at Zhenaozhen. The official number of workers shot in the back by the police and killed is 12, as you report. However, after speaking to eyewitnesses and survivors, I am convinced that the actual number of those killed is nearer to 70. This figure does not include those who, a year after the attack, are still too injured to work.
Neither does it include those who were rounded up and imprisoned for the “criminal” offence of publicly opposing the regime by being on the square at Zhanaozhen. Many of these, including the lawyers who tried to defend them, like Vadim Kuramshin, are still held in Kazakh jails. The Kazakhstan state officially sanctions the repression of any opposition elements. This ranges from threats and intimidation, right up to murder. The activists that I spoke to claim that the situation is getting worse.
Blair and Cameron are experienced politicians who are acting as apologists for one of the most repressive and corrupt regimes in the world. Cameron shows that he is more interested in getting deals for the 1% than securing human rights for the 99% – in Kazakhstan as in the UK. Trade unionists in the UK and across Europe will continue to campaign for human and democratic rights in Kazakhstan, many of us organised under the banner of Campaign Kazakhstan.
Mike Whale
Secretary, Campaign Kazakhstan

Your correspondent David England does a disservice to the anti-fracking cause (Shale gas promises could be hot air, 2 July). He says that methane is 200% worse than carbon dioxide as a global warming gas – the correct figure is 2,000%. This means that a small leak from fracking wells will more than cancel out the so-called gain by using gas rather than coal.
Each molecule of methane is approximately 60 times more effective as a greenhouse gas than a molecule of carbon dioxide. But, over time, methane is very slowly converted to carbon dioxide through oxidation processes in the atmosphere. Averaged over 100 years, this makes methane about 20 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, that is, about 2,000% worse than carbon dioxide.
A research group at Cornell University has shown that it requires only 4-5% leakage from fracking wells to cancel out the gain from using gas rather than coal.
Dr David Hookes

William Hague’s assertions that our security services at all times act within the law (Report, 22 June) are not credible. In 2004, my client, Sami al-Saadi, an exiled opponent of Libya’s President Gaddafi, was handed to Libyan agents, with his family, by the Hong Kong authorities, at the request of MI6. The family arrived back in Libya on 28 March 2004, three days after Tony Blair arrived in Tripoli for his famous “rapprochement” meeting with Gaddafi.
Once in Libyan custody, Mr Saadi was imprisoned in appalling conditions for six years and repeatedly subjected to severe torture. He was given a show trial in 2009, condemned to death and finally released in 2010. Over the same time period that he was being tortured in Tripoli, he was visited and questioned by British intelligence personnel. Subjecting people to torture in Britain or overseas is illegal under British law. The British Government has paid the Saadi family £2.2m in settlement of a claim. This size of settlement could not have been authorised unless MI6′s conduct in relation to the Saadis was illegal. It is too much of a coincidence that Saadi’s forced return coincided with Tony Blair’s visit to Tripoli. I call on Tony Blair to disclose all he knows about MI6 and British government action in relation to Sami al-Saadi.
Paul Harris
Founding chairman, Bar human rights committee
Founding chairman, Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor
• The annual independence from America demonstration at the gates of NSA Menwith Hill tomorrow could not have been better timed, as more and more documents released by the courageous Edward Snowden are revealed. Many of us have known for a long time that NSA Menwith Hill gathers intelligence and monitors individuals, groups, states and businesses. We have also known that the intelligence and security committee, which sounds reassuring, is not a credible watchdog (Editorial, 2 July). NSA Menwith Hill, although only given a cursory mention in the press, is run by the NSA. There is a contingent of GCHQ present and is the hub of the Echelon system. Christopher Gilmore the US Commander is in firm control and there is only one RAF liaison officer (a reservist), although the base is referred to as an RAF base. The base is a deceit and what goes on there is deceitful. We demand independence from America.
Lindis Percy
Co-ordinator, Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases

I am amazed and angered to find that Nottingham University is charging parents £20 per ticket to attend degree ceremonies this summer (Report, 1 July). Most other universities – Leeds and Birmingham, to name but two – give two tickets to families at no charge. I hope this will not become a model to be copied by others.
Gill Jewell
• Not only is Novak Djokovic (Tennis, 2 July) playing the best tennis at Wimbledon, he is the best mannered. He seems to be the only player to make eye contact with the ball boys and girls rather than simply chucking the towel back over his shoulder, as most do.
Anthony Garrett
• David Cameron claims he was hijacked at the EU summit over Britain’s rebate (Report, 29 June). Where the hell were GCHQ when you need them?
Glyn Ford
Cinderford, Gloucestershire
• Marie Paterson bemoans the coverage of classical as apposed to pop music (Letters, 1 July) but at least “pop” music is performed by the composers, whereas classical music, with some exceptions, is usually performed by a tribute band, often known as an orchestra.
Derek Middlemiss
Newark, Nottinghamshire
• Bob Elmes (Letters, 2 July) asks what expenses married couples face that unmarrieds do not. The first is the absurd cost of a modern wedding and the second, perhaps as a result, is divorce proceedings.
Richard Gilyead
Saffron Walden, Essex
• Every stage of the Tour de France is gruelling (Letters, 29 June).
Noel Cullinane
• When did annual roll over and become year on year?
Francis Treuherz
• When are professionals consummate? Isn’t it to do with sexual intercourse? If so, how do I achieve that status?
Peter Leach
Mold, Flintshire

I was about to create an e-petition about MPs’ pay on the government website but see that someone has beaten me to it. It has more than 50,000 signatures already – and now mine, too. At a time when most employees can’t get any pay rise at all, or at best something around the consumer price index (2.7%), it’s unthinkable that MPs might be awarded huge rises over the next two years (Report, 1 July). I was also incensed to see Keith Vaz on breakfast news yesterday not willing to condemn the proposals. It’s not good enough for a Labour MP to use the excuse that an independent body is now in charge of parliamentary salaries so MPs shouldn’t comment on their judgment.
William Robertson
Thornton Dale, North Yorkshire
•  The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority is expected to recommend a pay rise of up to £10,000 for MPs. The authority has clearly failed in its objective of de-politicising MPs’ remuneration. The obvious way out is to set MPs’ pay in law as a fixed multiple of the statutory minimum wage. That way, MPs can raise their own salary at the same time and by the same percentage as the income of the lowest-paid workers in the country.
Tom Voûte
•  Once again we are demanding we get our MPs on the cheap: £65,000 a year to spend – in most cases – two-thirds of your working life hundreds of miles away from home; weekends spent listening to constituents who have problems they expect you to solve; your “long” holidays – recesses to you and I – juggling your time between 75,000 electors, various local interests in your constituency, and last but by no means least, your family? Pilloried if you claim expenses to which you are entitled, to make your work bearable. You’ve got to be joking.
Alan Carcas
Liversedge, West Yorkshire
•  If people are deterred from becoming an MP because the salary of £66K plus expenses is seen to be insufficient, then good: we don’t want them anyway.
Jol Miskin
•  I would not object to an increase in MPs’ salaries provided that the job was their only employment. Many MPs have other part-time work: continued practice within their previous professions, directorships, consultancies, etc.
If their salaries were treated like, say, unemployment benefit (as jobseeker’s allowance used to be known), where payment for part-time work is deducted from the benefit, then we would have a more equitable situation. They would still have their expenses to fall back on.
I would like to think that MPs worked primarily for their constituents and not for any job opportunities that may arise as a result of their election.
Martin de Klerk
•  It is good that an independent pay review body has thoroughly researched their needs and recommended a significant pay rise for one group of public sector workers. Now can we please have one for the rest, whose case is far stronger on all grounds than that of MPs?
John Veit-Wilson.
Newcastle upon Tyne
•  There is a laughably sanctimonious air to the way in which members of the government frontbench are falling over themselves in their haste to tell us they will turn down any pay increases for MPs (Clegg pledges to say no if MPs get pay rise, 2 July).
For the multimillionaires who make up a good proportion of the coalition frontbench, their salaries as MPs are a very small part of their income.
Additionally, they had already voted themselves a huge windfall with the tax cut for the rich, which, for most of them, amounted to far more than any salary increase will provide. Still, I am quite sure Clegg and the rest will take every opportunity to remind the country that their new found enthusiasm for frugality in their own lives is yet another example of the fact that we are all in this together and thus those whose benefits are cut should take a similar altruistic attitude.
Dr Chris Morris
Kidderminster, Worcestershire

Emboldened by fiery army statements and helicopters displaying Egyptian flags flying overhead, jubilant crowds on Tahrir Square can’t be blamed for feeling that the balance of power has tipped in their favour (Report, 2 July). While President Morsi has unquestionably squandered the fragile support he enjoyed after a contested and divisive election a year ago, the dividends of ousting the first democratically elected leader through undemocratic means might prove to be a bitter disappointment for the Egyptian people.
Opposition leaders, many directly responsible for Morsi’s ascent – because their individual presidential ambitions precluded the formation of a broad secular-liberal alliance able to challenge the well-organised bloc of the Muslim Brotherhood – have not demonstrated the fortitude or the vision necessary to move Egypt away from the brink. A new round of military rule is in no one’s interest. To avoid this, opposition leaders must shelve their political ambitions and agree on the formation of a technocratic government mandated to fix the economy and place the country back on a transitional path towards genuine democracy. Protesters must express future discontent through democratic channels and realise that further “Tahririsation” of Egyptian politics is unsustainable.
Sander van Niekerk
The Hague, Netherlands
• What Ahdaf Soueif calls the “Egyptian revolution” (In Egypt, we thought democracy was enough. It was not, 2 July) was in fact a counter-revolution against authoritarian capitalism. In 2009, Egypt grew by 5% and its projected growth for 2011 was 6%. Its GDP per head, at purchasing power parity, was almost double that of India and 50% higher than Indonesia’s. Despite the current euphoria over freedom and democracy, Egypt is unlikely to grow faster under liberal democratic capitalism. Authoritarian capitalism works because inefficiencies and favouritism in this system is often offset by higher levels of social discipline. Its political dynamics may not please the west’s armchair democrats and human rights activists, but it does provide a faster and an alternative route to economic development.
Randhir Singh Bains
Gants Hill, Essex
• In many countries, both majority vote referendums and single-preference electoral systems are little more than sectarian headcounts. The latest victim is Egypt (Egypt’s fate is in the hands of soldiers, 2 July). The majority vote, however Orwellian in its simplicity – this good, that bad – is the most inaccurate measure of collective opinion ever invented. Elections based on first past the post (as in Kenya), the two-round system (Egypt), or simple PR list systems (as now used in the Balkans) are also often inappropriate.
Majority rule is fine, in so far as it goes. But majority rule by majority vote – majoritarianism – is inadequate. Accordingly, in today’s high-tech world, majority opinions should be identified on the basis of the voters’ (and/or their elected representatives’) preferences. Nations need not divide into two. Where such a danger exists, power should be shared; so presidencies should be plural, ministerial posts should be all-party, and any new constitution should be based on a preferential choice of about four or five options.
Peter Emerson
Director, De Borda Institute, Belfast

In his article Britain had better get used to it (21 June), Martin Kettle fails to mention that, while politics have changed, our political institutions have not. Society has achieved levels of education and communication unimagined at the time our political institutions were created.
Kettle is mistaken in his advice that we cannot or should not compete with other nations in the way we do politics. Every society needs to take a critical look at its political institutions and assess their compatibility with the principles of democracy. Does a democracy – government by the people – need a strong leader? Is there no other way?
Is the division of a parliament into government and opposition benches consistent with democracy’s principles? Do we really believe that only one party at a time can have all the answers to all the problems? How can we expect such an arrangement to respond fairly and adequately to the wide range of legitimate interests and needs of a highly educated, mobile, and interconnected society?
Too many of the world’s democracies are moving toward greater concentration of political power in a handful of executives, following the lead of and in partnership with global corporations. I don’t care for Kettle’s advice that we “better get used to it.” My advice is that we better do something about it.
André Carrel
Terrace, British Columbia, Canada
Turkey’s coup risk
Timothy Garton Ash’s article regarding the current state of unrest in Turkey (21 June) fails to mention the possibility of a military coup. Military coups are not new to Turkey. If the military feels that the government of the day, democratically elected or not, is straying from the Kemalist tradition of secularism, then it may act. Previous coups have occurred in 1960, 1971 and 1980.
In the 1960 coup the prime minister, Adnan Menderes, was executed. I’m sure prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is aware of recent history even if Garton Ash is not.
Ken Cotterill
Mareeba, Queensland, Australia
Iraq’s unconventional pain
John Pilger’s article, West has moved on but Iraqis cannot (31 May), needs to be repeated and augmented in every news medium and gathering of political and peace-campaigning activists. These should include CND, for whose persistent campaigns governments (and oppositions) have habitually reserved labels of unrealistic idealism; because Pilger’s shocking report shows the grey definition between “conventional” battlefield weapons and weapons of mass destruction.
The use of depleted uranium carries, along with mass destruction, such capacity for long-term genetic harm that its apparent deployment by British and US forces in Iraq puts the clock back half a century and puts our leaders – past and present – to withering shame.
Pilger’s article merely hints at the cost being borne by Iraq, by its medical institutions and hard-pressed doctors and cancer specialists. It is a cost that must be shared by the perpetrators of the 2003 invasion and should, with the necessary inclusion of depleted uranium in the detail of the Chilcot Inquiry (or its possible successor), be levied at Tony Blair and his government, which prescribed the use of such catastrophic and non-strategic weapons in the first place.
Ian Angus
London, UK
Locking out pensioners
It should be heartwarming to read of the firm commitment of both UK government and opposition to the principle of the pension “triple lock”. (Balls: I’ll be tough on benefits, 14 June). However, neither Ed Balls nor George Osborne remembers to add: “excepting of course those pensioners who elected to retire to Canada, Australia, South Africa …”
Around a quarter of a million of us have never received a single pension increase, despite having fully paid our way in the UK, for no other reason than that we chose to live in a Commonwealth (!) country, often to be with emigrated children. Had we the foresight to retire to Japan, or Croatia, or the US, or almost anywhere else, our pensions would have been automatically indexed by the triple lock. Quite apart from the blatant unfairness of this illegitimate policy based on place of residence, the falling purchasing power of our fixed pensions, coupled with the decline in the value of sterling, has created real hardship for many UK pensioners abroad.
A further irony (News in Brief, same issue) was to read that Jeremy Hunt’s review of A&E care will focus on “vulnerable older people, who (are) the heaviest users of the NHS”. Not us, Jeremy: we don’t cost the NHS a penny.
William Langford
North Saanich, British Columbia, Canada
The drive to collaborate
Re: Ally Fogg’s assertion that there is nothing more antisocial than driving (14 June). Witness the flow of traffic at roundabouts, the merging of traffic on motorways where individual solids merge into a fluid flow of traffic. Multiply this event by a million, no, hundreds of millions, zillions of such maneuvers, day and night, rain or shine, light or dark throughout the world.
Why can’t this amazing level of human cooperation and acceptance of basic rules be translated into other areas of human endeavor; managing disagreements in Syria, influencing dysfunctional governments, sorting out differences with neighbours for example. Can we learn something from this amazing example of collaboration?
Driving must be the finest example of human cooperation, it can hardly be considered antisocial.
Graham Kirby
Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia
Emotional breakdown
Oliver Burkeman (This column will change your life, 21 June) suggests that the medical profession seriously considers referencing The Emotionary, a website that was apparently designed to spur the invention of clever polysyllabic words to describe feelings and emotions, like the admittedly tongue-in-cheek “incredulation”, which is synonymous to those old standbys, surprise and elation.
I suggest that instead of inventing new words for diagnosing patients, “baffled psychologists” couldn’t do better than to consult hard-copy dictionaries (by subject) of metaphors, quotations, lines of poetry, especially Shakespeare, and synonyms of words and phrases. Browse, and feel good again.
Richard Orlando
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
• Interesting as it is, Oliver Burkeman’s item does not make it clear whether he is referring to feeling or emotion. He uses both words as if they were synonymous, sometimes even in the same sentence. But Arthur Janov, in The Primal Scream, says that they are not the same.
In critical situations, such as in a court of law, we tend to judge defendants by whether or not they display an emotional reaction to a guilty or innocent verdict. Or when someone receives a gift or an act of kindness, we often expect an effusive emotional response, and judge them as cold and unfeeling without such a response.
But it is unhelpful to judge the depth of a person’s feeling by their ability to put on a display of emotion. True feeling, according to Janov, requires little emotion.
Clive Wilkinson
Morpeth, Northumberland, UK
• The article by Oliver Burkeman on the new Emotionary website reminded me of an incident at my very traditional, boys-only grammar school in the 1950s. When we came across the word “emotions” in an English lesson, one boy asked what it meant. The master thought for a moment and then said that “emotions are things that women have”. We consequently added them to bras and periods as distinguishing features of the other gender but were none the wiser!
Philip Lund
Nantwich, Cheshire, UK
• Re: Edward Snowden and the NSA, if America can’t keep tabs on one of its own, within the US or outside, why should we try to justify its view of itself as the world’s policeman by all means: military, assassination, espionage?
Edward Black
Church Point, NSW, Australia
• Ai Weiwei writes of the abuse of power by the state (21 June). The media has more power to abuse. It is our source of news of the world. It is the final filter. In the hands of an independent media, government cannot abuse in secret. With the co-operation of the media, government and/or industry can do anything.
Art Campbell
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
• I’m shocked that Araucaria, who was educated at the same school as I was in Oxford, should perpetrate the commonly held misconception (7 June) that the koala (4 down) is a bear (7 down). Even so, I still reckon his crosswords to be the best, the most fun, and the most satisfying to “break”.
Keith Short
Fortaleza, Brazil



HS2 is not needed just for faster journeys between London and Birmingham — it will have a greater impact on destinations farther north
Sir, Much of what Tim Montgomerie forecasts (“By the time HS2 arrives, we’ll no longer need it”, July 1) may come about, but no form of transport has ever taken over completely from previous modes.
It is all very well, in his attack on HS2, to quote French and Spanish examples — but at least they’ve got high-speed networks to criticise.
HS2 is not needed simply to speed up journeys between London and Birmingham. It will have a greater impact upon London to Manchester and Leeds timings and, hopefully, in due course an even greater impact upon timings to Scotland (and the North East), South Wales and the South West.
There is no reason to believe more people will not want to travel more in the future. We need additional rail capacity in the UK and there is no point building new rail lines that will not allow high-speed operation.
Peter Wood
Deputy Leader, Sunderland Conservative Council Group
Sir, Tim Montgomerie suggests several ways in which the huge cost of the project could be better spent. However, he seems to consider only the needs of businessmen (and women) and fails to suggest that at least a fair proportion of the saved costs should be spent on the existing rail network. There is a great increase in the number of people travelling by train, and here in the South West all trains are crowded. People use them to get to school and to work, to go shopping and for days out. Money spent on more carriages, removing bottlenecks and on modernisation including electrification would benefit many people here and all over the country. As the article says, HS2 will do little to benefit Wales, East Anglia or the West Country, but money spent on our present railway would.
Robert Potter
Dorchester, Dorset
Sir, Tim Montgomerie challenges the need for a new, fast, reliable and capacious rail service between our big cities because he thinks digital technology will reduce the need to travel. Doubtless when the telephone was invented there were also voices suggesting society would become less mobile as a result. The evidence simply doesn’t back up this case.
Recent decades have brought us email, the web, smartphones, Skype, video-conferencing and broadband. The result? Rail travel in Britain has doubled, roads have got more congested and air travel has soared.
Good communications and greater prosperity lead people to travel more, not less. The question is how we best provide capacity. Roads are part of the answer. But we need fast new rail, too. Today you can travel by high-speed train from London to Lille but not Leeds, and to Brussels but not Birmingham. That needs to change. We want growth and good jobs to come to all parts of the country — and not just the South East.
Patrick McLoughlin, MP
Secretary of State for Transport
Sir, Journeys to the West Country from Waterloo use the railway equivalent of a single track road with passing places. If one train is slightly delayed, the oncoming train has to wait in one of the few passing places: this could then ripple through the day because that delayed train might delay another one. When heavy rain caused landslips this winter an entire segment of the country was cut off for days. Can we have 1 per cent of the £40 billion please?
Adrian Pope
Harpford, Devon
Sir, Tim Montgomerie says the French are turning away from constructing high-speed lines. Could this be because over the past 40 years they have already built their network with still more under construction while we in the UK have a single line from London to Folkestone?
David Cameron is right: “the North” deserves a bigger share of the infrastructure cake and one hopes he also has plans for HS3, HS4 and HS5.
Peter Naylor
Carlisle, Cumbria

The relatively short time that participants spend overseas means that meaningful projects are less likely to come to fruition
Sir, While I congratulate Kathryn Nave upon her success at the The London Library/The Times Student Essay Competition, I disagree with the points raised by her “Gap year kids are not the new face of the Imperial Raj” (June 29).
A Demos poll (2011) found that the majority of gap-year participants are young, white, female and of the higher socio-economic groups. While I accept that there are schemes such as the International Citizen Service which claim to enable young people to take part in community service overseas, who would not otherwise be able to afford to participate, the fact remains that most “gappers” are privately educated and of the affluent classes. This cannot offer a healthy societal balance either to the participants or to the host countries.
The relatively short time which participants spend overseas means that meaningful, established projects are less likely to come to fruition.
Keeley Cavendish
London SW16

When drawing comparisons between Gulf monarchs and pontiffs, we should have avoided making certain assumptions about the latter
Sir, You claim that “Gulf monarchs are like popes. They either die or are overthrown or assassinated. They do not abdicate” (“Like mother, like son: how the Sheikha changed Qatar”, times2, July 1). This packs a remarkable number of errors into three short sentences.
The last pope to be overthrown was the anti-pope Felix V in 1449; the last faintly plausible case of an alleged papal assassination dates from the early 14th century — the conspiracy theories about the deaths of Pius XI and John Paul I can be ignored — and there has been no clear case of a pope being murdered since the 10th century. And popes do abidicate: you will recall that Benedict XVI did just that in February.
C. D. C. Armstrong

The West should remember the Arab Spring when pressing for more democracy in Russia and China, where things could easily get worse
Sir, “The Spring unleashed disorder, not democracy” (Roger Boyes, Opinion, July 2). Up to a point, yes, but surely “anarchy” would be a more appropriate word; and anarchy — as countless examples in history tell us — is incomparably worse than tyranny. For tyranny endangers only a minority, while anarchy endangers everyone. The West should remember this when pressing for more democracy in Russia and China. They, too, could so easily go from bad to worse.
Sir Peregrine Worsthorne
Hedgerley, Bucks

All MPs should be encouraged to tweet pictures of their lunch so that we can assess the influence of diet on their ability to function
Sir, All members of the Government should surely be encouraged to follow the example of the Chancellor and Eric Pickles in tweeting their contrasting lunch diets — burger and fries versus salad. If The Times were to expand this new tweeting information into a series it would be of great value in improving our democracy by enabling voters to assess the influence of diet on MPs’ capacity to think outside their party political playpens. One might consider applying a simple scale of 0 to 10 to assess the effect of food on brain development, and diet tweeting could even become a valuable tool in the electorate’s judgment of the suitability of parliamentary candidates in elections.
Sir Harold Atcherley
London W2

SIR – Some years ago, I saw a small advert in The Daily Telegraph announcing a rally in Trafalgar Square to commemorate the Battle of Agincourt (Letters, July 1). When my wife and I got there, we saw a platform with several people in medieval dress on it; but there did not seem to be much activity. When we spoke to them, it appeared that we were the only people to attend.
The staff at the excellent Agincourt centre in France were very amused when I told them this story some years later. We shall attend a 600th anniversary; hopefully there will be more support for it this time.
David Mendus
Fetcham, Surrey
SIR – Perhaps the French commemorate and celebrate the Battle of Agincourt in the same way that the British celebrate Dunkirk. In both cases, a humbling defeat in battle marked the low point in the progress of a longer war that from then on saw military fortunes reverse, culminating in ultimate victory.
Ian Johnson
Cirencester, Gloucestershire
SIR – Nicholas Wightwick (Letters, July 1) says he cannot think of any battle that we lost being commemorated in such a way as the French do Agincourt. He should visit Isandlwana in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. As the late David Rattray, the historian, said: “It was the greatest defeat that the British ever suffered in their colonial history”.
The site is kept beautifully.
Anthony Wagg
Adderbury, Oxfordshire

SIR – You report (July 1) that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) has found that a majority of MPs believed they “deserved a 32 per cent pay rise to around £86,000, with some arguing for more than £100,000”.
If Ipsa is basing its recommendations partly on figures suggested by MPs, I fail to see how it can be called independent.Certainly, if any employer asked his workforce what they believed they should be paid, I am sure he would receive some very optimistic answers.
It may be argued that, compared with doctors’ salaries, £100,000 is not unreasonable; on the other hand, politicians, unlike doctors, do not have to undergo a formal training.
Richard Shaw
Dunstable, Bedfordshire
Related Articles
Battle of Agincourt deserves greater recognition
02 Jul 2013
SIR – It is deeply depressing that the route to becoming an MP is now a career path that does not involve having a proper job first. This is the result of the argument that goes: “Only by paying an attractive salary will you recruit the best people as MPs.”
All MPs say they want to make a difference, but what we want are people of experience and conviction who are not in it for the money, as used to be the case a generation ago. MPs are paid enough to live on; paying them more will just serve to exacerbate the problem.
Richard Hodgkinson
Thames Ditton, Surrey
SIR – Ipsa ought to stick to policing expenses, and MPs’ pay ought to be index-linked to a standard measure of inflation.
Their current pay is completely adequate – if it were not, why would there be such a constant queue of applicants for the job?
Why should it ever increase by any more than the rise in living costs?
John Waine
Nuneaton, Warwickshire
SIR – With any MPs’ pay increase should come the requirement that being a Member of Parliament will be a full-time job: no more directorships, consultancies, solicitors, barristers, doctors and dentists who think that being an MP is something they can fit in around their real job.
Those who argue that such positions help members to understand the real world should remember that we do not pay MPs to learn on the job; we expect them to come already equipped with experience working in the “real” world.
Peter Ruck
Abinger Hammer, Surrey
SIR – You suggest (leading article, July 1) that as the MPs’ pay review, Ipsa, is an outside body, we should accept its conclusion about MPs’ pay.
As the Armed Forces Pay Review is also an independent body, may we have its recommendations agreed and back-dated over the recent years in which its recommendations have been overruled?
Jerry Riley
South Queensferry, West Lothian
School places shortage
SIR – As chairman of the Independent Association of Preparatory Schools and the headmaster of a London prep school, I note that the Commons public accounts committee is exercised by a shortfall of 250,000 primary school places for September 2013. This unacceptable reality must be met with rapid solutions if the best interests of many children are to be served.
One solution could be provided easily. If central government clears away the red tape, places for some of the quarter-of-a-million displaced primary pupils could be found at private preparatory schools, which might be pleased to squeeze in a few more pupils. Prep schools would be paid the real cost to the state – including hidden costs for capital expenditure as well as tuition – of educating a pupil in a primary school. Schools might augment any shortfall through awarding bursaries.
Private schools are always being urged to work more closely with the state sector and to show public benefit if they enjoy the fiscal advantages which come from charitable status. State and private systems would gain from this, and their cooperation would provide a golden opportunity for the pupils placed in prep schools.
Nicholas M Allen
London SW8
EU referendum scam
SIR – The Prime Minister’s pledge of an EU referendum was always an unconvincing political sleight of hand. Now that we learn it won’t be legally binding, it’s exposed as being completely worthless (report, July 1).
The reluctance of all three major parties to allow a vote on EU membership is scandalous; if David Cameron wants to prove his democratic credentials he should propose a referendum in this Parliament.
Neil Bailey
SIR – I am surprised it has taken this long for parliamentary analysts to realise that a law on an EU referendum passed by this government is not binding on the next. It is no secret that a fundamental basis of our constitution is that no administration can be bound by the actions of a previous one.
This exposes the Cameron sham that a law passed now will be binding on the next government. It matches the sham that EU actions taken by Gordon Brown towards the end of the last government could not be questioned.
Terry Lloyd
Boats might fly
SIR – Bickering over the site of a new London airport makes me wonder if there’s any merit in reviving the Empire flying boat that was popular between the wars.
Boris Island in the Thames Estuary cannot succeed because of the danger of bird strike and the risk posed by the sunken ship SS Richard Montgomery. Nor can the Norman Foster plan for Hoo Peninsula, which would destroy houses and habitats. However, flying boats only need a river or estuary for take-off, and could be served by infrastructure on land.
As a schoolboy, I was privileged to watch the successful launch of Short Brothers’ Maia Mercury plane over the River Medway. Its purpose – fast mail to America – was soon obsolete, but surely this form of transport could be redeveloped?
E S Rayner
Broadstairs, Kent
Missing wasps
SIR – Where have all the wasps gone? I don’t miss them.
Steve Hale
Chilton, Oxfordshire
Syria conflict
SIR – What is developing in the Middle East is terrifying. For the global and regional superpowers to be pouring fuel on the fire in Syria is madness. If this continues, there will be no way to contain the conflict. Already the humanitarian crisis is out of control.
The key is the relationships among the permanent members of the UN Security Council. They have a responsibility to the whole world to rise above their individual interests and take steps to mediate in conflicts, not exacerbate them. The victims of those broken relationships are and will be the ordinary people. When relationships in the highest council in the world are blocked, some nation or individual must play the role of mediator.
Could Britain play that role? We would need to rise above our own frustrations, and be willing to risk our relationship with our closest partner, America. But who else is in a position to do it?
Peter Riddell
Convenor, Agenda for Reconciliation
Initiatives of Change
Beehive behaviour
SIR – English bees have adopted a new lifestyle. Instead of remaining in their wooden hive over winter, they are now establishing a different hive for hibernating in, for example in a disused chimney or in the eaves of a roof, where the heat of the human dwelling will keep them warm.
Until recently I thought the hive in my back garden had been abandoned, even though there were at least three full supers of honey inside it. Then I heard a tremendous buzzing as the bees swarmed and returned to the hive. I would estimate that the swarm was at least 10,000 strong.
My guess is that previous reports of empty hives were from beekeepers who took too much honey from their hives last year, and the bees decided not to return from their winter quarters.
Bozidar Zabavnik
London W12
Abundant Isle
SIR – After my letter in the Telegraph about the scarcity of bilberry jam (February 13 2010), I received a very nice letter from a gentleman in the Isle of Man telling me there are bushes covered in this delicious fruit growing in abundance on the moors there. All Mr Bishop (Letters, June 27) has to do is to go there and pick them.
Audrey Buxton
Greetham, Rutland
A whistling bobby on the beat in Bechuanaland
SIR – Viv Payne (Letters, July 1) worries about his decreasing whistling abilities as he approaches his 80th birthday.
I too am not far from that landmark, but my whistling is as strong as ever. In the Fifties, I was seconded as a patrol inspector to the Bechuanaland Mounted Police – now the Botswana Police Service. My African nickname was ra malodi – “the man who makes a noise”.
Charles Nunn
Upton, Wirral
SIR – I am an octogenarian, and I still whistle; but when I travelled to the Arctic in a small Russian ship some years ago, I was told to stop as it brought bad luck.
J M E Took
Sandhurst, Kent
SIR – My sister still has a hearty whistle – this is useful when we’re trying to find each other in bigger department stores.
Tricia Banton
Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire
SIR – I am 83 and can still whistle; but I can no longer sing.
Brenda Rickinson
Scarborough, North Yorkshire

Irish Times:

Sir, – Lucinda Creighton has invoked the situation in China and India in the Dáil, in her speech in opposition the legislation on abortion (Home News, July 2nd). I suggest that if she were a member of the Chinese government rather than the Irish one, she would be in favour of the one child policy. China has suffered a human population explosion and it must take strenuous measures to prevent a bad situation from getting an awful lot worse.
In China, the alternative to the population control policies now in force are famine and widespread and deadly social unrest. That is why the Catholic Church and its offshoots are repressed by the Chinese authorities. Its attitude to all matters reproductive would result in disaster.
It may happen anyway if Chinese economic growth, which is fuelled by cheap production costs and currency manipulation, all under centralised control, none of which meets with the full approval of other global powers, cannot be sustained.
Ms Creighton should refrain from commenting on what is a very serious issue for another country, albeit one that is very far away. Simplistic is the best thing you can say about her contribution. Hopefully her constituents are able to see it for what it is. – Yours, etc,
Farrenboley Park,
Windy Arbour,
Dublin 14.
Sir, – Patsy McGarry states, “The Catholic Church’s current position on abortion appears to owe more to theology than to science.” This is quite an extraordinary statement for a religious affairs correspondent to make. Theology is not only one of the sciences, but has long been regarded as “the queen of the sciences”.
For example, the scientific revolution of the 16th century was the culmination of many centuries of systematic progress by medieval scholastic theologians. The Catholic Church has always thought that there cannot be a breach between faith and reason. Pope John Paul II wrote an encyclical on same “Fides et Ratio”; and Pope Benedict XVI delivered a profound discourse on same in the course of his famous Regensburg University lecture.
As for Mr McGarry’s attempt to allocate a particular date to the church’s teaching on abortion, the fact is that the church frequently formally codifies its teaching on these matters, and arrives at a settled position. With regard to abortion, in accordance with the science, the church accepts that at conception a unique being is created with a unique set of DNA, which is retained unto death. In logic therefore, it cannot countenance the deliberate destruction of this being. – Yours, etc,
Balreask Village,
Navan, Co Meath.
Sir, – Patsy McGarry’s review of the Catholic Church’s changing position on the beginning of human life does not exhaust the possibilities (Rite & Reason, July 2nd).
Plato, and some of his early Christian admirers thought that the individual human person existed as a soul before the conception of the body they would eventually inhabit.

Sir, – Having read an article on some citizens lodging a complaint against various Anglo Irish Bank members (“Complaint filed with gardaí over Anglo executives”, Breaking News, June 28th), I presented myself at my local Garda station to do likewise.
I was perturbed to be asked if I was acting on behalf of any grouping. I acted in my capacity as a citizen who retains a sense of fair play and acted on behalf of those now in penury due to certain people’s alleged actions. I duly lodged my complaint and now await the outcome.
The time has passed to expect any action by politicians who were members of the legislature during the so-called boom years and indeed our current Taoiseach who called for a complete scrapping of the stamp duty on house sales in the budget debate of 2006.
We are now facing a crisis of such importance that I would advocate asking that either our former colonial masters in London or the European Union now step in and take over the day-to-day running of the country.
We have proven ourselves incapable of governing ourselves and to prevent our children suffering a similar fate, this action is required. You would not see a state like ours outside of Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. The main political parties have proven themselves true descendants of the gombeen man so beloved of Punch magazine in the 19th century. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – I am living in Haiti for the past two years now. As you can imagine, rugby is not on the agenda here, so I rely on The Irish Times for coverage of matches. We are lucky over the past couple of Saturdays that we can watch the Lions Test every Saturday morning live, a real treat, albeit not the results we would have liked.
I would like to congratulate Gerry Thornley on consistently delivering excellence in reporting, not only for the Lions Test but all the other matches we missed, Six Nations, Heineken Cup, etc. When EdmundVan Esbeck retired, I wondered if we would see a journalist of his calibre write for The Irish Times again and even though the styles are somewhat different there is no doubting the calibre or the expert knowledge of the game. – Yours, etc,

Sir, – “Europe demands answers on claims of US spying”, (World News, July 7th). If the demand is not merely for cosmetic public consumption surely the first thing for Brussels to do is offer Edward Snowden political sanctuary for doing the state some service? It might also be doing democracy some belated service. – Yours, etc,

Sir, – Martyn Turner’s Obama cartoon today (July 2nd), was verbally obscene, politically irreverent, and played most unkindly on facial characteristics. I loved it! – Yours, etc,

Sir, – I almost stopped cheering for the London football team in the Connacht semi-final match when I heard their accents. I was pleased to hear that some of the best players had the mellifluous voices of Barnet and Balham, but less happy about those with accents ranging from Kerry to Derry. A few of them attempted a “cor blimey gov’ner” and a “knowwatImean” but they couldn’t hide their Irish brogue.
Never mind about us second generation Irish being called plastic Paddies, I want to have a heated debate about plastic Londoners! They come over here and get picked to play for the 33rd county for no other reasons but superior skill, fitness and knowledge of the game. I bet they don’t know even the words to our songs, “The Banks of My Own Lovely Thames” or even “Low Lie the Fields of Peckham Rye”.
Who are the FBI (foreign-born Irish) expected to play for if these newcomers are unreasonably and wantonly improving the standard of the team? But then my mum told me to whisht with all the talk of accents and plastics. The sound from our voice isn’t always the sound of our heart and sure aren’t we are all Irish anyhow? We are welcome over there and they are welcome here.
“There you go,” she said passing me Conor Counihan’s phone number. “you may not be good enough for the London team any more but you just might get into the Cork one”! – Yours, etc,

Irish Independent:
* The fact that the economy is now officially back in recession vindicates those of us once referred to as economic illiterates.
Also in this section
Sneering at Germans has been deeply hurtful
Fishermen first to know
An anti-women article
We were labelled as ignorant of the genuine seriousness of the crisis in this country, or simply as some kind of hipster contrarians who were highlighting the demerits of austerity to get noticed or to just be difficult for political or ideological gain.
Trust me, there are no winners in the economic philosophy pursued by this and the previous government. I, for one, take no happiness in being vindicated for letters I had written and arguments I had engaged in.
You can imagine my shock at, three days after this economic failure hit the news, hearing Michael Noonan promising another “tough” austerity Budget.
British journalists often talk about the ‘Westminster Bubble’, but can our leaders be so wrapped up in their own world in Leinster House that they cannot hear the same chant from the protesters outside their gates, from the airwaves, from the International Monetary Fund, from the US Treasury Secretary? The truth that they all have come to realise universally: austerity is not working.
There is a lot to be admired in the stubbornness of our Taoiseach. It is a breath of fresh air compared with the hopeless passivity of Brian Cowen and the sycophantic diplomatic pandering of Bertie Ahern.
But this trait could prove his undoing as much as it has served him well.
Facing down and wearing down the opposition leaders is one thing. With enough determination, the Iron Frau can be for turning. However, Enda Kenny cannot defeat economic reality with his stubbornness. He can only own up to it.
To commit to and preside over austerity was foolish. But to continue with it, regardless of what it has clearly done to growth and recovery, would be truly stupid.
Blame falling exports all you like. A less-deluded Taoiseach would own up to and remedy smothering domestic demand in the crib.
Alan J McKenna
Kilkenny City
* I am of the firm belief that if I happened to be strolling around any reasonably sized town in Nigeria, Poland or the Punjab and lifted a newspaper, there’d be a Fianna Fail press release in it about potholes, footpaths or a denial about knowing one iota about the Anglo goings-on leading up to the bailout.
Ever since polls have shown an increase in support, they’re so bolstered up that the Fianna Fail logo has increased from embryo size to adult size on posters and merchandising literature.
The soldiers of fortune are learning to march again.
The understanding I have about this rising (no, not 1916) is that the electorate are so mired in the troubles of the present that they are willing to forgive and forget those who brought the world down around them.
J Woods
Gort an Choirce, Dun na nGall
* All of us have been shocked by the appalling attitude and despicable accounting procedures of the Anglo bankers. Is it any wonder Anglo is the “butt” of financial jokes, if this was where they picked their figures from?
There is a clamour for an inquiry. However, I am convinced they should all be given a medical check to see if there is another €7bn up there!
Sean Kelly
Tramore, Co Waterford
* I refer to the ongoing debate in your newspaper regarding the contribution of the Red Army to the Allies’ victory in World War II.
While the impact of a conflict cannot be measured solely by comparing human losses, such statistics do merit consideration.
While there is no universally agreed total figure for war-related deaths for World War II, a minimum of 60-70 million is generally accepted.
In ‘All Hell Let Loose: The World at War 1939-1945′, the historian Max Hastings postulates that it was the Western Allies’ extreme good fortune that the Russians paid almost the entire “butcher’s bill” for the war, accepting 95pc of the military casualties of the three major powers of the Grand Alliance and 65pc of all Allied military deaths.
Rather depressingly, Mr Hastings declares that “there is a powerful argument that only a warlord as bereft of scruple or compassion as Stalin, presiding over a society in which ruthlessness was even more institutionalised than in Germany, could have destroyed Nazism”.
It is an uncomfortable thought that the Wehrmacht might not have been defeated if Stalin’s Russia were a western-style democracy, but this cannot take away from the dominant contribution made by the Red Army.
Rob Sadlier
Rathfarnham, Dublin 16
* There were many concerns expressed in the Irish Independent last week about the impact of the new Central Bank Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears. Focus Ireland fears this new code could lead to a deepening homeless crisis if owner-occupiers are evicted from repossessed family homes.
Focus Ireland has warned that if more families become homeless due to increased repossessions on the back of this new code, homeless services in Dublin will not cope.
We are calling for a meeting with the Finance Minister to express these concerns and to call for key prevention measures and supports to prevent families from becoming homeless due to this code.
Focus Ireland can help to prevent households from becoming homeless if we have the opportunity to work with these families before their homes are repossessed. However, the crucial thing is to restrict repossessions in the first place.
Details for Focus Ireland’s advice and information services can be found at
Catherine Maher
Focus Ireland, 9-12 High St, Dublin
* Last weekend boasted a bumper fixture list of both provincial and qualifier contests, but what unfolded was the death of good, competitive sport within the GAA.
On Saturday, I had to suffer as my own county welcomed Tyrone to Tullamore, and they tore us to shreds by 22 points. Sunday seemed to offer a better spectacle with Dublin facing Kildare. It was another mauling. We need not mention what happened between Armagh and Wicklow.
The whole Champions League-style championship has more appeal with every non-competitive year, and with a non-seeded draw creating groups of four or five, weaker counties like my own may advance to a serious stage of the Championship.
How is Offaly football meant to improve when we are thrown to the wolves in a Leinster quarter-final, and then whipped out, only to be thrown to the lions in the qualifiers a few weeks later?
Justin Kelly
Edenderry, Co Offaly
* I recently came across this quote from the late American philosopher Henry Louis Mencken.
“Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule. Both parties normally succeed.”
Pretty well sums up the situation here, I think. Time to vote a lot more Independents in.
Dick Barton
Tinahely, Co Wicklow
Irish Independent

Sunday hospital

July 1, 2013

1 July 2013 Sunday Hospital

Off around the park listening to the Navy Lark, Back from leave and Leslie is on a unicycle, well it started off as a bicyvvke but bits kept falling off along the way. Priceless.
Mary still in hospital for a tests I hope all will be well.
I watch The Invasion its not bad
No Scrabble no Mary


Richard Marlow
Richard Marlow, who has died aged 73, was one of the few choral directors of modern times also to pursue a full academic career; he served as director of music at Trinity College, Cambridge, for almost 40 years, and was a pioneer in bringing women’s voices to the fore in cloistered choirs.

Richard Marlow Photo: GERALD PLACE
6:11PM BST 30 Jun 2013
As a composer and arranger, notably of settings for the psalms and descants, Marlow was a great talent; among his best known works are Veni Creator Spiritus, a motet for Whitsun, and a popular Evensong setting.
Although Trinity has a choral tradition dating back several centuries, it was not until 1982 that female voices were heard regularly there. The mixed-voice ensemble proved to be a success for Marlow, and over the next 24 years he released more than 30 discs with the Choir of Trinity College as well taking them on many overseas tours.
His style of direction was clear and incisive, drawing a clean, beautiful and vibrato-free sound from his singers, regardless of sex, and putting paid to the belief that sacred music is the exclusive preserve of the male voice.
Marlow also established Trinity College’s annual Singing on the River concert, which takes place on the Cam in early June and involves the Trinity choir singing madrigals and other works – including his own arrangement of John Brown’s Body – from five punts tied together in front of the Wren Library. Mercifully they sank only once — and, in true Titanic style, Marlow and the choir sang on.
Richard Kenneth Marlow was born at Banstead, Surrey, on July 26 1939, the son of an electricity board worker. He failed his 11-plus, but judicious lobbying by his father won him a place at St Olave’s School, Orpington.
While a choirboy at Southwark Cathedral he sang for the Coronation in 1953, after which the boys were invited for tea at the Lords. Marlow recalled how he and another boy ended up in the wrong reception and, while trying to find their correct group, came across an unattended Royal carriage and climbed into it.
He won an organ scholarship to Selwyn College, Cambridge, where, after taking a First in his finals, he was awarded a research fellowship.
Under Thurston Dart, the early music pioneer, he completed a doctoral dissertation on the music of Giles Farnaby, the 17th-century composer, whose music he later edited.
After three years lecturing at Southampton University, Marlow was appointed to Trinity College in succession to Raymond Leppard, and soon set up the Cambridge University Chamber Choir. However, he disbanded the group in 1989 to concentrate on the mixed-voice Trinity ensemble.
After one concert of 15th-century music in 1990 a critic noted how Marlow “shaped each piece with loving care”. On several occasions he was invited by Benjamin Britten to conduct one of the Bach Passions at Aldeburgh, with Peter Pears singing the Evangelist.
From 1998 Marlow made an annual visit to Portland, Oregon, where he was the co-founder of the William Byrd Festival, a gathering dedicated to the music of the 16th-century English composer.
Such a busy schedule was only made possible thanks to his remarkable skills of organisation and a series of complex charts, known as “Marlowgrams”. Yet he always had time for his undergraduates, consoling the composer of many a calamitous canon with a cold, dry sherry.
Although he retired in 2006 – to be succeeded by Stephen Layton – Marlow remained a fellow of Trinity and continued to teach there.
Marlow had a passion for steam trains, volunteering on heritage railways. His Hornby model railway, laid out in the loft of his home in Cambridge, ran to more than a mile of track. In later life he learnt to swim, eventually covering a mile a day.
Richard Marlow is survived by his wife, Annette, whom he married in 1964, and by their two sons.
Richard Marlow, born July 26 1939, died June 16 2013


One of the justifications for the coalition’s cuts is the pretence that they are needed to pay for more infrastructure projects (Editorial, 27 June). Yet the emphasis on new roads and HS2 will be cost-escalating and take money away from the kind of local infrastructure spending that would result in economic activity nationwide. This in turn could be fairly taxed and so get rid of the need for cuts, while helping rescue our flagging economy.
Tens of billions spent on low-carbon infrastructure and affordable housing would generate jobs, business and investment opportunities in every city, town, village and hamlet in the UK. Making every building in the UK energy-efficient and repairing, maintaining and improving the public transport system could prioritise the use of UK manufacturers. A crackdown on tax dodgers would make billions available to pump prime such an initiative. The result would be a reduction in public debt through a programme that improves society, the environment and the economy – the very opposite of the present cuts.
Colin Hines
Convener, Green New Deal Group
•  The enterprise minister, Michael Fallon, announcing £10bn of state guarantees for the nuclear power industry, explains: “This is big-scale financing, not available in the markets” (Report, 28 June). Bit of a turnaround from when public private partnerships were introduced in the 90s with the justification that only the market had access to that scale of funding. On the other hand it’s consistent with the G4S/Olympics fiasco.
RE Cooper
Woodbridge, Suffolk
•  The British Geological Survey reports that the north of England could have up to 13 trillion cubic feet of shale gas underground (Report, 28 June). This government has stated that local communities could benefit by “sharing in this wealth”, but no drilling permit should be issued without a cast-iron guarantee that the revenue is predominantly invested in the north on infrastructure, industry, especially manufacturing, and education. This potential bonanza must not be diverted to the south-east, nor, as North Sea oil revenue was, squandered on keeping million on the dole.
Alan Quinn
Prestwich, Manchester
•  Having cut millions in public spending, the government has awarded the £1.4bn contract for building the rolling stock for the cross-London Thameslink rail route to Siemens, a German company, instead of keeping the work, the jobs and the money in this country (Report, 28 June). Is this a failure of joined-up thinking or is it economic, political and social suicide?
David Hurry
Hurstpierpoint, Sussex
•  By announcing a £50bn capital investment programme for 2015-16, the government has recognised that an effective and efficient transport infrastructure is key to economic growth. While big ticket projects are important, modernisation and maintenance programmes can have a more immediate impact on the economy through the creation and retention of essential jobs. During London 2012, Thales UK, in partnership with London Underground, upgraded the Jubilee line. We urge Transport for London to press ahead with the modernisation of the rest of the network. It is critical that we see a real pipeline of projects announced to put confidence back in the sector and provide investors with reassurance that “shovel-ready” schemes are going ahead.
Alistair McPhee
Vice-president, Thales UK Ground Transportation Systems
• You report figures showing the growing risk of cycling on Britain’s roads (Call for urgent action after rise in cycle deaths, 28 June). Yet that very day the Treasury announced £28bn of spending on the road network, without earmarking a single penny for cycling. The parliamentary Get Britain Cycling inquiry called for annual spending of at least £10 per person on cycling, noting that London’s spending plans equate to £12.50 per person, while the Dutch spend £24. Outside London, England’s spending levels still average below £2 per person. Yet cycling is good for our streets and communities, our local and global environments, our wallets and our waistlines. Can the same really be said of yet more road-building?
Roger Geffen
Campaigns & policy director, CTC, the national cycling charity
•  The announcement that the government will be committing £100bn to UK infrastructure projects is certainly a much-needed long-term boost for the construction industry. But it will not benefit the industry for at least two years. The sector needs growth now. ONS figures and the Construction Industry Training Board’s own labour market intelligence report show that the UK output fell 9% last year and is unlikely, without help, to attain 2007 levels until 2022; 60,000 construction jobs were lost in 2012 with 45,000 expected to go this year. “Shovel-ready” projects in the repair and maintenance sector should be receiving similar investment. Every £100m invested in repair and maintenance takes 3,200 workers off the dole. Yes, funds are tight but better to invest for growth than spend £8.1bn maintaining these same people out of work.
Judy Lowe
Deputy chairman, CITB
• Expenditure on infrastructure is welcome (Capital catch-up, 28 June) but there needs to be productive activity at the ends of the roads and railways. Support of innovation in advanced industries is also welcome but the country also needs basic industries that employ people with good skills .
Mass production of textiles is the easiest industry for a country that needs to redevelop its manufacturing base. With wages rising in China, increasing transport costs, and benefits from production close to the fashion markets, textile production in the UK can be competitive again. Not only would this reduce imports but it could also exploit the talents of the UK’s creative textile designers in an export market.
John Hearle
Emeritus professor of textile technology, University of Manchester

Power cuts in 2015 would be a lot less likely had the coalition not slashed support for crowd-sourced energy and future technologies. For two years the roof above my head has fed electricity to the national grid and generated almost as much as my family consumes annually; solar-power installation has halved in cost meanwhile, but the drive for clean energy has gone. Rather than admit it cocked up, this government does it again by looking to the third world: backup diesel generators for hospital and businesses (Report, 29 June).
Mark Lewinski
Swaffham Prior, Cambridgeshire
• To be fair to the Guardian, the final of the Cardiff Singer of the World was reviewed in Tuesday’s Review page (Letters, 28 June). But I agree with the general point about the way the media covers classical music. For, despite the fact that your Friday edition of G2 purports to be a review of music and films, the term music seems to refer here mainly to pop.
Marie Paterson
Nuneaton, Warwickshire
• With all the Glastonbury hype, we decided to tape the Stones and have an early night. Didn’t take into account a combined bladder age of 118 that found us watching them at 5.30 in the morning.
Andrew and Nicola Platman
Beckenham, Kent
• Were men banned from Glastonbury this year? None were pictured in the Guardian, or any other national newspaper.
David Harding

Like many people, we have been shocked and saddened by the deaths of mothers and babies at Morecambe Bay hospital. We have also been horrified by the coverage of the alleged cover-up at the Care Quality Commission. Like other commentators, none of us were in the room during the contested meeting. However, as friends and colleagues who have known Cynthia Bower throughout her career, some of us over 30 years, we are appalled at the way her motives and character have been questioned, and guilt assumed (Report, 25 June).
We know her to be a woman of integrity who is committed to public service, who has a long and honourable record of challenging poor care and working to improve services. Unlike many other political and business leaders, it is typical of Cynthia that she would take responsibility as chief executive, acknowledging that the buck stops with her. It is also typical that she would be honest and open about any failings. The picture painted this week is not one that any of us recognise.
Patricia McCabe, Jane Slowey, Lynne Howells, Marianne Skelcher, Sue Fallon, Terry Potter, Sue Roberts, Delphine Bower, Ann Shabbaz, Billy Foreman, Victoria Robertson, Lesley Wollaston, Jackie Turner, Elissa Renouf, George Smalling, Jackie M Atkin, Sally Cherry, Diane Coburn, Claire Frodsham, Wendy Bourton, Christine Rogers
• Are we going to be told the names of the firm and individuals who gave the CQC executive the wrong legal advice – or is that something else that will be covered up?
Peter Critchley
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

In 1986, Lord Fraser of Carmyllie was still Peter Fraser MP. As solicitor general for Scotland he was a largely silent member of the standing committee on the Thatcher government’s public order bill. I was then adviser to Gerald Kaufman, shadow home secretary, and assisting Labour’s team to scrutinise (and delay) the bill and I enjoyed watching him.
Occasionally, his eyebrows would elevate minutely when some member of the standing committee was talking drivel: these eyebrows responded impartially to opposition and government speakers. At every break in proceedings, he enjoyed a cigarette in the corridor. Finally came his big moment, when he had to respond to an ingenious Labour amendment to apply Scottish public order law in its entirety to Great Britain. He murmured a delicate speech showing why Scottish law was really too good for us English.

In equal societies, the role of woman is esteemed and breasts are for feeding infants. In patriarchal capitalist societies men “own” women, along with their breasts. The role of woman is not esteemed, she doubts her role, and is therefore a perfect target for big business (“After Nestlé, now breast milk scandal strikes Aptamil manufacturer”, 29 June).
In the 1930s baby formula companies persuaded us that, while nature had perfectly arranged the pre-natal stage, it had, unbelievably, not done the same for the post-natal infant. Infants were to be fed at strict four-hourly intervals, and not on demand like all other mammals. Babies cried in between breast feeds, proving that formula was the answer, because the mother had “insufficient” milk.
Once breast feeding is relinquished, the breast is “returned to the woman, and therefore the man who owns her”. (One theory suggests that successful breast-feeding mothers have partners willing and able to “share” their woman with the new baby.)
Baby formula was based on cows’ milk, which is designed to create fast-growing bovine strength, entirely opposite to human milk designed to create sensitive brain growth. Until very recently the progress of babies was erroneously measured against the growth rate of cow formula-fed babies. So thousands of infants, wrongly considered to be “underweight” have unnecessarily been switched to formula feeding.
Until women are confident in their reproductive role, big, patriarchal business in the form of Nestlé and Danone will always prevail.
Diana Baur
Llanarmon DC, Wrexham
Radon peril from fracking must be taken seriously
Your reports on the Government’s panglossian support for fracking rightly explore the concerns of residents living in areas ripe for fracking exploitation.
One aspect of fracking that has received no press coverage is the prospective human health hazard to gas consumers of using fracked shale gas.
Heath minister Anna Soubry told Labour MP Paul Flynn in a written answer in May that Public Health England (formerly the Health Protection Agency) “is preparing a report identifying potential public health issues and concerns, including radon (release/emissions) that might be associated with aspects of hydraulic fracturing, also referred to as fracking. The report is due out for public consultation in the summer” (Hansard, 20 May: Column 570W).
PHE is concerned to evaluate the potential risks of radon gas being pumped into citizens’ homes as part of the shale gas stream. Unless the gas is stored for several days to allow the radon’s radioactivity to reduce naturally, this is potentially very dangerous.
Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Initially radon released from its virtually sealed underground locations will be in monatomic suspension, but then it accretes on to dust particles, pipework, etc, and some of it may remain suspended in the gas and come out in our cookers.
The current concern about how much radon is likely to be piped into people’s kitchens was spurred by a report last year by Dr Marvin Resnikoff of Radioactive Waste Management Associates, who has over 50 years’ experience in radiological risk analysis.
Dr Resnikoff estimated radon levels from the Marcellus gas field – the nearest one being exploited to New York – as up to 70 times the average.
I am all for creating new  jobs in the energy sector, as long as they are sustainable. The public surely will demand the unadulterated facts on fracking. Public Health England’s forthcoming report is eagerly awaited.
Environmental policy and research consultant
Stoneleigh,  Surrey
Any licences for shale gas exploration should include the rider that it is the responsibility of fracking companies to prove at any subsidence and damage to properties wasn’t caused by drilling, rather than put the onus on the claimant.
Brad Mottis
Winkfield,  Bracknell
Silence protects bad surgeons
I fear we are barking up the wrong surgical tree (“Still no reason to keep surgeons’ mortality rates secret”, 30 June). The practice of surgery is far too subtle to allow “marks” to have any sensible meaning: and if they did, a “good person” can always have a “bad” day. The issue is not to give every surgeon “marks”; the issue is to outlaw the persistently bad.
And a scoring system is a very clumsy way of doing this, for the relevant information lies elsewhere – in the observation-based knowledge of other doctors, and nurses too. The insiders know who the bad apples are long before the public will ever know, and long before the statistics will give a clue.
But while there is an evil conspiracy of “professional” silence, those who know will  not declare. That’s the problem to solve.
Dennis Sherwood
Exton,  Rutland
Hospitals are suffering from the belief of the previous government that central control is best. There used to be organisations whose members were local volunteers with a salaried secretary called Community Health Councils.
These organisations kept an eye on what was happening and had the ear of the patients. They were in contact with the District Health Authorities who were able to address problems at a local level.
This quietly effective system was replaced by a quango at a national level. Members of the quango are paid employees with an interest in keeping their positions, thus allowing whistleblowers to be bullied because they now have something to lose.
John Henderson
Ways to control payday lenders
A simple 1-2-3 will solve the payday loan problem.
1. Cap all APR at 60 per cent. That’s three times the rate of a credit card and high enough for any legitimate lender to make a good living. But it’s low enough to force all payday lenders to be more responsible about who they lend to, or they’ll go broke.
2. Beef up the credit unions. There are sources of alternative credit out there, but the sector is small and can’t compete for access with the likes of Wonga. Sometimes it’s just a question of having the right software. Check out London Mutual Credit Union, where you can get a payday loan at 26.8 per cent APR. A little competition will go a long way.
3.Financial literacy. Teach everyone about money and how the money system works. It’s not taught in schools, but it is taught to the members of the financial elite at their fathers’ knees. Make the whole country financially savvy.
Surely that would be good for the national economy (though not for the elite) It would also produce better politicians, as they’d no longer get away with ignorance and waffle. They’d have to act or lose their jobs.
Mike Wolstencroft
Financial Inclusion  Officer, Rochdale Boroughwide Housing
Get off that  world stage
I must concur with other contributors to your letters page: Britain’s standing in the world is far less important than our politicians wish it to be. 
David Cameron grandstands on the world stage, spending billions on overseas aid and costly interference in other countries’ affairs. Meanwhile the standard of living in Britain is dropping and now there is a likelihood of power cuts due to the lack of investment in our own country.
David Cameron, Gordon Brown and Tony Blair all appeared to be more concerned with the rest of the world than with the people who elected them. Our politicians should realise that we can no longer afford to be the world’s policeman or the world’s benefactor.
We are one of the richest countries in the developed world but are near the bottom of the league when it comes to wellbeing. Let us first look after ourselves and then pay regard to the rest of the world.
S Silgram
Blackburn,  Lancashire
The men who would be Caesar
Considering film portrayals of Cleopatra (29 June), Geoffrey Macnab says Claude Rains was “strangely cast as Caesar” in the 1945 Caesar and Cleopatra. He may actually have been the most accurate screen actor to handle the role. 
Ideas of what constitutes short in stature have changed over 2000 years, but records suggest that Julius Caesar does seem to have been physically unimposing, but an extremely powerful presence, in which case Rains was ideal casting.
The role of Julius Caesar has been frequently cast strangely with tall actors: Warren William, Louis Calhern, John Gavin, Rex Harrison. Even the more recent TV series Rome went with Ciaran Hinds.
Nuclear stand-off
Like Peter Popham (World View, 28 June) I can see the advantage of all small states having sufficient nuclear weapons to wipe out an American task force heading in their direction with aggressive intent. But it is also dangerous to have such a massive arsenal that humanity can be wiped off the earth. It is hard to find a compromise. The only sensible insurance policy is to “ban the bomb” now. 
R F Stearn
Old Newton, Suffolk
Future in the past
For the record, unlike Dr James Martin (Obituary, 29 June), who apparently predicted the arrival of the internet in 1978, my American friend and I predicted the arrival of the internet in 1975. I also predicted the arrival of the tablet-computer in 1976. Unfortunately, I didn’t write any books about my futuristic revelations.
Ray J Howes
Weymouth, Dorset
Cute slogans
Your piece on cute phrasing on product packages (Trending, 24 June) attributed its introduction to Innocent drinks (founded 1999). In the UK, possibly. It was, however, commonplace among trendy US products in the 1980s, Tom’s toothpaste (1975) being one of the earliest examples.
Steve Jackson
London N7
False step
The excellent Simon Calder (Travel, 29 June) tells us that Moscow’s main aviation hub now has at least three taverns dispensing “faux bonhomie”. No, no: what they dispense is fausse bonhomie.
Chris Bolger


1AM, July 1 2013

We are contemplating sanctions for misbehaviour in the healthcare and banking sectors; why not in the energy policy sector?
Sir, The prospect of power cuts within a few years (report, June 28) should focus us all on simple measures which could alleviate the problems during the peak 4pm to 8pm window.
First the adoption of Central European Time would delay the onset of evening in the peak period without increasing the morning peak. For safety we might need to revert to GMT in December and January. While that might slightly inconvenience people, given the numbers that travel abroad for weekends it wouldn’t be a big problem.
Secondly, during the peak period manufacturing businesses which are high energy users should move to a variable time basis with a third of them in any area closing at 3pm for one week in three and working an extra hour for the other two weeks.
Finally, shopping malls which do so well on weekends should close — again on a rolling basis — for one day per normal weekday during the peak demand period. Properly advertised this should not cause major problems.
Obviously we need more capacity, but the application of a bit of goodwill and common sense should get us through and, perish the thought, help keep bills down.
Colin Fuller
Bishop’s Cleeve, Glos
Sir, If we have rolling blackouts in the grid in the coming winters, where does the responsibility lie? Real engineers know that infrastructure projects take a decade to deliver. Our preoccupation with alternative energies that do not generate electricity for weeks on end in dark winters originates with the drafters of the Climate Change Bill, who should have taken heed of engineers. A lack of electricity on demand is characteristic of Third World countries, and our country has been betrayed that this should happen to us. We are contemplating sanctions for misbehaviour in the healthcare and banking sectors; why not in the energy policy sector?
Professor Michael J. Kelly
Prince Philip Professor of Technology, University of Cambridge
Sir, With British coal reserves that would last 1,000 years, it is time to stop importing ruinously expensive wind turbines that will never meet our electricity requirements and open up the mines. A new generation of carbon-capture coal-fired power stations would ensure that the lights do not go out in two years’ time.
Michael Cole
Laxfield, Suffolk
Sir, The forthcoming power crisis surely demonstrates that we cannot expect companies which are motivated by profit to necessarily act in the national interest. It is vital that our Government takes control of its own destiny. Some industries are so important that they need to be under state control. We must also ignore EU legislation which requires us to close down large power stations which, until we build replacement facilities, we can ill afford to lose.
Barry Richardson
Isham, Northants
Sir, It is timely to ask why Didcot A, a relatively modern and productive coal-fired power station, was recently closed down and now lies dead. Its CO2 output was insignificant in a world where countries from China to Germany are building many additional coal-fired stations, yet its output of electricity was of real significance to our national economy. Self-harm hardly makes sense as a national economic policy.
Bruce Coleman

If the UK secedes from the European Union, we shall have brought about the very result which for a century and a half, the UK sought to avoid
Sir, I do not doubt the patriotism of UKIP and the Tory MPs who hanker after its support. But were they to succeed in getting the United Kingdom to secede from the European Union, they would have brought about a result which, for the last 400 years, British foreign policy has sought to avoid: a Continent dominated by a single European power. Earlier on, that power was Spain and then France. After Germany’s unification in the 19th century until 1945 that power was Germany. Throughout that period fear of German domination of the Continent exercised the minds of British statesmen.
If the UK secedes from the European Union, we shall have brought about the very result which for a century and a half, the UK sought to avoid; and, in so doing, we would have done something very damaging to both this country and to our European neighbours. In saying this, I am not expressing an anti-German opinion: I recognise the huge efforts made by the Federal Republic of Germany since 1945 to be a model, good European, democratic State. I believe that in fact the German “establishment” would agree with me that UK secession from the EU would be most undesirable, in part precisely because it would remove an historically stable, democratic anchor that helps to ensure that Europe will not again fall into the hands of very unpleasant extremist parties, including “bad” Germans.
It is, at every level, of immense importance to the UK that the Continent, of which we are off-shore islands, should remain firmly anchored to decent, democratic principles. If we secede, we do not do a good turn to the “good” European Germans by absenting ourselves from the inner counsels of the EU.
Sir Jeremy Lever, QC
All Souls College, Oxford

Like it or not, the majority of workers live a hand-to-mouth existence whereby their wages are largely gone the day after pay day
Sir, It is hard to credit the Chancellor’s total lack of understanding when it comes to those who lose their jobs. His decision to stop the newly unemployed from signing on straightaway so that they should concentrate on getting another job simply beggars belief. Unless you are in the privileged position of having savings, then something, even the wretchedly small amount of Jobseeker’s Allowance, is better than nothing.
Like it or not, the majority of workers live a hand-to-mouth existence whereby their wages are largely gone the day after pay day. Mr Osborne’s initiative may play well to his more ignorant party members but will be a disaster for the working poor should the worst happen.
Andrew Harrison
Holmfirth, W Yorks

Shale gas development will complement rather than replace other gas supplies from continental Europe and liquefied natural gas
Sir, Reports of further shale gas deposits in the UK (June 27) are good news and it is highly likely that shale gas will play an important role in meeting the UK’s future energy requirements. However, we should be cautious of industry claims that the shale gas revolution in the UK will replicate that in the US.
To develop shale gas to the scale mentioned in the article would require thousands of gas wells to be drilled across the countryside. Leaving aside the visual impact, the heavy engineering equipment required would result in significant environmental damage. It seems implausible that shale gas development on this scale could occur in small and highly populated Britain, particularly given the community opposition to wind turbines.
Shale gas development will complement, rather than replace, other gas supplies from continental Europe, the North Sea and liquefied natural gas, and even small-scale development will require strong regulation and community engagement.
Scott Flavell PA
Consulting Group London SW1

A reader’s experience shows that you should always check the currency as well as the denomination to avoid tipping over-generously
Sir, Joe Joseph on the dilemmas of tipping (report, June 29) omitted the need to check the currency.
In Warsaw in 1972 with the Australian Olympic team, I handed an old man operating a barrel organ a handful of zloty — worth pence rather than pounds. He glanced at the gift, smiled hugely, and the barrel organ burst into newly energised action.
Later I found that I had actually given him a substantial number of US dollars, doing some damage to my pocket money for the day.
Murray Hedgcock
London SW14

Like it or not, the majority of workers live a hand-to-mouth existence whereby their wages are largely gone the day after pay day
Sir, It is hard to credit the Chancellor’s total lack of understanding when it comes to those who lose their jobs. His decision to stop the newly unemployed from signing on straightaway so that they should concentrate on getting another job simply beggars belief. Unless you are in the privileged position of having savings, then something, even the wretchedly small amount of Jobseeker’s Allowance, is better than nothing.
Like it or not, the majority of workers live a hand-to-mouth existence whereby their wages are largely gone the day after pay day. Mr Osborne’s initiative may play well to his more ignorant party members but will be a disaster for the working poor should the worst happen.
Andrew Harrison
Holmfirth, W Yorks

SIR – I was relieved to hear this week that the Government will be contributing to the cost of celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.
I had previously read that the culture minister, Ed Vaizey, had disapproved of the idea in case we upset the French!
Since over the last six centuries we have beaten all the other major European nations, it is not surprising that the education secretary, Michael Gove, is having difficulty setting a history syllabus for use in secondary schools if people like Ed Vaizey think we must not upset our neighbours with such “triumphalism”.
Is patriotism becoming a thing of the past?
Roy Crawford
Chislehurst, Kent
Related Articles
Wind and solar power won’t solve our looming energy crisis
30 Jun 2013
SIR – You report that Michael Gove is proposing to remove eminent Victorian figures such as William Gladstone from the history curriculum of our schools (June 23).
I am currently re-reading Gladstone’s Midlothian speeches of 1879 in which he observes to the good burghers of Edinburgh that “we have, by the most wanton invasion of Afghanistan, broken that country into pieces, made it a miserable ruin, destroyed whatever there was in it of peace and order, caused it to be added to the anarchies of the Eastern world…under circumstances where the application of military power…is attended at every foot with enormous difficulties”.
In light of recent developments in the same country might I suggest that the education secretary reconsider his decision and make Mr Gladstone’s speeches compulsory reading for all our schoolchildren.
Stephen Palmer
London SW15

SIR – I find it difficult to believe that the letter (June 23) from the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change was really from Ed Davey. Was it a hoax? The generation of electricity by wind is totally reliant on expensive gas for back-up when the wind is not blowing at the right speed.
I am not sure who is paying less for their energy, as he claims, but it is not me. Mr Davey states the challenge is to keep the lights on and energy affordable while switching from dirty to clean energy. As far as I know, the only new electrical power sources built in the last few years have been wind turbines (which produce a trivial amount of energy), a few solar panels and gas turbines, which back the others up.
I do not regard gas as being clean. If nuclear were used, all the spent fuel would be relatively easily stored and a potential source of future energy. Follow France for cheap, reliable, less polluting and safer electricity: in a word, nuclear.
Clive Dray
Castle Grove, Berkshire
SIR – Ed Davey claims that today’s householders already pay £64 less for their gas and electricity bills as a result of the policies the Government is pursuing (Letters, June 23).
Related Articles
Learning from the triumphs and disasters of history
30 Jun 2013
Our past three quarters bills have increased 33 per cent, 25 cent and 60 cent respectively above the previous year.
What on earth is Mr Davey talking about?
Bob Stebbings
Chorleywood, Hertfordshire
SIR – Ed Davey says we pay £64 less for our gas and electricity, but then says that bills are rising due to rising global gas prices!
He really went to a “double Dutch” school of economics!
Bernard Greenberg
SIR – All attempts I have made at trying to enlighten the Department for Energy and Climate Change (and thereby help poor Mr Davey) have proved futile: the DECC is clearly staffed by the scientifically challenged.
Rev Philip Foster
Hemingford Abbots, Huntingdonshire
SIR – No matter how you look at it, the spread of wind farms in Britain is offensive, damaging and useless.
When you add to the mix the fact that China is commissioning one new coal-fired power station every week, the carbon benefits of the British Government’s policies have a minuscule effect on global CO2 emissions. Given this, British energy policy should primarily address the issue of energy security.
Fracking may provide a bridge to the future but is fraught with misinformation and scare-mongering. Some claim that the gases released in the process get into the water supply, but methane (the main gas recovered by fracking) is insoluble in water, and in any case water is delivered to homes after the water authorities have purified it. So reports of American householders suffering medical problems seem somewhat opportunistic.
If fracking can buy us some breathing space to introduce a clean energy supply industry, we should not look to wind or solar, which are intermittent, but invest in wave and tidal sources, both of which are reliably available around the shores of Britain.
John Cook
Stillingfleet, East Yorkshire
SIR – Wind and other forms of non-fossil fuel energy will help our balance of payments and keep us going when fossil fuels run out, but they will not prevent climate change.
They would only do that if they led to fossil fuels staying in the ground, but this will not happen. Consumption of fossil fuels would need to be falling now, but it has not even stabilised. It continues to increase, largely due to soaring demand from China and India.
How do we prevent global temperatures from reaching levels that will mean drought, famine, mass human migration and mass animal and plant extinctions?
The solution is to invest in a combination of technologies: carbon capture and storage, to prevent most emissions from power stations entering the atmosphere; carbon scrubbing to reduce existing carbon dioxide levels; and geoengineering to cool the planet artificially.
Richard Mountford
Hildenborough, Kent
SIR – Regarding Maitland Mackie’s letter (June 23); the wind and sun may not send out invoices, but owners of wind turbines certainly do and they are relatively large invoices for small amounts of electricity.
David Willis
SIR – I read in your report (June 23) that proposed ground-mounted solar power farms could cover as much as 75,000 acres of land. Apart from the technical limitations in connecting such power to the grid, it appears to be folly to use valuable farm land for such purposes. With the length of renewable contracts proposed, such land is effectively taken out of production for a generation.
We are already seeing prime agricultural land given over to such projects. At a time when debates rage about our ability to produce sufficient food, this should not even merit consideration.
By all means build solar farms if the connection problems can be overcome, but use the many acres of roofs on retail and distribution sheds around the country.
Ken Himsworth
Saxilby, Lincolnshire
SIR – The only way we can secure a small amount of wind-generated electrical power is to make our fossil-fuel-powered stations operate less efficiently; just as the only way we can give the Lib Dems a little power is to make the Tories govern less efficiently.
Lib Dems, like wind turbines, are just a very expensive folly.
Brian Christley
Abergele, Denbighshire
Our brightest children are future leaders
SIR – While one can appreciate Yugo Kovach’s view (Letters, June 23) that the less academic should get precedence for reasonable schooling, as they form a majority, I would suggest that the logical priority should be given to the needs of our country. We need to prioritise the quality of education for our brightest children, no matter what their social background.
This country needs more properly educated and motivated leaders in business, industry, innovation, the public sector (including health, education and the police) and politics to replace those who in my opinion are poorly motivated, poorly educated and incompetent.
Malcolm Tucker
Chippenham, Wiltshire
SIR – Regarding James Adam Paton’s letter (June 23), as far as my brother and I were concerned, we couldn’t have come from a more “humble” family, yet money had nothing to do with our education.
The grammar school system failed us very badly but we both got to university and ended up with two degrees each, one a first and another a doctorate. On the other hand, Mr Kovach was spot on. We did as he said and “looked after ourselves”.
It seems such a pity these days that the state has been given much of this role and teachers blamed for many children’s educational “failures”.
Brian Lawrence
High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire
SIR – In response to Yugo Kovach’s claim that the brightest children can look after themselves, it is a myth that if a child is “gifted”, he will do well no matter what educational environment he ends up in.
If there was a child with a particular talent for football, cricket or athletics and it was argued that that child did not require any sort of coaching in order to develop his talent, I suspect that there would be some sort of protest.
Peter Davey
Bournemouth, Dorset
SIR – If Margaret Thatcher thought that grammar schools (Letters, June 23), were needed for children from her background to compete with children from privileged homes, why did she not reinstate them during her 11 years in power?
Wendy Royce
Gotham, Nottinghamshire
Girl Guides’ oath
SIR – Regarding the Girl Guides’ decision to drop their religious oath (News Review, June 23), it seems to me that if Christians (or other faiths) no longer have the option to include God in their oath, this throws the baby out with the bathwater. Atheists are asking for God to be removed from a movement which was founded upon the Christian faith.
The equivalent would be for Christians to demand an oath to God as part of any oath taken upon joining an atheist movement – ridiculous, I know.
Whatever happened to equality and diversity? It works both ways.
Dr Paul Shaw
Leader, Fiery Dragons Explorer Scout Unit
Business farce
SIR – Outraged is a polite way of saying how I feel about the revelation of the doubling of claims for business-class flights taken by MPs during the last year (report, June 23).
In the future, I hope none of them has the cheek to comment adversely on the cost of travel for members of the Royal family.
P M Kennett
Bognor Regis, West Sussex
SIR – These “secret documents” that ministers are working on in business class cannot be that secret if the information is then circulated to shadow ministers.
And if they really are secret, should ministers be working on them while travelling on public transport anyway?
Ron Kirby
Dorchester, Dorset
Inadequate equipment on the battlefield
SIR – Christopher Booker (Opinion, June 23) mentions the recent Supreme Court decision to allow the Ministry of Defence to be sued because soldiers were put in harm’s way due to inadequate equipment.
Let us consider that in 1940 HMS Glowworm, a destroyer of 1,350 tons, engaged the German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper, which displaced 14,500 tons. She rammed her opponent but was inevitably sunk. Would the Admiralty have been liable for the loss of life (118 out of 149) as clearly HMS Glowworm was unfit to engage her opponent?
No doubt the law has changed in the intervening 70 years but what has not changed is the need for leadership, courage and the acceptance of risk to life and limb on the battlefield.
Capt J G Ferrie RN (Retd)
Batheaston, Somerset
Stolen vocabulary
SIR – Regarding Peter Myers’ letter (June 23) on the omission of “chorred”, or stolen, from the glossary Hobson-Jobson: I served in the Indian army and can attest to two other gems of Hindi derivation: tandapani chowkidars for Coldstream Guards (literally “cold water’s guardians”) and chhotabodekho, for Little Bo Peep (“small bo look”).
John R Marr
Woodham, Surrey
SIR – “Chorring” is a Romani (Gypsy) word, meaning stealing, and is pretty well universal where Traveller children have gone to school, or settled.
“Chorrer”, a thief, is the same in Hindi (chora), confirming the Indian origin of the Romani people who set out from the sub-continent around 700 years ago and spread around the world.
Bill Kerswell
Picklescott, Shropshire
Strawberry smiles
SIR – It was delightful to see the picture of the fresh and healthy offering of English strawberries (report, June 23) accompanied by two fresh and healthy-looking Eastern European ladies. This brought a warming smile to my miserable summer face, which on turning the page to read “Tens of thousands fit for work left on benefit for a decade”, rapidly turned into a wry one.
Chris Dawson
Emneth, Norfolk

Irish Times:
Sir, – Arthur Henry (June 27th) is opposed to ending mortgage interest relief on tracker mortgages, “especially to ease the burden on banks, whose staggering incompetence got us into this mess in the first place”.
I wholeheartedly agree that the banks’ incompetence was a large part of the original problem. However, another major contributing factor was the government’s facilitation of the property bubble. Prices can effectively never become inflated beyond what buyers can pay, so all of the factors that enabled buyers to pay more for property are collectively to blame for the bubble. That includes lax lending standards, low interest rates and tax concessions.
To the best of my knowledge, mortgage interest relief on the primary place of residence is unique to Ireland. There is no objective reason why this concession should exist at all, as it means taxpayers are helping individual home buyers to pay their mortgages, or to put it another way, subsidising the purchase of privately-held assets.
The other point that Mr Henry seems to have missed is that “easing the burden on the banks” now means exactly the same thing as “easing the burden on taxpayers”. – Yours, etc,

Sir, – I am delighted that Dr Maurice Manning has opened a debate on academic freedom in Bahrain and on the roles and responsibilities of the NUI and its affiliate colleges abroad. I am further delighted that he, as chancellor of NUI, visited Bahrain to “see conditions at first hand” (Education, June 11th). There my delight ends.
Dr Manning’s comment that there “has been a normalisation of relations” in that country suggests he did not meet any of those who suffered and continue to suffer under one of the most brutally oppressive regimes on the planet; a regime which has inflicted most repugnant and deplorable physical and psychological wounds on the citizenry.
Did Chancellor Manning meet the detained and tortured RCSI alumni and staff? Did he meet any of the detained and tortured teachers in Bahrain or any of the detained and tortured lawyers or students or journalists? Did he meet the family of Dr Ali AlEkri, the Irish trained surgeon who remains incarcerated? What was Dr Manning’s function in Bahrain if not to satisfy himself that academic freedom had been restored to the satisfaction of NUI? And what exactly does the chancellor mean when he suggests that “If countries adopt [human rights] principles which others don’t adopt they may be at a competitive disadvantage”?
Dr Manning should know that NUI , as an organ of the state, and its affiliate colleges, including RCSI, are obliged under the European Convention on Human Rights Act, 2003, Section 3 (1) to “perform its functions in a manner compatible with the State’s obligations under the Convention provisions”.
RCSI’s silence during the months of torture of its alumni and staff in Bahrain have caused it significant international reputational damage. That reputational damage is contagious and NUI now need to clarify its position. I would recommend that all alumni carefully read the NUI’s Human Rights Principles and Code of Conduct, written in conjunction with RCSI and publicly voice their opinion as to its probity and practicality. – Yours, etc,

Sir, – Phil Hogan proposes to ask the people of Dublin whether or not they want a directly elected mayor (Home News, June 17th). Why are none of the inhabitants in the other cities asked whether or not they want directly-elected mayors?
Or better yet, why not ask the people living outside the cities if they would prefer to elect their chief executive rather than have the Dublin-based Department of Local Government appoint one for people living up to 200 kilometres away?
Is it that only the “enlightened” people living in the Pale can be trusted to elect their own regional leaders? – Yours, etc,

Sir, – Eamon Ryan’s support for the idea of a greenway running from east to west (On your bike, June 20th) and expansion of the network of greenways summarised the avalanche of opinion in favour of utilising long-abandoned rail lines as greenways. The Great Western Greenway is cited as a success, as if this idea is something new and marvellous. It’s not. We are merely playing catch-up with the rest of Europe.
In the northwest we had welcome news this week of funding to investigate a greenway on the old Sligo north Leitrim rail line which will run from Collooney Co Sligo into Co Leitrim and on to Co Cavan.
If this greenway is put in place, then surely we can realise the only good use for the Western Rail Corridor route from Collooney in Sligo down to Athenry in Co Galway is to convert it to a greenway that will connect with the Great Western Greenway and the east-west cross-country greenway?
Mayo County Council recently received hundreds of public submissions on the new county plan asking for this old railway to be converted to a greenway. Public opinion has changed. There simply isn’t the money nor the political will to re-open a railway from Athenry to Sligo; in particular when the train line opened from Ennis to Athenry is carrying an average of eight passengers a train.
Why can’t these facts now be faced. We simply don’t need a Western Rail Corridor. A greenway on this route will deliver thousands of tired hungry tourists for a fraction of a cost. Why can’t this nettle be grasped? – Yours, etc,

Sir, – Plans to remove history and geography from the New Junior Certificate demonstrates that this is a Government that does not know where it came from nor knows where it is going. – Yours, etc,

Irish Independent:
Madam – During the Easter of 2007 we had a wonderful sunny spell so I decided to treat myself to a day trip to the Beara peninsula to enjoy its wonderful scenery.

On the pier in Castletownbere I fell into conversation with the Irish skipper of a large trawler which was preparing to go to sea. Listening to the accents of the crew I asked if any of them were Irish.
He said no, that all of his Irish crew had left in the late Nineties to go building, where they would make much more money.
“But here’s an interesting thing,” he said. “They’re all phoning me since last Christmas (2006) looking for jobs back on the boats.”
Now if a fisherman on the quay in Castletownbere knew the score at Christmas 2006, how come it took the crowd in Dublin until September 2008 to realise the national house-of-cards was collapsing?
Conor O’Leary,
Clonakilty, Co Cork
Irish Independent

Madam – Reading John Waters’s article (Sunday Independent, June 23, 2013) would make anyone with progressive views sick to their stomach. It consists of attack after attack on women, with arguments that we are emotionally manipulative and selfish combined with the insult that suicidality during pregnancy is a theoretical idea. But it warrants a response because it exposes the reality that the pro-life position is inherently a suicidal woman having an abortion with a suicidal man murdering his partner. As one commentator has already mentioned, this comparison is not only disgusting, but makes no sense. The fact that he is happy to equate the life of a woman to a clump of cells is truly mind-blowing. Not to mention the fact that the man has the option of leaving his partner while the suicidal woman has no other option but to have a termination.
In the mind of John Waters, women have long since manipulated men in Ireland, claiming victim status so we can get to kill babies. In reality, women in Ireland have faced huge inequality and sexism throughout the 20th Century, compared to those in other European countries.
The exclusion of women from the workforce, lower wages, the ban on contraception, divorce, abortion and deficient public services (like childcare) have had a massive negative impact on women’s lives.
The notion that the risk of suicide during pregnancy is a theoretical idea is also disgusting. I really wish he could have said that to the 14-year-old at the centre of the X Case in 1992, who was pregnant from rape and felt that she would rather take her own life than give birth to the baby.
The anti-women sentiment of John Waters has exposed the true nature of the anti-abortion lobby. The argument is not about life, but about living women, and the need of the Catholic Church and the capitalist system to control us.
Thankfully, the vast majority of young people in Ireland support a woman’s right to choose and more than 80 per cent of the population support X Case legislation.
Unfortunately, the Catholic Church has come back from its grave with dusty old men, backed by US funding, attempting to stop legislation to save women’s lives. The legislation proposed by the Government does not come close to what is needed. The 14-year jail sentence for procuring or helping to procure an abortion is a reminder of the dark past and must be removed.
Luckily, young women and men are daily leaving behind this barbarism, whilst standing tall against those who wish to limit and control them.
Madeleine Johansson,
Dublin 8
Irish Independent

Madam – I am writing to complain about the use of the ‘F’ word in last Sunday’s paper. It is the first time in my life I have seen this filth in print – in a reputable paper like the Sunday Independent – and was shocked.
Also in this section
Fishermen first to know
An anti-women article
Praise be to Bertie
It is frankly offensive and not acceptable to your educated readers. Surely good journalism must lead by example.
We are already growing up with a delinquent society in this country, filthy language, crime, assaults, lawlessness on a daily basis in our cities and towns. with no respect for the law or authority. I won’t mention the pestering drunks and drug addicts on our streets in Dublin. What must our visitors think?
Yes, it appears the average Paddy or Irish citizen in this country cannot string a sentence together without using the filthy ‘F’ word. It is part of their vocabulary. Just listen to the Anglo-Irish tapes, for example. An absolute disgrace. Yes, and this coming from so called professional, educated bankers! It is shocking.
You would rarely hear the use of the filthy ‘F’ word in the UK, on the street or in conversation, and well brought up schoolchildrenMadam – I am writing to complain about the use of the ‘F’ word in last Sunday’s paper. It is the first time in my life I have seen this filth in print – in a reputable paper like the Sunday Independent – and was shocked.
It is frankly offensive and not acceptable to your educated readers. Surely good journalism must lead by example.
We are already growing up with a delinquent society in this country, filthy language, crime, assaults, lawlessness on a daily basis in our cities and towns. with no respect for the law or authority. I won’t mention the pestering drunks and drug addicts on our streets in Dublin. What must our visitors think?
Yes, it appears the average Paddy or Irish citizen in this country cannot string a sentence together without using the filthy ‘F’ word. It is part of their vocabulary. Just listen to the Anglo-Irish tapes, for example. An absolute disgrace. Yes, and this coming from so called professional, educated bankers! It is shocking.
You would rarely hear the use of the filthy ‘F’ word in the UK, on the street or in conversation, and well brought up schoolchildren would never use it in public. It is offensive and insulting.
But, sadly, in this country schoolchildren use this filth all the time in the course of conversation.
What is wrong with this country? Is there no respect for adults anymore?
I met a South African lady recently who used to visit her daughter living here and she too was shocked by the filthy language she heard everywhere in this country. Her daughter has relocated to Australia.
Please do not allow such filthy language to be used in your newspaper again.
S Nic Gearailt,
Madam – I find the cartoon under the heading of Soapbox in last week’s Sunday Independent grossly offensive and insulting.
It is a new low for your newspaper.
Pat Drury,
Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan
would never use it in public. It is offensive and insulting.
But, sadly, in this country schoolchildren use this filth all the time in the course of conversation.
What is wrong with this country? Is there no respect for adults anymore?
I met a South African lady recently who used to visit her daughter living here and she too was shocked by the filthy language she heard everywhere in this country. Her daughter has relocated to Australia.
Please do not allow such filthy language to be used in your newspaper again.
S Nic Gearailt,
Madam – I find the cartoon under the heading of Soapbox in last week’s Sunday Independent grossly offensive and insulting.
It is a new low for your newspaper.
Pat Drury,
Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan

Madam – Having read Nicky Larkin (Sunday Independent, June 23, 2013) and especially the closing comment in relation to the work of Linda and Brian Ervine, I could not help recalling President Obama’s address to the audience in the Waterfront Hall in Belfast. The closing part of the article was: “I felt that maybe if people like Linda and Brian are allowed to be heard above the cacophony of shaven-headed, tattooed cartoon characters we see in the news, a new day might be just around the corner after all these years of blood and tears.”
Also in this section
Fishermen first to know
An anti-women article
Filthy language reflects society
There was also a picture of a mural with the words: ‘Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.’
Travelling through some of the towns and villages in Down and Armagh last Sunday and looking at the display of union flags and Ulster flags, it occurred to me how little has changed. These flags were not put up by the young morons with the shaved head but by the so-called elder brigade who continue to influence and encourage violence to somehow justify a connection to the United Kingdom.
I wonder what visitors or business people think when they journey through the North of Ireland, especially in the coming marching season. It’s not the drums that should be banged, but heads. We still have a long way to go.
William F Scott,
Clondalkin, Dublin 22
Madam – It was with some surprise that I read Stephen Donnelly’s article in support of retaining the Seanad (Sunday Independent, June 23, 2013). On top of giving us some hairy old analogy about life jackets and sinking boats in his support of the Seanad (how come Irish politicians always describe issues in terms of boats as either all rising or sinking, none apparently ever sailing?), he further gives us that spurious old mantra about the Seanad “bringing crucial expertise” to the business of scrutinising legislation. He names six of these so-called experts. What about the other 54? And what kind of experts does the deputy think suitable, a banker perhaps, or maybe a developer, maybe even an auctioneer (he/she could offer expertise in how to flog off State assets).
Another of his reasons for retaining a useless Seanad appears to be to have it act as a prop to an equally useless Dail! Which (to use an analogy, sorry) would be like two drunks, with their arms around each other for mutual support, trying to remain upright as they stumble down the road, probably in the wrong direction.
As for the five examples he offers up of countries with a bicameral system, three – Canada, Australia and Switzerland – are federal states, so there is an obvious reason why they would have a bicameral system, plus the entire electorate can participate in the elections to their upper houses whereas, in Ireland, over 95 per cent of the electorate is barred from participating in Seanad elections. As for the other two countries he describes as bicameral, the Netherlands elects its upper house in a similarly undemocratic way as we do. And I believe Norway’s is a unicameral system, not bicameral.
He describes some of what goes on in the Dail as Father Ted stuff, I wouldn’t disagree there. However, that’s hardly grounds either for retaining a Seanad that has no mandate from over 95 per cent of us, the Irish electorate, and where most of its members would rather be someplace else.
Patrick Pidgeon,
Blessington, Co Wicklow
Madam – Everything Brendan O’Connor states (Sunday Independent, June 23, 2013) is absolutely 100 per cent correct. People with intellectual disabilities have been treated, and will always be treated, as second-class citizens. They have no rights as such and as a nation we should be ashamed of ignoring these fundamental rights that they are entitled to.
Our motto for them is “Roll them out for the Special Olympics” and after that bid them “adieu”. Don’t worry, God has not forgotten them and they will get their reward in heaven.
Tim Horan,
Renmore, Galway
Madam –I was interested to read the two sides to the argument on the whip system last Sunday. As someone who once “lost the whip”, as a member of Dublin City Council, I understand fully the need for party discipline in ensuring the smooth running of our democracy and political structures. Those who advocate otherwise are usually commentators and not practitioners or in the case of the article against the whip last Sunday, a TD who has decided to be an Independent and not work through the party system.
I broke the whip – which to this day I do not regret – and took the consequences. This took the form of serving as an Independent member of the council for 18 months. During that time I was free to take any position I wanted on any issue – and did. It was also the case, however, that I could no longer automatically assume the support of my party colleagues on issues of key importance to me and my constituents. It was, in that respect, the most enjoyable, but least productive, time I have spent as an elected councillor.
The whip exists for all the reasons outlined by Leo Varadkar. It provides for stronger leadership and decision-making. It is a freely decided decision to seek a party nomination and accept the whip – after that if you join the game you obey the rules. And even after losing the whip, all is not lost. Ten years after doing so, I became leader of the group that I was once thrown out of. I am, of course, not encouraging any of my present colleagues to follow that lead.
Cllr Dermot Lacey,
Leader Labour Group,
Dublin City Council
Madam – Your columnist Shane Ross exhibits a capacity for the recycling of material that would gladden the heart of a member of the Green Party.
Take last Sunday’s piece on the chairperson of CIE, Vivienne Jupp. His unfounded attack was personalised. His attempted character assassination of Ms Jupp, crowned by the awarding of the title Quango Queen, a title he also bestowed on myself in 2011, may be Mr Ross’s evolving modus operandi, but it surely falls below the standard required of Ireland’s largest selling Sunday newspaper.
What I object to most is the snide, unsubstantiated, cynical form of attack that is not based on what one does, but on what one is: in this case, an unassuming but very professional and successful woman. I have served alongside Vivienne Jupp on a State board and I found her to be thorough in her review of all materials in advance of board meetings. She fully participated in the dialogue at the table and challenged the content presented by the management team in an independent manner. She was, without fail, an authoritative and informed voice at those meetings and I, for one, have no reason to doubt that she brings that same competency and integrity to the board of CIE.
Mary Davis
Sutton, Dublin 13
Madam – Having read Eoghan Harris’s paean for General Sean MacEoin and his humanity and compassion, I wonder did he ever hear of the late Private Adamson, 17, a Free State soldier shot dead by MacEoin. Private Adamson was on sentry duty at the gate of Custume Barracks, Athlone, and after nearly 24 hours’ duty, he nodded off.
General Sean MacEoin came on the scene and shot him dead. This was wilful murder, and under martial or military law, or whatever one likes to call it, General MacEoin got away with it. Mr Harris, the next time you pass Athlone, say a prayer at the gate of Custume Barracks, and if you don’t pray, spare a thought for the late Private Adamson.
Martin Aherne,
Loughrea, Co Galway
Eoghan Harris writes: Mr Ahern may be unknowingly recycling republican folklore as fact. Col Padraic O’Farrell, former CO of Mullingar Barracks, lists all the dead of the Civil War in his definitive book, Who’s Who in the Irish War of Independence and Civil War 1997. He lists no Private Adamson shot by any side. But he does list a Brigadier George P Adamson of the Free State Army shot by the Irregular IRA in Athlone on April 25, 1922, which date marks the start of the Civil War. To blame Gen McEoin for the shooting of a fellow Free State Officer, who was actually shot by their common enemy, is such a reversal of the facts as to merit the title of black propaganda.
Irish Independent

Hospital Satuday

June 30, 2013

30June 2013 Saturday Hospital

Off around the park listening to the Navy Lark, All the other ships of the fleet have gone off on a goodwill trip around the world leaving Troutbridge all alone. Priceless.
Mary still in hospital for a tests I hope all will be well.
I watch The Invasion its not bad
No Scrabble no Mary


James Martin
James Martin, the pioneering computer scientist who has died aged 79, was hailed “The Guru of the Information Age” for his books on the impact of computer technology; in 2005 he became the largest individual benefactor to Oxford University in its 900-year history, donating $150 million towards a new research school.

James Martin Photo: REX
6:46PM BST 27 Jun 2013
His vast fortune stemmed from a career that spanned four decades and produced some of the most influential textbooks in the information technology industry. He also led the field of Computer Aided Software Engineering , which uses computers themselves to help in the creation of new programs , effectively automating much of the process.
Martin’s writings during the 1960s and 1970s were eerily precognisant, anticipating trends decades before their realisation. Future Developments in Telecommunications (1977) predicted the rise of online shopping and rolling 24-hour news. The Wired Society (1978) was written in the era before the mobile telephone; yet it declared that “the phone of the future will be more mobile, do a host of different tasks and be part of a complex, far-reaching information network”.
In 2005 he offered Oxford University $100 million for the launch of a new centre — the James Martin 21st Century School — aimed at conducting research in healthcare; energy and the environment; technology, and politics and governance. Another $50 million followed five years later. For ideas he drew upon his business contacts, consulting Bill Gates and George Soros. Soros later pledged $5 million towards a programme of research into economic theory. Rechristened the Oxford Martin School, the centre today encompasses 30 different disciplines.
Martin outlined his vision in The Meaning of the 21st Century: A Vital Blueprint for Ensuring Our Future (2006). It painted a dramatic picture of a forthcoming “age of extremes”, governed by scientific advances and increasingly radical ideologies. In order to adapt, Martin argued, society would need to educate the next generation as never before. “Revolutionary change is essential,” he wrote, “and today’s young people will make it happen.”
James Martin was born on October 19 1933 at Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicester, and attended the local grammar school before winning a scholarship to Keble College, Oxford, where he read Physics. After National Service he joined IBM in 1959.
The company had produced the first commercially-available computer, the IBM 701, seven years previously, and Martin was set to work on the first model to use a hard disk drive, the 305 RAMAC. The size of a room, it could complete 50 operations per second (today, computers produced by IBM are capable of 1,000 trillion operations in the same length of time).
He wrote his first book, Programming Real-Time Computer Systems, in 1963, and the following year he worked on BOAC’s first worldwide computer network, which handled passenger reservations, flight planning and crew scheduling. Eventually incorporating 200 terminals in 70 countries, it was then one of the most complicated and expensive projects of its kind.
He left IBM in 1978 and founded various consultancy companies during the 1980s. Between 1977 and 2000 he delivered a series of five-day “World Seminars” on complex computer systems, which often commanded ticket prices of several thousand dollars a head.
He was an honorary fellow of Keble College and of the Royal British Institution.
At the end of the 1990s he purchased the private Agar’s Island in Bermuda and built himself a colonial-style house there. The design incorporated parts of a 19th-century gunpowder store and an old limekiln, with vaulted chambers where he would entertain guests such as Michael Douglas and Rudy Giuliani. Martin was found drowned in the waters off the island.
James Martin is survived by his third wife, Lilian, and by a daughter of his first marriage.
James Martin, born October 19 1933, died June 24 2013


Austerity: the elderly can be part of the solution to this economic mess
One way is working out how to recycle the massive amount of equity in houses

The Observer,

Liquid assets: ‘a re-elected Tory government will undoubtedly look to rich older people for the next cuts.’ Photograph: Novastock/Rex Features
Will Hutton is rightly appalled by the stupidity of George Osborne and the coalition’s economic policies, which even Vince Cable and the Lib Dems are now beginning to realise are taking us in an accelerating downward spiral (“Blame austerity, not old people, for the plight of Britain’s young”, Comment).
But we old people must, somehow, be part of the solution, if only for self-preservation, since even Labour is now saying it will cut universal benefits such as winter fuel allowance. A re-elected Tory government will undoubtedly look to rich older people for the next cuts, as they continue deepening the hole they are creating, blighting the lives of all of the next generation.
Most older people who have been buying houses over their lives, will now be sitting on a major asset. So the question is: how do we recycle this massive amount of equity? Gordon Brown was attacked when he mentioned the possibility of increasing inheritance tax, but this is, truly, dead money for many of us, who have reasonable pensions and kids who are independent already.
I would certainly like to do something with the paper fortune I am sitting on, but I don’t want to wait for George Osborne or his successor to get it when I die, I’d like to find a viable use for some of it now. Any ideas out there?
David Reed
London NW3
Many hundreds of thousands of pensioners, including my wife and me, have seen the value of their pensions fall substantially in the past five years. Those whose pensions are based on “income drawdown” have suffered because the government changed the drawdown rules retrospectively.
This change has now been reversed but the income lost cannot be recovered. More significantly, pension funds plummeted in value after the banking crisis and annuity rates have declined steeply. At the same time, the government has pumped money into various schemes intended to stimulate lending to businesses and house purchasers, with calamitous reductions in interest rates for savers.
Traditionally, pensioners have relied on income from savings to boost their pensions. Not only are we not “prospering”, we are actually funding in large part Mr Osborne’s “debt reduction plan” because the return on most investments is failing to keep up with inflation with the inevitable result that the real value of capital is being eroded.
Colin Boylett
I am 76 and it is my generation, and the generation that we spawned, who have allowed, over the past 30 years or so, a political ethos to flourish that has largely followed the mantra of “I, me, myself, we are my favourite people” and which has led to the present mess. Right now politicians of all hues have come to realise that universal pensioner benefits cannot continue and pensioners are up in arms.
My income from all sources amounts to roughly average earnings. My house is debt free. That doesn’t make me rich but I am certainly not poor. The free bus pass, free TV licence, free prescriptions, free eye test, winter fuel allowance etc are welcome but I do not need them. The one thing that can really impoverish me would be residential care, and three cheers if all this other stuff was cut off and that issue was properly dealt with.
Of course pensioners struggling on the basic pension and/or not in an acceptable state of good health need additional financial support. Are universal benefits really the way to do this?
Finally, I’m fed up with my contemporaries whining on about “… we worked hard and paid in all our lives” etc. Yeah. Me too. And were we not unbelievably lucky to be able to do that? Fat chance our grandchildren having that luck, poor devils. My first house purchase in 1959 cost about two and a half times my then salary of about average earnings. Today the same house would be closer to 10 times average earnings and it wasn’t austerity that did that.
Mike Turner
Lytham St Annes

Eva Wiseman (Up Front, Magazine) proposes that “the ability to articulate … should be consciously and seriously taught to everybody”, recognising that “something is lost when only those who speak well are heard”. The decision by the exam regulator, Ofqual, to remove the assessment of speaking and listening skills as an element of the GCSE English examination will exacerbate a situation in which the most privileged children, attending the best-resourced schools, reproduce the verbal confidence of a cultural elite, while the expressive competence of the majority of children is neglected. Political democracy, if it is to reflect a broad and inclusive range of voices, should be actively committed to ensuring that all citizens can speak without fear in any public situation and listen to others without dismissing them because they’re not “one of us”.
Stephen Coleman
Professor of political communication
University of Leeds
Mothers don’t breastfeed naked
I welcomed your coverage of the decline of breastfeeding (“Breastfeeding figures fall as NHS budget is cut”, News), but if the media really wants more people to breastfeed it should get some decent pictures of breastfeeding.
I am tired of close-ups of totally naked breasts, totally naked babies and totally naked other bits of body. These look pretty but the message they give out is off-putting and inaccurate.
Breastfeeding is associated in the media with the need to be nude, or to wear a soft silk blouse wide open to show a naked bosom. What normal person wants to spend months doing this in public? How many voyeurs might watch and how much offence and embarrassment might they cause?
Breastfeeding needs to be built into everyday life if it is to be successful, and this usually means doing it with clothes on and other people present. Images convey powerful subliminal messages, and ones that turn a normal human activity into an abnormal one are not helpful.
Sarah Allen
Melton Mowbray
Spaced out in Canary Wharf
Canary Wharf may not be to Will Hutton’s taste (“Give us back our public spaces so we can have access to all areas”, Comment) but it is important to remember that in the 1980s the area was behind locked gates, as the once thriving West India Docks had degenerated into a privately owned derelict wasteland.
The work of Canary Wharf Group was instrumental in transforming this vast site into a thriving commercial and shopping district – where 100,000 people work and around 30,000 visit every day. Canary Wharf is not only the fastest growing business district in Europe but the surrounding area is also seeing its residential population expand at one of the quickest rates in the UK.  
Will claims that developers “want to reduce public space as much as they can”. In the case of Canary Wharf, this is not true. More than 20% of Canary Wharf is landscaped parks, plazas and walkways, with more than 1,000 trees and 88 floral species; each year 70,000 seasonal plants are planted. In the past year we have added two new parks at Wood Wharf and Heron Quays.
Will is welcome to enjoy our free coverage of Wimbledon on big screens in Canada Square Park, or our free performances by UK and international dance companies in our Dancing City programme. There’s free parking at weekends, so Will should have no excuse.
Howard Dawber
Strategic adviser
Canary Wharf Group
Royally wrong about privilege
Katharine Whitehorn (“Patriot gains”, Magazine) may be right that there’s a lot to be said for having a token family to watch that does not involve a film star, a footballer or Homer Simpson; but that’s not the whole story.
Would she not join those of us who wish at least to be able to vote for a head of state? The Irish do not seem to have done too badly with that.
From all the articles I have seen from Katharine Whitehorn over 50 years I had been sure that she was fed up with our class system, aristocracy, titles, and all the prejudices, privileges and ridiculous sycophancy associated with our hereditary system.
Peter Bruggen
London NW3
Do calm down, Alan, dear
Alan Titchmarsh (Upfront, Magazine) thinks that the brevity of women’s broadcasting careers is acceptable because of their early days “disporting themselves on sports cars”. I think he may be confusing serious journalists with glamour models. I don’t remember Moira Stewart, Anna Ford, Miriam O’Reilly et al doing any such disporting. So, which is it, Alan – age-related memory-loss, ingrained sexism, or just a glimpse into your innermost fantasies?
Elizabeth Jones
So I turned round and I said…
Perhaps young actors who mumble inaudibly (News, last week) should take lessons from those commuters who have no difficulty in conveying their intimate mobile phone conversations to an entire railway carriage.
Peter Morris



Ian Birrell’s analysis of the National Health Service was for the most part deadly accurate and hard-hitting (“Worshipping the NHS costs lives”, 23 June). It was a shame therefore, that he called for more of the infection as the only cure.
Those of us who grew up after the war remember what the NHS was like when it lived up to its own ideals. Nurses’ primary job was to care, GPs provided all-year-round cover with home visits when required without handing the out-of-hours job to a group of hired carpetbaggers. Mangers were few, meddling little, and the suppurating tumour of the Private Finance Initiative had never been conceived.
It all changed after Thatcher. Birrell is right to castigate the last Labour government. But everything that has gone wrong with the NHS is down to the rush by all major parties over the past two decades to introduce the market, private greed and business models.
To move beyond “sterile debates” and force feed the patient with more privatisation is the equivalent of putting someone with lung cancer on a course of 100 cigarettes a day.
Steve Edwards
Haywards Heath, West Sussex
John Rentoul says that Labour would keep free schools, “which are legally the same as academies… Labour’s idea in the first place” (23 June). But schools earmarked for Labour’s academy scheme were seen as failing and in need of extra funding, whereas the coalition’s version is designed to take schools out of the state system. In essence, this is the privatisation of the state system by stealth.
Eddie Dougall
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
John Rentoul asks why vote Labour if it continues to drop policies that differentiate it from the Government. This underlines the democratic deficit, wherein all the main parties agree on most policy issues but do not have the support of many electors for them – fertile ground for new political forces, as in Greece and Italy, as well as for Ukip, continuing to make unpleasant mischief on the right.
Keith Flett
London N17
I’m not surprised that only 10 or so people have taken up the Green Deal launched in January, if my experience is typical (“Government’s green deal branded a failure”, 23 June). Step one was to get a Green Deal assessment done by an accredited adviser. I got this on 19 February. Despite persistent efforts, I have been unable to get to the next step – namely, to find a Green Deal provider who can give me quotes for insulation for the heat-losing solid walls in my house. I wrote to my MP and after a month got a reply from Energy Secretary Ed Davey who assured me on 19 April that things were moving. Since then, despite emails to and from the Department of Energy and Climate Change, and numerous phone calls, there has been no progress. I can only imagine that the big energy companies are exerting some kind of pressure as the Green Deal is not in their interest. I am now at the point of giving up on the whole thing.
Tim Williamson
Baroness Warsi is right to call for recognition of Empire troops during the First World War centenary commemorations (“Tommies and Tariqs fought side by side”, 23 June). I hope this is not used to hide the exploitation of civilians from across the Empire who were paid a pittance to work on the Western Front. They were subject to harsh conditions, Chinese labourers being shot by the British army for protesting against their treatment. We should never forget the inequity of the British relationship with its empire.
Ian McKenzie
You refer in your piece about Ernest Hemingway’s unpublished material to “socialite” Donald Ogden Stewart (“Hemingway’s last word…”, 23 June). Is this the same Donald Ogden Stewart who was one of the highest-paid screenwriters in Hollywood, who had a string of hits and won an Oscar in 1940 for The Philadelphia Story, later remade as High Society? A victim of the McCarthy witch-hunt, he fled to England. I met him in 1965 when he was writing an eventually unused screenplay for a film about Gandhi for my father, Motilal Kothari. It was dated, but he was an outstanding writer.
Raj Kothari
Bridport, Dorset

Take scalpel to endemic NHS cover-up culture

IF anyone thinks the culture of cover-ups exposed at the Care Quality Commission (CQC) is peculiar to that body, they are sadly mistaken (“Minister tried to gag NHS whistleblower”, News, and “Justice for Joshua”, Focus, last week). I advised on organisational change at the NHS before retiring after 34 years’ service.
My experience was of many managers and clinicians being intolerant of a challenge. A leadership that does not inspire confidence, closed cultures and a resistance to criticism are rife in the NHS and need to be rooted out.
Gerald Hope, Former Organisational Development Adviser, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde
Action plan
The evolution of the CQC into the Care Cover-up Commission is human nature in action. Three of its predecessors were abolished; the priority of senior managers became survival.
The CQC’s latest plan is bigger and better inspections. It desperately needs to add a firefighting force that can respond to the first hint of things going wrong rather than waiting until patients are dying unnecessarily.
Roger Goss, Co-Director, Patient Concern, London SW5
Repeat prescription
Volunteering as I have in the NHS, and working with health service organisations in relation to research and ethics, I fear the manner in which the CQC whistleblower Kay Sheldon has been treated is an experience a lot of people have faced when challenging the ingrained “infallibility” of some bureaucrats.
Gerry Freedman, Edinburgh
Give it a break
Since moving from America six years ago I have read countless articles about NHS dysfunction (“Deaths, incompetence, cover-ups: this was the NHS’s Hillsborough”, Comment, last week), yet nothing really seems to get done, except the forming of new investigative committees and the commissioning of more studies.
I think this country needs to contemplate breaking up the NHS into smaller units, state-funded but locally managed and accountable. Until it has local oversight by physicians, the system is broken, period.
Thomas Crowley, East Linton, East Lothian
Positive feedback
Why doesn’t the NHS establish its own equivalent of TripAdvisor for patients’ and relatives’ feedback, with the CQC doing spot checks to ensure — as far as possible — that the input being made is from genuine patients and relatives? I can’t imagine I am the first to suggest this.
Nick Barton, London EC4
Finger of blame
The truth is that the “no blame” culture is endemic throughout the NHS and it is fanned by the perception of the health service as a national treasure that can do no wrong.
I was involved in the installation of the systems for the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) at its inception. At its core is the national reporting and learning system (NRLS), which collects details of adverse incidents and analyses and reports on them. This is valuable, but a glance at the NPSA’s website shows that no blame can be attached to any such incidents.
Incidentally, the NRLS has a public portal that can be used by individuals to report clinical incidents of care that they believe fail to meet the expected standard, but few people are aware of this.
David Hancorn, Woodley, Berkshire
Healthy option
Yes, the NHS has its failings, but we don’t see people losing their homes or going bankrupt because of an accident or if they need a major operation, as happens in countries without universal healthcare.
Christopher Burns, Torpoint, Cornwall

Mobility tsar’s impoverished thinking
ALAN MILBURN, head of the government’s Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, complains that David Cameron is not listening to him (“Cameron cold- shoulders social mobility tsar as poverty worsens”, News, last week).
I hope it’s true. Milburn claimed in a 2009 report that “birth, not worth” determines life chances, and described Britain as “a closed-shop society”, and in 2011 he told the BBC Today programme: “We live in a country where, invariably, if you’re born poor, you die poor.” But 81% of men raised in poor households escape poverty as adults.
Now Milburn states it is “not remotely possible” for a child born on a council estate today to emulate his achievement in rising to be a cabinet minister. What an inspiring message to send to the nation’s youth.
Peter Saunders, Professorial Research Fellow, Civitas, and author of Social Mobility Myths, Hastings, East Sussex
Out of credit
Milburn complains about firms paying “the least they can get away with” to workers so that “the state is forced to step in”. But it is precisely because tax credits exist that employers can get away with paying low wages. The government of which he was a member has encouraged it.
Lesley Woodfield, York
Part-time solution
Milburn insists on spreading the myth that mothers work part-time because of the lack of “affordable childcare”. But in a Netmums survey of 4,000 mothers 62% who worked part-time said it was an “ideal solution for combining work and home life”. A further 33% said they would rather be a full-time mum but needed the money.
Of the full-time stay-at-home mums surveyed, just 7% said they would like to work but could not because of the cost of childcare.
However, Milburn is right to call for a living wage, which, together with a fairer tax system, would help more struggling families do what every survey says they want to do: care for their children themselves. All three main political parties continue to ignore this reality.
Laura Perrins, Mothers at Home Matter, London SE22

Food for thought on GM alternatives
THE backing by Owen Paterson, the environment secretary, of GM crop technology is surprisingly getting opposition from many farmers and consumers (“Be honest, minister: GM’s not about food. It’s about money”, Comment, last week).
Charles Clover is right in saying greater food production is more likely with steps such as gene sequencing. But other methods like green mulching with cover crops are shown to have long-term benefits that transcend those from using GM seeds. Research into how these can be best used has hardly begun here but is gaining traction in America.
Mike Donovan, Editor, Practical Farm Ideas, Whitland, Carmarthenshire
Bumper crop
There has been production and consumption of approved GM crops for 17 years in America, China, India, Canada, Australia and South America (most of the world, in population terms) without the emergence of a scrap of evidence of damage to human health and to other crops. We should be celebrating the further potential to alleviate food shortages, particularly in the developing world.
Christopher Donald, Hexham, Northumberland
Open policy
The Environmental Policy Forum urges the government to encourage research into GM crops and promote an open dialogue between regulators, agribusiness, environmental scientists and ecologists.
Professor William Pope, Vice-President, Institution of Environmental Sciences
To see the full letter and list of signatories, go to

Chindits history lesson
AS you clarified last week, Max Hastings was mistaken in claiming that the Chindits were the first to reach Myitkyina in 1944 (“Roots of an enduring hatred”, Culture, June 16). This honour fell to their American equivalent, Merrill’s Marauders, who liberated the Burmese town, supported by Chinese allies. The Chindits, also known as the 77th Indian Infantry Brigade, were 50 miles west, defeating the Japanese at Mogaung.
Hastings was correct, however, to state that the Chindits were not given the credit they deserved in Burma. The BBC erroneously stated that a Chinese-American force had seized Mogaung, prompting the Chindit commander Mike Calvert to send a signal to allied headquarters exclaiming: “The Chinese having taken Mogaung, 77 Brigade is proceeding to take Umbrage.”
Gavin Mortimer, Author, Merrill’s Marauders, Cuckfield, West Sussex
Visitors’ unfair penalty
IF ONLY the government monitored visitors leaving the UK, it wouldn’t need a £3,000 deposit (“Asians and Africans must pay £3,000 to enter Britain”, News, last week). The sum of £3,000 will not deter those who want to cheat the system but will massively penalise normal visitors and hugely inconvenience businessmen. This policy is not being proposed for its effectiveness, just to win votes.
Vibhaker Baxi, London NW4
Return ticket
I wonder if the proposal would make it easier or harder for Palestinians to visit. Unlike their Israeli neighbours — sometimes just inches away — West Bank Palestinians need a visa to visit the UK.
All too frequently when an application is refused, the reason given — as in the case of the two Gazan writers recently prevented from coming to speak at an arts festival — is they might not return to whence they came.
In response to a freedom of information request the Home Office divulged that in the 15 months between January 2004 and April 2005 only six people were returned to Palestine.
Elizabeth Morley, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion

Older law graduates out in cold
THE scandalously high ratio of law graduates to training contracts available is not new and is not, as your article suggests, a problem for young people only (“Glut of graduates threatens hope of career in law”, News, last week).
In 2004 I wrote an editorial for the Law Society Gazette highlighting the reluctance of law firms to consider applications from anyone over 30. As far back as 1998 and 2002 the Bar Council published studies showing that the big losers in pupillages were students over 30. Yet the College of Law welcomed me, and my £6,000 fee, aged 40.
Law schools have continued to open and expand with no regard to the availability of training contracts. That is because they are profitable businesses that bestow academic degrees but not legal qualifications and the right to practise law (as in America and many other countries).
Joyce Glasser, London NW3
Legal aid
The Law Society caused the glut of law graduates years ago by demanding two years’ formal training in a law firm and encouraging law schools to expand too fast. During the 1990s recession, my daughter graduated from Leicester’s De Montfort University and made 250 unsuccessful applications to law firms.
She secured a low-paid but demanding housing association legal post, moved to a second role at a district council and persuaded her new employer to fast-track her as its first trainee solicitor. She is now a senior legal manager at a London council.
The Law Society should copy the leading accountancy firms and revert to training bright 18-year-old school-leavers “on the job”, combining work experience and study, so that aspiring lawyers do not incur large debts.
Lynne Faulkner, Bedford

Arrested development
If the homeowning baby- boomers wish to feel more loved they could start by not opposing every development near them (“Are the baby- boomers guilty as charged?”, Focus, June 16). If baby- boomers’ parents had been as vociferously opposed to change, I doubt Milton Keynes or the garden cities of Letchworth or Welwyn would have been built.
Richard Holloway, London SW1
Country life
I am sure God can cope with being removed from the Girl Guides’ “promise” (“Guides go self-service”, Comment, last week) but to replace the promise to serve one’s country with “community” is a disaster. Communities matter, but to promise to serve one’s country places into a wider context all the networks that make up human life. It seems to me that the Guides movement is not being best served by its leadership — something it clearly shares with the NHS.
David Ackerman, London W10

Corrections and Clarifications
Keeping whales and dolphins in captivity in the UK is not illegal (“Stress drives captive whales to kill trainers”, News, June 16). However, strict controls regulating the import of live cetaceans into the EU mean none have been kept in this country since the early 1990s.
Complaints about inaccuracies in all sections of The Sunday Times, including online, should be addressed to or The Editor, The Sunday Times, 3 Thomas More Square, London E98 1ST. In addition, the Press Complaints Commission ( or 020 7831 0022) examines formal complaints about the editorial content of UK newspapers and magazines (and their websites)

Cheryl Cole, singer, 30; John Fortune, actor, 74; Rupert Graves, actor, 50; Tony Hatch, songwriter, 74; James Loughran, conductor, 82; Lord McConnell, former first minister of Scotland, 53; Gary Pallister, footballer, 48; Michael Phelps, swimmer, 28; Andy Scott, guitarist with Sweet, 64; Ralf Schumacher, racing driver, 38; Mark Waters, film director, 49; Leonard Whiting, actor, 63

1837 pillory abolished as form of punishment; 1859 Charles Blondin becomes first person to walk a tightrope across Niagara Gorge; 1894 Tower Bridge opens; 1905 Einstein expounds theory of special relativity; 1908 Tunguska event: asteroid explodes above Siberia with the force of 185 Hiroshima bombs; 1934 Night of the Long Knives begins: Hitler’s Nazi regime executes scores of opponents; 1937 world’s first emergency call service, 999, begins in London


SIR – Her family connections make Jane Austen an ideal person to be depicted on a banknote at the present time (report, June 26). Her brother Henry was a banker – until his bank failed and he was declared bankrupt in 1816.
Gordon Le Pard
SIR – I fear the Bank of England is gravely misled if it thinks Jane Austen can replace Elizabeth Fry. The familiar portrait in your Business pages has zero authenticity, being merely a concept of what she looked like.
There is no portrait of Miss Austen, except a sketch from behind showing only a bit of one cheek. You reported on its authentication some time ago.
So Miss Austen can only appear as a fiction, which, upon reflection may be exactly apt. Banking is, after all, mostly a sorry tale.

SIR – Dozens of twitchers burn fossil fuel quite unnecessarily by travelling to the Isle of Harris to see a rare Siberian swift blown off course (report, June 28), only to see the poor bird killed by a wind turbine.
And this was on the day that the Chancellor announced continuing subsidies amounting to twice or three times the market rate for electricity to be paid to onshore and offshore turbine developers respectively.
This morning, I heard that voices had been raised from the eco-lobby arguing that fracking shale gas would “industrialise the countryside”. Do the Greens have no sense of irony?
Trevor Jones
Lockerbie, Dumfries and Galloway
SIR – A few days ago my sister told me her beautiful white and tortoiseshell cat had been run over and killed. I felt a great sadness, as I was always welcomed by it whenever I visited.
Related Articles
Jane Austen’s dubious banking connections
29 Jun 2013
I also felt sad to read of a rare swift on the Isle of Harris killed by a wind turbine. But I felt anger, too.
While the one could be considered to have been an unfortunate accident, I consider the other to have been totally unnecessary.
David R Taylor
Everton, Hampshire
SIR – The RSPB recognises that wind farms harm birds. Spanish ones alone kill six to eight million birds and bats annually. Yet the RSPB supports the erection of wind farms because, it says, they will ameliorate a supposed dangerous planetary overheating.
I have written on five occasions asking the RSPB to justify its belief in catastrophic global warming, or to enter into a debate with me about it.
The RSPB supposedly exists only to protect birds. It has neither the remit nor the ability to control the earth’s climate, nor to save the world, just to protect birds.
I have asked what the going rate is for dead birds nowadays. Is it say, 50 MW/hrs for a dead nightjar and 100 MW/hrs for a hen harrier? The RSPB does not reply.
Bob Valentine Trueman
Welshpool, Montgomeryshire
SIR – Would it not be better to spend £40 billion-plus on a couple of gas-fired power stations, rather than on HS2?
Avoiding massive disruption from power cuts over the next few years (Leading article, June 28) surely offers a more tangible business case than all of the vain attempts to justify HS2.
Roger J Arthur
Pulborough, West Sussex
SIR – The prospect of domestic power cuts this coming winter is indeed grim. We can only hope that these will not spoil our enjoyment of the traditional Christmas illuminations, which of course begin in late November.
Professor Gareth Williams
Rockhampton, Gloucestershire
Filling Wimbledon
SIR – There seems to be a misapprehension among those who think that an empty seat during a Wimbledon match indicates a problem that needs solving (Letters, June 28).
When I obtain a ticket – whether ground entry on the day or, more rarely, a show court ticket in the public ballot – I do not spent eight hours sitting watching tennis on one court.
Half my time is spent strolling the grounds, spending perhaps 20 minutes each at different matches on the outside courts, just a few feet away from the world’s best players. I particularly enjoy some of the doubles, the junior singles, and the veterans too. During a day in mid-summer, I also like to eat and drink.
However, I’d happily support a system that allowed show court seats to be shared during the day, rather than simply re-sold in the evening.
Edward Vale
London SW19
SIR – Premium unoccupied seats at a Basho in Japan don’t exist. The immensely popular sumo tournaments are over-subscribed, but the failure of corporate spectators to turn up until the most exciting bouts begin doesn’t prevent fans from getting their fill.
I queued before 6am for an entry ticket for that day. My ticket gave me a place in the gods, but I didn’t start there. According to standard practice, I occupied a ringside position until the rightful ticket holder turned up, when I moved to another empty place a little further away. Hours later, after enjoying the action close at hand, I arrived in my final slot up in the roof. I had a great day.
It seems a shame that seats at the best matches at Wimbledon are wasted.
Roger Ellis
Surbiton, Surrey
Patently unfair
SIR – As well as patents being infringed by multinationals (Letters, June 27), the protection they offer to inventors is very limited.
An inventor has to pay for patent filing, issue and maintenance for the 20 years that a patent will last, whether it has been a commercial success or not.
A European patent covers Europe, but additional patents would have to be taken out (and maintained) for other countries. Imagine the cost of getting world-wide patent protection. Although there is an international Patent Cooperation Treaty, not all countries are signatory to it.
Compare this with the copyright system for writers or musicians. Copyright typically lasts for 70 years after the composer’s or writer’s death and there are no fees to maintain it.
Jeff Strike
Millom, Cumbria
Flying teapot lid
SIR – Steve Hutchinson’s ingenious method of avoiding the loss of the kitchen peeler (Letters, June 26) brought back memories of student life in a shared hovel in the early Seventies.
We finally solved the problem of constantly mislaying the teapot lid by suspending it from the ceiling on a long piece of string at the perfect height to nestle on to the teapot without falling off when tea was being poured.
At all other times it hung above the centre of the table, occupying a small amount of unused airspace, thereby allowing us in idle moments to indulge in a teapot-lid swingathon.
The takeaway latte-drinking students of today have no idea what they’re missing.
C Mundy
Orpington, Kent
Benefits of English
SIR – It is difficult to discern the Chancellor’s motive in introducing English lessons for overseas benefit claimants.
Having worked in Jobcentres for many years I can confirm that most overseas claimants want to learn English, and see it as a key for work, here and worldwide.
I cannot think of a better incentive than George Osborne’s to encourage more immigration. It will be viewed as an expenses-paid course of study. But Jobcentres rely on local authorities to provide these courses, and Mr Osborne announced that local government spending will be cut further.
Jo Sant
Rochdale, Lancashire
SIR – My bus pass allows me to leave my car at home. My heating payment allows me to make continuous improvements to the insulation of my house. So both are environmentally friendly.
As Don Edwards suggests (Letters, June 28), I have examined my conscience, and am perfectly content with the result.
Pam Maybury
Bath, Somerset
SIR – The Government has no need to take away my bus pass. The local council has taken away my bus.
Kathleen Richards
Ipswich, Suffolk
Darby and Darby
SIR – If the traditional meaning of husband and wife is to be abolished by this Government (report, June 28) it makes one wonder what else is changing in Cameron’s New Dictionary for modern Britain.
Sarah Green
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
Waterloo sunrise
SIR – I congratulate George Osborne on his move to ensure that the £1 million grant to the Belgians will go ahead, despite mutterings by some who seem to think that moves to restore the Waterloo battlefield sites will upset the French.
I have just returned from the 2013 remembrance and re-enactment. We camped at the garden of Hougoumont where so many British fell, and it is in a sorry state for such an important site.
There were many French taking part and spectating. None were in the least upset that plans for 2015 were well on the way. Their numbers will be in the thousands.
Hugh Martyr
Pershore, Worcestershire
Babies with three parents become dehumanised
SIR – The Government hopes that, subject to public consultation and parliamentary approval, “the world’s first ‘three-parent baby’ ” could be born on the NHS in Britain “by 2015” (report, June 28).
Professor Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer for England, has “compared the process to changing a faulty battery in a car”.
However, using a donated egg will ensure that the baby inherits mitochondria from some woman other than his or her mother. So this “minor repair” will be passed on to future generations. And, despite attempts to restrict the process to serious inherited disease, it will undoubtedly, in time, be applied to less serious disabilities.
Much as manufacturers would rejoice, the process has not yet been invented by which cars can replicate themselves with just a little extra tinkering. However, manufacturing human beings like cars may put us on the conveyor belt to destruction, for in the quest for perfection we are in danger of forgetting what makes a human being.
Ann Farmer
Woodford Green, Essex
SIR – In-vitro fertilisation involving three parties (if deemed necessary) is wrong. This is eugenics.
The go-ahead for it stems from a misguided approach to disability. A disability is a difference that we must recognise and cherish, not eliminate.
Today is a very sad day for the disabled people of the United Kingdom.
Daniel McNamara
Twickenham, Middlesex
SIR – Why is genetic modification acceptable in people but not in rice?
Dr John Doherty
Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire

Irish Times:

Sir, – I thought Anglo, etc, had just cost us billions of euro, from which we would eventually recover. The taped conversations and the understandable international reaction to it bring to mind Iago’s words in Othello:
“Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing; ’Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands; But he that filches from me my good name Robs me of that which not enriches him, And makes me poor indeed.” – Yours etc,
Glasnevin Hill, Dublin 9.
Sir, – The release of the contemptible Anglo tapes just as the EU is giving consideration to retrospective funding of failed banks seems more than mere coincidence. One has to ask who would benefit from these tapes contributing to a refusal from the EU to compensate the Irish State for pouring taxpayers’ funds into Anglo, AIB, etc? The obvious answer is private business interests which would make huge “moolah” by buying at a discount from the strapped State AIB and Bank of Ireland just as they are returning to profitability. I find it frustrating that our standing army of public commentators and columnists are making nothing of this very basic question. Is there a wider conspiracy? – Yours, etc,

A chara, – Sam Quirke (June 28th) is right in noting that if one looked to our national broadcaster and print media one would have thought that no commemoration of Wolfe Tone took place and that he was forgotten.
Last weekend, however, I spoke at a commemoration, attended by hundreds of Irishmen and Irishwomen, in Bodenstown, to commemorate the founder of Irish republicanism, Wolfe Tone. In my speech I noted: “In the Ireland of 2013, the message of Tone is more relevant than ever. Now more than ever, this country needs republican politics. We owe it not just to the generations who have gone before us but most importantly the generation growing up in the Ireland of 2013 and the generations yet to come. Let’s make Tone’s Republic a reality.” Such sentiments are not shared by many in positions of influence in our country, North and South, and I am sure they are glad to have them secreted away from each generation. – Yours, etc,

Irish Independent:
The Irish Independent must be commended for exposing the contempt for authority demonstrated by the invincible, omnipotent leadership at Anglo Irish Bank up to 2008.
Also in this section
Hats off to rigorous pursuit of the truth
Punish the offenders – but not an inquiry
With Anglo having picked a figure of €7bn “out of my arse”, it is abundantly clear that the authorities were grossly misled in this sham as the bad debts of the bank were approaching €30bn at the time – almost 20pc of the nation’s GDP.
The citizens of Ireland are reeling as a consequence, with no recourse to pick anything out of their arses.
The Finance Minister claims he did not know that these tapes existed despite the recording of bank telephone calls being standard operating practice.
The only inquiry that is needed with respect to this shameful, weasel-like treacherous debacle, which has made a laughing stock of the nation across the globe, is for due judicial process to assert itself quickly and decisively – as would be the case in most other able-to-cope jurisdictions.
Also, will garda intelligence ascertain whether there is anything of public interest in the recorded telephone calls at the other covered institutions or are Irish citizens totally dependent on the astute journalists at Independent Newspapers to put the record straight about the capacity and behaviour of our banking aristocracy?
Myles Duffy
Bellevue Avenue, Glenageary, Co Dublin
With all the news coming out of your excellent paper regarding the Anglo meltdown, it would be fair to say that the nation is at a new low ebb. But it is at the moments of greatest adversity that a nation finds its true strength.
What I suggest is that we harness this international interest and announce that we are going to open a whole new range of Capitalist Universities that can operate under a collective educational authority.
We can roll out a series of “Ipi Ooma” (I Picked It Out Of My Arse) State Universities. We could offer Ipi Ooma degrees with modules in deconstruction of all inherent constitutional law, up to and including evictions; and budgets, using the “whatever you’re having yourself” principle;
I feel that now is the time to advertise such a string of universities now that the world and its mother knows that ‘Ipi Ooma’ generated “moolah” of €30bn.
Dermot Ryan
Co Galway
During the 19th Century and the time of the Famine, landlords lived in luxury while the tenants struggled to survive. Has anything really changed in the 21st Century?
Greedy bankers, incompetent politicians, not to mention Patrick Neary, have all been well-rewarded for there failures while the rest struggle to survive.
This country must be the laughing stock of Europe.
Tommy Deenihan
Blackrock, Cork
John Brophy, loving father of a boy with Down syndrome, is right to complain that the word “fatal” was not included in the relevant headline (‘Fatal Omission’, Letters, June 21).
However, I would respectfully suggest to Mr Brophy and to others that if Ireland was ever to accept, in law, the abortion of children who happened to have “fatal” foetal abnormalities, the legalisation of the abortion of children who happened to have other foetal abnormalities such as, for example, Down syndrome, would surely soon follow.
Allowing for the concept of aborting certain children in the womb, simply on the basis of an abnormality that may result in them dying not long after birth (even though there have been cases of such children surviving for some years after birth), makes children with other debilitating conditions, such as Down syndrome, less safe, and indeed, next on the list.
If we were to state, as a matter of public policy, that children with “fatal” foetal abnormalities are less worthy of life, we would be sending the message that all disabled children could be less worthy of life and, therefore, legitimate candidates for extermination in the womb.
This would put us on the road to eugenics, and must be opposed.
It would be a shame, as the 10th anniversary of our successful hosting of the Special Olympics is marked, to think that our culture might have changed to the point where some children (those who, for example, would retain their right to life in the womb under a new cultural consensus) would be, to paraphrase George Orwell, considered ‘more equal than others’.
John B Reid,
Monkstown, Co Dublin
I am sick and tired of hearing Bono-bashing across Ireland. He should shut up, he should pay his taxes, blah bloody blah.
Bono and his bandmates do indeed use an offshore haven for a portion of their tax affairs but at the same time they contribute millions to the Irish exchequer and are currently giving thousands of Irish children access to musical instruments at no or little cost to the State or families.
D McAllister
It was very interesting to read the full JFK speech on June 28, 1963 to the joint houses of the Oireachtas, published in your supplement (Irish Independent, June 17) despite Ted Sorensen’s errors, as highlighted by your own writer Brian Murphy.
The gift of the flag was suggested to an aide of the president by Monsignor Patrick O’Flaherty, chaplain to the Fighting 69th. Patrick, who was descended from a family of Dublin bricklayers, published the history of the regiment for his PhD from Fordham University in 1963.
Pity he was not consulted about the details of the speech.
Fergus Clancy
Lynn Meagher’s sense of grievance about reduced pay scales for newly qualified teachers (‘I gave up a €150k IT job to be a primary teacher, Irish Independent, May 22) is justifiable.
But her assertion that the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) is responsible is factually incorrect. Successive governments cut pay for newly qualified teachers and are, therefore, exclusively to blame.
At all stages the INTO opposed those cuts, lobbied against them and has adopted a policy to see them reversed. That process has begun with the acceptance of the Haddington Road Agreement by INTO members recently.
As a result, teachers like Lynn who graduated in 2011 will be on an improved pay-scale, a first step in reversing a government-designed injustice.
Sheila Nunan
General Secretary, Irish National Teachers’ Organisation, 35 Parnell Square, Dublin 1
Protested, to overturn apartheid.
Prisoner, prepared to serve a life sentence for his convictions.
Peace Prize winner of the Nobel.
President of post-apartheid South Africa, age 75.
Peoples’ worldwide symbol for justice.
Persistent courage and selflessness in the face of adversity
Persons, no, just one person, that is Mandela.
Kevin Devitte
Mill Street, Westport, Co Mayo
Irish Independent

Hospital Friday

June 29, 2013

29 June 2013 Friday Hospital



Off around the park listening to the Navy Lark, Murray, Pertwee and Lovable Leslie returning, from a night out board the wrong ship and are on their way to Forbodia Priceless.

Mary still in hospital for a tests I hope all will be well.

I watch The Dominators its not bad

No Scrabble no Mary






Doreen Hawkins

Doreen Hawkins, who has died aged 93, was a member of an Ensa unit which toured the battlefronts of Africa, India and Burma during the Second World War; after the war she married her glamorous boss, Col Jack Hawkins, who would become one of Britain’s most respected actors.

Doreen Hawkins with her husband Jack boarding the boat train at Waterloo bound for America  in 1956

Doreen Hawkins with her husband Jack boarding the boat train at Waterloo bound for America in 1956 Photo: Topical Press/Getty

6:03PM BST 28 Jun 2013

In a memoir of her wartime years, Drury Lane to Dimapur (2009), Doreen Hawkins showed that for a high-spirited young girl from the south coast the war was a liberation. When she returned to Britain after three years in the Far East, she recalled that “I was not the same person who had left, and was thankful for it.”

She was born Doreen Mary Beadle on July 13 1919 in Southampton, where her father, an unsuccessful businessman, devoted much of his time to amateur dramatics. After making her stage debut aged four at the Misses Bird’s Dancing Academy’s annual matinee at the city’s Grand Theatre, she went on to take children’s parts in productions there.

She began her professional career at the age of 15 when she landed the part of a flirtatious teenage girl in a play touring the north of England. From then until the early years of the war she appeared in rep around the country under the stage name Doreen Lawrence while falling in and out of love with mostly unsuitable young men.

Aged 16 she met the future horror film star Peter Cushing and was immediately smitten with his “splendid profile and dark wavy hair”. They became engaged shortly after her 18th birthday, but the relationship took a bad turn when, during an argument at a restaurant, he threw a plate of spaghetti in her face and burst into tears. The engagement ended after a tearful and embarrassing confrontation at Waterloo station, with Cushing’s parents in attendance.

To console him, she recalled, his father gave him money to go to Hollywood, so “without either of us realising it at the time I had given him the chance he needed”.

As war came, streets and trains began filling with “hundreds of men in uniform with kit bags”; and Doreen recalled that “bulbs on the trains were painted blue so you couldn’t see to read and you couldn’t get comfortable to sleep or sit because of the crush of rifles and gas masks. Everywhere was the thick fug of cigarette smoke and stale sweat. Nobody knew where they were because signposts had been concealed or removed.”

In 1940 she married a stage manager at the Sheffield Lyceum who had already been called up for military service. The marriage began badly when, during their wedding night, air raid sirens forced them to evacuate their room at the Grand Hotel in Sheffield. They spent the rest of the night sharing a bottle of Scotch with the tenor Richard Tauber.

With her husband away in North Africa, in 1942 Doreen signed up for the Entertainments National Service Association (Ensa), joining a queue of “strange folk, jugglers, dancers, actors”. After touring RAF bases in East Anglia, in 1943 she joined the Indian Repertory Company — the first acting troupe to be sent abroad to entertain the forces.

At Liverpool they embarked in a troop ship, which zigzagged down the Atlantic to avoid the U-boats, stopping off in Freetown, Accra, Lagos and Durban. From there they travelled by boat, lorry and train to Cairo, where she had a traumatic reunion with her husband, who had turned into a drunken bully of an Army officer. The marriage, she decided, was over.

Nine months after leaving Liverpool her troupe arrived at Bombay, on New Year’s Day 1944. For the next two years, with the help of professional actors lent from the forces, they toured cities and battlefronts in India and Burma, including war-ravaged Kohima and Imphal, putting on Noël Coward plays in hospitals, tents and barns.

The war was a good time for the profession, and Doreen often bumped into the likes of John Gielgud, Joyce Grenfell, Edith Evans and Gracie Fields, “who sang her heart out with that powerful voice and no microphone”. The ubiquitous Noël Coward “only needed a piano and would go anywhere to entertain the troops and improve morale”. Rather less popular was George Formby — or rather his wife Beryl, who insisted on top hotels and star treatment.

For Doreen and her companions life was less luxurious as they lugged their props and scenery in the heat and humidity and spent interminable hours hanging about at railway stations. Malaria and dysentery were constant hazards, and Doreen was grateful if her sleeping quarters had a roof.

Rangoon, recently vacated by the Japanese, was swarming with rats grown fat on human flesh, and she was warned not to use the lavatories as the Japanese had booby-trapped everything they had not had time to smash. The troupe fled their sleeping quarters in a disused nightclub when monsoon rains came pouring through the roof; and Doreen had to beat a hasty retreat from a nearby lake, where she had gone to bathe, after being informed it was “full of dead Japs”.

She had first set eyes on Jack Hawkins in Bombay, where he “appeared as a shining hero to reorganise and redirect” her troupe. As she toured the subcontinent they continued to meet regularly. On one occasion, when acting the part of a secretary away with the boss for a dirty weekend, she persuaded Hawkins to step in as the “boss” when the actor who usually played the role was indisposed. They fell in love, but as Doreen was still married and Hawkins was in the process of getting divorced from his first wife, the actress Jessica Tandy, they were unable to get married until after the war.

When Doreen returned to Britain in 1946, she faced a freezing winter and a divorce suit. But after three years away she was a different person from the ingénue who had left England in 1943. She rented a flat near Covent Garden and resumed her life as an actress. In 1947, after her divorce came through, she married Hawkins.

She gave up her career to devote herself to her husband and their three children. They bought a villa near Cap Ferrat where they enjoyed happy family holidays.

In 1957 they revisited old haunts when Hawkins co-starred in The Bridge on the River Kwai, which was being filmed on location in Ceylon. Doreen recalled his amusement when, from their bedroom in a jungle hut, they heard, in the next door room, the producer Sam Spiegel trying to bed his girlfriend, and being brusquely rebuffed.

Doreen was in her mid-40s when, in 1965, Hawkins was diagnosed with throat cancer. She nursed him devotedly until his death in 1973, aged 63. Though she continued to enjoy a glamorous life, in her memoir she admitted that she had never recovered from her loss.

She is survived by her daughter and two sons.

Doreen Hawkins, born July 13 1919, died June 15 2013




Michael Billington has badly misunderstood August Wilson’s Fences (Review, 27 June). Troy Maxson does not “crave a better future for his son”. Maxson’s sporting career has been ruined by the segregation that was in operation in US baseball when he was young man. He envies his son’s chance of a better sporting career and does what he can to destroy it – in other words he does to his son what has been done to him. Wilson’s point is that racism has distorted the character of black Americans and that they must rediscover their spirituality if they are to escape its effects on them.
Paul Laffan

• I am nearly as fond of alliteration as your headline writers, but I would not use it to mislead, as in Federer crashes out to crown a day of slips and stumbles (27 June), while at the same time repeating a cliche (Letters, 26 June). As I saw, and the score confirms, Federer lost an extremely close match in four sets, three decided by tie-breaks. To lose 7-6 6-7 5-7 6-7 is hardly to “crash out”, but rather to lose a magnificent match by a minimal margin.
Jackie Cove-Smith
Kirkby-in-Cleveland, North Yorkshire

• With the elimination of so many top seeds, it could be an all-Scottish final: Murray versus Jockovic.
Stan Labovitch
Windsor, Berkshire

• Does the dismissal of Gus Poyet by my beloved Brighton and Hove Albion represent the final managerial sacking of last football season, or the first of the forthcoming one (Gus Poyet learns of Brighton sacking while on BBC TV, Sport, 24 June)?
Pete Dorey
Bath, Somerset

• Cliches (Letters, passim)? Us cricket writers thrive on them. Sixes are towering, spinners wily, LBWs plumb, cover drives thunderous, batting collapses like a house of cards, catches electric, declarations challenging, selectors nudged, players given the nod… etc
Mike Selvey

• Premier League clubs don’t just buy players, they always “swoop” for them.
John burns
Hawkinge, Kent

While this week’s public spending review has reduced the immediate threat of slashed arts funding (Report, 27 June), we are writing to support the economic case for continued public financing of the arts as an important contribution to the strength of the economy, as requested by Maria Miller, the secretary of state for culture. Broadly defined commercial creative activities account for a formidable 10% of national output. Britain has a leading world position, as it has in financial and business services, pharmaceuticals, and the arms trade. With finance shrinking, this country can ill afford to neglect an area of such excellence that attracts the rest of the world to this country in such numbers. Tourist spending and its knock-on effects amount to at least 6% of our national output; this is simply the most obvious of the “multiplier” benefits of the arts to the economy.

A recent report, The contribution of the arts and culture to the national economy, commissioned by the Arts Council from the Centre for Economics and Business Research, gives a well argued analysis of how the publicly funded arts, though a small part of the broader commercial creative sector, are crucial to germinating the talent and creativity that are its driving force. The need to encourage creativity goes further. The whole economy requires innovators if Britain is to have a prosperous future in an increasingly competitive world. To achieve the greatest potential of the economy requires giving full rein to this country’s reserves of talent, of which artistic creativity is such a major part. Over time funding should perhaps shift more to local sources of finance; but right now the economy will benefit from its budget remaining well supported by the exchequer. A former secretary of this club, John Maynard Keynes, was instrumental in setting up the Arts Council and we regard public support for the arts as vital to our economy.
Charles Dumas Secretary, Political Economy Club
Ian Byatt
John Chown
Haruko Fukuda
Charles Goodhart
Peter Jay
Rachel Lomax
Peter Lyon
David Marsh
Douglas McWilliams
Geoffrey Maynard
Michael Nevin
Peter Oppenheimer
Alan Peacock
Gordon Pepper
John Plender
Harold Rose
Richard Sargent
Peter Sinclair
Robert Skidelsky
Christopher Smallwood
Peter Warburton

Andrew Motion is an astute politician, as well as poet, who understands how the invocation of a “romantic” poet (Wordsworth, for instance) still translates readily into images of lost idylls, and so into the good causes of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (Report, 27 June). This seems a decent enough pretext for the invocation of poets – but why only dead poets? And why the deafening silence of most contemporary poets on the bigger social, economic and political issues which now threaten our societies? There is a view that too many of our poets have followed their US counterparts into the relative comfort of the university poetry departments, and year-round lit-fests, leaving less time for rubbing shoulders with the rising numbers of the dispossessed outside. Let’s hope not. Read Shelley’s England in 1819 to get some idea of what he would be making of our England in 2013. President Kennedy, honouring Robert Frost, said, “When power corrupts, poetry cleanses …” There’s much cleaning to be done.
Ralph Windle
Witney, Oxfordshire

Oliver Wainwright highlights the problems for architectural education created by the higher student fee regime (Report, 28 July), which I also recognise. I would differ with him, however, on his implied criticism of the quality and approach of UK architectural education. The UK, and London in particular, is the global hub for architectural and advanced engineering design. One reason that it is so attractive to global firms to set up offices here is the quality of the graduates coming out of the UK’s excellent schools. Architectural and engineering practices play an enormous role in tutoring students, which leads to an education that covers both conceptual exploration and practical execution. The result is employment rates for the graduates of the best schools of around 95%, even in the midst of one of the worst recessions on record.

Another key component of the UK’s success is the diversity within and between schools. We educate all stripes of architect and this is what a flourishing industry needs. Wainwright neglects to mention the risk entailed by the EU directive on recognition of professional qualifications currently under review in Brussels, which may try to impose a one size fits all structure on the whole continent.

As to whether some schools are excessively unrealistic: there is a common misconception among architects and non-architects alike, that somehow design can be reduced to a technocratic task. This is not so. Architectural design is above all a multi-disciplinary team activity. The fanciful and visionary landscapes that adorn the walls of student summer shows are a part of the process used to train people in team problem-solving in areas of great uncertainty and complexity. The proof of the educational recipe lies ultimately in the place that London holds internationally in this field. It is flourishing, world leading, diverse and often extremely hard to understand. Something to be cherished and protected from Eurocrats and bean counters alike.
Professor Alan Penn
Dean, Bartlett faculty of the built environment, UCL 

• Apart from the extremes of wealth, a significant problem resulting from the high property prices in Virginia Water (Report, 28 June) is the architectural vandalism that is being wrought on parts of the neighbourhood. The demolition of classic mid-wars houses and their replacement with ugly, box-shaped mansions with massive, ungainly porticos, designed to cater to the whims of wealthy foreign buyers, is turning some roads into a toytown-looking pastiche. Or at least that is how it seems from the more humble perspective of adjacent Englefield Green.
Professor Chris Elders
Egham, Surrey









Yet again the failed policies of the past three years are to be reinforced and the blame game played by this most miserable of governments, continued beyond the date of the next election. Where is the fairness?  Already Labour (or is it New Labour or One Nation Labour) has committed itself to maintaining these cuts. Where is the opposition or any real alternative strategy?

As a lifelong Labour supporter, resident in Scotland, I find myself sinking into a despair I have never experienced before. I find myself – by instinct a believer in the United Kingdom – for the first time in my life considering seriously the prospect of a separate Scotland. The idea of living in a country which would never see a Conservative government, or one supported by their pathetic Lib Dem partners, is becoming increasingly attractive, as it must be to the thousands of Labour supporters living here.   

Does this government’s strategy include a subliminal message that they want Scotland to vote for independence in the hope of securing a Tory hegemony in England?

Jim White, Alloa, Clackmannanshire

It seems to me that all the discussion about austerity measures to bring down the deficit has been aimed at hitting one group or another; on the one hand welfare claimants, the unemployed, pensioners, and on the other, the wealthy. It’s particularly disappointing to see Labour joining the bandwagon.

Some of the rhetoric used (particularly on the government side) makes it look suspiciously like an attempt to divide and rule.

As well as dividing society, many of the options being considered are likely to increase administration costs by making the benefits system, pension arrangements or taxation more complex.

Surely it’s time one party or another was brave enough to talk about the possibility of an increase in income tax. The system exists, and it is fair, taking more from those on high incomes, less from those on modest incomes and none from those who are worst off. So surely now when “we are all in it together” and “hard choices have to be made” is the time to at least consider increasing it.

We are all going to be suffering from the effects of substantially reduced services one way or another, the poor most of all. At least this would make our contribution to resolving the problem much clearer.

Derek Martin, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced that social security claimants will be required to attend compulsory English classes if they are not fluent in the language.

It will be interesting to see just how seriously the heads of our devolved governments take the existing statutory protection of the UK’s other native languages (Gaelic in Scotland, Welsh in Wales and Irish and Ulster Scots in Northern Ireland) by demanding that classes in these languages be offered as an alternative.

If not, will monoglot speakers of these tongues also be forced to learn English, or is this new legislation aimed solely at Johnny Foreigner?

John Eoin Douglas, Edinburgh

Public mood shifts on press regulation

Chris Blackhurst (28 June) was right to suggest Lord Justice Leveson “should be put in the select committee dock” but wrong in warning that it must happen “before time runs out”.

If anything, Leveson’s  acceptance of the overly polite invitation from the Culture Select Committee is a very good reason for the whole press regulation issue to be put on ice until after both Leveson’s parliamentary appearance and the outcome of the looming phone-hacking and bribery criminal trials.

Chris Blackhurst takes the pessimistic view that, whatever the results, evidence during the court cases will strengthen the arm of Hacked Off and politicians eager to impose statutory regulation. But it’s also possible to put the more optimistic case that the trials focus on allegations against  a minority of staff on two newspapers and the press as a whole is not in the dock.

Meanwhile Brian Leveson’s belated questioning by the select committee can focus on The Independent’s highly-significant exposé of the Serious Organised Crime Agency report showing that illegal phone-hacking was the standard practice of some law firms, insurance companies, high net worth individuals and, yes, celebrities.

It would be a mistake to downplay the potential of the revelations for shifting the public’s mood over statutory press regulation. As a broadcast commentator on media issues, I hear phone-in callers increasingly demanding to know why SOCA did nothing and voicing welcome appreciation of a free press in exposing NHS whistleblower gags and the smearing of the Lawrence family.

Paul Connew, St Albans, Hertfordshire

Your editorial “Other hackers need scrutiny too” (25 June) attacks Lord Justice Leveson for ignoring evidence that “most theft of private information was carried out on behalf of law firms and large corporations”, yet you have presented only the most tenuous evidence for this startling claim.

Your news report cites a single source: a “hacker” who says that “80 per cent of his client list was taken up by law firms”. This is one operator and it is not even clear whether he is referring to his general client list or just his phone-hacking activity.

And far from being “suppressed” as you suggest, evidence of widespread data abuse was uncovered by the police and the Information Commissioners Office some years ago and published in a 2006 report entitled What Price Privacy? This document is the key source for the “suppressed report” by the Serious and Organised Crime Agency that you mention. The SOCA evidence was supplied to the Leveson inquiry but there is nothing mysterious about its absence from the Leveson report, since the judge’s remit restricted him to matters relating to the press.

It is no surprise, though it is of course preposterous, that other less scrupulous papers have seized on your report to build a claim that, if others such as lawyers were engaged in phone hacking, then there were obviously no grounds for reform of press self-regulation.

Brian Cathcart, Executive Director, Hacked Off, London SW1

CQC report was published

It is incorrect to suggest that a report commissioned by CQC from Deloitte was “buried” (report, 27 June). Nor was this a report into University Hospitals Morecambe Bay. It focused on CQC’s use of its investigation powers.

The report was published on our website following a discussion at a board meeting held in public and broadcast on YouTube on 7 February. We commissioned this work as part of our strategy review, published in April. It was referenced in our recent consultation document and in our response to the Health Select Committee’s annual accountability report published on 7 January 2013.

David Behan, Chief Executive, Care Quality Commission, London EC1

Once again the establishment drags its feet in bringing its own to account. MPs who fiddled their expenses were allowed to simply pay the money back, while benefit claimants are taken to court for much smaller sums.

Now we have allegations of a cover-up in relation to deaths on a maternity ward. First the names of those allegedly involved were kept secret, and now we are told that “those involved may now face disciplinary action”. Surely, if so, it is time for charges of misconduct in public office to be considered, if the allegations are proved.

Stanley Knill, London N15

Falling stars at Wimbledon

In the analysis of the slips and falls on Wimbledon’s “wounded Wednesday”, there are a number of potential culprits which should also be considered.

Are they wearing the right footwear with the appropriate amount of grip?

We should also consider the trend towards the giraffe build, which is a feature of many of today’s top players. Whilst that gives advantages for the service game and reach, the skeleton has disadvantages when having to twist and turn to return balls which come on to them increasingly quickly with today’s rackets and balls.

Chris Bown, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire

No political correctness

Trish Scott (letter, 26 June) is disappointed that The Independent mentions that Judge Constance Briscoe’s skin colour is black. Surely the “offending” word was just a fleeting adjective, perhaps of slight interest to some. Maybe a tiny minority of readers were outraged by use of the pronoun “she”. The Independent would never get published if the editors used a politically correct, treading-on-eggshells approach to their work.

Barrie Spooner, Nottingham

Good news buried

Tucked away on page 24 (28 June), was a short and disturbing report “Cyclist deaths up by 10 per cent” (to 118). But what is much more disturbing is the way in which The Independent has failed to tell the whole story. The drop in pedestrian casualties rated a brief mention but not a sausage about the most important of the 2012 road casualty statistics, the 8 per cent drop in the numbers killed to 1,754, the lowest figure since records began in 1926.

Roger Chapman, Keighley, West Yorkshire


There is no comparison between male circumcision and female genital mutilation, except for the very rare procedure of removing the skin covering the clitoris, as described by David Hamilton (letter, 28 June). The commonly performed mutilation of female genitalia in cultures that consider it to be important can only be compared to partial or complete penile amputation. Debate about the rights and wrongs of male circumcision requires a separate forum.

John Beck, Alresford, Hampshire

Church in Arabia

Peter Popham is wrong in writing that Qatar has the only Catholic church in the Gulf states (“The Sheikh from Sandhurst”, 26 June). Whilst Christian worship is forbidden in Saudi Arabia, all the other five Gulf Cooperation Council countries have Catholic churches – including St Mary’s in Dubai, which I have attended many times.

Alan J Percy, Wirral

GM people?

You report on “germ-line gene therapy” to eliminate inherited diseases. Why is genetic modification acceptable in people but not in rice?

Dr John Doherty, Stratford-upon-Avon



The resulting carbon dioxide emissions must be captured and stored safely, and there is also a danger from the release of hazardous radon

Sir, The crucial question you fail to address in your leading article (“Fuel the Future”, June 28) is can the gas then be burnt with impunity? The answer no, unless the resulting emissions of carbon dioxide are captured and stored safely.

The geological record of climate change tells us that we should now take our finger off the carbon trigger. We can do that in part by putting carbon back underground once we’ve had the use of it, whether we burn coal, oil or gas.

We can take the carbon out safely, we can put it back safely. But we can’t argue with a message from a rock.

Bryan Lovell
Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge

Sir, You favour shale gas recovery in the UK, thus following the Institute of Directors report Getting Shale Gas Working published last month. Its authors state in a note: “In order to remain focused, this report does not examine the safety of hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’), either in the UK or overseas.”

The British Geological Survey report announcing the big increase in estimated shale gas reserves does mention risk but it, IoD and you overlook one aspect of fracking that has received no press coverage in the UK: the prospective health hazard of using fracked shale gas.

The Heath Minister Anna Soubry told the Labour MP Paul Flynn in a written answer last month that Public Health England (formerly the Health Protection Agency) “is preparing a report identifying potential public health issues and concerns, including radon (release/emissions) that might be associated with aspects of hydraulic fracturing.”

The report is due out for public consultation in the summer. PHE is concerned to evaluate the potential risks of radon gas being pumped into citizens’ homes as part of the shale gas stream. Unless the gas is stored for several days to allow the radon’s radioactivity to naturally reduce, this is potentially very dangerous. Radon is unquestionably the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.

Dr David Lowry
Stoneleigh, Surrey

Sir, Communities near fracking sites would do well to take the Energy Minister Michael Fallon’s assurance of a cash benefit with a pinch of salt (report, June 28). They should look at the Aggregate Levy, currently £2/tonne. This was introduced in 2002 as a “green” tax and to recompense areas near extraction sites via the Grants Scheme. In the Lords in 2008, Lord Redesdale pointed out that only £24m pa was going on the Grants Scheme while the levy was raising over £300m pa. He need not have bothered. In 2010 George Osborne abolished the grants scheme — and kept all of the levy.

Geoff Mason
Loughborough, Leics

We should celebrate the 80th anniversary of the formation of the British Trust for Ornithology, and support its important work

Sir, On July 1, 1933, a letter was published in The Times announcing the foundation of the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). Eminent birdwatchers asked for support so that the new institute could raise £8,000 for its first five years. The appeal worked and on Monday the charity celebrates its 80th birthday. Our members look forward to the publication of Bird Atlas 2007-11 that will update our shared understanding of what is happening to the birds around us, whether they be the much-loved nightingale or the invasive ring-necked parakeet. More than 40,000 birdwatchers contributed to this atlas, proving right the Editor in 1933, Geoffrey Dawson, who endorsed the BTO’s mission: “In these studies, indeed, Great Britain might lead the world since its area is not so large as to impede co-ordination, and the number of keen and competent observers is larger than in any other country.”

The signatories of the 1933 letter could not have conceived how important BTO data would become. We have provided evidence of climate change, through the advancement of breeding seasons, advised on major planning proposals and helped to formulate farm payment plans to support birds such as the skylark. The BTO is a national and international success; we are grateful to The Times for the far-sighted endorsement of us in 1933. Eighty years on, our need for financial support is as great as ever and we hope that your readers and the interested public will continue to help us for many years to come.

Dr Andy Clements
British Trust for Ornithology

It should be remembered that not one farthing of the monies paid to support the monarch comes from tax paid by her subjects

Sir, You state (June 27) that “the Queen will receive a 5 per cent increase on the money she receives from taxpayers next year”.

She will not. The payment, as you explain later, comes from the Crown Estate, which was surrendered by George III in 1760 in return for an annual grant. Given the value of this estate, the nation had a very good deal. Not one farthing of the monies paid to support the monarch comes from tax paid by her subjects, and it is time that the propagation of this myth ceased.

Neil Stacy
Chippenham, Wilts

There are things that gardeners can do to attract more bees, including growing aconitum, astrantia and geraniums, among other plants

Sir, Everyone is asking where the bees are. They are in my garden. Thousands of them, feasting on aconitum, astrantia, geranium, centaurea, eleagnus, nepeta and lamium. Soon they will enjoy eryngium, salvia, penstemon and veronicastrum.

Grow these and help our beleaguered bees.

Juliet Rogers
Shaftesbury, Dorset

Jane Austen is not the only great author to have slipped up in grammatical terms, Shakespeare seems to have done so as well

Sir, J. R. G. Edwards (letter, June 28) is right to alert us to the dangers of treating great authors as models of correct language.

Yet Shakespeare caused Antonio to say to Bassanio (Merchant of Venice, III, ii), “All debts are cleared between you and I.” Various scholars have tried to excuse the Bard, but it seems that he simply got it wrong. A few years later, Claudius said to Laertes (Hamlet, IV, v), “And they shall hear and judge twixt you and me,” suggesting, perhaps, that Shakespeare had learnt his lesson.

Ian Baird
Framlingham, Suffolk


SIR – Peter Oborne’s verdict on the Chancellor’s public spending record (Comment, June 27) is unduly harsh. George Osborne’s critics too often ignore the fact that public spending rose as a percentage of GDP throughout the first three years of Margaret Thatcher’s administration, only falling below the level inherited of 44.6 per cent after seven years in office. Yet no one considers Geoffrey Howe a profligate chancellor.

Public spending was on a steep upward trajectory before the last election, reaching 47.7 per cent of GDP in 2009-10. This was successfully reduced to 43.1 per cent in 2012-3. Current plans will reduce this to below 40 per cent within four more years if even modest growth is maintained.

George Osborne has simultaneously reduced public spending in cash and percentage terms, avoided politically toxic cuts to the schools and health budgets and changed the terms of political debate in favour of austerity.

This provides the Conservatives with a fighting chance of winning the next election and enhances Mr Osborne’s prospects as a credible future Tory leader.

Philip Duly
Haslemere, Surrey

SIR – Bus passes and heating payments were brought in by the last Labour government as blatant electoral bribes.

The only honest way to help sectors of society that need it is through the tax and benefit system. Anything else is corrupt. Pensioners should also examine their consciences.

Don Edwards
Manningtree, Essex

SIR – If ministers can find £1 million to improve the battlefield of Waterloo, they should insist that something in the shop, amid a plethora of Napoleon ashtrays, pens and fridge magnets, relates to Wellington.

On visiting last year I was almost convinced that the French had won.

Rosie Clarke
Nailsea, Somerset

Boys’ toys at table

SIR – I wonder if newspapers come under the heading of “toys”, like the mobiles that your readers want banned from the meal-table (Letters, June 27).

In the early child-free years of marriage, I tried not to have a television, but was overruled at the time of the 1966 World Cup. I later decreed: “No telly in the dining room.” That ruling was turned to ash by the same person. (The children hadn’t noticed the lack.)

I am writing this at the breakfast table while my husband does the Sudoku.

Janet Spencer-Knott

A cat may look at a king

SIR – I do not know if any cats coexist with the corgis at Buckingham Palace (Letters, June 26), but in March 1948 Princess Elizabeth accepted the wedding gift of a Siamese kitten, Corsham Royal Boy. Timmy, as he was renamed, arrived at the Palace and was collected by the Princess herself, to live with her in the country.

Marianne F Napper
Chale Green, Isle of Wight

SIR – My parents attended the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip (with whom my father had served in the Royal Navy during the war). Later that day we were among the crowds in front of the Palace waiting to see the newlyweds on the balcony. Suddenly a cat appeared and walked along the balustrade to a massive cheer from the waiting crowds.

Violet Hooper
Yatton, Somerset

Positive parenting

SIR – The family lawyer Helen Reece (“Government parenting advice is corrosive and harmful”, Comment, June 26), makes a very simplistic assertion: “Any shortfall in a child’s behaviour can be explained by the fact that the parent’s treatment of the child was not positive enough”.

Positive parenting is not being “nice to children all of the time” and ignoring poor behaviour. It involves methods of discipline that hold children accountable for their actions and help them make amends when they’ve done something wrong.

Elaine Halligan
London Director, The Parent Practice
London SW12

Migrant housing

SIR – “Beds in sheds” (Features, June 27) could be prevented by repealing the section of the Housing Act requiring councils to give 24 hours’ notice before inspections.

John Tilsiter
Radlett, Hertfordshire

Thanks berry much

SIR – While preparing to pick gooseberries yesterday, I was shocked to find the bushes had been stripped. The suspects – two muntjacs from the woods. I was delighted.

None of my family even likes them.

Gillian Lambert
Amersham, Buckinghamshire

Patients could contribute to NHS treatment

SIR – Unlike the NHS, Tesco exists to make a profit, and customers pay at the checkout for everything that they receive.

Let’s move a little towards that world. The NHS could charge £10 for any consultation or visit to A&E (£40 out of normal working hours), the first £20 of the cost of any single medication, and the first £500 of any procedure or test.

How about a pilot scheme – perhaps in Buckinghamshire or Surrey?

Robert Brettell
Anlaby, East Yorkshire

SIR – My daughter is a 31-year-old junior doctor specialising in A&E. She has found it stimulating and enjoyable, but is changing career path as she cannot tolerate the extremely unsocial hours.

She works alternate weekends and most bank holidays as well as the normal working week, with frequent nights, on a fixed rota which is sometimes released only a few days in advance. This makes taking part in regular out-of-work activities or arranging child care very difficult. Her holiday breaks, never more than a week at a time, are imposed with no choice.

I understand that the working conditions in A&E in New Zealand and Australia are better because there are more doctors.

Dr V Hamilton
Streatley, Oxfordshire

SIR – Why is it not possible to contact a service 24/7, and give them your NHS number so that your medical history is instantly available to the doctor?

Alyson Persson
Ewhurst, Surrey

The rock show designer who started with a bang

SIR – Mark Fisher, the rock show designer (Obituary, June 27), developed his pyrotechnical skills in teenage exploits. In the school play and on the Combined Cadet Force pretend battlefield, “Siegfried” – as we nicknamed him – trod the extreme edges of acceptability.

On one occasion, I was among those who helped Mark with a choreographed cadet force display that culminated in a large explosion. The well-dressed visiting party of VIPs and their behatted wives were surprised both by the loud bang and by the clods of earth dropping out of the sky on to their heads.

We were blown off our feet and lucky to have our eardrums intact to hear the visiting general, after a long and pregnant pause, say: “Jolly good show.”

The general’s comment let Mark off the hook from a severe dressing-down from the headmaster.

Richard Lyon

SIR – There can be no sport in which the players are quite so pampered as in tennis.

Children are employed to anticipate and respond to every whim. Players are handed the balls and never have to pick them up or collect them. They are handed a towel to wipe the face after every point, have an umbrella held above them while they have incredibly frequent sit-down rests and are given drinks. They have their rubbish taken away to the very close-by bin.

They are allowed to scream the roof down, and have more officials than any other sport for a two-person encounter, plus Hawkeye – and still they argue.

They should just get real, because I really do enjoy the Wimbledon fortnight.

Cdr John Prime RN (retd)
Old Bedhampton, Hampshire

SIR – Going to Wimbledon this week, I joined the queue at 6.40am and was number 2668. On entering the ground, I ran to Court 3 and again was lucky enough to get one of the last seats available to the general public and saw two great matches.

During that time at least a third of the other seats on Court 3 remained empty for the whole afternoon. How disrespectful this was to the players. There were 4,000 people who had queued overnight and from early morning who would have been thrilled to have filled those seats.

How can quaffing champagne and scoffing smoked salmon equate to watching world-class tennis? It’s high time Wimbledon sorted this out.

It cannot be beyond the wit of man to fill seats until the corporate sponsors can be bothered to turn up.

Natalie Straughen
East Horsley, Surrey

SIR – I listened to the complaints of players about slipping on the grass. Watching the replays of the slips on television, I saw that all were wearing branded tennis shoes with a pimple pattern tread on the sole.

This might be the latest design of shoe, which their sponsors want to advertise, and they may be very effective on clay, but clearly they do not give the wearer the traction and stability needed to play on grass. Perhaps the players who have criticised the quality of the playing surface have been the architects of their own downfall by allowing their sponsors to dictate what they wear on their feet.

Justin Smith
Salisbury, Wiltshire

SIR – If the winner of a match complained at how slippery the court was, then I might start to listen.

Sheila Daintith
Widnes, Cheshire

SIR – Our dog Alfi slept soundly through the epic match between Federer and Stakhovsky unfolding on the television next to his cushion. No sooner had the match ended than his reveries were rudely terminated by the noise emanating from the highlights of Sharapova v De Brito. He rose with a start from his slumbers, anxiously looking around, trying to locate the pair of humans who were so obviously enduring the most excruciating pain.

For the sake of my dog’s sanity will someone please rid us of this needless caterwauling?

Richard Childs
Chichester, West Sussex

Irish Times:

Sir, – I thought Anglo, etc, had just cost us billions of euro, from which we would eventually recover. The taped conversations and the understandable international reaction to it bring to mind Iago’s words in Othello:

“Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing; ’Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands; But he that filches from me my good name Robs me of that which not enriches him, And makes me poor indeed.” – Yours etc,


Glasnevin Hill, Dublin 9.

Sir, – The release of the contemptible Anglo tapes just as the EU is giving consideration to retrospective funding of failed banks seems more than mere coincidence. One has to ask who would benefit from these tapes contributing to a refusal from the EU to compensate the Irish State for pouring taxpayers’ funds into Anglo, AIB, etc? The obvious answer is private business interests which would make huge “moolah” by buying at a discount from the strapped State AIB and Bank of Ireland just as they are returning to profitability. I find it frustrating that our standing army of public commentators and columnists are making nothing of this very basic question. Is there a wider conspiracy? – Yours, etc,


St Stephen’s Street,

Off Tower Street, Cork.

Sir, – Why would German buyers buy from Ireland and why would international investors invest in Ireland, given the insulting contemptuous arrogance displayed by some of our bankers on the one hand and the limp-wristed legalistic response of our political leaders on the other?

Five years after the collapse of our banking system, and three investigations later, politicians are still discussing the form of another investigation which should, could or might take place.

The revelations will make business more difficult for those trying to maintain exports and keep our country afloat. We are officially in recession and our manufactured exports are falling. We are facing a national emergency. Could we hope for something more than political infighting and an analysis of our leader’s DNA? – Yours, etc,


Gowrie Park,

Glenageary, Co Dublin.

Sir, – Enda Kenny and other TDs have claimed they understand the public’s rage at the content and tone of the Anglo tapes. I hope they also appreciate the damage these revelations are doing to people’s emotional and spiritual well-being, especially the many who are facing the threat of losing their homes due to the past mismanagement of our economy by both politicians and bankers.

How truly disgusting and disheartening the contents/tone of these recordings must be for these unfortunates.

A chara, – Sam Quirke (June 28th) is right in noting that if one looked to our national broadcaster and print media one would have thought that no commemoration of Wolfe Tone took place and that he was forgotten.

Last weekend, however, I spoke at a commemoration, attended by hundreds of Irishmen and Irishwomen, in Bodenstown, to commemorate the founder of Irish republicanism, Wolfe Tone. In my speech I noted: “In the Ireland of 2013, the message of Tone is more relevant than ever. Now more than ever, this country needs republican politics. We owe it not just to the generations who have gone before us but most importantly the generation growing up in the Ireland of 2013 and the generations yet to come. Let’s make Tone’s Republic a reality.” Such sentiments are not shared by many in positions of influence in our country, North and South, and I am sure they are glad to have them secreted away from each generation. – Yours, etc,


Sir, – As a frequent user of the N7, I am happy to hear that the traffic lights at Newlands Cross are to be replaced by a free flow structure (Home News, June 6th).

However, I would be even happier to have to wait the extra few minutes at the traffic lights if I knew that the €100 million which it will cost was being used to provide accommodation and supports for those homeless people still living on our streets. – Yours, etc,


Upper Sherrard Street,

Sir, – Having been a social worker in London during the 1980s, and seeing many young Irish women having to leave home to have their babies adopted, I watch with both sadness and interest the current debate on the abortion legislation in Ireland.

Surely, in this day and age the case for women’s health outweighs the religious issues being currently made to hold back progress. The women I saw were put in an invidious situation by the religious mores of the time. Please don’t do this again. – Yours, etc,


Whaley Lane,

Whaley Bridge,

Derbyshire, England.

Sir, – I refer to the article by Dr David Grimes (Opinion, June 25th) in which he refers to the pro-life statement last September that “abortion is never necessary to save the life of a mother”.

Dr Grimes seems not to have read or heard any further qualification of this statement. The situation in Ireland to date is that in the treatment of pregnant women with a medically life-threatening condition such as ectopic pregnancy or pre-eclampsia the mother is given whatever medical procedure is necessary to save her life. This intervention may endanger the life of the foetus, but every effort is made to save that life, sadly not always successfully, and the mother has to accept that “I lost the baby”.

It is in this attitude of care for the foetus/unborn child that such medical intervention differs from abortion, the direct object of which is the death of the unborn. There is a clear difference between the two approaches. – Yours, etc,


Sir, – During the recent national commemoration of the visit of President Kennedy, little justification has been given for our adoration, other than that he was charismatic and of Irish descent. Scant mention is made of any substantive achievements made under his presidency.

It is a sign of our immaturity and insecurity as a nation, that we unthinkingly revere a family not for what they do, but for what their surname is. – Yours, etc,


Irish Independent:



M still in hospital

June 28, 2013

27 June 2013 Still Hospital

Off around the park listening to the Navy Lark, Its CaptainPovey is off on Troutbridge to South America, little does he know that Mrs Povey has followed him, Priceless.
Mary still in hospital for a tests I hope all will be well.
I watch The Dominators its not bad
No Scrabble no Mary


Bert Stern
Bert Stern, the celebrity photographer, who has died aged 83, became one of the highest-paid talents in the American advertising industry, and famously took more than 2,000 pictures of Marilyn Monroe in an intimate three-day shoot — the so-called “Last Sitting” — shortly before her death in 1962.

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Bert Stern Photo: GETTY
6:48PM BST 27 Jun 2013
Many showed the actress naked, or posing through diaphanous scarves. “She was so beautiful at that time,” Stern recalled. “I didn’t say: ‘Pose nude.’ It was more one thing leading to another: You take clothes off and off and off and off and off. She thought for a while. I’d say something and the pose just led to itself.”
Although self-taught, Stern helped to revolutionise Madison Avenue and the world of 1960s advertising, recently depicted on television in Mad Men, by transforming simple commercial photography into a branch of conceptual art. With contemporaries like Irving Penn and Richard Avedon, he reinvented the vocabulary of glossy magazines (which had hitherto regarded pictures mainly as a means of illustrating advertising copy) by the use of clear, uncluttered and arresting images.
His first assignment, for Smirnoff vodka in 1955, for example, featured a simple close-up of a martini glass in the heat of the Egyptian desert with the Great Pyramid at Giza shimmering in the background. One American critic called Stern’s photograph “the most influential break with traditional advertising photography” of its era.
As a portraitist he photographed some of the world’s most beautiful women, among them Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren and Brigitte Bardot. Stern also shot pictures of the then 13-year-old actress Sue Lyon in heart-shaped red sunglasses — one became the poster image for Stanley Kubrick’s controversial film Lolita (1962).
An obsessive womaniser, Stern admitted that he “fell in love with everything I photographed”. But it was the so-called “Last Sitting” of Marilyn Monroe for Vogue magazine that was to furnish his most enduring portfolio. He confessed to trying to get the actress into bed as she peeled off layers of clothing during the shoot at a Hollywood hotel. Whether or not he succeeded was never clear, though he later suggested: “I could have hung up the camera, run off with her, and lived happily ever after.”
The son of Jewish immigrants, Bertram Stern was born on October 3 1929 in Brooklyn, where his father worked as a children’s portrait photographer. After dropping out of high school at the age of 16, he landed a job in the post room at Look magazine, where he met Stanley Kubrick, the magazine’s youngest staff photographer, with whom he shared “a mutual interest in beautiful women”; the pair formed a close and lasting friendship.
Despite his lack of training, Stern became assistant to Look’s art director Hershal Bramson. This led to a position as art director at Mayfair magazine, where Stern bought a camera, learned how to develop film and make contact sheets, and started taking his own pictures.
In 1951 Stern’s career was interrupted by the Korean War, and he was drafted into the US Army. But instead of being posted to Korea, he was diverted to Japan and assigned to the photographic department, where he learned to use a film camera, shooting news footage for the Army while taking stills for himself.
After his discharge his old boss Bramson, then working for a small advertising agency, offered Stern a photographer’s job on a new campaign for Smirnoff. Walking down Fifth Avenue with a martini glass filled with water for inspiration, Stern noticed the Plaza Hotel was inverted in the glass that acted like a lens and turned the image upside down. This gave him the idea to photograph the Pyramid of Giza upside down in the glass, and in 1955 he flew to Egypt to capture the image.
After a brief detour into documentary film making — he directed Jazz on a Summer’s Day (1959), a much-admired record of the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival — Stern returned to stills photography. By 1962 he had begun photographing personalities as well as advertisements and, having joined Vogue magazine, was invited to Rome by Twentieth Century Fox to photograph Elizabeth Taylor on the set of Cleopatra.
Richard Burton, whom Stern had already photographed at his studio in New York, was playing Mark Antony and began an affair with Elizabeth Taylor. Stern became friends with both and was able to shoot “more candid, fun pictures” of the couple when they were together off set.
Stern’s contract at Vogue gave him a free hand to photograph what he liked, and in June 1962, when he realised that Marilyn Monroe had never been photographed for the magazine, he arranged a shoot at the Bel-Air Hotel, where he adapted one of the spacious suites as a studio. “You’re beautiful,” he exclaimed as he greeted her in the corridor, and she replied: “What a nice thing to say”.
At Monroe’s suggestion, she posed naked, draped in scarves, pearls, paper flowers and bedsheets during the 12-hour session, which ended at dawn. The editors at Vogue were ecstatic , and sent Stern back to photograph Monroe for a further two days, during which he shot the black-and-white images that became some of the most intimate celebrity portraits ever taken.
When Stern submitted his pictures — he had shot 2,571 over three days — Vogue decided to use the mono pictures rather than the colour nudes. “They called me up to see the layouts,” Stern recalled. “There was something haunting about them. That Monday, she died.”
But as his career flourished through the 1960s, Stern’s personal life fell apart, particularly as he underpinned his exhausting work schedule — he booked as many as seven shoots a day — with heavy use of amphetamines. Eventually his marriage to the beautiful New York City Ballet prima ballerina Allegra Kent collapsed, along with his health and his finances.
Recovering in Spain, he had the idea for The Pill Book, a photographic compilation of different pills which he shot as simple still lifes. The book sold more than 18 million copies, and by the late 1970s Stern had returned to America to photograph portraits and fashion.
In 1983, through a friend, he met Shannah Laumeister, then 13, whom he photographed. After a second sitting four years later, she became his girlfriend and muse, and the couple secretly married in 2009. In 2012 Shannah Laumeister directed a candid film documentary, Bert Stern: Original Madman, which was released earlier this year.
In 2000 Stern’s photographs of Monroe were published in a mammoth book, Marilyn Monroe: The Complete Last Sitting. He latterly sought to duplicate his Monroe success with Lindsay Lohan, and while the pictures proved a tabloid sensation, they were widely criticised as tawdry and exploitative.
Stern and Allegra Kent, with whom he had a son and two daughters, divorced in 1975. Shannah Laumeister survives him.
Bert Stern, born October 3 1929, died June 26 2013


One point which has been missed in your letters on rail privatisation (27 June) is how taxpayers’ money flows to state coffers in Germany, Netherlands and France. Not only have we lost most of our rail manufacturing base, but now German state railways (DB) controls Arriva group, which provides train services in Wales and the Cross Country franchise, as well many bus services. DB also controls our major rail freight operator (DB Schenker). Dutch Railways (NS), through its subsidiary Abellio, is the Greater Anglia franchisee, and has a part interest in Merseyside and Northern trains, and some buses in London.
Finally, the French, with their state-owned transport interests in Veolia, Transdev and the Paris Transport Authority (RATP), have a presence in running buses in London, Bournemouth and other places. Although most of these publicly owned operators are doing a good job, needless to say there is no reciprocal British state interest abroad.
Barry Moore

The Business, Innovation and Skills committee recently called on the government to do more to tackle female under-representation in science, technology, engineering and maths (The girl gap, G2, 27 June). We are delighted to see this issue discussed at a national level and support the recommendations. But we should go further to ensure that gender inequality is properly addressed. First, more emphasis should be placed on mentoring scientific careers. Mentoring plays a key role in helping create a more nurturing, encouraging and transparent working environment, and should be made available to any scientist at any career stage.
The power for change also lies with men. Currently, it is not perceived as socially acceptable for men to work part-time or take substantial parental leave. So, to increase the representation of women in Stem, we need to make these working practices more acceptable for men by amending legislation on parental leave and rights. Changing social norms to reduce the loss of women from science is perhaps the most challenging yet important and wide-reaching change needed.We are championing a change in female under-representation in Stem through “Soapbox Science” on 5 July at London’s South Bank.
Dr Nathalie Pettorelli
Institute of Zoology, London
Dr Seirian Sumner
University of Bristol
• Girls at secondary school may not think of engineering as a career because there is no one to encourage them: successive governments have fallen down on this and schools are little better. Our elder daughter is a successful electronics engineer and the great breakthrough for her was in the sixth form. I noticed in Education Guardian an advert for a week at Aston University entitled “Women in Engineering” – I promptly booked a place for her. She came home treading on air! Needless to say, the scheme no longer operates. The blokes don’t help of course – girls can have a tough time. But it could be so much better than it is if only there was enough vision and encouragement, and less prejudice.
Ruth Baden
Seer Green, Buckinghamshire

To reduce the national debt, we need an expanding economy and tax base (The cuts that keep coming, 27 June). Expanding production and employment is the natural result of expanding demand, which is lacking. The government is in the unique position of being able to initiate investment directly and of creating the money to finance it. A sustained commitment to public investment, creating incomes and the ensuing demand for mass-produced goods, would unlock private investment and a process of growth, and ability to slowly begin deficit-reduction from a position of economic strength.
Francis Westoby
Hitchin, Hertfordshire
• When faced with over 2.5 million unemployed, yet only half a million vacancies, it is surely obscene for a chancellor to lecture the unemployed about how they must attend jobcentres every week, must have CVs ready before attendance, wait seven days before benefits and so forth. However pretty the handwriting, however eloquent at interview, however strong the motivation, at least 2 million people would be without work, were all vacancies filled. That’s the hard fact that the government should stop seeking to evade. It should recognise the plight of the unemployed instead of blaming them for being unemployed.
Peter Cave
• The flickering light at the end of the tunnel is the banking industry coming – unintentionally – to the rescue. In recent months there has been unexpected buoyancy in retail activity and a boom in sales of new cars. Both of these trends can be explained by the drip-feeding into consumers’ pockets of about £14bn in compensation payments to be spread over two years or so for mis-sold payment protection insurance. That is approaching 1% of GDP and probably accounts for much of the small improvement in GDP in the first quarter of this year.
Harvey Cole
Winchester, Hampshire
• Why is it politically taboo even to consider raising income tax? Labour and Conservative governments did this regularly when faced with budget deficits in the past. The case would need to be well made. But for Labour and the Lib Dems to continue to assume that most people are so soaked in individual selfishness as to refuse to vote for a party that would contemplate raising taxes, particularly for the better off, to protect vital services is surely to go down a mistaken and politically cowardly path?
John Gordon
Wallingford, Oxfordshire
• Growth the chancellor wants, and growth he will get. Food bankers up and down the country will expect his latest set of measures to produce fairly spectacular growth in the numbers of those in food poverty, and accelerated growth in the number of food banks. Serving a largely rural area and without a central “shop” where clients can collect their parcels, we deliver them. It is in those brief encounters that we see the gut-wrenching needs of some people – needs which a parcel of food, however substantial, comes nowhere near satisfying. George, during your summer recess, would you and Dave care to join us in making some deliveries?
Patricia and Peter Simmons
North Berwick, East Lothian

I’ve often wondered how victims of fraud or environmental damage feel about huge “compensation” packages for senior executives. I recently visited a lively 100-year old who, I suspect, is more generous than wealthy. He told me he’d just received a letter telling him he had been “awarded a reduction” in his pension following the death of his wife (of 74 years). Reduced pension, fair enough. But the language.
Rev James Ramsay
• Schadenfreude is all very well (Pass notes, G2, 26 June), but the “gag”, as the Germans also say, is on us. We can revel in Chinglish, Spanglish and now Denglish but unless we can help more of our own kids to master Mandarin, Spanish and German, the UK’s up the proverbial creek without a “paddel” when it comes to competitiveness.
John Worne
Director of strategy, British Council
• UK Brünnhildes may be losing weight and gaining stature (Letters, 27 June), but the gold standard is set by the svelte Swede, Nina Stemme, who’ll sing the role in next month’s Proms. If you can’t wait that long she is a transcendent Isolde at the Vienna Staatsoper this month.
Dr John Doherty
Vienna, Austria
• Your review page (24 June) shines an interesting light on your perception of the Guardian’s readership. The Killers, Patti Smith and Leonard Cohen will, I’m sure, be known to some of your readers. What I guess many more were hoping for was comment on Sunday’s superb final of the Cardiff Singer of the World competition which did not receive a mention in any part of the paper.
David Gillan
Knutsford, Cheshire
• When offered the choice between a free Daily Mail or Telegraph in my local supermarket (Letters, 27 June), I decide which looks the thickest and then take it home and shred it. They both absorb my cat’s wee equally well.
Kay Ara
Trinity, Jersey
• I have noticed for some time that cricket sides get “bundled out”, as with Somerset against the Australians (Sport, 27 June).
Rev Tony Bell
Rochester, Kent

Falkirk constituency has been put into special measures by Labour’s NEC following “stitch up” claims (Report, 25 June). But the transparency of Unite’s political crusade belies any intended malpractice: they have campaigned in good faith; their well-meaning socialist goals have been there for all to see. No, the issue at stake is the lack of strategic direction from Labour’s leadership. Old Labour and New Labour are not compatible and never will be. Socialism is the very antithesis of capitalism and no end of relabelling will make old values electable. If this severe and visible rift persists, 20 years of rebuilding credibility will have been wasted.
Labour has already had its modern revolution. Blair won our arguments in the country, and those that mattered within the party. Remember, New Labour was conceived as a “programme for a new centre and centre-left politics” (see Labour’s 1997 manifesto). The underlying assumption (then) of a Liberal coalition, in the event, gave birth to unexpected landslide Labour majorities and to what surely became the most successful and influential popular political movement in modern history. These populist New Labour principles are still as relevant as ever. Pendulum politics will now likely exclude extremes, and even more likely reward centrist coalitions. If the price of Labour’s paymaster is to require us to withdraw into the ideological comfort zone of our core activists (in order to re-engage in our old internal battles), then Labour’s generals will have perversely snatched defeat from the jaws of victory (well in keeping with our party’s Old Labour traditions). A party with discipline, clarity and pledgecards wins elections. Not a party that follows the line of least resistance.
Mike Allott
Eastleigh, Hampshire
• On Wednesday, George Osborne introduced proposals that will push desperate families into the arms of payday loan sharks and throw thousands more hard-working public servants on the scrapheap (The cuts that keep on coming, 27 June). Ed Balls’s reaction to this was to score cheap political points. What else could he do? Labour has already said it won’t be reversing any cuts planned up to 2015-16. This decision marks the final descent of the Labour party from a popular working-class movement to being just another middle-class conservative political party.
As somebody who now feels completely disenfranchised by the main parties, I call on the trade union movement to withdraw funding from Labour as a party that no longer represents its interests. Instead, funding should be directed to a new party formed from the membership of the People’s Assembly Against Austerity. This would be a party that seeks to improve the living standards of all people whether working or not. The shape of society is changing and full employment no longer a possibility. The unemployed should be encouraged to live stimulating lives and be valued rather than being scapegoated for economic problems created by reckless bankers.
The economy is said to be recovering when the rich are getting richer at the expense of a victimised underclass resorting to food banks. The way economic success is measured is seriously flawed. However obnoxious Ukip’s policies, they have at least demonstrated an appetite in the electorate for real political alternatives. A genuine people’s party should be formed without delay, to reverse the cuts and give the poor, the low-paid and the jobless a real political voice.
Tim Matthews
Luton, Bedfordshire
• Cherry Weston asks why we should vote for Labour if they are keeping to the same spending limits as the government (Letters, 25 June). Having the same overall level of public spending doesn’t mean sharing it out in the same way. You only have to read the Guardian or Private Eye to see how this government has squandered money through incompetence or ideology or a mixture of both. There is plenty of scope to shift spending priorities, as well as to raise more money through a determined crackdown on tax evasion. And some measures – such as tighter regulation of privatised utilities – don’t require extra spending.
John Bourn
Gateshead, Tyne and Wear
• The prospects for jobs and services in local government look increasingly frightening. Not all Labour representative and affiliated unions such as Unison and Unite share the shadow chancellor’s acceptance of these cuts. Many Labour councillors are torn between obligations to their communities and workforce and feeling obliged to back the policies of the leadership. But an increasing number of councillors are realising that it is not only morally wrong to carry through these devastating cuts but also politically suicidal for the party. The Councillors Against Cuts campaign calls on unions and Labour councillors to oppose together all cutbacks in local government expenditure. Only last week Unison, at its national local government conference, overwhelmingly agreed to work with us for this objective. Osborne’s complacency that no one has fought back against him will have to be answered over the coming year. There must be a fight. Our campaign is working to ensure that there will be.
Pete Radcliff Secretary, Councillors Against cuts, Cllrs Gill Kennett and Dean Kirk Hull City Council, Cllr Greg Marshall Broxtowe Borough Council, Jon Rogers Unison NEC (personal capacity), Marsha Jane Thompson Vice-chair, Labour Representation Committee
• One can agree with everything Green MP Caroline Lucas says (Letters, June 25) but also have the need to add in what she did not say – which bears down very heavily on the politics of the case she is making. The People’s Assembly was heavily sponsored by the trade unions. But we all know that, with a few honourable exceptions, come 2015 most of those unions will be spending money and deploying members to elect an, essentially, New Labour government that is now committed to everything they were attacking last Saturday. Time, I feel, for the unions to have a serious rethink about their Faustian pact with rewarmed Blair/Brownism.
Simon Sedgwick-Jell
An important point not mentioned in your article on the problems with ‘chugging’ is the simple fact that there are a lot more people living on or below the bread line as the economic squeeze continues with no end in sight.
I must admit that I personally dislike this form of fundraising and consider it to be one of the worst ways to raise awareness for any charity, the only one worse than this is the ‘knock on the door’ at teatime with the same ‘guilt trip’ message hammered home by the young person in the charity shirt.
What many of these charities using guilt and bully tactics overlook is what happens during the course of an average day for some of us – I’ll use myself as an example. I buy goods that support growers and farmers from the local shops to support local business; my change goes into the charity tin on the counter or to the quiet folk simply standing with a tin at the doorway. I will pay for someone to pack my goods to support a local charity and sponsor friends and family doing things to raise money for good causes. All of this is done whilst juggling bills and day to day expenses, just to get by. Then I am accosted by someone with a clipboard demanding my bank details, while saying to me: “But it’s only X amount per month…”
It is ironic that even some of the larger charities have not learned anything from the TV, where huge fundraising happens every year. Those campaigns entertain, educates and make people laugh and cry, and they raise millions in a matter of hours. It works because it does not simply expect you to put your hand in your pocket or give your bank details. It works because it engages you without the bully tactics. I am not saying that this is the perfect way to fundraise, as I know there have been scandals, but to me it is far better than accosting strangers in the street.
Peter Dean
Partner and web design consultant at Debayne Web Design



Is there not something obscene in the way in which George Osborne deals with the unemployment misery? He trumpets that the unemployed must attend job centres every week, must have CVs ready before attendance, must wait seven days before benefits, and so forth – as if it is the fault of the unemployed that they are unemployed.
He conveniently forgets to highlight the fact that there are about 500,000 job vacancies, yet at least 2,500,000 people looking for work. However pretty the handwriting, however strong the motivation to work, however eloquent at the interview, at least 2,000,000 people would be without work, were all vacancies filled – and it is shameful for ministers not to come clean about that.
Peter Cave, London W1
Making people sign on weekly instead of fortnightly is a pathetic little measure from a pathetic Chancellor who doesn’t understand the problems faced by the jobless in a country with 2.5 million out of work. Mind you, they will need extra staff at the Job Centre to deal with this extra workload, something I’m sure that hasn’t crossed Osborne’s mind.
Tim Mickleburgh, Grimsby
The bloated public sector needs cutting; it’s a pity George Osborne didn’t cut overseas aid, or even stop it, until our country can afford to send our taxes abroad.
We shouldn’t be cutting our services while sending money to countries which will always have disease, famine and conflict.
T Sayer, Bristol
Oh dear! Mr Osborne’s clumsy joke about the Battle of Waterloo will upset his swivel-eyed right-wingers. Victory in 1815 was confirmed by the arrival of Blucher and his Prussians. Will the Bones and their chums envisage General Merkel riding over the hill to our aid?
Peter Metcalfe, Stevenage
Justice for disabled fans at live gigs
Through my parliamentary work with the young people who make up the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign’s Trailblazers network, I am very aware that access and inclusion at many live music events is still far from perfect for disabled fans (“Gigs ‘humiliate and isolate’ disabled fans”, 26 June).
It is important that the music industry understands how they can improve their service for young disabled people who want to enjoy live music and buy their tickets in the same way as everybody else. I met with representatives from the live music industry and members of the Trailblazers network in Parliament yesterday to see if we could come up with some solutions to the problems disabled people face when watching their favourite band or artist.
Our group is in the process of its second inquiry into the issues of social justice that affect young disabled people and we will be publishing our recommendations next year.
Paul Maynard MP, Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Young Disabled People, House of Commons
I have MS and regularly go to gigs and festivals, so I fully understand the need for improvements, particularly when accessible tickets are only available via the venue and there are restrictions with companion seats. But let’s hear it for the tremendous efforts that have been made by the major festivals such as Glastonbury and Womad.
Accessible camping, toilets, viewing platforms, accessible showers, access for caravans and  motorhomes and even volunteer helpers for pitching tents. Sadly mud does not discriminate, but help is always at hand.
Recent good venues for thoughtfully placed wheelchair accessible seating: Newcastle Radio Metro Arena (Neil Young and Crazy Horse); and – always the best – Manchester Bridgewater Hall.
Brenda Lynton-Escreet, Carnforth, Lancashire
Why doctors can look scruffy
I was interested to read Mary Dejevsky’s view on the dress code in hospitals (Notebook, 26 June).
I have worked within the NHS, and would agree that some doctors’ dress sense has been lost latterly. It is generally required that clinical staff should be naked up to the elbows, and ties, if worn, should be stuffed down the front of the shirt. White coats have been banned as they were rarely washed.
Some older consultants try to subvert these rules, working in their smart shirts with cufflinks, but beware if they are caught by eagle eyed infection control nurses!
Younger doctors are more compliant in this area, but as a result do tend to “dress down” rather more than their older colleagues, with the result that they could be seen as rather scruffy in appearance.
Perhaps Mary Dejevsky would prefer them to appear in the operating theatre scrubs beloved of our American cousins. Personally I would prefer these, to indicate that the doctor is in a newly laundered outfit, fit to be used when carrying out sterile procedures.
On the matter of nurses uniforms, rules are strictly enforced. Unfortunately some nurses may appear “unkempt”, as hospital laundries stopped ironing uniforms some time ago. The alternative is for nurses to wash their uniforms at home, after every wear, at 60 degrees or above. Difficult in modern ecological washing machines.
There is, however, no excuse for them to do their shopping in uniform, unless they work in the community and are carrying out purchases on the behalf of patients.
Liz White, Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire
Tackle the worst mutilation first
Ian Quayle asks: “Is it not time that all genital mutilation – on boys as well as girls – was treated as a criminal offence?” (Letters, 22 June). The moral case against parents having a licence to lacerate their children’s genitals without consent is unassailable. Such a law could be consistent and subject to no misinterpretation.
However, as in the days of the slave trade, the campaign for abolition of these barbaric practices is likely to take decades, and will have to square up to some fierce opposition. In the short term, alleviation of the worst excesses also needs to be aimed at, as was the case with conditions on the slave ships long before emancipation. It is important to insist that when a girl is circumcised, no more is taken away from her than the foreskin or prepuce which covers the clitoris, analogous to male circumcision.
It is important to keep talking about this, even if it makes some people feel ill.
David Hamilton, Edinburgh
Syria bleeds as the world bickers
It is a damning indictment of international diplomacy that no date has been set for the proposed Syria peace conference (“Hopes for Syria conference fading”, 26 June).
A political solution is desperately needed to end the conflict, which continues to claim a staggering 5,000 lives a month and has left more than eight million people in need of aid. Further delays will only increase the bloodshed and suffering. Yet the promised Geneva peace conference seems farther away than ever.
A timetable for the peace negotiations must be agreed immediately and all sides of the conflict must be involved, as well as non-military representatives including refugee and women’s groups. The people of Syria cannot continue to suffer as the world bickers about the solution.
Mark Goldring, Chief Executive, Oxfam, Oxford
In memory of Thatcher
I was somewhat bemused on reading Donald Macintyre’s article on the Tory right’s “alternative Queen’s speech” (25 June). Even to a lifelong leftie like me many of the items seemed far from “loony”.
What did (initially) have me grinding my teeth was the idea of making August Bank Holiday into Margaret Thatcher Day. That, I thought, fully deserved its five-rosette loony rating. Then I had second thoughts. With the continuing decline in the observation of Guy Fawkes Night we could do with an alternative excuse to light bonfires and burn someone in effigy. Mrs T as an alternative to Fawkes would go down great in the post-industrial wastelands she helped to create.
Derek Haslam, Colne, Lancashire
Publicity for a murderer
I find talk about giving Ian Brady “the oxygen of publicity” worrying; it reminds me of the Thatcher Government’s ruling that the voices of members of Sinn Fein should not be heard on TV.
Surely the point at issue is: is Brady’s mental health review tribunal newsworthy? It is the job of newspapers to inform us about events in the world, however unsavoury.
John Dakin, Toddington, Bedfordshire
Big villages
Following your report on less-civil country dwellers (17 June), I do wonder what the population of the “string of Wiltshire villages” will have to say. Devizes is a substantial market town; Trowbridge is the administrative capital of the county of Wiltshire; and Salisbury has been a city since 1226. Village dwellers? This will certainly give them something to be irritable about.
Martin Holloway, Honiton, Devon
Tragic fate
Ben Francis (Letters, 27 June) writes that mistaking Aristotle for Aeschylus is “an outstanding example of tragic irony”, but it isn’t. It’s an example of hamartia, a tragic error. Of course, mistaking hamartia for tragic irony is itself an example of hamartia. And both our letters are examples of hubris. Which only goes to – sorry. Must dash. Couple of Furies at the door…
Michael Bywater, RLF Fellow, Department of English & Comparative Literary Studies, University of Warwick
Gender bias
I would support Hannah Pool in her quest to remove sexist anti-female material from Tesco and other family stores (Voices, 27 June). Perhaps she would also like to support my campaign to ban publications aimed at women with features like, “How to manipulate your man”, and TV commercials where incompetent male characters are portrayed as having only two working brain cells.
Nigel Scott, London N22, Unforced
Satanay Dorken, talking about Muslim culture (letter, 25 June), makes the mistake that most people in the UK seem to make: she talks of forced marriages being common also among Sikhs and Hindus. What is common among Hindus is arranged marriage, which is entirely different.
Ramji Abinashi, Amersham, Buckinghamshire


Funds are tight, but far better to invest for growth than spend £8.1 billion maintaining these same people out of work
Sir, The announcement that the Government will be committing more than £100 billion towards UK infrastructure projects is certainly a much-needed long-term boost for the construction industry. But it will not benefit the industry for at least two years. The sector needs growth now.
The recent Office of National Statistics figures and the Construction Industry Training Board’s own labour market intelligence report show that the UK’s output fell 9 per cent last year and is unlikely, without help, to attain 2007 levels until 2022. Some 60,000 construction jobs were lost in 2012 with a further 45,000 expected to go this year.
“Shovel ready” projects in the repair and maintenance sector should be receiving similar investment with their ability to create jobs in the shorter term. Every £100 million invested in repair and maintenance takes 3,200 construction workers off the dole. Yes, funds are tight, but far better to invest for growth than — as at present — spend £8.1 billion of government money maintaining these same people out of work.
Judy Lowe
Construction Industry Training Board
King’s Lynn, Norfolk
Sir, The announcement of a trebling of roads investment over the next six years recognises the importance of efficient road communications to our economic productivity, competitiveness and growth. Businesses and road users will be delighted to see projects such as the A14, linking our manufacturing heartlands to major east coast ports, being given the priority they deserve.
Potentially transformational is the commitment to stable planning and budgeting, to be guaranteed in legislation. Longer-term commitment is essential to support jobs, skills and innovation in our civil engineering sector.
Spending guarantees imply funding guarantees. The Government should consider dedicating a significant element of motoring taxes to spending on roads. This would command wide support. A dedicated fund could also facilitate direct investment by global capital funds, matching what happens in other infrastructure sectors.
The Government has set off on the road to investment, growth and jobs. We must press on, with good speed.
Brian Wadsworth
Director, The Road Ahead Group
London SW1
Sir, The economy still faces unprecedented challenges and credit formation is still subdued. The costs of quantitative easing in reduced income on savings and the risk of inflation are far outweighed by the benefits in lower interest rates for borrowers and in encouraging banks and others to lend. But because QE has been limited to gilts, its direct impact on the real economy has been muffled. Why not use it to create new bonds, underwritten by the Treasury and held on the Bank of England’s balance sheet, but used to fund revenue-generative infrastructure projects, in particular social housing?
In addition to the social benefits, such an initiative would have a multiplier effect on the economy. Funding social house building in this way would not risk artificially inflating house prices as the lend-to-buy scheme does. Moreover, by funding revenue-generating projects, the interest and repayment of the bonds would be self-funding. Exceptional times provide the perfect opportunity.
Nick Green
London SW6


The most fundamental principle of fairness is at stake when discussing the Government’s proposed reforms to the legal aid system
Sir, The full effects of Government reforms to legal aid are in danger of being lost. We should be talking about the availability of universal access to justice if the proposed reforms aren’t altered.
The family battling to resolve a custody dispute; the employee unfairly dismissed; or the tenant dealing with an illegal housing contract will be the ultimate victims of constricted access to legal advice. As a result of reforms implemented earlier this year, our Citizens Advice Bureaux are being forced to turn away people who have nowhere else to go for advice on legal matters.
At stake is the most fundamental principle of fairness. As Lord Neuberger said earlier this week, the rule of law demands “an accessible and effective court system; and an accessible, high quality, independent legal profession”.
Gillian Guy
Chief Executive, Citizens Advice

‘Since the Lancaster House agreement Mugabe ruthlessly did everything to manoeuvre himself into power at the expense of Joshua Nkomo’
Sir, Matthew Parris’s article “Mugabe — a great warrior and, yes, a great leader” (June 26) places a favourable comparison between Robert Mugabe and Cecil Rhodes.
There is no doubt that Rhodes, and the four generations of settlers since, created a modern well-functioning country with all the material benefits that this brings to the whole population. They also created food for the whole population and exported the surplus to southern Africa.
Since the Lancaster House agreement Mugabe ruthlessly did everything to manoeuvre himself into power at the expense of Joshua Nkomo and has kept himself there at all costs. He has no regard for democracy or the good of anyone except his cronies who manage the levers of state control, whom he bribes with privileges and other people’s possessions, such as farms. The casualties have been a broken economy, widespread destitution, poverty, famine and 20,000 Matabele murdered by the Korean Brigade. And he has refused to take part in constitutional reform and representative government.
Bryan Coode
Grampound, Cornwall

Privatising the probation service without first trialling the proposals will put the public at risk and destabilise the current system
Sir, As one who works closely with the Probation Service and is a former Ministry of Justice civil servant, I see huge risks associated with the transfer of probation services to the private and voluntary sectors (report, June 25). To mitigate these risks, it would be sensible to trial this programme in one or more regions, privatising a number of Probation Trusts. In this way the risks (and they are considerable) can be better determined, problems identified and solutions found before moving to full privatisation of low-risk offenders and centralisation of the most violent within a smaller national core probation service.
Privatisation without first trialling the proposals will put the public at risk and destabilise the current efficient and effective national probation service. For a ministry unable to let a contract for court interpreters and which had significant problems when it changed the court escort service for prisoners, privatisation on this scale is tantamount to disaster.
It will be interesting what the Public Accounts Committee says when another MoJ project goes off the rails.
John Berry

Comparatives and superlatives were not Jane Austen’s only grammatical fault. She was prone to mistakes in her plurals, too
Sir, Robin Thompson (letter, June 26) cites, with no apparent censure, Jane Austen’s use of the superlative when comparing the ages of Emma Woodhouse and her sister.
Yet is it really safe to regard Miss Austen as a paragon of acceptable grammar?
In Persuasion, she refers to the “Miss Musgroves”; and in Mansfield Park to the “Miss Bertrams”. She should surely have said “the Misses Musgrove” and “the Misses Bertram”.
In the hypothetical case of two brothers, it is hardly felicitous to refer to them as “the Mister Smiths” — they are surely “Messrs Smith”. The use of a particular construction by a great author is no guarantee of its soundness.
J. R. G. Edwards
Birchington, Kent

SIR – Richard Dorment (Arts, June 25) attributes autism and Asperger’s syndrome to L S Lowry, but not talent. I wholeheartedly disagree. The north of England, with its rows of terraces and dark satanic mills, is indeed geometric.
We have a print of Coming from the Mill and my wife’s father never fails to point out some tiny detail which can be happy or sad, but always interesting.
Mark Downs
Leigh, Lancashire
SIR – May I suggest that Richard Dorment missed the point? The empty, moronic figures in Lowry’s works have become just that: dehumanised cogs in their industrial world.
Shirley Freeman
Northwood, Middlesex
Related Articles
A & E systems should be redesigned to put patients’ needs first
27 Jun 2013
SIR – I wonder if Richard Dorment is familiar with the work of Helen Bradley? She was contemporary with Lowry and came from the same area. Her style is very similar but with a great deal more warmth and humour.
I own a print of Bradley’s painting of the bandstand in Alexandra Park, with Miss Carter, a recurring figure who always wears pink, trying to avoid the attention of the curate – or is it the other way round?
John Oliver
Leeds, West Yorkshire

SIR – The deepening crisis in accident and emergency departments and, in particular, the treatment of the elderly can be tackled through system redesign. This requires a holistic reassessment of how we organise services. Anything short of this is just tinkering around the edges.
The Health Foundation recently published a report called Improving Patient Flow, which followed two NHS Trusts’ journeys towards improving their emergency services for adults and the elderly. Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust spent two years redesigning its systems around elderly patients’ needs rather than its own. It focused on how it could get older people to hospital more quickly, how to assess their needs promptly, put care plans in place and get them back home again.
Older people waiting in hospital beds for treatment or to be discharged lose their independence and are exposed to unnecessary risks. Removing these delays makes care safer and more efficient. The team in Sheffield did this by matching consultants’ working hours with the predictable patterns of service demand, linking up with local authority teams.
Rather than assessing people for discharge, the team now “discharges to assess” – once a patient is medically fit for discharge they are taken home by a therapist, assessed in their own environment, and community support is swiftly put in place.
Dr Jo Bibby
The Health Foundation
London WC2
Related Articles
Lowry’s work is filled with interesting detail
27 Jun 2013
SIR – My recent experience at the Royal Sussex Hospital in Brighton may shed light on the problem of overcrowding in A & E.
Our daughter was seriously ill and recuperating with us. When she deteriorated at the weekend, we had no choice but to call an ambulance. We spent a long time in A & E until we were told a bed was available, whereupon we waited for two hours before porters were available to move her. The following day she was to be moved to palliative care, where a room was waiting for her. Again it took more than two hours for a porter to be available.
When I queried the problem I was told that the hospital does not employ porters, as they have been privatised. The company that runs the porters clearly does not have enough of them.
Deborah Cameron Moore
Newick, East Sussex
SIR – The British Medical Association protests it is not Tesco (report, June 25). But if being open 24 hours a day is what it takes to minister to the sick then so be it.
Is it not in the Hippocratic Oath that all doctors should keep their patients from “harm and injustice”?
Angela Sykes
Malmesbury, Wiltshire
SIR – The BMA and Tesco are completely different. Tesco is customer-led.
Peter Sharp
Ascot, Berkshire
Qatar’s hand-over
SIR – Your report (June 25) in relation to Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Hamad, handing power to his son, says that most leaders in the region hold on to their position until they die. This may be the case in other countries, not, however, in Qatar.
When I moved there in 1989, the British Embassy’s welcome pack noted that no leader of Qatar had died while in power in its recorded history. Most were deposed when they became old and were seen to be weak. Indeed Sheikh Hamad deposed his father, Sheikh Khalifa, in a bloodless coup in 1995. What is almost without precedent is a voluntary ceding of power, and for this Hamad should be applauded.
Tim Manns
Plymouth, Devon
Nuisance calls
SIR – Ofcom intends to implement an EU directive that will alter the pricing rules on calls made over the fixed line. This will lead to consumers getting many more spam calls (, June 17).
As chairman of Resilient Networks, a company that specialises in managing incoming calls made to large organisations, I fail to understand why Ofcom is rushing through these changes when other countries have taken a more considered approach. France, for instance, is taking 18 months to implement these changes, while Italy has announced a three-year “glide” path. Here, the plan gives less than six weeks’ notice. This is another example of Britain adopting EU directives more ardently than our European partners.
Geoffrey Paterson
London W1
Arming Syrian rebels
SIR – During the Second World War, the British supplied arms and ammunition to the resistance forces in Malaya, who were mainly communist Chinese. At the Japanese surrender, these arms should have been surrendered too, but they were “lost”. In 1948, they were turned against us in the Malayan Insurgency, requiring the deployment of a strong military force for some five years.
To arm the multi-faction rebel movement in Syria must increase the risk of arms falling into the hands of terrorist groups opposed to this country, and thus increase the risk of terrorist activity.
Edward Studd
Sherborne, Dorset
SIR – Why haven’t we heard a public pronouncement by William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, on which side he intends to arm in the Brazilian crisis?
Tom Byrne
Scarborough, North Yorkshire
It’s a numbers game
SIR – With all the letters (June 25) about birthday coincidences, I remember my “hat-trick”. My first telephone number was CLE 1363 (Clerkenwell); my best friend’s was NOR 1363 (North); and the first job I had was ARC 1363 (Archway).
Lilian Gordon
London W1
SIR – My younger siblings were born on October 4, 5 and 6 in 1949, 1952 and 1955 – possibly the results of a triennial celebration of my birthday (in January).
Melvyn Cooper
Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire
SIR – My wife’s first husband had the same birthday as me. What is the chance of that happening?
Brian D Freestone
Brent Knoll, Somerset
Patent protection
SIR – David Cameron has announced a £1 million prize for the inventor of the “next penicillin”, or for the “plane that can fly carbon-free to New York” (report, June 14).
I am sure that all who participate will be informed that, should they take out a British patent, their work, if it is radical and valuable, will be infringed by the multi-national corporations. Soon after, we will be importing the technology, and the inventor will get nothing.
This is because, unlike our competitors, we do not impose a penalty for wilful infringement of our patents. In Germany, for example, an infringer can be imprisoned for up to five years and heavily fined.
The only protection a British patent holder has is the right to sue an infringer. For this, according to the Government’s own figures, the inventor needs at least £750,000. At least the winner will have change from the prize money, unlike almost all of our innovative small and medium enterprises.
Michael Wilcox
Public inconveniences
SIR – Here in Melton Mowbray, we spend thousands every year trying to attract visitors to the town, but keep the public lavatories firmly locked, unless it is a “special occasion” (Letters, June 19).
One would think that a three-day arts festival, a St George’s Day parade and the finish of an international cycle race, all on the same day, might be a special occasion. Requests that the loos be unlocked were ignored. The council should ask volunteers to keep a keen eye on the loos, for the benefit of all who have the need on a “special occasion”.
Brian Hodder
Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire
The last gooseberry
SIR – For years now, our family and friends have had to be dragooned into picking the gooseberry crop (Letters, June 26).
When hands are all scratched and enthusiasm wanes, I pause in front of a bush and solemnly declare: “I’ve found the last gooseberry”. That always revives flagging spirits, and precipitates a dash to find the final fruit.
Geoff Milburn
Glossop, Derbyshire
SIR – Never mind the gooseberries, where can I get fresh bilberries, when in season, or tinned ones when not?
Howard Bishop
Ballaugh, Isle of Man
Preventing texts and tweets at the dinner table
SIR – Alan Hall (Letters, June 21) should insist on my “no toys at the table” rule, which I instigated 30 years ago and have in place to this day for both my husband and my now adult children.
Hilary Jarrett
SIR – At school I use a signal-jammer with a range of 30 metres to prevent “phone-fiddling” and to ensure full concentration in class.
I am sure a similar thing would work for Mr Hall’s dinner parties.
Lewis Darke
Ovingham, Northumberland
SIR – I make my children place their mobiles in a tub by the dining room door, likening the process to removing one’s guns before eating, as in the Wild West.
It seems to humour them.
Peter Rosie
Ringwood, Hampshire

Irish Times:

Sir, – I’m an innocent casualty of the Non Principal Private Residence late payment trap, having only recently been made aware of the tax.
While registering and attempting to pay, I was astounded to discover a bill for €3,240 of which two-thirds is the “late payment fee”. Discussions with the NPPR team, and my local authority have left me dismayed and dumbfounded introduction, and frustrated with it’s administrative inflexibility. Despite having a genuine reason for not knowing of the NPPR (living abroad), I was not informed by letter in the first instance, nor of any late payment penalties, and subsequent anniversary payments. It’s nothing but a disgrace that such stealth fees are charged, with no contact with the household, or warning of late charges.
Should a commercial enterprise act in this way, there’d be a public outrage, with consumer groups and government bodies closing it down immediately.
I do not have the means to challenge this, but if taken to the highest court, I’m sure the NPPR late payment system would fail.  Anyone in a similar position could eventually face a late fee charge of over €15,000, which might be the incentive to mount a challenge.
I have raised my situation with councillors, the Minister, the Ombudsman, lawyers, and many others; most agree that the late payment charges in this case are unfair, should be waived, or at a minimum adjusted. My attempts to pay all the back NPPR (€1,000) was refused, as was a proposal to pay the total amount by instalments.  The excuse being that the legislation does not provide these options. Just because “its in the legislation” doesn’t mean it is right in practice.
The law of common sense and fair play have failed. Such inflexibility is infuriating, and the inability to negotiate a satisfactory result most disappointing. The late payment fee is substantial; it is money that won’t be spent in local shops, supermarkets, and restaurants, which I believe is badly needed in today’s flaccid economy. Nor will I see the benefit of street lighting, rubbish collection and the like in my local, island community. Unfortunately this has turned out to be a tax on the honest, paying for this Government’s laziness and gross incompetence.
I’ve been a homeowner in Ireland since 2003, and cannot believe they don’t know where I live. –   Yours, etc,

Sir, – How sad to learn of the Leinster House sweet shop closure (Front page, June 27th).
If our elected representatives were in need of a boost after a marathon session, they could always take some time out and revel in a new topic, do a twirl or just flake out. Now, after eight, they must forget the fudge, learn new twix or perhaps even find a new galaxy beyond the milky way. – Yours, etc,

Sir, – What a spineless lot are the TDs and Senators from the Labour Party who have resigned.
When they were elected, they knew full well the state of the country and the economy and they were well aware that difficult decisions would have to be taken. They were elected under the Labour banner and then proceeded to act like spoiled children. If they had even a modicum of the courage of their convictions, they would resign their Dáil seats and put themselves forward as Independents. They might well all be re-elected, but at least voters would know what they were getting.
Any TD who chooses to resign from a party between general elections should automatically have to resign their seat and a by-election should then follow. – Yours, etc,

Sir, – David Robert Grimes (Opinion, June 26th), while extolling the scientific method, writes of “several needless deaths following the X case”. The actual scientific evidence for these tragedies, however, seems to have gone missing from his published article. It was also missing from reports of the recent Oireachtas hearings.
I attempted a scientific analysis of my own, as follows. About one in 500,000 pregnant women take their own lives, and about 75,000 births occur here each year. In the period since the X case, therefore, probably three of these tragedies have occurred. How many of these three tragedies would have been prevented by abortion being available? This is where I get stuck. I think the answer is 0. If there had been 300 such tragedies, I think the answer would still be 0. I take this position because no one – not Dr Grimes, not any psychiatrist – has provided me with data suggesting otherwise.
Also, as probably the only person in the country who has waded through the 2011 report of the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (NCCMH), I can say to Dr Grimes that, in his article, he is over-stating the findings, and over-simplifying the contents, of the NCCMH report. The relationship between abortion and mental health is statistically complex, and it is simply ludicrous to explain away conflicting findings as misrepresentation by people with a religious agenda.
Yes, I am Catholic and yes, I abhor the intentional killing of babies, but I also oppose the proposed X case legislation because, scientifically, it does not have a leg to stand on. – Yours, etc,
Co Waterford.
Sir, – In his recent article (Opinion, June 26th), David Grimes accuses Breda O’Brien of misrepresenting research and cherry-picking facts regarding the mental health impact of abortion on the basis of her religious views. Ironically, in doing so he manages to conveniently ignore some key facts.
Dr Grimes criticises her “championing of the Fergusson report” but then completely fails to identify any substantive problems with that study, instead going on to cite others that he seems to believe refute O’Brien’s point.
Even here, rather than addressing O’Brien’s argument directly, Dr Grimes does what many advocates of abortion legislation have done in this debate – he subtly shifts the ground. He tries to give the impression that her primary argument is that abortion has a deleterious effect on women’s mental health. But in her column (Opinion, April 27th), she merely says there is no evidence that having an abortion improves a women’s mental health, when compared to carrying a pregnancy to term. All of the studies cited by Dr Grimes agree with this conclusion. It is also true to say, as Breda O’Brien has in the past, that some categories of women, such as those with a history of mental illness, appear to suffer worse mental health outcomes after having had an abortion.

A chara, – I feel compelled as a 23-year-old Irishman to register my alarm at what headlined our nation’s airwaves and print media this past week.
As a nation, we spent last week fawning over what an American mother and her daughters ate in a Dublin pub, and reminiscing about a glorious June in 1963 when the most powerful man on earth deemed us worthy of a four-day visit.
It is with great regret that I noticed the 250th anniversary of the birth of our own Founding Father passed by without the briefest mention in a national paper, let alone some class of commemoration.
Wolfe Tone encapsulated all that is good and positive in Irish nationalism, patriotism and statehood. “And would to the kind heavens, that Wolfe Tone were here today”.
Heaven forbid that we Irish celebrate our own heroes. – Is mise,

Sir, – It struck me as odd that in your Editorial (“Talking to Turkey”, June 26th) you make no mention that more journalists are imprisoned in Turkey for what they have written than in China or Iran. In addition, the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) has recorded hundreds of cases there involving the regular harassment of journalist and writers.
Then there is the treatment of women in Turkey. Channel 4’s Unreported World reported on the prevalence of “honour killings” and “forced suicides” of girls and women in Turkey. Its reporter Ramita Navai discovered that even in supposedly advanced Istanbul there was an average of one “honour killing” per week.
Given that it borders such bastions of peace and happiness as Iran, Iraq and Syria, surely Turkey is not, as you suggest, “an important bridge to the Middle East” but rather a potential bridgehead for chaos and extremism into the EU? – Yours, etc,

Irish Independent:

Still in hospital

June 27, 2013

27 June 2013 Still Hospital

Off around the park listening to the Navy Lark, Its Troutbridge’s 25th anniversary, but the wardroom silver tea set has gone missing can Pertwee be involved? Priceless.
Mary still in hospital for a blood transfusion, I hope all will be well.
I watch The Dominators its not bad
No Scrabble no Mary


Carl Elsener
Carl Elsener, who has died aged 90, was chief executive of Victorinox, the Swiss Army knife company founded by his grandfather, and turned it into a thriving global business.

Carl Elsener Photo: AFP/GETTY
6:46PM BST 24 Jun 2013
The firm had been founded in 1884 as a cutlery and knife workshop in the small village of Ibach, south of Zurich, in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. At the time the Swiss Army, which until then had used German knives, wanted to supply its conscripts with a knife they could use not only to cut cheese, but also to maintain their new rifles and open tinned rations.
Karl Elsener I seized the opportunity and designed a simple knife with black wooden handles, a large blade, a screwdriver to clean the gun, and a tin opener. The Army loved it but some found it a bit bulky, so (for officers only) he designed a more elegant version with an added corkscrew. After Karl’s mother died in 1909, he chose her name, Victoria, as his trademark, changing it to Victorinox in 1921 to reflect the use of a new product called stainless steel (“inox” was an alternative name for stainless steel).
It was American GIs, serving in Europe during the Second World War, who introduced Victorinox to the wider world. They bought the knives in huge quantities as presents for friends and relatives back home and orders soon began to pour in.
Carl Elsener III was born in Ibach on July 6 1922 and joined the family firm in 1939. After his father’s death in 1950 he took over the company, aged 27, and inaugurated an era of expansion and development, introducing new products and mechanising a manufacturing process which at that time still involved the knives being assembled by hand.
While Victorinox knives, with their familiar red handles and Swiss cross and shield motif, continued to adjust gun sights, cut cheese, open cans and prise stones out of horses’ hooves, Elsener, a self-confessed pedant and perfectionist, oversaw the introduction of numerous optional gizmos, including spoons, forks, compasses, screwdrivers, mini-screwdrivers for spectacles, wood and metal saws, toothpicks, tweezers, scissors, pliers, keyrings, fish-scalers, magnifying glasses and tools to break glass and cut seat belts after car accidents. More recent models come with LED lights, laser pointers, “cyber tools’’ to fix computers, USB memory sticks, digital clocks and MP3 players.
Victorinox knives became one of the 20th century’s most successful products, and have been used in all sorts of sticky situations, even emergency tracheotomies. Nasa astronauts took them on space missions; they saw service with the 1975 British expedition to Mount Everest, and US Marines took them on Operation Desert Storm. By the mid-1990s sales to the Swiss military accounted for just one per cent of turnover, compared with 60 per cent 50 years previously. Victorinox became the largest cutlery manufacturer in Europe.
In later years Elsener led Victorinox’s diversification into other areas, including watches, luggage, clothing, even scent — a move which stood the firm in good stead when the 9/11 attacks in America led to a worldwide ban on knives in hand luggage, and duty-free shops stopped selling them. Victorinox’s turnover fell by a third and Wenger, the only other firm licensed to produce Swiss Army knives, went bankrupt and had to be bought by its rival. Thanks to Elsener’s policy of diversification, no Victorinox employees were made redundant.
Elsener remained chief executive of Victorinox until 2007, when he handed over to his son, Carl Elsener IV, though he remained active in the company into his late 80s, cycling to work every day at the firm’s plant in Ibach.
Carl Elsener’s wife, Rosemary, predeceased him. He is survived by their 11 children.
Carl Elsener, born July 6 1922, died June 1 2013


As George Osborne adds further misery to the already devastating cuts to public spending as part of the Coalition’s austerity programme (Town halls in firing line, 26 June), it’s vital the voice of those who have no access to the media should be heard. Many of those most affected will be provided with services carried out by, or commissioned for, local government. Such services have already had drastic cuts in funding. Areas of greatest deprivation have been hit hardest. The first thing the coalition did was to withdraw the specific funding to meet targeted needs, such as the early intervention grant which offered youngsters the start all politicians claim they support, and a range of other vital services. In disadvantaged areas – mainly outside the south-east of England – such funding amounted to up to 30% of the council’s total budget. Those councils then found themselves subject to the English-wide reductions in local government funding. These maintain the pretence that local authorities have all been treated fairly and there has not been a disproportionate reduction in those areas most in need.
A further 10% in local government funding from central government, coupled with the fact that money made available to freeze the council tax will no longer fill the gap, and it doesn’t take a genius to see why authorities like Surrey, Dorset and the outer London borough of Richmond have seen cuts of around just 1%, while in the West Midlands and the north of England we are already talking about meltdown in basic provision. From early years to support and care of the elderly and frail, this coalition is responsible for making those least able to carry the load bear the biggest burden for the government’s failure to regenerate the economy and restore growth.
Percentages must not hide the reality of the impact on the lives of so many people and it is vital that the opposition, ensuring prudence and economic responsibility, must not abandon those for whom publicly funded and locally provided support is the difference between dignity and squalor.
David Blunkett MP
Lab, Sheffield Brightside

The Brent Labour group first recommended the freedom of Brent for Nelson Mandela in April 1990, after he came to a concert at Wembley following his release from prison (Diary, 26 June). This was to thank UK and Brent campaigners for his release. Unfortunately, their recommendation to confer the honour was frustrated by the abstention of the Tory group and so failure to achieve the required majority. Our attempt to go ahead anyway was prevented by a high court injunction by the then Tory leaders, with costs of £10,000 levied against the Labour leader and mayor. It is an indication of how opinion in Britain has changed towards Mandela that all Tory councillors voted with us this time in a unanimous vote. Some weeks ago, when we were moving office, we found the original 1990 “Welcome Mandela” plaque. This was presented to the high commission of South Africa on Monday, who have agreed it will be displayed permanently in our new civic centre in Wembley.
Cllr Jim Moher
Executive council, London borough of Brent

On Tuesday, part II of the Justice and Security Act – popularly known as the Secret Courts Act – came into force. The act gives a green light to UK courts to hear national security claims in secret – excluding claimants, their lawyers and the press – and to give judgment after hearing an unchallenged case presented by one side, usually the government.
Speculation about the cases which the government has lined up for consideration under “closed material procedures” is rife. These procedures are unnecessary, unprincipled and unfair. They amount to the wholesale removal of the ability of the courts and the public to effectively scrutinise any claim where any risk to national security is raised; no matter how slight that risk or how serious the wrongdoing alleged.
Unfortunately, draft rules of court hastily thrown together at the Ministry of Justice would set aside the overriding objective of our courts to do justice in favour of absolute secrecy in any case where national security is raised by ministers. Extremist threats have, throughout history, threatened our shared democratic values. This is no different today. However, measures such as those included in this act subvert centuries of common law cultivated to protect our standards of open, equal and adversarial justice. Last week, our supreme court urged caution in the first case where the justices were reluctantly persuaded to sit in secret. Their judgment expressed some regret that the government may be too quick to overstate the need for secrecy. In the words of Lord Hope – one of four who would have resisted the use of these “obnoxious” procedures – secret justice of this kind is “really not justice at all”.
Shami Chakrabarti Director, Liberty
Andrea Coomber Director, Justice
Kat Craig Legal director, Reprieve
Cori Crider Strategic director, Reprieve
Simon Crowther
Rosa Curling Leigh Day
Professor Helen Fenwick Durham University
Allan Hogarth Head of policy and government affairs, Amnesty International
Professor Fiona de Londras Durham University
Sam McIntosh City University London
Nicholas Mercer
Eric Metcalfe Monkton Chambers
Rowena Moffatt Lamb Building Chambers
Joanna Shaw
Richard Stein Leigh Day
Katy Vaughan Swansea University
Prof Adrian Zuckerman Oxford University

Your report (Probation sell-off may put public at risk, 25 June) of the justice minister’s proposals to privatise 70% of the tasks of the Probation Service is right to point out the extreme risk to the public, already highlighted by the minister’s own senior officials. The 106-year-old Probation Service has been the envy of the world and its practices copied by many other countries. It is staffed by highly qualified people, uniquely trained to work with offenders to reduce their risk to the public. There is no good reason to privatise its work, other than obstinate government ideology.
The impact assessment of the offender rehabilitation bill, which would bring in these changes, in fact offers virtually no assessment of the impact, cost or risk of giving over the services currently provided by probation to private companies from which, seemingly, there will be no guarantee of the level of training or quality of staff delivering them. Not only is this reckless policy, it is tantamount to criminal neglect of the risks to the general public of these proposed measures. Readers should be very afraid.
Professor Gwyneth Boswell
• I am appalled at the proposals to replace significant parts of the Probation Service by payment-for-results schemes. I worked years ago for the Inner London Probation and After Care Service, after previous residential work with young offenders. A few years later I did research on the job of a probation officer. While most of my subsequent career in social services and social policy has been in Canada, I have never seen as good a service in north America as the probation services in England and Wales (and Scotland). I have alternated between voluntary and government agencies, but for sheer professionalism, I have to give the probation services in the UK the highest praise.
H Philip Hepworth
Ottawa, Ontario
• There will always be risks when the status quo is radically changed, such as the proposed probation reforms, but it is also an opportunity to improve the system. While the leaked report raises concern about certain elements of the reforms, many of the proposed changes are in fact welcomed by professionals from across the criminal-justice sector. The establishment of a national estate of resettlement prisons is one of these, along with extending support and supervision to offenders who have served short prison sentences.
One of the potential risks highlighted in the report is staff morale. What I have found striking when working with probation colleagues around the country during this process is their determination to continue to protect the public and help turn around the lives of the offenders they are working with. Despite any misgivings they may have about the proposed changes, this resolve has remained steadfast.
Mike Pattinson
Director, CRI
• Crime itself being self-evidently private enterprise, the plans to privatise both the probation and court services would suggest that soon almost all the crime business will be run on the basis of personal profit – the final step being the police, perhaps, already it seems from Leveson, experienced in the ways of capitalism.
John Bailey
St Albans, Hertfordshire

I wonder how many of these “domestic extremists” (Report, 26 June) are past or present members of the BNP, NF, EDL or other rightwing groups? How many undercover officers have been assigned to infiltrate these organisations? Any “love” children there, do you think?
Neil Burgess
• Giles Fraser (Loose canon, 22 June) is right to chastise the Girl Guides for embracing the “true to yourself” philosophy and reminding us that we are all products of a culture developed over many centuries. He refers to the Reformation as one of those movements in western thought as an occasion when we “rightly” rejected imposed values, but he might consider the part that movement – with its emphasis on personal salvation – played in creating the “true to yourself” individualist culture that so besets our contemporary culture and which he rightly rejects.
Ron Bente
Emsworth, Hampshire
• How could you not mention Dame Anne Evans (In praise of… British Brünnhildes, 25 June)? Nicholas Payne wrote in the Guardian (7 August 2003), as she was retiring (“with her powers intact”) that “her Welsh Brünnhilde would eventually conquer Covent Garden and in the early 1990s, Bayreuth in the Daniel Barenboim/Kupfer cycle”. A graceful and gracious lady.
Judith Fairlie
• The people who buy the Guardian in WH Smith in Newport and swear at the checkout operator when she offers a free Daily Mail should be ashamed of themselves. There are polite ways of refusing it, or even accepting it for critical reading.
Bob Paul
Newport, Gwent
• The other day I overheard someone dismiss Guardian readers as “do-gooders”. There is no equivalent term for “do-badders”. Perhaps Roland Barthes was on to something when he described language as “fascist”.
Ivor Morgan
• Is it too late to mention that Wimbledon Brits “roar” into the next round while the losers “crash” out (Letters, 26 June)?
Professor Andrew Melrose
University of Winchester

The Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change (Cresc) study which informed the critique of railway subsidies illustrated the massive transfers to all train operating companies (I once called Richard Branson a carpetbagger. The truth is, he is even more subsidy-hungry than I thought, 11 June). Taxpayers continue to give the rail industry about £4bn per annum and the franchise system is not fit for purpose. The investment by TOCs may not be guaranteed to yield returns but, should TOCs make a loss, they have the right to walk away with minimal penalties. This represents an investment where risk is underwritten by the government, but rather than returning the profit to our cash-strapped government, Virgin Trains pocketed £500m over a 10-year period.
The rebuttal by Richard Branson (Comment, 21 June) cites rising passenger numbers and customer satisfaction as indicators of success. As the Cresc report makes clear, passenger numbers reflect many factors: economic growth; population levels; cultural attitudes to car travel; and the greater need to commute to work as house prices have risen so significantly. There is thus no way these figures can be claimed to signify Virgin’s success. Customer satisfaction is hard to decode, but just 59% of passengers viewed their tickets as value for money in 2012.
The franchise system is indefensible and the ownership of TOCs, the network and rolling stock form a convoluted and expensive mess. But there is a much wider issue here. If we have to accept cuts to public services and social security, which are funded by government in a transparent and direct manner, why are private companies continuing to get money for old rope? The complex and secretive nature of these arrangements are part of a larger picture: the privatisation of welfare capitalism. This government increasingly rewards private companies for taking on responsibilities formerly borne by the state, and as state duties required no “profits”. The old argument that private sector management is essential to improve performance is tired and unsubstantiated. There needs to be a debate both around the purposes and ownership of rail in the UK but also about the contracting out of welfare provision, in its broadest sense, by government.
Dr Donna Brown
School of Management, Royal Holloway, University of London
• Aditya Chakrabortty and Richard Branson exchange salvos about whether privatisation has been good for the taxpayer and the railways. But both missed the point of the tens of thousands of jobs lost in British manufacturing in rail-related industries. Track manufacture and maintenance expertise was sacrificed regardless of the impact on safety. Locomotive-, coach- and wagon-making went abroad as foreign suppliers could cut prices and develop their products, being assured of the support of their own nationalised rail-carriers, and in the knowledge that the UK market would be wide open once UK manufacturers disappeared for good. Privatisations in Britain have indeed been extremely successful, not for the taxpayer or for UK PLC, but for foreign manufacturers world-wide and the offshore tax havens which see the profits of the service companies living off the UK tax payer’s largesse.
Robert Straughton
Ulverston, Cumbria
• Your readers would have to download a 160-page report from an academic website if they want to understand the mechanics of how and why Network Rail’s low track access charges create profits for the TOCs. If we are to build broadly based political understanding of how private interests take advantage of the state, the Guardian needs to give more space to extended analysis of issues such as public-private partnership and privatised sectors such as rail. That means more resources for your own trouble-making journalists like Simon Bowers on corporate tax avoidance; plus support for the kind of digging necessary to refute the half-truths in press releases from trade associations and in the self-promotion of business leaders.
On civil liberties issues such as electronic surveillance, the Guardian is doing a great job providing analysis for readers to understand what GCHQ and the US are up to. But on economic issues about private profits at public expense, they cannot understand what’s going on by reading the business journalism in any British broadsheet newspaper.
Professor Mick Moran
University of Manchester Business School



‘Plainly spies must spy. However, they must do so within the rule of law — that is the hallmark of a democratic country’
Sir, It is darkly ironic that Ben Wallace (Opinion, June 24) asks us to place our trust in those we grant powers to on the same day it emerges that the Metropolitan Police may have sanctioned activities against Stephen Lawrence’s family.
Given the failure of parliamentary oversight to establish the truth about extraordinary rendition, that we are still waiting for an inquest into the death of Mark Duggan nearly two years on, and the latest revelations about rogue undercover police officers, it defies reality to suggest that our oversight systems are working properly and that all is well.
Plainly spies must spy. However, they must do so within the rule of law — that is the hallmark of a democratic country. There are serious questions to be asked about how a law passed years before Facebook existed is being used in ways Parliament never foresaw, and if parliamentarians wilfully blind themselves to these questions they are derogating from their duty to hold the executive to account.
Nick Pickles
Big Brother Watch, London SW1
Sir, It is interesting to note that 873 police officers were disciplined by their forces in 2012 compared with 559 in 2008 (“Double inquiry into Lawrence smear claims”, June 25).
But why should the Freedom of Information Act need to be used to elicit these important statistics which involve such expensive, time-consuming investigations?
Surely it should be standard procedure for these figures to be included in the annual reports of all chief constables and then a performance league table could be published in the national press so that we can see at a glance the names of our best and worst-behaved forces. If our new Police and Crime Commissioners liaised in producing such a league table it would have a wonderfully mind-concentrating effect on chief constables, and help them to enhance their efficiency in making best use of scarce resources.
And if this league table policy proved effective in reducing complaints of police misbehaviour it could be extended to publishing league tables of the average sick leave per officer in each force, often another drain on resources in need of better management.
John Kenny
Acle, Norfolk
Sir, Robert Peel’s nine principles of 1829, still proudly displayed in many police stations, did not foresee descent into undercover operations. That does not mean these principles simply need updating.
Allegations of actions against the family of Stephen Lawrence — as unprincipled as they are unaccountable — should worry every innocent citizen. True, there was no enthusiastic vote for Police and Crime Commissioners. Most of us realise that such bodies have no operational control over officers of the law. By definition, therefore, control must be enforced by the law itself.
Neville Lawrence rightly calls for a single judge-led public inquiry. But might Peel’s 19th-century principles yet be salvaged by a stronger call? This must be for the long-overdue, comprehensive review into exactly how Britain should be policed in the 21st century.
We may be a far more diverse community today, but standards of unacceptable authority have not changed. CID officers forgo uniforms to investigate criminals, not citizens.
David Millar
Chair, Independent Advisory Group for Lincolnshire Police

We must be sensible and recognise that the legal aid budget cannot be exempt from cuts in these difficult economic times
Sir, Opponents of Transforming Legal Aid have noted my recent comments. My concerns are best addressed by all involved working together. This would be more productive than the recent war of headlines.
I sympathise with the Lord Chancellor. We are all acutely aware that we live in difficult economic times and savings must be made. We must be sensible and recognise that the legal aid budget cannot be exempt.
The Bar Council and the Law Society have immense experience in the working of the system. I fervently hope they and the Lord Chancellor will work out a robust system of quality assurance for legal aid cases. They may be able to suggest savings so far not considered to assist the Lord Chancellor in his difficult task.
There may be other groups of lawyers not experienced in legal aid who have faced competition in other areas who could contribute to this consultation, such as the City of London Solicitors Group.
It is in everyone’s interest to ensure that we maintain the quality of our world-class legal aid system.
Lord Mackay of Clashfern
House of Lords

When the average cost of a wedding is now more than £15,000, a tax break that gives £150 a year cannot be considered a major incentive
Sir, You report (June 26) that the Prime Minister is determined to recognise marriage with a tax break worth £150 a year.
The average cost of a wedding is now apparently £15,000, possibly more. There are good reasons to get married, many of them not financial, but I cannot help noting that a couple would have to be married for 100 years before they would break even.
Jon Armstrong
Solicitor, Colchester, Essex

We must be sensible and recognise that the legal aid budget cannot be exempt from cuts in these difficult economic times
Sir, Opponents of Transforming Legal Aid have noted my recent comments. My concerns are best addressed by all involved working together. This would be more productive than the recent war of headlines.
I sympathise with the Lord Chancellor. We are all acutely aware that we live in difficult economic times and savings must be made. We must be sensible and recognise that the legal aid budget cannot be exempt.
The Bar Council and the Law Society have immense experience in the working of the system. I fervently hope they and the Lord Chancellor will work out a robust system of quality assurance for legal aid cases. They may be able to suggest savings so far not considered to assist the Lord Chancellor in his difficult task.
There may be other groups of lawyers not experienced in legal aid who have faced competition in other areas who could contribute to this consultation, such as the City of London Solicitors Group.
It is in everyone’s interest to ensure that we maintain the quality of our world-class legal aid system.
Lord Mackay of Clashfern
House of Lords

Our immigration policy is damaging the ability of the UK’s universities to attract the best engineering and science researchers
Sir, Your leading article “The Best and the Brightest” (June 22) is entirely right to demand that the UK Border Agency’s successors welcome the best international students to Britain — those who clamour to enter key disciplines such as chemical engineering. And it isn’t just about students. The Government’s ill-conceived immigration policy is damaging the ability of the UK’s universities to attract the best engineering and science researchers and to act as a magnet for knowledge-based inward investment.
Now we learn that costly “immigration bonds” are to be required from visitors from some Asian and African countries, including India — yes, the same India that will be supplying the very engineers the world will need, and whose nationals are among our most vital and successful investors.
When will David Cameron stand up to the tabloids, listen to business and to universities, and replace the current immigration regime with one that actually helps the UK?
David Brown
Institution of Chemical Engineers

The Albanian people have a chequered history and have suffered political turmoil and poverty for 100 years now — they need friends
Sir, I am sorry that your paper continues to snipe at Albania, a country I have known intermittently since 1989 (leading article, June 25).
The Albanian people have a chequered history and have suffered political turmoil and poverty for 100 years now. They need friends, not ridicule in the press.
If Edi Rama has won the recent general election, good luck to him. As Mayor of Tirana he brightened up both that city and the lives of many of its residents. The Democratic Party has had its day. It’s time for a change.
Primrose Peacock
Founder of Friends of Albania 1991-2010
Truro, Cornwall


SIR – I was dismayed by the tackiness of the photograph (June 24) of a corseted dancer who was performing in the National Trust’s burlesque show in the grounds of Killerton House, near Exeter, Devon.
My late mother, Atherton Harrison, was the curator of the Killerton House costume museum; she arranged, orchestrated and donated thousands of costumes.
She arranged for many exhibits and scenes to be beautifully presented within the house. She was, even in her eighties, no prude and would have enjoyed the two-day vintage experience, but she would not have approved of the young lady’s outfit. My mother would have inspired something far more classy, suitably fitting to the ideals of the National Trust.
Harvey Harrison
London SW19

SIR – The British Medical Association (BMA) said the NHS couldn’t be like Tesco (report, June 25), and probably meant it as an insult. But Tesco is focused on what customers want, is pretty hard on staff who under-perform, has free car parking and is unaffected by snow.
Most public bodies should find out what Tesco does, and then copy it.
Philip Saunders
Bungay, Suffolk
SIR – Dr Chaand Nagpaul, a member of the BMA council, said Tesco opens seven days a week for commercial reasons. True, but the NHS should open seven days for patient care alone.
Related Articles
National Trust’s burlesque dancers lacked style
26 Jun 2013
R G Pither
Shrewsbury, Shropshire
SIR – A Tesco-style NHS might actually have managers that are capable of running a large organisation.
We seem to hear of incompetent NHS management on a daily basis without the problem ever being addressed – something Tesco would never tolerate.
Peter Amey
SIR – It is gratifying that you should mention the petulant approach of the BMA to the challenges of the modern NHS (“Doctors should be helping to find a cure”, leading article, June 25).
At last the BMA is being seen by the public for what it is, namely a trade union. It exists for the benefit of its members
and not for patients, which explains its attitudes to recent negative developments regarding out-of-hours working, implementation of the European Working Time Directive and the deterioration in specialist training.
Dr Brian Cooper
Bromsgrove, Worcestershire
SIR – The average GP earns £100,000, receives an enormous taxpayer-subsidised pension, can retire earlier than most people and works hours that to many would be a luxury. For this, they need to think what they can do in return.
It should be apparent to those wishing to enter the medical profession that people get ill from 5pm to 9am and at weekends, too, and therefore they must add into their career plans the possibility that they might have to work during these hours.
For those of us who are subsidising their pensions and early retirement, doctors’ assertions that they are not Tesco workers ring rather hollow.
Elizabeth Jones
Chard, Somerset
SIR – John Maddison (Letters, June 25) should not be criticising, but applauding, Dr Dan Poulter MP for working part-time in the NHS. Perhaps all health ministers should emulate him to witness at first-hand what is both wrong and working well in that organisation.
Michael Staples
Seaford, East Sussex
Prostate cancer
SIR – You report (June 15) on a study that suggests that if all men with suspected prostate cancer received an MRI scan prior to a biopsy, a quarter of them could be reassured without the need for the latter. The article further reports that an initial MRI could halve the number who would be diagnosed with significant cancer incorrectly by biopsy, and thus receive unnecessary treatment.
None of this has been confirmed by clinical research; trials are currently being undertaken at University College Hospital. Should evidence emerge of the usefulness of MRI in identifying prostate cancer, the process would need to be standardised by protocols endorsed by the Royal College of Radiologists, and training would need to be undertaken by radiologists nationally.
MRI scans cost £400 each, so there are significant resource implications. This diagnostic pathway would need to be funded by Primary Care Commissioners for both an initial scan and any repeat scans that may be required if biopsy is not deemed necessary. Regrettably, such funding is not currently confirmed.
Adrian D Joyce FRCS
Leeds, West Yorkshire
Primary school testing
SIR – That Sir Michael Wilshaw, the head of Ofsted, advocates young children being tested in basic language and literacy skills before they start formal education (report, June 21) betrays a fundamental ignorance of the early learning experience and the side effects of the testing culture.
It is false to claim that young children are “falling behind”: rather, they are being expected to reach levels of development that are inappropriate for their ages.
All of the alleged “shortcomings” that Sir Michael identifies are accounted for by England’s early school starting age, which leads to a plethora of early developmental distortions, as teachers desperately try to “make children ready” for school at four.
Dr Richard House
Child psychologist
University of Winchester
King of the cats
SIR – It is obvious why there are no cats at Buckingham Palace (Letters, June 24).
Every cat I have known considers itself to be royalty and would insist on appearing on the balcony on all royal occasions. At which time it would turn its back on the cheering crowds and ignore them.
George Sizeland
Carterton, Oxfordshire
Married tax breaks
SIR – The Conservative MPs who are pressurising David Cameron to honour a party manifesto pledge to provide tax breaks to married couples (report, June 25) need to be reminded that they are not in power. A fair tax system must apply equally to all concerned, but proposals to give tax breaks to married couples are clearly discriminatory against single people.
Hopefully, David Cameron’s Coalition partners will be able to prevent him from abusing the tax system in this manner.
Clive Pilley
Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex
SIR – Presumably the modest tax benefit for married couples is intended to redress the loss of Tory support over the unnecessary gay marriage legislation?
We can already see electioneering warming up.
Mike Tyler
Worthing, West Sussex
SIR – £150 a year is about 40p a day.
It reminds me of the old saying, “Seven and six (7s 6d being the price of a marriage licence), was she worth it?”
Mike Bridgeman
Market Lavington, Wiltshire
Wounded servicemen
SIR – The Chancellor has vowed that those who have suffered “horrific injuries” in Iraq and Afghanistan will get more support from money taken from bankers fined over the Libor scandal (report, June 24).
This country has a duty of care to our Armed Forces and the Chancellor should recognise that there should always be enough money to pay for the care of such people injured in the service of their country for the rest of their lives. Using Libor fines is populist and insulting.
What would he do if there were no such fines to dish out?
Caroline Flynn-MacLeod
London SW1
GM and weedkiller
SIR – Lucy Flint (Letters, June 25) says that “GM crops result in the vastly increased use of herbicide”. In the case of oilseed rape, weed control (particularly of broad-leaved weeds) is always difficult and farmers currently use a cocktail of herbicides.
Some of these herbicides are residual and will stay active in the soil for some time, creating a potential for groundwater contamination. “Roundup Ready” GM oilseed only requires a single dose of glyphosate, which is one of the safest herbicides used by farmers and gardeners.
Far from increasing the use of herbicides, GM crops need less.
William Rusbridge
Tregony, Cornwall
Summer conversations
SIR – My wife reckons there is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes (Letters, June 24). And if we didn’t have such a variety of weather, how on earth would we start up a conversation with strangers in the bus queue?
Brian Smith
Chelmsford, Essex
Steel wheelchairs?
SIR – Much has been made of late of the abuse of some elderly people. The Daily Telegraph (Review, June 22) contained proof that the Rolling Stones were due to headline at Glastonbury this weekend. Have social services been informed?
Colin Boylett
Kingswood, Herefordshire
The gooseberries are a little late this year
SIR – Geraldine Paine (Letters, June 25) asks: “What has happened to the gooseberries?” Gooseberry pie used to be cooked in time for Whitsunday lunch, but this year garden crops are a month late.
We used to start the canning season with rhubarb and gooseberries followed by strawberries; nowadays the public see home-grown strawberries in the shops and think they have missed the gooseberries, without realising the strawberries are early, having been grown in polytunnels.
Michael Smedley
Leamington Spa, Warwickshire
SIR – I am also a lover of gooseberries. In 2008, a friend recommended that I buy an expensive half-standard gooseberry bush – which makes picking less back-breaking.
This year, the boughs are bending to the ground; so far, I have only picked 1½lb. Home-grown gooseberries are very good value; they also freeze well.
Kate Metcalfe
Wadhurst, East Sussex
SIR – Geraldine Paine should try her local farmers’ market for fresh “goosegogs”. We grow about two tons of gooseberries, and sell them at the farm gate and at farmers’ markets after being told by a supermarket buyer there was no demand.
We sell all we can grow.
Billy Auger
Wafers, Shropshire
SIR – Supermarkets are full of exotic berries and fruit flown in from abroad, but they don’t seem to stock local produce.
I grow gooseberries, and make the most delicious pies. Gooseberry vodka goes down well, too.
Annie May
Macclesfield, Cheshire
SIR – My sister recently gave me some gooseberries; I have made them into jam, introducing one of my granddaughters to the art of “topping and tailing”.
Josephine Bones
Stisted, Essex

Irish Times:

Sir, – The political discussion around the need for a banking inquiry ignores the fact that we have already had two reports into the origins of the banking crisis. There is the preliminary report by Regling and Watson, and the Nyberg Report which was a Commission of Investigation under the 2004 Act . These are illuminating reports written by internationally eminent economists and are accessible on
If politicians would bother to read them, they would reconsider the clamour for a rerun of the Oireachtas Inquiry Referendum or the need for an Oireachtas Committee.
It would be better if, instead of the public expense particularly through litigation that either course would involve, some cuts to the budgets of the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, the DPP and the Garda Síochána were reversed. Accountability and future deterrence would be better served by prosecution. – Yours, etc,
College Grove,

Sir, – Dr Alan Ahearne of NUI Galway proposes the removal of mortgage interest relief on tracker mortgages (Business, June 25th). This, I presume, is a special case of what seems to be a general economic principle of: sign a binding contract with another party; and then, when things don’t go the way you would like, tell them to get stuffed and move the goalposts to suit yourself, especially if you are bigger than they are.
As a leading economist, Dr Ahearne will be aware that business transactions are based on trust, backed up by the law, so that outcomes have at least some element of predictability for the contracting parties. I think it is a sad day when economists advocate changing the rules half way through the game, especially to ease the burden on banks, whose staggering incompetence got us into this mess in the first place. – Yours, etc,

Sir, – I refer to coverage of our report on the perceptions of policy makers of community and voluntary organisations (“ ‘Poverty industry’ targeted in report; Review of voluntary sector criticises vested interests and lack of scrutiny”, June 25th). The headline misrepresents the purpose, nature and findings of the report. This innovative report sought to find out what policy-makers really think of the advocacy and lobbying work done by community and voluntary organisations. We were not looking for a clap on the back. We are not naive, we know that the work we do is not always perfect.
The 33 policy-makers interviewed had nuanced and complicated views of the community and voluntary organisations. As we expected they had good and bad things to say. Your headlines suggest that the isolated views of some individuals represent the overall conclusions of the report. This is very misleading. The report tried to capture perceptions, not “review” the sector generally as you suggest.
Community and voluntary organisations carry an enormous responsibility to those they serve – the most vulnerable in Irish society. We take this responsibility very seriously. We are grateful to those policy-makers who were prepared to help us reflect on how we can better live up to it. Your readers can see for themselves the outcomes of this process at
Leadership means being open and honest about how you can improve. This is not always easy and it is made harder when misconstrued as an attack. It is a pity that more people do not follow the leadership of community and voluntary organisations in engaging in open frank debate about how they can do better. – Yours, etc,

Sir, – If Patsy McGarry has accurately quoted Cardinal Raymond Burke, a senior member of the Vatican curia (Home News, June 21st), then the message to women is very clear. In the case of a woman facing potential loss of life because of serious complications of pregnancy, there are no circumstances in which the mother can be saved if it results in the loss of life of the unborn foetus. Do the Irish bishops share this view?
I would – and I venture to suggest many women would – like to hear a statement without equivocation from the Irish bishops saying if they also agree with this view. If that is the position they hold, then we all know that the life of the woman is indeed secondary to the life of the unborn foetus. We know categorically that this was the situation over 40 years when we were told that it was “God’s will” if the mother died in circumstances where the foetus had to be saved.
I am a member of the secular followers of the Catholic religion, but in no way influenced by what I may read in the newspapers as Cardinal Burke infers. I decide on my views by reference to my own judgment. The Taoiseach is the elected head of the Government chosen by the people in a democratic process. He has, together with his Government colleagues, chosen to propose legislation to clarify some of the areas of doubt in the case of difficulties of pregnancy. I hasten to add, in case it is presumed by others, that I am not a supporter of his party but in this case I fully agree with him because he is trying to do something to protect the lives of women in a situation where clarity does not exist legally.
If anybody is asked “do you agree with abortion” the vast majority will say no. If asked “do you agree with the termination of life of a foetus in certain circumstances”, the answer will be to ask in what circumstances. Cardinal Burke seems to be saying “there are no circumstances”, thereby denying the right of that minority of women, who are unfortunate enough to find themselves in the eye of the obstetrical storm, to have life-saving intervention. – Yours, etc,

Sir, – Your report on Enda Kenny’s genetic make-up (Home News, June 24th) repeats uncritically what emerges as yet another exceptionally uncritical piece of work by geneticists who evidently have no understanding of historical questions, methods, and sources.
The starting point seems to have been that the population of Co Mayo has been genetically stable for more than 15 centuries! Why did the investigators think that King Niall had any connection with Mayo? Why did they think that Queen Meadhbh was a figure of history rather than myth? Where have they found a skeleton of a member of King Niall’s dynasty to provide a DNA sequence for comparison? From which planet will they beam down a shade of Meadhbh for interrogation? Why do we have to be assailed by such nonsense?
One might reasonably expect The Irish Times to have reporters with critical faculties suitably honed to provide a preliminary shakedown of the irrelevant waffle quoted from the project-leader: if An Taoiseach had made such claims about himself, the press would have treated him with derision. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Ultan Ó Broin (June 26th) bemoans the lack of helmets on the Dublin Bike scheme, and states that Melbourne’s one obliges users to buy or rent a helmet to use it.
This probably explains why Melbourne’s bike scheme has one of the worst uptake rates in the world, and Dublin’s is among the most successful. During 2012’s Australian Open, Melbourne’s set a record for most trips in a single day with 733. Dublin exceeded 7,000 on one day in October 2011.
As the number of cyclists on the road grows, the proportionate rate of accidents drops. So rather than advise people to wear helmets, the best thing anyone can do to make cycling safer is to get on their own bike! – Yours, etc,
St Alphonsus Road Upper,

Irish Independent:

* It may seem at first a tad passive to be against a banking inquiry. Like Shylock, we all want the pound of flesh and we all want to see the offenders punished.
Also in this section
Darragh McCullough: CAP deal sees Coveney on brink of biggest political triumph
U-turn on resource teaching cuts shows a welcome flexibility
If I can help Tom to help Marie, l’ll have done the right thing
I, too, want to see the miscreants punished to the full extent that the law allows – but I do not want a banking inquiry.
We have all seen the quasi-courts of recent years, the various tribunals, spend vast sums of money, getting bogged down in all sorts of legal challenges and arguments.
I voted against the extended Oireachtas power of inquiry specifically for the reason above.
I want the DPP to bring the charges, a judge to preside and a jury to determine guilt or otherwise.
This is the way it should be.
Any inquiry by TDs/senators or the like risks undermining the judicial process and letting the offenders off – albeit after suffering a minor verbal bruising.
I seriously doubt the credentials of many TDs to be able to conduct a fair process; their default position always seems to be to play to the gallery or the media.
It strikes me that Dail Eireann seems far too eager in its land grab to seize power over too many aspects of Irish life (the abolition of the Seanad?).
They should stick to their constitutional role as legislators and let the constitutionally defined courts administer the justice.
Frank Buckley
Tullamore, Co Offaly
* As our battered little country reels under yet more “revelations”, one is reminded of the “honesty” of Groucho Marx, who remarked, along the following lines: “For years, the mayor and city officials have squandered the citizens’ hard-earned money; now, at last, it is my turn,” – many a true word?
Tom Gilsenan
Beaumont, D9
* It is time to stop pussyfooting around what has gone on with the banks. We don’t need another inquiry, we need action: call in the law and let it take its course. What are we, the people, doing?
We have listened to politicians’ platitudes for far too long, we have watched our towns and villages die, we have watched our friends and neighbours go bankrupt, we have watched our young emigrate and, worse still, we have watched many of our people die by their own hand when they reached the depths of despair.
Is it not time to stand up and be counted – or are we going to let them trample all over us?
Anna Maria Kennelly
Moyvane, Co Kerry
* For me, this is an island of smoke and mirrors, never mind the revolving doors of duplicity. The most amazing thing about it all is that we as a people still do nothing about it, and by the looks of things we never will. That will be our ultimate failure. Crime is encouraged by it.
One is reminded of a hyena prodding a wildebeest to see if there is any fight left in it or to see will it at least try to make a run. Then it soon realises this is a feast of plenty, yet the wildebeests outnumber the hyenas thousands to one.
Even a wolf would be confused by this turn of events.
The same mantra will always apply: when are the people of Ireland going to stand up?
Anyone, no matter how ignorant of the facts of why we are in this financial abyss, could not fail to get very angry and outraged at the banker tapes. They were laughing at us. They had figured rightly that we would do nothing about it.
One can only marvel at their unerringly accurate prediction that not only would we roll over and do nothing, but that the Government would play along.
The only mitigating factor for the Irish people was that we were kept in the dark until it was too late. Our crime now is that we are appeasers, hoping we will be eaten last.
Barry Clifford
Oughterard, Galway
* The contents of the conversation that took place between the executives of Anglo, namely John Bowe and Peter Fitzgerald, are indeed shocking. The revelations are the most damning evidence of economic treason.
The most infuriating part for me was hearing them laughing about the notorious plans that eventually destroyed the economy and the lives of citizens of this country for decades to come.
I wish to acknowledge the tremendous service the Irish Independent has done to expose the activities of these white-collar jokers. Otherwise, we would be left in the dark as a result of the Government’s limitations on this upcoming banking inquiry as it stood.
These revelations have provided the ordinary people of this country with an insight th extraordinary levels of deception that were engaged in.
Mattie Greville
Killucan, Co Westmeath
* Following the publishing of the Anglo tapes, we now have every politician grandstanding for an inquiry into banking. I have a simple solution. Take the money that will, no doubt, be wasted on a politically-led inquiry and give it to the gardai to strengthen their investigation.
That will allow the courts to deal with the issues and dish out appropriate punishment.
Conan Doyle
Pococke Lower, Kilkenny
* The snorting derision and contempt the Anglo officers had for our State and our people, as revealed on tape, is truly shocking to the core.
Their attitude must surely have been echoed, too, in all our other banks’ senior officers during the early days of the crisis (and perhaps since), who all appeared to behave in the same manner as the dysfunctional aristocracy of the Kingdom of France in the 18th Century.
Charles Dickens’s wonderful novel ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ clearly illustrated the cruel disdain the aristocracy showed the people in France, until their reckoning came in 1789. Dickens also clearly illustrated the manic bloodlust of the dishonoured and disrespected population.
Every senior bank official, current and retired, should read Dickens’s novel, so as to learn what can happen to those who ignore the people or regard the people as irrelevant.
Our ministers, too, should take heed and take swift action, if they do not want their own heads to roll.
Frank Hannon
Cloghroe, Co Cork
* Congratulations to the Irish Independent and all its staff for the publishing of the Anglo Tapes.
The information revealed points to a situation where some “high-level executives” at Anglo Irish Bank had a very flippant attitude to the taxpayer. It raises serious question marks over the levers of power in the State and casts doubt on every legislator who voted for the bank guarantee.
The calls for a politically-led inquiry are coming from a group of individuals who have had two years to find these tapes and act on them. They hardly seem qualified to conduct any inquiry considering their own total and utter incompetence
Well done to all at your paper, you have proven the true value of a free and open press.
Dermot Ryan
Athenry, Co Galway

Still hospital

June 26, 2013

26 June 2013 Still Hospital

Off around the park listening to the Navy Lark, Mrs Povey is on the warpath she wants promotion for Henry. He may not be much but he’s hers. Priceless.
Mary still in hospital for a blood transfusion, I hope all will be well.
I watch The Auton invasion its not bad
No Scrabble no Mary


Professor Mick Aston
Professor Mick Aston, who has died aged 66, was one of Britain’s best-known archaeologists and a charismatic presenter of the popular Channel 4 series Time Team.

Professor Mick Aston (left) and Sir Tony Robinson preparing to excavate the gardens at Buckingham Palace in 2006 Photo: REX
6:31PM BST 25 Jun 2013
Wild-haired, with a thick Black Country twang, and invariably clad in a rainbow-striped sweater, Aston was an academic who believed in dragging archaeology out of the academic shadows and making it appealing to a mass audience. “We’re never sure what we’re going to discover, if anything, on our digs,” he once explained. “We’re not in the Tutankhamen business, but we’ve uncovered everything from a Palaeolithic site from 200,000 BC to a Flying Fortress bomber.”
He appeared as the senior archaeologist in 16 series of Time Team, in which specialists carry out a dig in the space of 72 hours. It was Aston who first convinced the programme’s producers that such a tight time-frame was feasible . Not that he was particularly one for getting down and dirty. As a landscape archaeologist, he was more concerned with analysing the historic record and aerial photography. “I rarely get down into the trench,” he noted. “ I’m interested in the overall picture.”
When Time Team was launched in 1994 the programme encountered what its presenter Sir Tony Robinson called “a wave of hostility from academics”. As the show’s resident archaeologist, Aston was particularly wounded . But, as Robinson reflected, university departments “tended to back off when the number of kids applying for archaeology courses went up five or tenfold, with most of them citing Time Team as the reason”.
Aston left the show abruptly in 2011, later explaining his decision by saying that the show had been “dumbed down”: “ I was the archaeological consultant but they decided to get rid of half the archaeological team, without consulting me.”
As well as appearing on Time Team, Aston worked for 10 years on a major research project investigating the origins of the village of Shapwick in Somerset, turning up more than 250,000 finds dating back to 8,000 BC; he also researched monastic and landscape archaeology throughout Europe.
Michael Antony Aston was born on July 1 1946 at Oldbury, West Midlands, into a working-class family. His love of archaeology emerged when he was a boy, despite what he recalled as Oldbury Grammar School’s best endeavours to dissuade him. At Birmingham University he read Geography with a subsidiary in Archaeology, graduating in 1967.
He worked as a field officer with Oxford City and County Museums for four years , before being appointed Somerset county council’s first archaeologist in 1974, overseeing numerous sites uncovered by the construction of the M5 motorway. Four years later he returned to academia, as a tutor with the External Studies Department at Oxford University.
In 1979 Aston became a tutor in Archaeology at the University of Bristol , where he remained, latterly as Emeritus Professor, until 2004. He was then an honorary professor at Durham University and an honorary visiting professor at the University of Exeter.
His books included Archaeology is Rubbish (2002, with Tony Robinson); and The Shapwick Project, Somerset: a rural landscape explored (2007, with Christopher Gerrard).
An enthusiastic walker who enjoyed pottery, painting, and classical music , Aston was also a vegetarian and lifelong naturist. He lived in a “rather grotty 1960s bungalow” in Somerset where he could lie naked in his back garden.
He suffered from aspergillosis, a farmers’ lung condition, for 30 years, and had a brain haemorrhage in 2003.
Mick Aston was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1976 and of the Royal Geographical Society in 2010. In July 2012 he received a lifetime achievement award at the British Archaeological Awards.
He is survived by a son and stepdaughter, the children of his former partner, Carinne Allison, from whom he separated in 1998.
Professor Mick Aston, born July 1 1946, died June 24 2013


You reported last week (20 June) that the schools budget was likely to receive a flat-rate settlement in real terms. You also reported (22 June) that admissions to primary schools increased by nearly 100,000 on the year, with the National Audit Office forecasting that admissions would rise by another 240,000 in September this year. With an increase in the numbers of children coming in to primary schools and the raising of the participation age to 17, shouldn’t the education budget be increasing to take account of this? Any flat-rate settlement surely constitutes a significant budget cut in real terms?
Lesley Classick
Iver, Buckinghamshire
• Today, George Osborne is expected to announce funding for several big new road projects, including the £1.5bn A14 bypass (Report, 24 June). However, with government, big business and local councils pushing over 200 other road schemes, these are just the tip of the iceberg. Last weekend we travelled 250 miles from Hastings – site of the £100m Bexhill-Hastings link road – to the Peak District, and built a 50m “dual carriageway” on Mr Osborne’s doorstep to raise the alarm. Affecting four national parks, seven areas of outstanding natural beauty, 39 sites of special scientific interest, 64 ancient woods and 234 local wildlife sites, these roads represent a major assault on our countryside. Building new roads is bad for jobs, for our countryside and for our warming climate. It will be met with sustained peaceful resistance.
Denise Berry, Chris Bluemel, Anthony Bradnum, Gabriel Carlyle, Agatha Coffey, Sarah Evans, Karl Horton, Maria Gallastegui, Simon Medhurst, Rosamond Palmer, Rebecca Snotflower

Today is the UN Day in Support of Victims of Torture. The British government should urgently be called to account for failing to protect this vulnerable group. The Home Office routinely holds torture survivors in immigration detention in breach of its own rules. Rule 35 should prevent this in all but exceptional cases, but a report by the charity Medical Justice – The Second Torture – found that this rule was flouted in 49 out of 50 cases. Two detainees were deported and tortured again in their countries. They managed to escape back to the UK but were detained again. Medical Justice doctors documented fresh torture scars alongside older ones. Last month the high court found that a group of torture survivors had been detained unlawfully and that rule 35 had failed them. But alarmingly, the Home Office has restricted rule 35 so that it only applies if the torture was “inflicted by a person or a public official acting in an official capacity, or with their consent or acquiescence”. So for the purposes of Rule 35, if you were tortured by the Taliban, that wouldn’t count.
Lord Avebury
Dr Jonathan Fluxman Medical Justice

Your editorial describing Catherine Foster’s success in the Bayreuth festival (In praise of… British Brünnhildes, 25 June), says “Wagnerian opera was once a Teutonic monopoly. But these days British singers … would seem to be running rings around the competition.” Let’s not forget that the Teutonic monopoly was broken by Winifred Wagner, née Williams, born in Hastings of a Welsh father, who had considerable influence on the Bayreuth festival, and Hitler, during the Nazi years.
Wyn Thomas
•  The Badger Trust’s Jeff Hayden doesn’t know much about badgers if he thinks Michael Eavis’s comment about badgers eating hedgehogs is “ludicrous” (Glastonbury founder backs badger cull, 22 June). One evening some years ago, we heard a piercing scream coming from the garden. Looking out of the window, we saw a badger holding down and devouring a hedgehog, underside first. Or is it just the vast number of badgers in Somerset that eat hedgehogs?
Wendy and Rodger Neve
Over Stratton, Somerset
• As a Brighton resident I find it tragic that the views of our Green MP (Letter: We now have three parties of austerity, 25 June) aren’t shared by our Green council. Its savage cuts in the pay and conditions of its lowest-paid workers suggest that there are, in fact, four parties of austerity.
Barry Walker
• I have been married to my English teacher for 55 years. No complaints so far (Let me be the judge of whether my affair with a teacher was abuse, 25 June).
Valerie Hooley
• Three five-star reviews on one day (24 June)? Grade inflation. In my day, they’d have been lucky to get two.
Ken Manktelow
• I’ve just read that the BMA have passed a motion on Jeremy Hunt (Online report, 24 June). Hardly a pat on the back.
Stuart Hannay
Westsandwick, Yell, Shetland
• Aren’t your subs following the cliche correspondence (Nadal crashes out of Wimbledon, 25 June)?
Ceri Smith

The inaugural Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering was yesterday awarded to five engineers who helped to create the internet and the world wide web. The work of these engineers was substantially based on pioneering research and development by a team of British engineers and scientists at the National Physical Laboratory, a government R&D establishment, under its leader Donald Davies. We do not wish in any way to denigrate the work of the engineers selected, yet not one of the NPL team has been included.
The communications technology that underpins the internet is packet switching. This was independently invented, and named as such, by Davies in 1965, and has been widely acknowledged. The idea was developed into a proposal for a wide area network, similar in many ways to the internet, by a small team of engineers, including ourselves. It was also conveyed in 1967 to a US team planning the Arpanet, the network that was the principal forerunner to the internet.
Davies’s British team was limited to building a local area network within the NPL campus, which it successfully completed in 1971. This was the first digital local network in the world to use packet switching and high-speed links. The NPL team undertook a wide range of internationally recognised research in the field of computer networks, as well as collaborating with the Arpanet and broader international community. Most importantly from the point of view of this award, members participated in an international working group whose job was to define the function of inter-network gateways and the development of the Internetwork Protocol that led directly to the creation of the internet, co-authoring one of the seminal publications on this subject. This was one of the areas singled out for its significance by the Royal Academy of Engineering judges.
But it appears that the work of the pioneering British team that introduced packet switching has been airbrushed from history by the RAE judges. Davies’s contribution (he died in 2000) to the development of packet switching was recognised by the US IEEE institution, among others. When Arpanet reached its 25th anniversary, the NPL team were hailed in the US as “the packet-switching pioneers”. It is galling that while US institutions are willing to recognise the significance of NPL’s work, the UK establishment appears incapable of doing so.
Roger Scantlebury
Peter Wilkinson
Former NPL engineers

Douwe Korff (Comment, 24 June) is right to stress the importance of EU action to shield European citizens from snooping by intelligence services. MEPs have pushed Brussels for safeguards against intrusive intelligence powers for years. EU privacy legislation is under discussion. As a negotiator on the reforms, I’m demanding that it include a provision to ban a company complying with a foreign surveillance order unless a treaty between that country and the EU guarantees legal rights of appeal and redress for Europeans. The European commission caved in to US pressure and dropped such a clause before the draft legislation was published. It is disappointing that even now EU commissioner Viviane Reding, responsible for data protection, is only promising to “not object” when MEPs push to reinstate it.
Of course the threat is homegrown as well as transatlantic and international. We need leadership not only from EU institutions, but also from the 28 national parliaments, to seek restraints and accountability on the surveillance powers of each EU state. In the new EU data protection law we aim to achieve strong guarantees for individuals in relation to those who originally collect and process their personal data. But the value of these will be fatally undermined if the security establishment is allowed to snoop at will, shielded from scrutiny and legal restrictions by compliant executives.
Sarah Ludford MEP
Lib Dem, London
• Edward Snowden has revealed that GCHQ secretly accessed huge amounts of internet and communications data (Report, 22 June). It would appear that in the last 30 years not much has changed, apart from the technology. In 1980, while on the Sunday Times, I worked with Duncan Campbell of the New Statesman on a story about the interception of civilian communications. After months of work and for reasons hard to fathom, the Sunday Times did not publish our story, but the New Statesman did.
This is what we wrote about the Menwith Hill base on the Yorkshire moors: “Its business for more than 15 years has been sifting the communications of private citizens, corporations and governments for information of political or economic value to the US intelligence community, and since the early 1960s its close partner has been the British Post Office. The Post Office has built Menwith Hill into the heart of Britain’s national communications system – and Britain, of course, occupies a nodal position in the communications of the world, especially those of Western Europe.”
We wrote that Menwith Hill was the largest and most secret civilian listening post maintained by the NSA outside the United States. It appeared to be the biggest tapping centre in the world. We called it the “billion-dollar phone tap”.
Linda Melvern
• The letter from the chair of the GCHQ trade union group (24 June) is a delicious irony, as it wasn’t so long ago that unions were banned at GCHQ by Margaret Thatcher because they would potentially interfere with the spying activity of the US on the rest of the world. That the local trade union should now be supporting surveillance of nearly all UK citizens is quite amazing. I haven’t read any denigration of the thousands who work at GCHQ, other than of the senior officers and politicians who have been happy to authorise the collection of private data by way of all-encompassing intercepts. The legality of such intercepts has yet to be determined in court. Quite rightly, this is now in the public domain and there should be a debate on what is an appropriate intercept and who authorises it.
Tony Jarvis

How much more do we have to learn about the misconduct of police officers before we have a full royal commission to examine what has been happening and to set out rules for the future policing of our society? Changing evidence at Hillsborough, employment as a private army against the miners (and inventing evidence), using the identities of dead children, shooting an innocent man on the underground, trying to undermine peaceful protests, knocking a bystander to the ground (leading to his death), allowing undercover officers to go beyond acceptable bounds, and now (Editorial, 25 June) attempting to smear the Lawrence family and their supporters – and all the time with senior officers pretending that they knew nothing about what was going on. Surely, we have seen and heard enough to realise that the police, far from protecting a democratic society, are all too often acting like a law unto themselves? We need a police force we can trust. There is no indication at present that either the government or senior police officers understand the extent to which they are losing that trust.
David Howard
Church Stretton, Shropshire
• As organisations that have provided advice and support to the families of people who have died in police custody for many years, we are alarmed by the Guardian’s report that campaigns run by bereaved families that we have assisted may have been targeted for covert police surveillance (Yard spied on critics of police corruption, 25 June).
Coming on top of allegations against special demonstration squad undercover officers of serious sexual misconduct, the stealing of the identities of dead children, the targeting of the Stephen Lawrence family, the suggestion that grieving relatives seeking the truth about the deaths of their loved ones may have been spied on, apparently to gather information to smear them in order to deflect attention away from police conduct, means the case for a judicial public inquiry into all of these revelations of police malpractice is now overwhelming.
Any information gathered and the way it was used must be subject to robust public scrutiny, and the Metropolitan police and their political masters must be held to account for the actions of officers.
Deborah Coles and Helen Shaw Inquest, Estelle du Boulay Newham Monitoring Project Marcia Rigg and Samantha Rigg-David United Families & Friends Campaign
• The police are continually asking for public support and help to reduce crime and bring criminals to justice. But in order to obtain that support the police must have the public trust. The public trust is difficult to lose where law enforcement is concerned, but once lost it is even more difficult to regain. In countries where the law enforcement arms of the state are untrustworthy, organised crime thrives and black-market economies flourish. The police, and the Met in particular, are in grave danger of losing that trust. And then we may find that the largest factor contributing to crime involves the police undermining themselves.
Dr Todd Huffman
• CCTV follows us everywhere, licence-plate recognition technology follows our cars, GCHQ reads our email and listens to our phone conversations, police spies monitor our attempts at protest, police “kettle” and photograph us when we nevertheless protest (How can we invest our trust in a state that spies on us?, 25 June). By what definition of a police state are we not already living in a police state? The fact that I hesitate to write my name under this email for fear of reprisal only confirms that self-censorship, the sign of living in fear under a totalitarian regime, is already starting to make itself felt.
Colin Hall
• I would like to have a letter published in the Guardian registering my outrage at state interception of internet traffic and the creeping criminalisation of protest. While I still can. And assuming you receive this.
John Cranston
• Chris Elliott, the readers’ editor (Open door, 24 June), refers to the time after the first edition has been printed “when our email is not monitored”. Not in Kings Place, perhaps, but very likely in Cheltenham or Fort Meade (NSA headquarters).
Joseph Cocker
Leominster, Herefordshire

Suzanne Moore’s digital economy piece (14 June) is interesting, but her comparison between Kodak and Instagram betrays a lack of understanding of how these digital economy companies work.
Instagram had only 13 employees at the time of Jaron Lanier’s book, Who Owns the Future?, because Instagram does not do very much itself. The startup economy is a recent development made possible only because of huge advancements in hosted services.
Instagram only needs a tiny engineering team, but the service Instagram provides needs far more. There is a large middle class associated with services provided by Instagram, and I’m a part of it: the engineers who maintain services and software that these startups rely on.
I agree with Moore that societies should place a fair value on work, and understand the importance of a financially secure middle class. But this is a challenge of political and social will, and it is a mistake to segue into the Luddite tendency.
There will always be new technologies that render old occupations obsolete; history has shown that this results not in a Luddite dystopia of poverty and starvation, nor the futurist utopia of a permanently leisured human class served by its machines, but simply in human ingenuity inventing new forms of occupation. The challenge is to ensure that our polities are structured such that these new forms of occupation do not increase inequality.
The nature of technological change is unimportant; the challenge of the digital economy is just the same as the challenge of the Industrial Revolution and no doubt will be the same as whatever the next big wave of technological change turns out to be – AI journalism, perhaps?
Adam Williamson
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
The EU is good for Britons
When reading John Harris’s article on Ukip on the March (14 June), I thought that so many people who constantly express pride in all things British seem to assume that all British people feel the same way. This could not be further from the truth.
I looked at the statistics for 2009-10: 567,000 people arrived in the UK and 371,000 moved overseas. These are modest figures compared with the 29 million Romanians and Bulgarians who might, if Ukip are right, come to the UK under the auspices of the EU. A headline figure, maybe, but one only to scare people.
I married a person from the former German Democratic Republic in 1994-95 and we decided that it was more appropriate for me to join my new family in Saxony, Germany, than for them to move to the UK. One additional factor was my total discontent with Thatcherism and its later John Major version, which had so influenced the way in which I did my work in one of the caring professions. I have no homesickness and have never regretted the decision I took almost 20 years ago. As a citizen of the UK and the EU, I benefit enormously from the provisions that relate to those like me living in an EU country other than their own, and would be harmed if Britain departed from the EU.
If Ukip ever comes to power, I’m sure I will feel even happier that I left Britain’s shores.
Michael Booth
Kassel, Germany
Vested interests doom Syria
I agree with Charles Glass that the Syrian conflict is unlikely to be resolved, except through tough negotiations (Pity the unfortunate citizens of Syria, 14 June).
Sadly, though, the involvement of the two major players, Russia and the US, is less to do with halting the massacre and more to do with serving their own interests.
The same approach was taken in Afghanistan a quarter of a century ago, when the US armed the Afghan mujahideen to see off the Russian army, only to land itself in a deeper quagmire, full of the Taliban.
It does make one very cynical when the superpowers turn a conflict into a tug of war, instead of applying wisdom and generosity of spirit to rescue a desperate population.
Shmaiel Nona
Burradoo, NSW, Australia
How to thwart the snoopers
I have a very simple solution to the unthinkable intrusion by the US National Security Agency into people’s private lives (14 June). AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, YouTube and Yahoo, not to mention Prism and Boundless Informant? Forget them all and bring together four simple items that fortunately are not yet obsolete – pen, paper, envelope and stamp – and do what I do. Commit your most nefarious plotting and planning, the details of your deepest and darkest secret weapons of mass destruction, your schemes to annihilate the world, on to paper and then seal them safely inside the envelope and post them off. Safe as houses.
Or does the NSA have some kind of MRI system that can scrutinise the content of a sealed envelope? If this is the case, we’ll have to resort to telepathy.
Annie Didcott
Chifley, ACT, Australia
• I am amazed that no one has pointed out the irony that Edward Snowden has sought the protection of a country where, if he had revealed such “state secrets”, the authorities would have locked him up and thrown away the key.
R Coates
Hong Kong
• The question is not whether someone is intercepting my emails. The only question is, who? When I am conspiring against the government, I use my employer’s email system; when I am conspiring against my employer, I switch to Gmail.
David Josephy
Guelph, Ontario, Canada
It’s all about politics
Bravo for José Rodrigues dos Santos’s article, Can Agatha Christie be political? (7 June). It makes one think outside the tiny box into which most newspapers, TV pundits and social scientists put politics. That box contains government, politicians, political parties, lobbyists and the like. It doesn’t have religions, corporations, universities, non-government organisations, families and so on. Those entities are supposedly not political, unless they or people in them do malicious, unseemly or self-serving things – then they’re “political”. Here comes another strength of Dos Santos’s article: it links politics to ideas, concepts and behaviour that can be good, moral and beneficial.
Politics is about controlling, allocating, producing and using resources, and the values and ideas underlying those activities. We all do these things; we’re all political. Better to be conscious of that than to think what we do isn’t political.
Ben Kerkvliet
Honolulu, Hawaii, US
Nasa finally sees the light
It is reassuring that Nasa has concerns for radiation exposure in space (Dispatches, 14 June). Not always so.
Starting in 1958 Project Orion (now declassified) sought a round-trip to Mars in 124 days with a crew of 150. What may seem gonzo now was a deadly serious endeavour: a 16-storey vessel would have been catapulted up through the atmosphere by detonating an array of nuclear blasts underneath it; space propulsion would have been achieved via 2,000 sequential “small-sized” bombs bumping it along. This boondoggle of Darpa (of star-wars defence fame) would have launched from the ever-secret Nevada Test Site, even then a hopelessly radioactive wasteland. Believed feasible for a decade, the engineering was later orphaned to the Air Force and reconfigured as an orbiting battleship to “go toe-to-toe with the Russkies” in space. The Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963 put it into limbo.
R M Fransson
Denver, Colorado, US
It’s just too damned long
Your feature on Bandwurmwörter (14 June) brought back a story, no doubt apocryphal, told by my German teacher. It appears that the original German word for a tank may have been Schuetzengrabenvernichtungskraftwagen, a mere 37 letters, or 36 with the umlaut. The literal translation is: motor vehicle for the annihilation of protective ditches.
Rommel’s failure to capture Tobruk in 1941 was in part due to the inevitable delay in sending the following plea for reinforcements, in Morse Code: Siebzigtausend Schuetzengrabenvernichtungskraftwagen dringend erforderlich bei Tobruk bitte. Immediately after this debacle, an edict from Adolf Hitler decreed that henceforth the word in German would be der Tank.
Noel Bird
Boreen Point, Queensland, Australia
• Am I missing something? Eighty-six prisoners at Guantánamo Bay have been cleared for release, and have been for some considerable time (7 June). So, what is the problem with giving them a travel voucher to their chosen destination, a reasonable sum of subsistence cash and a lift to the travel starting point? I mean, just do it, for goodness’ sake. Innocents should not be incarcerated further, once declared innocent. Or is there something simple I have overlooked?
Ian M Cameron
Auckland, New Zealand
• One of the many things I appreciate about Guardian Weekly is its frank attitude when it comes to the more colourful side of the English language. I refer, in this case, to Sam Leith’s book review of Holy Sh*t by Melissa Mohr (14 June). In the unlikelihood of this article being published in, say, the Daily Mail, it would be so full of asterisks as to render it bl***y, f***ing unreadable.
Kim van Hoorn
Tarn, France
• Rarely have I ever read anything more sane and wonderful: Jay Griffiths has said out loud about parenting what most women know deep down in their hearts (31 May). Thanks for publishing this piece of wisdom; it will hopefully start parents thinking before inflicting years of damage that starts with controlled crying and is followed by controlled everything else.
Ailsa Cuthbert
Gisborne, New Zealand



The US’s pursuit of whistleblower Edward Snowden is shameful in the extreme. Government departments exist to assist and protect a nation’s citizens, but what we are witnessing from the US is a governing state acting as though it ruled the lives of those whom it ought to be seeking to represent, actually granting itself oversight of the minutiae of its people’s lives in a chilling mirror of Orwell’s dystopian vision.
And no wonder Snowden fears capture; Bradley Manning, the courageous young soldier who supplied Julian Assange with the WikiLeaks information regarding abuses conducted by the occupying troops in Iraq, has been treated in ways which no prisoner of war would endure under the Geneva Conventions: held in solitary confinement, forced to sleep naked and deprived of his prescription spectacles, leaving him practically blind.
These are dark days for democracy and freedom, as our fellow men are vilified, prosecuted and imprisoned merely for trying to alert us to acts being committed in our name.
Extradition treaty be damned, the UK ought to be standing up to the bullying US and offering political asylum. All around the world, we are seeing populations resisting the old political order; these are interesting times and history will judge harshly those who stand in the way of actual, not just perceived, freedom.
Julian Self
Milton Keynes
It is paradoxical that social democrats and socialists complain about the state snooping on our communication activity but believe the Government needs to control more of the economy, whereas more authoritarian-minded conservatives believe the state should be small in respect of economic activity but be able to snoop on us in the name of “security”.
James Paton
Billericay, Essex
Police check on Stephen Lawrence family
With all due respect to Stephen Lawrence and his family, perhaps the public should not overreact to claims that an undercover officer in the Metropolitan Police was asked to look for information that might discredit the Lawrences.
Unfortunately in one sense it is absolutely legitimate for the family to be screened. The public would have a right to know if, for example, Stephen Lawrence was actually an outspoken ruffian from a criminal family rather than a totally innocent victim from a good home. We’d have a right to know, not least because securing justice for this young man and those who loved him has already cost the state many millions over the last 20 years.
But there is an important distinction here, in that the officer concerned was asked to unearth information and not, thankfully, to concoct it.
Paul Dunwell
Alton, Hampshire
The idea that the police monitoring of the Lawrence family or checks on campaigners on police wrongdoing is some kind of aberration that took place only in the 1990s is historically ill-informed.
In fact the police have a history of spying on radical organisations and the left dating back to before Peterloo in 1819. There were police spies in the Chartists in the 1840s; the Communist Party, CND and others were watched in the 20th century. Little if any evidence of illegal activity was found, except of course that of the police spies themselves.
Keith Flett
London N17
The power to curb rubbish
We read that Monmouthshire County Council intends to impose tighter limits on domestic refuse collections. This well-meaning initiative will no doubt be followed by other authorities. 
The associated impact will be most strongly felt by householders who are largely powerless to influence the amount of seemingly useless packaging that accompanies practically everything they buy. An example is the box, 25cm square by 10cm deep containing a wrist watch, presented to me recently as a long-service award. Shrink-wrapped swedes are a less obvious, but just as ridiculous, waste of packaging.
The pain needs to be transferred to manufacturers and distributors, through tariffs and shaming publicity, if sensible persuasion fails. They have the real power to reduce the huge volumes of wasteful and expensive packaging littering our world.
Roger Blassberg
St Albans, Hertfordshire
Research fraud in drug tests
Your article “Exposed: the doctor whose faked drug test results proved fatal” (18 June) contains a number of serious inaccuracies.
In 2006 we published the results of a clinical trial in asthmatic patients with infliximab: a monoclonal antibody (mAB) from Centocor (now Janssen). The study involved 38 moderately severe asthmatics in a single centre, and there were no treatment-related adverse events. The clinical results of this study were processed in a double-blind manner by an independent statistician, and we have no evidence for manipulation of these data.
On the contrary, evidence for research fraud by Dr Edward Erin was only found in the handling of laboratory levels of sputum markers of inflammation, which had no bearing on the clinical conclusions of the study.
In parallel with our study, there was a larger international study. Your article states that “faked research partly contributed to the [Erin drug] trial being extended internationally”. However we can confirm that the international Wenzel study had started recruiting patients in 2004, before any results of the Erin study had become available. Hence, the conduct of the large international study was not influenced by the results of the smaller single-centre study.
Another untrue statement was that “Dr Edward Erin’s fabrications were not detected until he was arrested and jailed for six years”. In January 2008 Dr Trevor Hansel had serious concerns over some data presented by Dr Erin, and requested that another member of the research team should independently go back to Dr Erin’s data, prepare new graphs and repeat the statistical analysis.
In the meantime, Dr Erin was arrested on 14 February 2008, the research fraud was reported to Dr Hansel on 16 February, and the matter was immediately referred to appropriate authorities. Following detailed examination of all Dr Erin’s publications, appropriate retractions were then made.
Dr Trevor T Hansel
Professor Peter J Barnes
Dr Onn Min Kon
Imperial Clinical Respiratory Research Unit, London W2
Marvell, the  bard of Hull
In identifying the “stars” of the four cities shortlisted for the UK’s next City of Culture, you name few outstanding cultural figures who can be associated with Leicester, Swansea or Dundee (“Dylan Thomas takes on Philip Larkin in a battle of high culture”, 20 June).
In Hull’s case, you cite the poets Philip Larkin and Sir Andrew Motion, who are a very strong combination, but you omit to mention the greatest poet to be linked with that city, Andrew Marvell, who went to school there and served as its MP during some of the most turbulent times in our history.
None of the other contenders for the City of Culture title can match the star quality of the man who penned the lines “But at my back I always hear/ Time’s winged chariot hurrying near”. Andrew Marvell, who is generously commemorated in Hull, tips the balance significantly in Hull’s favour.
Professor David Head
Director of Innovative Partnerships, Vice Chancellor’s Office, University of Lincoln
Dilemma in the middle lane
Some of the correspondence about middle-lane drivers seems to be misunderstanding the main complaint, which is about drivers who drive at 50 or 60mph in the middle lane while the left-hand lane is empty, thus effectively turning a three-lane motorway into a two-lane motorway.
If one is driving in the left-hand lane at 60mph and there is a driver in the middle lane going at 50mph, is it illegal to “undertake” by continuing at 60mph in the left-hand lane, or should one pull out into the right-hand lane to overtake? The latter seems absurd.
Peter Calviou
Amersham, Buckinghamshire
A riot of vacuous Tory proposals
The “alternative Queen’s Speech” put forward by right-wing Tories (25 June) is just 40 pieces of displacement activity.
Vacuous MPs, who have no idea how to manage an economy, are creating a smoke screen of irrelevant activity to obscure the reality that the nation they were elected to govern is disintegrating around them. Much like rioters in the street, an increasing number of MPs waving their arms and shouting didn’t properly learn maths at school.
Martin London
Henllan, Denbighshire
Figure it out
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown says (24 June): “The chances of a passenger dying in an airplane accident is one in 10 million; in our hospitals it is one in 300.” Is the aircraft figure per flight? Per year? Per lifetime? Does the hospital figure take account of the fact that many of us will ultimately succumb to a terminal illness in hospital through no fault of the NHS?
Bev Littlewood
Professor of Software Engineering, City University, London EC1
Misplaced love
While I do not in any way condone Jeremy Forrest’s behaviour – he betrayed the trust we all place in teachers on behalf of our children – it does seem to have been a loving relationship, though severely misplaced. How does his prison sentence equate with that given to Stuart Hall where there would appear to have been no affection, only his needs and much manipulation to meet them?
Marian Gooding
Petersfield, Hampshire
You have disappointed me. I love your newspaper and have bought it regularly since it was launched. However, in today’s edition you deemed it necessary to point out that Constance Briscoe is black (“Judge faces court over Huhne statements”, 25 June). Why? Is it relevant to the story? You didn’t make a point of stating that Chris Huhne was a white MP.
Trish Scott
Scarborough, North Yorkshire
I see you
I hear that the powers that be have got so safety-conscious (Tom Peck, 22 June) that staff at Hogwarts are making Harry Potter wear a high-visibility vest over his Cloak of Invisibility.
John O’Dwyer
Steeple Claydon, Buckinghamshire


‘Developers are sitting on planning permissions for hundreds of thousands of new homes, but are choosing not to build’
Sir, Tim Montgomerie blames Nimbyism for our economic and social ills (“Build homes. Give hope to the next generation”, June 24). In the same breath he claims the moral high ground for the pro-development lobby.
What he fails to discuss is that developers are sitting on planning permissions for hundreds of thousands of new homes, but are choosing not to build. They bought much of this land at high prices, intending to sell homes at even higher prices. But the market stalled so they are now choosing not to build until prices recover — and an effective tactic to increase prices is to deliberately create a shortage.
In other words, it is the developers’ greedy business model that deliberately fuelled house price inflation, and the same thing is contributing to a shortage of new houses.
The developers are abetted by the banks and building societies which relaxed their lending criteria, thus removing a natural brake on rising prices — the buyers’ ability to pay. Greed was their chief motivator.
Montgomerie wants us to “embrace housebuilding — for moral reasons”, but is this wise when the business of housebuilding is actually immoral?
Rachael Webb
Dunton, Bucks
Sir, Tim Montgomerie’s idea of building a large number of new homes to bring down the cost of housing will work only if there is a simple supply and demand relationship. But with houses there are too many other issues — notably planning control — for this simplistic relationship to apply.
It would be more realistic to consider other ideas; eg, taxation of all land including development land and capital gains tax on property just like any other asset. And perhaps new houses should be tied to local employment. And maybe no VAT on refurbishment projects. Or a high tax rate on income from rental properties. Or planning refusal for any proposed building work that makes a property more expensive.
Dick Bushell
Llanddaniel, Anglesey
Sir, Tim Montgomerie is right to say that we need more houses, and that our countryside is a “beautiful thing”. But I cannot support his statement that Nick Boles, our planning Minister, “gets it” — especially not when it comes to solutions.
On a number of occasions Nick Boles has said that we should be prepared to sacrifice our countryside to meet the national need for housing. Those who do not accept this assertion are simply labelled Nimbys in an attempt to discredit often legitimate concerns.
The Government has argued that its planning reforms would put local communities in control and allow them to shape the future of where they live. The Campaign to Protect Rural England recognises that we need more housing in many areas, but it should be for local authorities, working with the community, to decide how much is needed and where. Rather than trying to ignore the views of concerned local people the Minister should work with them to come up with solutions.
The Minister is speaking at CPRE’s AGM on Thursday of this week. I look forward to welcoming him to that meeting but I hope that, as well as talking to our members, he is prepared to listen and address their concerns about how the planning reforms are working on the ground.
Peter Waine
Chairman, CPRE

To be given a lump sum immediately after bereavement rather than continuous support is to misunderstand the nature of the problem
Sir, Having been widowed young I experienced just how the Widowed Parent’s Allowance made our difficult circumstances a little easier, helping me to raise my children until they finished their education, I am horrified to hear from the Minister of Pensions (letter, June 22) regarding the loss of this contribution-based benefit.
To save money, bereaved families are instead to be given a lump sum immediately after bereavement (which goes against any advice about the emotional state of families in the early stages of a bereavement), followed by support for one year regardless of the age of the children.
Under the existing benefit more than 70 per cent of bereaved families do manage to juggle work and childcare, because a sole parent often finds it impossible to earn enough to cover the costs of raising a family, including childcare.
The Government is now saying that when these families find themselves unable to cope, as they will, they can refer to non-contribution based benefits such as housing benefit — so the Government is basically prepared to wait for the families to suffer even more. And what MPs also fail to grasp is the positive image that a pension gives to a child regarding the work ethic and love of their late parent.
A third of absent fathers communicate with their children several times a week; I cannot put into words the sadness I have felt knowing that my children would never have another conversation with their father.
Karen Tyler
Bradford on Avon, Wilts

Radio 3 used to be the channel for the serious classical music buff, but recently things have taken a turn for the populist and trivial
Sir, Introducing music by Fauré, the Radio 3 presenter said: “Another weepie coming up”. Mon Dieu! Can nothing staunch this nauseous tide of trivialisation? The BBC is in real crisis.
Robert Gower
Egleton, Rutland

Contrary to what Libby Purves writes, we should be wary of giving too much pity to those who have abused their positions of power
Sir, I found Libby Purves’s piece (June 24) about the poor mother of the girl abused by Jeremy Forrest cruel, judgmental and distasteful.
As a parent you should know when a child is in a good or bad relationship. I know exactly what that lady meant when she said she lost her daughter. I lost my son to a paedophile and he committed suicide. It was only after the event that I discovered the truth.
Forrest emerges in this account with just what he wanted — a clean bill of health and pity. That’s what all the dangerous ones want. Why do you think he got five years — because the court had proof that he was an abuser not a poor, lost teacher in love.
Julian Nettlefold
London W14

‘Apart from a few oil-rich states, no country has got itself out of poverty without first stablising its population’
Sir, Mark Littlewood (“Triple the population — we’ll all be better off”, June 24) takes to task those of us who call for stabilisation of the world’s population levels, maintaining that we will be richer, happier and healthier if we let the levels go from the present 7 billion to 20 billion. He is correct that we can feed everyone today and have enough fuel to run their cars. But apart from a few oil-rich states no country has got itself out of poverty without first stabilising its population.
Water shortages in the rapidly expanding ten countries of the Nile Basin, which prompted Egypt to threaten military action against Ethiopia for building a dam on the Nile, illustrates the problem. The population of the Nile basin is set to double by 2050.
In my opinion we would be poorer and more miserable if our population were three times the present level.
Richard Ottaway, MP
Vice-chairman, All Party Group on Population, Development and Reproductive Health


SIR – Where have all the gooseberries gone? Here in the Garden of England, I can’t find a shop or supermarket that sells them. I see plenty of blueberries, strawberries and raspberries on the shelves, but no gooseberries, which are so delicious in pies and fools.
Black, white or redcurrants also seem to be unobtainable. Obviously the next step is to grow our own.
Geraldine Paine
Faversham, Kent

SIR – Dysfunctional is a good word for the Care Quality Commission (CQC), along with ineffective and costly (Letters, June 24). The whole registration process for dental practices was a shambolic affair, and has led to dentistry being regulated by non-dentists both at the CQC and at the General Dental Council (GDC), which now consists almost entirely of non-dentist appointees. One would have thought that a level of clinical expertise was necessary to regulate a profession properly.
The cost of CQC regulation, at £800 a year for every practice (on top of fees to the GDC), seems excessive, when it only covers a visit from a non-specialist inspector, perhaps once every four years.
Quentin Skinner
Tisbury, Wiltshire
SIR – In light of the many scandals in the regulation of public institutions, particularly the CQC, would any of these regulatory quangos be necessary if competent people were appointed to run the hospitals and schools in the first place? Politics has been put above ability in selection for the heads of some of these disastrous organisations.
And how about a campaign to rescind all the gagging orders, imposed to prevent whistleblowers speaking out, and the staggeringly high remunerations to failed chief executives in all administrative fields? Does anyone still have confidence in any “leader” these days?
Related Articles
Gooseberries have disappeared from the shelves
25 Jun 2013
Betty Stringer
Gargrave, North Yorkshire
SIR – People wonder how the NHS has spawned a layer of incompetent and immoral managers on £100,000-plus salaries when nursing assistants, welfare workers, cleaners and porters work as hard every day for a tenth of that income. Some of the blame may lie with the introduction of targets.
Targets were supposed to focus people on improving the service to meet the target, but the focus shifted from improving the service, to meeting the target by any means.
This frequently involves cancelling appointments, inconveniencing patients and covering up mistakes.
David Brown
Preston, Lancashire
SIR – Jeremy Hunt, the Heath Secretary, says that the name of the doctor responsible for the patient should be placed above the hospital bed (report, June 21). In the days of matrons and ward sisters, patients’ records with doctors’ names were clipped to bed frames.
Jean Wheeler
Aldborough, Norfolk
SIR – Dr Dan Poulter, who is a Conservative minister, still works part-time in NHS hospitals (report, June 24).
Surely the position of health minister warrants his full-time attention?
John Maddison
Harmful snooping
SIR – I am grateful to Edward Snowden, the fugitive whistleblower, for his well-intentioned actions in letting us know that the Americans are snooping on us (report, June 24). American officials reading other peoples’ emails and texts might have an impact on world trade by acquiring valuable commercial information. America is a foreign country; they look after themselves. We are not the 51st state.
No wonder the Chinese are angry. They have just had their worst suspicions confirmed. We should be angry too, and more importantly we should do something about it before there is lasting harm to the economy of this country.
Nigel F Boddy
Darlington, Co Durham
State hand-outs
SIR – Jeff Randall’s article (“It Can’t Be Done, George”, Comment, June 24) highlights the huge elephant in the room: the undeserving receipt of what is now called social protection.
It is difficult to make a moral or practical case for giving state financial aid to a household earning more than £40,000, for example in the form of child benefit. Such assistance is just a transfer of tax from the working community to those who already have enough with which to live an acceptable life and raise a child.
My own income is about £28,000; I fail to see why my taxes should benefit those who are earning considerably more.
Richard Hartley
Manningtree, Essex
Kate’s ancestry
SIR – Gordon Rayner’s report (June 22) on the Duchess of Cambridge’s royal connections alleged that both she and Prince William are descended from Sir Thomas Fairfax (d. 1671), a general during the Civil War.
However, Prince William is descended through his mother from Thomas, 1st Viscount Fairfax of Emmeley (d. 1636) who was the general’s fifth cousin once removed. Kate is descended from John Fairfax (d. 1614), parchment maker of Norwich who was almost certainly a grandson of the 1st Viscount’s grandfather Sir Thomas Fairfax of Gilling, Yorkshire, but that connection cannot be proved.
But Christopher Challoner Child, an American genealogist, proved recently that the Duchess has royal antecedents. Through her mother Carole’s Harrison ancestors from Co Durham, she is descended from Elizabeth Lumley, an illegitimate child of Richard III’s brother Edward IV.
Anthony Adolph
Author, Tracing Your Aristocratic Ancestors
London SE20
Peeler preservation
SIR – Andrew Gould (Letters, June 22) asks how to keep tabs on kitchen peelers.
After several of ours ended up in the compost, I fixed a strap to the peeler (long enough to allow its use) and secured the other end inside the cupboard door under the sink. When not in use it hangs inside the cupboard.
Steve Hutchinson
Birthday hat-trick
SIR – Two brothers and their sister of my acquaintance have birthdays on June 23 (1938), June 24 (1940) and June 25 (1952) (Letters, June 24). What are the odds on that?
John Ley-Morgan
Weston-super-Mare, Somerset
Sham marriages
SIR – Your report (June 24) that the Government may be considering extending the power to perform marriage ceremonies legally should horrify us all. It is already far easier to marry in this country than almost anywhere else in Europe; hence the upsurge in sham marriages.
Many of the fundamentals of our marriage law are steeped in history and unsuited to a modern, mobile, global society. They themselves were introduced in an attempt to halt clandestine marriages – but in the 18th century, when people moved around relatively little.
By extending the right to perform such marriages to other groups that reflect a whole variety of beliefs and lifestyles, you weaken still further a lax system.
The answer is straightforward – introduce universal civil marriage. Every couple would be obliged to give notice to and be married before a fully trained registrar. Following this civil marriage, which would produce the only legal documentation, the couple would be free if they wished to have a further ceremony without the restrictions that now apply to marriage ceremonies.
This system would be self-financing for the public purse because registrars would continue to charge fees to cover the cost of providing their marriage services. All religions and beliefs would be treated in the same manner, and the widespread abuse that we see today would be hugely reduced.
John Ribbins
Deputy Registrar General for England and Wales 1983-1994
Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Sporting rivals
SIR – How sad to read about animosity on the tennis court (Leading article, June 24). True sportsmanship calls for maximum competition on the playing field and friendship at other times.
Denis Compton versus Keith Miller – two great cricketers – was a classic example of the correct, gracious approach.
Michael Brotherton
Chippenham, Wiltshire
Gone with the wind
SIR – I am an artist, not a scientist, but it is a strange thing that since we have had to endure all the land and sea wind turbines across Britain and Europe, our weather has deteriorated considerably.
Daphne MacOwan
Maughold, Isle of Man
How to persuade the public to purchase GM food
SIR – When genetically modified food was first marketed (Comment, June 19), it was tomato purée that was clearly labelled. It was placed next to non-GM tomato purée. Everyone was happy, but it did not sell. So the non-GM tomato purée was withdrawn, and there was uproar.
For most people it is not about science, corporate power or anti-Americanism, but about having the choice to eat what you want. Sell GM food as an alternative, not as a substitute, and you’ll find the public will accept it more.
Ken Sampson
Camborne, Cornwall
SIR – The Government seems very relaxed on this issue, as long as products are not used in their restaurants (“GM foods kept off the menu at Westminster”, report, June 22). May I suggest the electorate should be given the same choice?
Deirdre Lay
Guildford, Surrey
SIR – Maybe ministers and scientists could explain the net benefit to humanity of having a herbicide-resistant crop.
GM crops result in the vastly increased use of herbicide, and herbicide residue in our food, environment and water. They also result in the creation of resistant weeds.
Lucy Flint
Liss, Hampshire
SIR – In theory, the use of GM crops should mean less need for pesticides. However, in practice, it has often meant the opposite as either the technology has not worked as expected or the companies have chosen to promote pesticide-resistant crops.
It may be that farmers in the Americas and Asia who grow GM would not do so if they were not happy with it; or it could mean they have no choice as they are totally beholden to the GM companies. My view is that the problem is not so much GM technology itself as the companies that are controlling it.
GM has the technological potential to feed the world and even to bring environmental benefits, through the use of drought-resistant and disease-resistant crops. However, it also has the potential to cause long-lasting environmental havoc.
William Cook
Blandford, Dorset

Irish Times:

Sir, – It is time to stop pussyfooting around what has gone on with the banks. We don’t need another inquiry, we need action. Call in the law and let it take it’s course. What are we, the people, doing? We have listened to politicians’ platitudes for far too long; we have watched our towns and villages die; we have watched our friends and neighbours go bankrupt, we have watched our young emigrate; and worse still we have watched many of our people die by their own hand when they reached the depths of despair.
Is it not time to stand up and be counted or are we going to let them trample all over us whenever they like? – Yours, etc,
Co Kerry.
Sir – I spent some time listening to radio broadcasts of several extracts from the Anglo Irish Bank telephone recordings. Consequently, I feel I have a better understanding of what those in the banking and financial fraternity mean when they speak of the need to continue paying massive salaries in order to attract the best “talent” to run our financial institutions.
Ingenuity comedy, mimicry, trickery, wit (?) – it’s all there. Such a wide and varied rage of “talent” doesn’t come cheaply, as we suckers should know by now. – Yours, etc,
Straffan Wood,
Co Kildare.
Sir, – Reading about Anglo Irish Bank and its dealings with the Central Bank – then reading about the Central Bank and its new guidelines for dealing with borrowers: if Shakespeare were alive today he would have to change the ending of The Merchant of Venice, as Antonio would have lost. – Yours, etc,
Dunshaughlin, Co Meath.
Sir, – Recent “revelations” remind me of a quote from Groucho Marx, along the following lines. “For years the mayor and other officials have squandered the citizens’ hard-earned cash, now at last it is my turn”. Many a true word, etc ?
Elm Mount,
Beaumont, Dublin 9.
Sir, – After five long years of overwhelming misery, pitiless despair and the devastation of never-ending austerity, only now do we hear over the airwaves, the malevolent construction of the deceit which has ruined the people of Ireland for many years to come.
Years have passed but no one has been brought to justice, no one is responsible. We can only glean the truth from the press and the airwaves, never from those who promised, and we elected, to clean house. Is it too much to ask that just once, just once finally, some real and tangible action might take place if for no other reason than to take the place of the missing bread and circuses? – Yours, etc,

Sir, – I disagree with Donal Donovan and Antoin Murphy (“Blinkered thinking at heart of Irish economic crash”, Opinion, June 24th) that the “blame” for our current woes lie uniquely in failures of Irish governance arising from fatal group-think among policy elites.
Almost identical errors of governance could be identified as the “explanation” for the crisis in any number of countries, from Spain to Portugal, Italy to Greece. Even much larger economies, such as the UK, the US and France, suffered banking failure, explosion of sovereign debt and economic contraction of a systemic quality different to Ireland’s only in relative scale. “Governance failure” was not a uniquely Irish phenomenon.
In their great book, Manias, Panics and Crashes, Kindleberger and Aliber showed how all financial crises in western history had been caused by sudden expansions in the credit system combined with technical innovation in its form. The decade following the collapse of communism saw a euphoria in the west that globalisation had abolished the cycle of boom and bust, an attitude summed up in the title of the book by Reinhart and Rogoff, This Time is Different – Eight Centuries of Financial Folly.
The explosion of world credit from 2000, combined with the “technical innovation” of electronic transfer and newly invented debt-trading “instruments”, overwhelmed the world with “unsound” money against which institutional defences nearly everywhere proved inadequate. As Avellaneda and Hardiman put it in 2010 in relation to the EU: “The under-institutionalisation of the normal policy restraints at European level imposed the need for heroic levels of self-constraint on the part of the peripheral economies.”
The only economies left standing as the tsunami of the global credit crisis passed were the manufacturing economies of northern Europe which had long resisted the blandishments of Keynesian financial expansionism. The actual instrument in Ireland’s case for protecting against the anarchy of international credit lies in speedy consolidation of the euro zone and acceptance of its monetary and banking disciplines. As Brendan Halligan recently told the Institute of International and European Affairs, Ireland must align itself unequivocally with the countries driving this process, and this can allow for no special pleading such as in relation to the IFSC. – Yours, etc,

A chara, – With all that ails our system of education, what attracts the ire of a committee set up by the Oireachtas? Uniforms and workbooks (Home News, June 22nd). What’s next from our our esteemed TDs; a suggestion that our economic woes will be solved by the banks handing our free pens? – Is mise,
Sir, – Under our Constitution the most basic and fundamental right contributing to the common good is the right to life itself. In practice in Ireland this gets priority over all other rights. Indeed, failure to secure the right to life would make the granting of all other rights impossible. Changing the priority of rights would be disastrous. Imagine if property rights were deemed more important than the right to life – the death penalty could then be justified for stealing.
The argument for abortion, even in difficult circumstances where freedom to choose seems somewhat restricted, would reverse the priority of rights, giving the right to freedom of choice precedence over the right to life. Surely this would fatally undermine our Constitution, jeopardising its protection of the lives of many groups of people including unborn children, the elderly, disabled or terminally ill – as already happens in some other EU countries.
The unavoidable death of an unborn child during necessary medical treatment of her/his mother to save her life does not undermine the Constitution.
Perhaps the Attorney General should look at this aspect of the proposed abortion Bill. – Yours, etc,

Sir, – I commend The Irish Times for an excellent series on cycling. How wonderful to see this activity given the prominence it deserves. What is not so admirable is the lack of basic safety advice contained in the series, notably a recommendation to wear a helmet at all times.
Undoubtedly for any piece of advice given to cyclists to wear a helmet there is will be some contrarian out there ready to quote an article from the British Medical Journal “proving” helmets make no difference in the event of an accident.
While I empathise with cyclists being lectured by journalists to wear helmets, especially journalists who last threw their leg over a bike when they were 10 years of age; having been in bike accidents I have lived to continue to write letters to The Irish Times thanks to the helmet worn at the time.
Helmets are not mandatory for cyclists in California if they are over the age of 18; they are for younger riders. But wearing at helmet is a best practice – it should not require a law to remind people to do so.
It amazes me that the Dublin Bikes scheme does not use bike stations that can utilise the latest in mobile app and geolocation technology to direct customers to the nearest place to buy or rent a helmet to use with their rented bike. This approach is used elsewhere in the world. I’ve seen it in Melbourne, on the bike stations of an equivalent system. Whatever about safety, surely a business opportunity beckons for such a feature in Dublin? – Yours , etc,

Sir, – Paul Williams (June 20th), states that the appellation of the label “neo-liberal” to any government policy of privatisation is a “simplistic knee-jerk reaction that stunts public discourse”.
Mr Williams’s call for “a mature discussion” of government policy is rather undermined by his claim that the neoliberal tag is typically thrown around by the “loony left and fellow travellers”. I would suggest that his usage of such terms to dismiss any dissenting voices is equally unhelpful in the creation of a mature discussion. Clear-minded input, rather than a back and forth trading of generalisations, is needed from all sides of public discourse. – Yours, etc,

Irish Independent:
* What struck me in the recent debates about abortion is the sometimes intellectual bankruptcy of the attendant moral discourse.
Also in this section
Little people paying for bigwigs’ greed
Disgraced once again
Reform not part of Kenny’s ‘MO’
* What struck me in the recent debates about abortion is the sometimes intellectual bankruptcy of the attendant moral discourse.
Discussions have been seething with contradictory “certainties”. Most of what I read from the different sides of the argument was aggressive, accusative and insensitive to the notion of respect for persons that lies at the heart of what is at stake. It brought into sharp relief the age-old question, “What would Christ have said?”
There is a feeble acknowledgement that all thoughtful moral choices are characterised by ambiguity and uncertainty. The great failure of modern secularism, and fundamentalist forms of religion, as guides to our lives, is that they do the opposite of what they say on the tin – they do not liberate or open our minds but strangle the spirit with bogus certainty and arbitrary limitations on what counts as rational thought.
An extraordinary paradox lies in the fact that people who hold religious beliefs are also people of doubt whilst incorrigible doubters such as modern secularists and atheists demonstrate an unshakeable adherence to what they believe.
Moral choice does not bring certainty.
It is not a simple matter of following rules or of obedience to authority, even the authority of God. Any fool can do that. The essence of moral action is more challenging. It is that of thoughtfully reflecting on our lives together, seeing their demands, imposing these demands on ourselves and accepting responsibility for our decisions.
The moral discourse of the church in Ireland has been generally badly led by the bishops. Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin stands out as the sole voice of calm, dignity and intelligence.
The priests and religious of Ireland, now unjustly vilified by a raucous minority, remain the real moral leaders of the church. They are close to the day-to-day lives of people. Of course, there were a few who fell far short of the very high standards expected of them but the vast majority remain examples of selfless commitment and dedication.
I have always been inspired and supported by the priests and religious I have known through my life and regularly return to them to nurture my precarious beliefs. To whom else should we turn? Politicians, perhaps?
Philip O’Neill
Oxford, England
* I – a citizen in a “democracy” guided by unelected government advisers, a financial sub-committee unanswerable within a Cabinet that through use of party whips and guillotined debates, stifles discussion or dissent among shamelessly supine TDs – have been revived by a single question that has been put to my tormentors.
Eamonn Barnes, retired DPP, asked a question which, if not answered, will scupper the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013.
He asked how, if Article 40 of the Constitution equally guards the life of mother and unborn, protection offered in this Act can be equal if in certain circumstances the life of the unborn can be terminated to save the life of the mother but there are not stated equal circumstances in which the life of the mother can be terminated to save the life of the unborn?
I do not support either option.
An answer, please, from either the Taoiseach or Justice Minister.
A response that Mr Barnes would be better keeping his opinions to himself is not an answer, and won’t cut any ice with the Supreme Court when it is asked the same question, and mother and unborn die while it deliberates the Act’s constitutionality.
John Cronin
Terenure, Dublin 6
* “I picked it out of my arse.”
This was the rationale in an internal Anglo discussion explained to be the reasoning behind its first bailout request of €7bn. Seven. Billion. Euro.
Later, the strategy is further explained as being one of ensnarement, whereby after one bailout, the State would be in too deep to be able to stop paying – an ingeniously dastardly plan. And all this on Page 1 of your report into the Anglo recordings (Irish Independent, June 24).
Based on these revelations, I believe that if ever there was a collection of people in this country who were more deserving of a diet of porridge and bread, or even of a re-opened Spike Island (so as to de-pollute the general population), it is them. They spit and stamp on the Irish people, and show no remorse for it.
If anything, by virtue of their pensions, gold watches and fleeing abroad, they show even greater contempt.
Killian Foley-Walsh
Kilkenny city
* In response to David Freeley’s letter (Irish Independent, June 20), I would like to point out that there is a museum here in Ireland dedicated solely to the Famine. The Irish National Famine Museum is in Strokestown Park, Co Roscommon, and was first opened to the public in 1994.
Since then, nearly 750,000 visitors from home and abroad have passed through the doors of the museum and have learned of the devastation and hardship caused by the Famine. During the past six months, much work has gone on in redesigning and upgrading the museum. President Michael D Higgins is patron of the museum, and officially opened the upgrade to the public this week.
Patrick D Kenny,
Strokestown, Co Roscommon
* There are towns in some of the most developed countries in the world that are methodically being left to the elements. It seems slow at first. A shop closes here or an iconic bakery closes there. When an entire street goes the same way is the point when someone really notices at all.
In Northern Ireland, creative though desperate councils have painted very realistic, fake shopfronts in an attempt to hide the economic hardships being felt in the towns and villages.
One local unemployed man there summed up neatly the reality behind the fakery: “The shopfronts are cosmetic surgery for serious wounds. They are looking after the banks instead of saving good businesses.”
The ‘it could never happen here’ response is a deluded form of optimism, because the reality is that it has already happened.
Barry Clifford
Oughterard, Co Galway
* Please tell me I was seeing things. There I was perusing my daily Irish Independent (June 22) – with the usual morning Americano – when I read a report on one of the Leaving Cert exams: Religious Knowledge!
Christ Almighty, surely there aren’t teaching resources being put into teaching this nonsense now? Especially when the employers are crying out for computer graduates, and this is not even on the syllabus?
One of the questions in the exam was to explain “how a connection between the sacred and the profane may be found in two of the following features of primal religion: Mana, Shaman, Tabu and Totem”?
I’ve never heard of any of them but I do know that this is one question you won’t get asked about in a job interview!
Paul O’Sullivan
Donegal town
Irish Independent


June 25, 2013

25 June 2013 Hospital

Off around the park listening to the Navy Lark, Troutbrideis helping the CID carch some criminals who are fleeing to France on a launch. But the policemen gets Leslie’s and Murray’s smuggle instead. Priceless.
I take Mary into hospital for a blood transfusion, I hoipe all will be well.
Iwatch The Android invasion its awful
No Scrabble no Mary


Jeffrey Smart
Jeffrey Smart, who has died aged 91, was one of Australia’s foremost post-war artists, specialising in beautifully composed urban landscapes stripped of their human hustle and bustle and endowed instead with a dash of the surreal.

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The Cahill Expressway (1962) Photo: AAP/PA
5:55PM BST 23 Jun 2013
People did occasionally appear in Smart’s work, but he sniffed that the figures were only inserted “for scale” – to give an idea of the monumentality of whatever tower block, motorway flyover, oil barrel or radar dish he was focusing upon. In his Portrait of Clive James (1991), for example, the writer peeps out from a concrete roadbridge, tiny and anonymous, hidden far beyond the butterscotch plane of a corrugated iron fence that dominates the foreground.
“The subject matter is only the hinge that opens the door,” Smart said. “My main concern always is the geometry, the structure of the painting. Most pictures I paint stay broadly painted while I move them about, doing sketches, small studies, overpainting again and again. Only when I have the shapes in the right places do I then ‘paint it realistically’.”
His style was indeed detailed and realist, influenced by Edward Hopper; but bright colours, an overwhelming preoccupation with shape and form, and a sometimes exaggerated perspective, ensured that they were rarely “true to life”. The Guiding Spheres II (1979-80), for example, is ostensibly a depiction of motorway roadworks, yet is dominated by outsize, vibrant orange plastic balls, strung between traffic cones, that appear to hover above the tarmac – all beautifully rendered in a painterly high definition.
His most celebrated work, The Cahill Expressway (1962) shows a blue-suited man under a concrete underpass in Sydney. Again, Smart claimed that he made use of the human figure purely for the purposes of composition, to anchor the swooping roadway and play of light and shadow. Yet as with Alfred Hitchcock’s fleeting insertions of himself into the background of scenes in his films, so Smart’s figures have a playful, intriguing quality that goes well beyond fulfilling a solely geometrical function. Thus the enigmatic lone man in The Cahill Expressway, staring out inscrutably at the viewer, has the sleeve of his suit rolled up, having lost an arm.
Frank Jeffrey Edson Smart was born on July 26 1921 in Adelaide, South Australia. His artistic career was, he claimed, sparked by a trip to Europe on which his father took him when he was only three. “I remember it – all my memories go back to a childhood in Europe,” he reminisced recently, almost 90 years later.
Back in Adelaide the family was affected by the Depression and had to move from a large house into a small flat. Though the bedrooms looked out over parkland, it was the view from the kitchen – a warren of alleyways, rooftops and washing lines – that fascinated Jeffrey. With a friend, he wandered the maze of lanes, imagining the lives that went on beyond the doorways and gates that he passed.
After school Smart’s initial ambition was to be an architect, but family finances would not stretch to sending him to university. Instead he became an art teacher, working at various schools until 1947, when he made a longed-for return to the Europe that he had first visited as a toddler.
He sailed for London and then moved to Paris to study at La Grand Chaumiere. Officially his teacher was supposed to be Fernand Leger, but, as Smart recalled, Leger would only “come in once a week. His mistress [Nadia Khodossevitch] was the one who’d do the teaching. But he was a very impressive man.”
Smart made the slums behind the grand boulevards the subjects of his paintings, little tempted by abstractionism or the influence of Picasso, which was then blanketing the art scene. Indeed, Smart had little reverence for the Spaniard. “He was captain of the ship and he wrecked the ship – over-talented, and his attitude to art was arrogant. He had, I think, a bad influence on painting in the 20th century.”
Smart travelled back to Australia in 1951, moving to Sydney, where he worked as an art critic for The Daily Telegraph, and developed a career on television, even presenting Children’s Hour on ABC-TV.
He returned to Europe, this time permanently, in 1963, when he was 42. By then he had established the style, flatly-painted and intense, with which he would make his name. He settled in Tuscany, eventually buying a villa near Arezzo, from which he ventured out to develop an encyclopedic knowledge of Italy’s great galleries. “It does lift your standards,” he said. “You can’t see them through books and reproductions; you must see the real works.”
Though not widely appreciated beyond Australia, his value rose steadily at home, despite his expatriate existence. In 2011 his Autobahn in the Black Forest II (1979–80), sold for more than one million Australian dollars. His work is due to feature in the exhibition Australia this autumn at the Royal Academy.
He continued to work into his 90s with apparently undiminished talent. His last work, Labyrinth (2012), features a maze under a lowering sky. Typically, at its heart is lone man, walking away from the viewer but casting a glance over his shoulder.
Jeffrey Smart is survived by Ermes De Zan, his partner of more than 30 years.
Jeffrey Smart, born July 26 1921, died June 21 2013


The focus on the poor attainment of low-income pupils in the suburbs is long overdue (Ofsted chief calls for troubleshooters in schools failing poor children, 20 June). But the remedy suggested by Sir Michael Wilshaw will do nothing to assist those children. On the face of it, the suggestion that a school would lose its status of “outstanding” if it was failing its poorest children is an attractive one. However, we believe this will simply lead to an increase in the practice of “easing out” low-income children. The perception of Harrow is that of a wealthy borough with excellent schools and few social problems. The reality is that it’s among the most ethnically and culturally diverse areas in the country, with both settled and new migrant communities. Harrow Law Centre regularly represents children from low-income families who are “eased” out of the borough’s best schools.
Pamela Fitzpatrick
Director, Harrow Law Centre
•  Sir Michael Wilshaw wants to parachute superteachers into schools to help the poorest children. I suggest he looks at how many poor children are “taught” by teachers’ assistants as a cheap option in many schools. Some of the “poor, unseen” children in our secondary schools can go for days without coming into contact with a properly qualified teacher or even an unqualified graduate. Seemingly, in these days of academic rigour, qualified teachers can’t be wasted on the less able. They need to be focused on the targets thrown up by league tables in schools serving children in poor areas.
Rosina Purnell
•  Michael Wilshaw needs to have the courage to speak out against a government that ignores the importance of inequality in the educational performance of children. He cannot go on blaming teachers and schools en masse for failing to raise attainment when it is government policy that is causing the problem.
Richard Stainer
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

So the Care Quality Commission is to employ top-flight professionals as chief inspectors and staff that are professionally qualified as specialist inspectors (CQC ‘would have cleared failing hospitals regardless’, 22 June). It will also have a renewed focus on consumer issues. Given these prospective changes, the commission should look at housing inspection as a template. The housing inspectorate was led by the former director of housing from Bristol city council, had experienced and professionally qualified inspectors, and used tenants of local authorities and housing associations as part of inspection teams evaluating landlord services such as estate management and repairs and maintenance.
What’s more, after 1,400 inspections an independent study concluded that the improvement in social housing services between 2000 and 2010 was in part due to the framework for inspection (H Pawson, UK Housing Review, 2011). Unfortunately, the people responsible for housing inspection and the systems used by staff are no longer around to help the CQC. That’s because housing inspection – conducted under the auspices of the Audit Commission – was abolished by the government in 2010.
Roger Jarman
Former head of housing, Audit Commission
• You refer to Jeremy Hunt’s attack on “the culture of defensiveness and secrecy in the NHS” (Editorial, 20 June). Nearly two years ago, concerns I raised within the NHS when a non-executive director were forwarded to the strategic health authority. I was told they were “completely unfounded”. An internal SHA email ended with the words: “Hopefully this gets put to bed today.” The SHA appointed a lawyer through whom I requested information. I was told one document I sought could not be found; when I asked when it went missing I got the response: “You have been informed that the letter you were seeking cannot be found. That is the end of the matter.”
I wrote to some of those involved for clarification on related matters. After just one letter to the director of communications for NHS Property Services, the lawyer wrote to tell me he had received instructions to “seek an injunction against you to make you desist”. He explained: “You are not an investigator, regulator or statutory body and you have no standing from which to require anyone to co-operate with your lines of enquiry. None of these people are accountable to you.”
If senior NHS managers respond to members of the public in this way, there is an even greater need for effective and independent regulatory bodies.
Mike Sheaff
• The model of oversight, the rationale for the CQC, Ofsted and the rest of the regulatory alphabet soup, is deeply flawed. The transaction costs are staggering, and what is constantly being created and re-created is a parasitic bureaucracy smitten by the same disease of structures and processes so destructive of their host bodies. What we cannot inculcate in clinicians and pedagogues can never be supplied by inspection.
Neil Blackshaw
Little Easton, Essex
• I can only hope that the problems at the Care Quality Commission will help to dislodge the cult of the infinitely transferable super-manager, who flits from one six-figure-salaried job to another in a series of completely unrelated fields. Jill Finney, for example, went from being director of marketing at the British Library to deputy CEO of the CQC to chief commercial officer at Nominet, without apparently needing any knowledge of libraries, the NHS, or anything other than generic “management”. Perhaps if people with relevant experience and a degree of commitment were employed in such roles, the results might be less disastrous for those whose lives they have so much influence over.
Jill Allbrooke
• The health secretary’s pronouncements about what should happen to CQC staff allegedly involved in a cover-up, including the possibility of withholding their pensions, may appear to be “justice being done”. However, it is quite wrong for him to make such pronouncements. There is a danger that dishing out punishment without a due process could lead to a further cover-up. Reactive statements such as those made by the health minister serve to focus attention on to a few individuals, and to deflect attention away from the need for thorough investigation. 
Dr M Turcan

As a councillor I am working with the police and local authorities to eradicate the graffiti that is blighting our new Metrolink extension. How can we hope to achieve that when even the Guardian runs a totally uncritical article lionising these criminals and written by a convicted perpetrator (The double lives of graffiti artists, 22 June)?
Cllr Andrew Simcock
Lab, Didsbury East, Manchester city council
• John Woodcock (Letters, 22 June) stands firmly behind his constituents of Barrow-in-Furness, where the Vanguard submarines are made, and makes a case for keeping our nuclear weapons indefinitely. Though polls have clearly shown that this is a minority view, his letter raises a larger issue: should MPs adopt a “my constituents, right or wrong” policy? In favour is the argument that our representatives are there to give us a voice: this is democracy in action. No harm is done, provided all MPs act in the same way.
Harry Davis
Thames Ditton, Surrey
• ”Osborne says the economy is ‘out of intensive care’” (Report, 24 June). Finished with the operating theatre, now it’s the abattoir.
Martin London
Henllan, Denbighshire
• Your editorial (24 June) suggests that red mullet in British waters is a sign of global warming. If so, it has been going on for a while. They were certainly in the Isles of Scilly on 2 August 1948 – my grandfather never forgave me for interfering with his eating one caught that day by being born in his house at dinnertime.
Sam Llewellyn
Editor, The Marine Quarterly
•  Simple meals for young and eager cooks (Cook, 22 June): “Add some … caramelised onion (you might find a jar of this in your fridge).” This is not the way to prepare young people for the realities of everyday meals.
Ross Roberts
• Spotted last week, another use for a 35mm film canister (Letters, 10 December 2012): cutting bread circles to make roses at the bread museum in Monteleone Rocca Doria, Sardinia, which is more interesting than you might think.
Sam Sexton
Kenilworth, Warwickshire

What is it with the British obsession with imprisoning people? Why was the Boat Race protester Trenton Oldfield given a six-month jail term (Man jailed for Boat Race protest ordered to leave UK, 24 June), of which he served two months in Wormwood Scrubs?
In addition, the calls to imprison miscreant bankers (Report, 19 June) seem disproportionate. They should definitely suffer punishment under the law, but our prisons are grossly overcrowded. I am sure that a convicted banker could work free for any number of charities, applying their financial skills for the good of society instead of personal monetary gain.
Andrew Thacker
Edgbaston, Birmingham
• You don’t need statistics to explode the “done nothing wrong, nothing to fear” lie (Owen Wells, Letters, 24 June); and surveillance systems are indeed already in the wrong hands (Peter Healey, Letters, 24 June), when Trenton Oldfield’s act of conscience (it caused trifling inconvenience to a quite wonderfully insignificant sporting event), having drawn down a grossly disproportionate jail sentence, is now to be used – vindictively, it seems, but also threateningly to us all – as grounds for deportation. People in general live with the experience of feeling not only frustration but also guilt at our inability to act or to shout loud enough to prevent the great wrongs and injustices that confront us day by day. Yes, the complexities go deep, and life must go on; but it is still to our collective shame that so many and such avoidable wrongs go on happening, in our name, and as it were on our generational watch.
Phillip Goodall
•  Trenton Oldfield told the court that his protest was designed to highlight elitism in British society, but he argues that he should not be asked to leave the UK because he has a tier one visa and is a highly skilled migrant. Why does he believe that such elitist considerations should govern immigration decisions? Do lower-skilled or unskilled migrants have less right to be here than him?
Simon Jarrett
•  The influence of the shadowy elite around the universities of Oxford and Cambridge on our political life is brought into strong relief by the deportation of Trenton Oldfield. Without making it look like a Philip Pullman novel, perhaps we are due some investigative reporting as to how deep this influence is?
Dr Alan Lafferty
•  Reading Monday’s Guardian this week, one might identify the real state of British justice today. One man who disrupted an elite sporting event for 25 minutes was jailed for two months and is now to be deported. Yet hundreds of women and children have reported being the victims of the appalling inhuman sexual and physical abuse of female genital mutilation (70 a month seek help after genital mutilation, 24 June), without a single person being taken to court for committing such an offence. It is difficult to know whether the police, social services or the medical profession should be more ashamed of continuing to allow this to happen.
Stephen Kay
Abergavenny, Monmouthshire

If police are locking up mentally ill people (Mentally ill ‘treated as suspected criminals’, 20 June), it is purely because they cannot find beds for them in hospitals. I speak from 35 years’ experience in the probation service and as someone who has a son in the police at present. I find myself in the unusual position, for one with my background, of agreeing with the representative of the Police Federation. The story here was missed: it is not that police are locking people up, it is that there are no hospital beds for mentally ill people out of office hours, or at all if their behaviour is less than angelic. Where else can the police put them? They are a risk to themselves at least and maybe to others. They are processed by custody sergeants in the same manner as criminals to protect them and the officers. The alternative is to leave them on the streets. There are no other places of safety to take them to, and I cannot see that having “street triage” is going to magically create them.
Jonathan Frayne
Umberleigh, Devon

News that Ed Miliband will accept the government’s spending cuts, as a starting point for 2015-16, as well as supporting a cap on welfare spending, confirms fears that we now have three parties of austerity at Westminster (Miliband summons up spirit of 45, 22 June). Instead of trying to outcompete the government in some kind of masochistic virility test to see who can threaten the greatest austerity, an opposition party worthy of the name would be making a far stronger case that austerity isn’t working, and offering a genuine alternative.
At the People’s Assembly meeting in London on Saturday, more than 4,000 people gathered to build a movement to do just that, based on a recognition that the best way to address the deficit is not by cutting public spending, throwing people out of work and slashing welfare, but by investing in jobs, particularly jobs in the labour-intensive green sector, which would address the growing climate crisis, as well as the economic one.
Borrowing, based on record low interest rates, a serious crackdown on tax evasion and avoidance, and green quantitative easing to deliver investment directly into the new jobs and infrastructure that the UK urgently needs to make the transition to a more sustainable economy, would all do far more to address the deficit than the confused Tory-lite policies set out by the Labour frontbench.
Caroline Lucas MP
Green, Brighton Pavilion
• So Ed Miliband has decided that he will not reverse any of the coalition’s vicious and divisive spending cuts if he were to win the next election. What would be the point of voting for him, then?
Cherry Weston



As a Muslim woman of mature years myself, I find a lot in Dorene McCormack’s letter of 19 June to commend. I can recognise and indeed honour her desire to see greater equality between men and women and her repudiation of vile or criminal practices like forced marriages and genital mutilations. As for practices such as segregated swimming, I am a bit surprised that she is unaware that there have been for many generations in this country, in places such as Highgate Ponds in north London, a time-honoured practice of segregating swimming facilities.
Dorene McCormack might also be interested to know that forced marriages are not exclusively practised by Muslims but also by Sikhs and Hindus and others. As to genital mutilations, it is a cultural practice in certain parts of Africa and has nothing whatsoever to do with Islam, even if some Muslims choose to practise it.
For Dorene McCormack and others like her who feel offended that Muslim women are not equal to their men in this country I would like to reassure her that our fathers, husbands, brothers and sons, while not kings like Shah Jahan, who can build monuments like the Taj Mahal to witness their love for their women, nevertheless in the main love and honour us. There is a small minority that is thuggish, criminal or downright cowardly who seek to oppress us, and perhaps in this country more of us need to know that we do not have to put up with that. 
Equally there is a need for some non- Muslims to recognise that, when they lay blame at the door of Islam for whatever it is that to them makes their country unrecognisable, they might have to look at themselves a little more honestly for the answer.
Satanay Dorken
London N10
Female genital mutilation is a barbarity performed, often without anaesthetic, upon pubescent girls. It causes traumatic physical and mental scarring which will stay with the unfortunate recipient throughout her life, rendering normal sexual relations painful and childbirth dangerous.
The whole world needs to concentrate upon eradicating this evil, performed at the command of pathetic men upon helpless girls. Parents who allow their daughters to suffer in this way need to be dragged through the streets and horse-whipped.
It was therefore sad to read Ian Quayle’s ill-considered letter (22 June) comparing male circumcision with FGM. Speaking as a circumcised male, can I assure Mr Quayle that, upon the invention of the Tardis, I would go back in time and heartily thank  all concerned in the matter. Although I was not consulted at the time, I am quite happy with the consequences. To compare a quick nick and dab of salve on a baby with the horrors of FGM  performed upon a fully sentient young woman is breathtaking: did Mr Quayle do any biology?
His letter performs two grave errors. First, it defocuses society’s attention from the specific evil of FGM. This needs to be eradicated and he should not confuse the issues. Second, it is quite unkind to insult my willy in a national newspaper.
Dr Ian Poole
Want a better NHS? You’ll have to pay for it
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (24 June) is too pessimistic about the NHS.
It is short of cash because so much has been wasted on needless prescriptions, wasteful prescriptions, hush money, incentives for doctors, etc etc.
Why do people expect everything to be free as a right? It is time they realised the cost of the NHS and paid a consultation fee, and hospital fee. Even £1 a visit would make a difference, or £5 as in Denmark.
Valerie Pitt
London SE3
How is it possible in a civilised country for patients to undergo second- or third-class treatment if they are unlucky enough to visit hospitals over a weekend?
Recent examples in different hospitals in different counties with family and friends confirm that interminable waits, inadequate attention, stressed nurses and very few doctors on duty is the norm on weekends for the NHS these days.
How can this happen? The NHS clearly needs more resources. Surely the Government is aware, but nothing happens.
Tony Hams
Tideswell, Derbyshire
Why is Syria  our business?
Am I missing the point somewhere? I don’t understand our enthusiasm to get involved in the conflict in Syria. Isn’t Syria a Middle Eastern state occupied in a brutal civil war, outside any European jurisdiction, and if we are to get involved then shouldn’t we be doing all we can to support the UN and NGO aid agencies in trying to reduce the horrifying toll on human lives?
It is the neighbouring Middle Eastern Arab states who should be using all their influence to stop this war. If arms and even soldiers are to be committed then let them come from these neighbouring Arab states.
In any case, the civil war is perhaps impossible to sort out because Russia totally depends on Syria to give it warm-water access to the Mediterranean, and so will inevitably support the Assad regime to ensure that this Mediterranean access is guaranteed. There is no point in getting involved in the fighting; Russia will not allow the Assad regime to fall.
In any case why should the UK see itself as the policeman of every failing state? We can’t afford it, it is not our responsibility and the result is that inevitably the lives of our servicemen and women are given for no purpose.
Adrian Starr
Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear
When will our Prime Minister get the message that he is a just a small pawn at the head of a small country, among world giants? It is time he got down to the business of sorting out the woes of the UK, instead of interfering in worldwide affairs and foreign wars.
Terry Duncan
Bridlington, East Yorkshire
If we had kept out in 1914
Dr Bendor Grosvenor (letter, 18 June) makes an interesting point. However, whether or not Britain was under any obligation to honour its alliance with France or its guarantee to Belgium in 1914, the fact is that, since the time of Henry VIII, British policy in Europe had been to prevent any one power becoming predominant.
We had been “singeing the King of Spain’s beard” long before the Armada; we had been a principal player in the War of the Spanish Succession against Louis XIV, even though there was never any direct threat to this country; and we were at war with the French revolutionaries and then Napoleon before the Grand Army arrived at Calais.
If Dr Grosvenor is saying that he would have been quite happy for us to have lived alongside a European mainland under German control for the last 100 years, I do not think many would agree with him, and Francophiles like myself would have found it difficult.
If the present turmoil ends, as it may, with Europe united under German leadership, with the UK excluded, two world wars really will have been in vain!
Peter Giles
Whitchurch, Shropshire
Powers to clear the middle lane
Mary Dejevsky (Notebook, 19 June) is quite right: we don’t need new offences to deal with middle lane hogs, tailgating, or any of the bad practices we see on the roads. Section 3, Road Traffic Act 1988 covers driving “without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road”. That gives the police all the power they need to deal with the careful but thoughtless drivers who seem to make up much of The Independent’s readership.
Anthony Bramley-Harker
Recent correspondence about drivers hogging the middle lane reminds me of the brilliant idea suggested years ago for saving money on the construction of new motorways: omit the nearside lane as no one ever uses it.
Sebastian Macmillan
Further to John Williams’ motorway bugbear (letter, 20 June), when I lived in Germany in the 1970s Mercedes and BMW cars were said to have eingebaute Vorfahrt, or built-in right of way.
Christopher Wright
Co-ops lead  way to success
Hamish McRae’s inflation of the Co-operative Bank’s problems into a general trashing of the mutual sector is lamentable (“The worst form of ownership – apart from the others”, 19 June).
The co-operative economy in the UK is thriving. Almost 6,000 co-operative businesses contribute £36bn annually to the UK economy. For the past five years the co-operative economy, growing by 20 per cent, has massively outperformed the “mainstream”, which is still smaller than when the credit crunch hit. And building societies have proved more durable than their privatised brethren.
Across the world, according to Co-operatives UK, members of co-ops outnumber shareholders three times over. Mondragon, the Basque mutual conglomerate, is weathering the economic crisis much better than the remainder of Spain.
McRae also seems not to be aware that community share schemes are rescuing at-risk shops and pubs across the country. Nor that support for mutual approaches, including co-operative councils, community land trusts and mutual housing organisations, now stretches across the political spectrum.
Mutualism is not a relic of the 19th century but a revitalised model rediscovered by the “mainstream” economy and society. It has a crucial role in rebuilding both in the wake of financial greed and shareholder inability to hold boards to account. 
Kevin Gulliver
Director, Human City Institute, Birmingham
Lynch mob
Driving home from work (not in the middle lane) I heard the news report “phone-in” clip of Nick Clegg being asked his opinion of the Saatchi/Lawson “incident”, and had some sympathy for him struggling to give an honest reply. Then the torrent of denunciation of Clegg and his response by all who followed made me question my naivety for not joining his condemnation. What a relief to read Frank Furedi’s excellent analysis of the “oral lynch mob” in Saturday’s edition.
Mike Bone
Saxtead, Suffolk
Futile snooping
If the United Kingdom’s GCHQ (5,300 staff) and the United States National Security Agency (40,000 staff) are doing their job of clandestine intelligence gathering, why are their governments so often clueless?
Dr John Doherty


In the minds of many, the colossal sums of money involved would be far better spent on improvements to the existing rail network
Sir, Having now “parked his 80mph speed limit plan” for our motorways (report and interview, June 22), the next task of Patrick McLoughlin, the Minister for Transport, is to apply the brakes to HS2, whose Paving Bill comes before Parliament tomorrow, the same day that the Chancellor sets out his Spending Review.
At an estimated cost of £40 billion for Phase One of HS2 alone, the immediate cancellation of this white elephant would, at a stroke, solve most of the Chancellor’s woes.
In his interview with Alice Thomson and Rachel Sylvester, Mr McLoughlin declared that, “on the railways you can do nothing cheaply; it’s all big projects”. Somewhat surprisingly he also maintained that, “High Speed 2 is not primarily about speed but about capacity”.
If HS2’s raison d’être is indeed about capacity, extending the relevant platforms at Euston, Marylebone and Birmingham, and adding extra carriages on to Virgin’s West Coast Main Line trains and those in operation on the Chiltern Line would instantly solve this problem with far less disruption and at a fraction of the cost of constructing HS2.
By 2027, if HS2 were to be up and running, some of those who currently commute from Birmingham to London will have found employment on their doorstep, while others will have come to the conclusion that working from home is not only far less stressful and more productive but a great deal less expensive.
Having digested HS2 Ltd’s Draft Environmental Statement, which sets out in gory detail its plan for the Euston area, I can only congratulate its authors on a scheme worthy of a horde of Viking invaders. With building land in London, especially in Camden, at a premium, their proposal to demolish more than 300 units of social housing, two respectable hotels (resulting in the loss of 700 visitor beds), a secondary school, numerous large and small businesses and restaurants, several offices and warehouses, as well as a public park, is totally unacceptable.
When those in Rio lose their homes they riot. In Istanbul the potential loss of a park caused more than just a little instability. Meanwhile, back in Britain, the frustrated citizens of Camden and the Chilterns merely wave a placard or two, wring their hands, or write a letter to The Times.
Marian Kamlish
London NW1
Sir, Rachel Sylvester (Opinion, June 18) confirms many of our suspicions concerning the wasteful Civil Service. The HS2 proposal has been championed by two successive governments despite it being clear to most neutral observers that the colossal sums of money involved would be far better spent on improvements to the existing rail network and/or on enhancing broadband provision. I wonder which mandarins have been and continue to be afraid to lose face on admitting this reality.
Stewart Hodges
Kenilworth, Warks
Sir, I have an alternative to spending unnecessary sums of money on HS2 and scarring our countryside.
Speed time could still be improved by putting on three to four extra carriages per train, extending every station platform to accommodate them and having alternate trains stop at every other station along its route to save downtime.
This would slash the cost of HS2 while still reducing journey times.
Eric J. Neale
Launceston, Cornwall

The illicit drugs market is controlled by criminals, there is no regulation of strength or quality, and financial incentives to target children
Sir, It is very helpful to have a discussion about the relative benefits and harms caused by substance use and abuse, such as the current debate about cannabis (letters, June 19 & 21), but this misses an important point. The illicit drugs market is controlled by criminals, not governments, there is no regulation of strength or quality, and there is a huge financial incentive to target children. All drugs are more dangerous and accessible when their production and supply is in the hands of criminals.
The experience of the past 40 years reveals that prohibition is not only ineffective at restricting access and use but it is also hugely costly, counter-productive and harmful. The so-called war on drugs has, in fact, been a war on people.
We have to decide whether legitimate authorities are going to be in charge, controlling access and regulating quality, or criminals are left to target successive generations in pursuit of almost unlimited profits.
The public mood is changing and politicians should now have the confidence to discuss this pressing issue openly and equipped with facts not emotion.
Tom Lloyd
International drug policy adviser, Chief Constable, Cambridgeshire Constabulary, 2002-05

All regulators should be given the power to impose robust sanctions. These powers should be known to all customers and stakeholders
Sir, In spite of the overwhelming evidence about intrusive calls (“Complaints soar but watchdog fails to silence cold callers”, June 21) the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) fails to act. As one of the thousands blighted by this problem (I have given the ICO precise details of the callers), I feel frustrated.
This is the latest of a long line of ineffective regulators (Ofgem, Ofwat, CQC, FSA) which either fail to act or claim that they have insufficient powers to do so. All regulators should be given the power to impose robust sanctions. These powers should be known to all customers and stakeholders.
The concerns of those such as ICO that are restricted should be addressed urgently. There should be a regular review of all regulators. Those failing the public should be disbanded.
Norman Mason
Widnes, Cheshire

The BBC Trust required more detailed explanations from the BBC, which led to a halt to the DMI project until a detailed investigation could be completed
Sir, As Rob Wilson knows, I — and indeed the entire BBC Trust and BBC Executive — are being held fully accountable for our performance over the BBC’s failed Digital Media Initiative (DMI) technology project through a PwC review that we have commissioned, a National Audit Office study that will follow and doubtless a subsequent Public Accounts Committee hearing (“Warning over failing £100m IT project missed by BBC trustee”, June 24).
It should be noted, however, that Bill Garrett’s letter dated May 2012 warning of problems with the project was not the only piece of evidence that was being accumulated by the BBC Trust. On the back of that building evidence, the BBC Trust required more detailed explanations from the BBC, which led to a halt to the DMI project until a detailed investigation could be completed, a fact I reported to the Public Accounts Committee and the National Audit Office in November 2012. It is therefore certainly not the case that it took more than a year for the problems of DMI to emerge and be acted upon by the BBC.
Anthony Fry
BBC Trustee

Some quiet residential areas are being blighted by the noise of leaf blowers, which often just shift leaves from one area to another
Sir, How I envy John Matthews (letter, June 24). When we moved into our house 19 years ago, the only noise was the singing of the birds. Now contract groundsmen descend on the area any time from Monday to Saturday. They conclude their work, at each ¼ acre- sized garden with the obligatory “leaf blow”. With approximately 40 properties within earshot of ours and an average “blow time” of 20 minutes per property we endure about 12 hours of bedlam every week. Much of the material is blown out of a property and on to the street, only to make its way to an adjacent property.
I have seen one team blow material across the street into a neighbour’s garden, only for a second team to arrive an hour later and blow it all back whence it came! My local council sympathises, but advises that unless all the noise comes from one property there is nothing it can do.
Oh, and the birds? They are in sad decline on account of the noise and the effect on their habitat and food of these unnecessary machines.
Richard Green
Altrincham, Cheshire

SIR – Christopher Howse describes our summer weather as “bitter beer: nothing to write home about and quietly satisfying” (Comment, June 20). But what is so satisfying about week upon week of damp drizzle, being cooped up inside gazing longingly at the garden lush with weeds?
Foreign travel hasn’t given us a “false view of the season”, but a chance to replenish our dwindling levels of vitamin D and wear our summer clothes for an entire week, as opposed to a handful of days between May and September.
I’m all for looking on the bright side, but “it’s disappointingly cloudy” can only be termed an understatement.
Another of summer’s pleasures is to swap soup for salad, and thermals for shorts or knee‑length skirts, though in fact my forearms, calves and toes have yet to see the light of day this year.
We don’t expect a guaranteed three months’ sunshine, but some warm, sunny spells wouldn’t go amiss.

SIR – Nick Boles, the planning minister, and other MPs seem to think that the countryside is just a sterile green area, devoid of voters (“Build on boring fields, says minister”, report, June 22). These “boring fields” provide food, not just for their constituents, but for the population as a whole. If only a fraction of the current production had to be imported it would drive Britain into the sort of balance of payments deficit that would put us into recession for decades to come.
“Boring fields” also absorb rain, without this sponge effect there would be more flooding, and more government money would be needed for flood prevention. It makes sense to protect the countryside; but those who make the decisions seem to be devoid of common sense.
Of course more housing is needed. But there are more than enough brownfield sites to enable the demand for housing, and commercial development, to be met for years to come.
Christina Miller
Machynlleth, Powys
SIR – The “boring field” behind my house is due to be developed shortly, and, as it is not being used, the grass has grown. Badgers have successfully reared cubs in their sett on the edge of the field and a vixen has also had three cubs.
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In the day and evening, swallows, swifts and house martins swoop over the grass. Countless other birds feed in the field too. In the evening, two or possibly three types of bats also hunt in the fields and under the tree canopy. The nightjar has returned after a few years of absence, and a hobby has also been seen. This all demonstrates an abundance of insect life. I have seen mice and voles and the hedge could well support dormice as the habitat is suitable. Wild flowers are also starting to appear.
I know what I consider boring: a collection of modern houses erected at speed, half of which will probably remain empty because there is so much other development going on at the same time.
Helen Shute
Budleigh Salterton, Devon
SIR – Having been involved in planning processes since becoming a councillor in 1999, I read Mr Boles’s comments with despair. There is a very real misunderstanding at national level about the planning process.
Throughout the country, thousands of houses have been given approval to be built, but this is not happening, as the developers either do not have the confidence, or the finance, to go ahead. The Government believes the answer is to build on greenfield sites (whatever their status).
In practice, people need to feel secure in their jobs and have an assured income if they are to move, but this is not happening. The answer is not to provide masses more land, but to ensure that land with planning permission is actually built on.
As to localism – whatever happened to that? It is time for the Conservative part of the Coalition to remember its roots and tradition to conserve so many of the fine parts of this land.
Hilda Gaddum
Macclesfield, Cheshire
SIR – Although the official line from the Government is that the Green Belt is protected, behind the scenes ministers are saying something different.
Isn’t it about time that the Government told us the truth for once, and admitted that it considers economic growth more important than preserving our precious and irreplaceable Green Belt?
Shelia Bourton
Wimborne Minister, Dorset
SIR – I take it Nick Boles will not complain if developers have their eyes on the “boring” fields surrounding his country cottage in Lincolnshire.
The fields in that county are very flat, just perfect for low-cost housing.
Jennifer Latham
Wedmore, Somerset
SIR – Ministers who spout boring drivel should have their properties knocked down and turned into a nice green field.
Alastair Cannon
Bridport, Dorset
Cover-up scandal
SIR – Your robust leading article (June 22), apt letters and Charles Moore’s typically thought-provoking comment piece on the NHS and the Care Quality Commision (CQC) will, I hope, be read by all MPs.
However, they also raise the question of what on earth Andrew Lansley was doing and to whom was he speaking inside and outside the NHS during his eight years as shadow and actual secretary of state for health from 2004 to 2012?
John Birkett
St Andrews, Fife
SIR – The senior managers alleged to have been responsible for the cover-up of the failings at Morecambe Bay NHS Trust were originally identified as Mr G, Mr F and Mr E. It was subsequently revealed that all three managers were women; Mr G is Jill Finney, Mr F is Anna Jefferson and Mr E is Cynthia Bower.
Why was this gender reassignment considered to be necessary?
Max Gammon
London SE16
SIR – Let me guess: we now need another supervisory body to oversee the CQC overseeing the NHS, just like we have tier upon tier of quangos in the finance and education sectors.
Michael Heaton
Warminster, Wiltshire
Birthday blues
SIR – I was fascinated to read your report (June 21) about a father’s two sons born on his birthday. I was born on August 22; my brother on August 22, 10 years earlier; and our mother died on August 22, years later.
I am never quite sure how to react to my birthday – with happiness or trepidation.
Dr Phil Bramley
SIR – Two of my daughters were born on my birthday just four years apart, on July 30, 1956 and 1960. However, my second daughter messed up – she was born seven days later on August 7, 1958.
Geoffrey Bray
Ashley, Northamptonshire
The royal miaows
SIR – The Queen’s love of horses and dogs is well known, but what about cats?
Have the corgis made Buckingham Palace a cat-free zone?
Gillian Dunstan
Witnesham, Suffolk
Private school practice
SIR – The attack by Sir Michael Wilshaw, head of Ofsted, on private schools (report, June 22) is misplaced. While a small number of private schools have historic wealth through endowments and property, the majority live a hand-to-mouth existence, and are only able to upgrade their facilities through appeals to the generosity of their alumni and parents.
The disparity in exam results arises because both pupils and teachers in the private sector work longer hours, while the parents of these pupils expect to see value for money, and so ensure that their children work hard. The majority of private schools already place their facilities, including some teaching, at the disposal of local state schools when available.
If Sir Michael wishes to raise the standards in state education he should look at things through the other end of the telescope. He should deal with the trade union practices that require state schools to release their charges at 3pm, and at how some parents abdicate all responsibility for the education and discipline of their offspring to the school, thus denying the silent majority an environment conducive to proper learning. It is not surprising those results are poorer.
Jeremy M J Havard
London SW3
Ivy’s valuable role
SIR – Bianca-Sophie Ebeling (Letters, June 20) is concerned about ivy infestations. The truth is that ivy on trees, banks and walls creates an unparalleled protective habitat for many of our wild creatures throughout the year, but especially in winter, as it is an evergreen.
From September until the onset of winter, the prolific flowering of the ivy provides an abundant source of late nectar and pollen for bees and other insects. After this, the berries of the ivy are a vital source of winter food for some birds.
Ivy, being a native species, has co-existed alongside our many indigenous trees since the last ice age, and yet I see no shortage of healthy, mature, native trees. Surely we can learn to coexist with such a valuable, multipurpose plant.
David Lantsbery
SIR – Recently, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said that one of the best plants we could have in our gardens was ivy. These days, with all our garden makeovers, we need places that are left a bit wild for the benefit of our wildlife.
Terence Jenkins
New Malden, Surrey
Table manners include no mobiles at mealtimes
SIR – Alan Hall (Letters, June 21) asks for a solution to the curse of the mobile phone at the dining table. Even before the advent of the mobile phone, I made one firm rule for my household: no phone calls to be received or made during mealtimes.
With the proliferation of mobile phones and one’s own offspring, I came under increasing pressure from family and friends to relax the rule. But it was the one rule I hung on to doggedly and today my children, who now have young families of their own, have finally come to appreciate the therapeutic qualities of a meal taken in the warmth of relatives and friends without annoying unrelated interruptions.
Amazingly, they have also discovered that the heavens don’t collapse if their emails and messages remain unattended for an hour.
Haroun Rashid
London SW3
SIR – It might not be appropriate at the dining table, but the head gamekeeper on an exclusive driven shoot had a very effective solution to the inconsiderate use of mobiles – he threw the offending shooter’s mobile into the air and shot it.
David Lane
SIR – Mr Hall should turn off the Wi‑Fi system in the house during mealtimes, or place a low-power spark generator on the table. Either of which solution will render communication impossible.
Rev Helier Exon
Blandford Forum, Dorset
SIR – The first to check their mobile washes up, the second dries up, with the third putting away.
Steve Cattell
Grantham, Lincolnshire

Irish Times:

Sir, – James M Sheehan, director Blackrock and Galway Clinics, commends the Catholic Church for upholding “for over 2,000 years” the Hippocratic Oath, ie “utmost respect for every human life from fertilisation to natural death”.
This is simply not true. Both the Crusades and the Holy Inquisition, inaugurated for very questionable motives, left behind a legacy of intolerance and anti-Semitism and a death toll, estimated by the most conservative historians, in the hundreds of thousands. In more recent times we have seen proof of church involvement in, and cover-up of, child abuse (hardly the ideal of “utmost respect”) and even today, in the revised Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994), we find support for the death penalty. In short, Mr Sheehan’s contention is absurd. – Yours, etc,
Shamrock Avenue,
Douglas, Cork.
Sir, – The article by Dr Michael Reilly (Opinion, June 21st), made chilling reading, as this country is on the cusp of introducing abortion on the grounds of suicide: “Despite training and experience, psychiatrists can’t always detect feigned suicidality . . . While a majority of those at risk of completing suicide will be identified, a large number who will not complete suicide are also so identified (false positives) . . . Even assessment by two psychiatrists does not necessarily provide the protection against unnecessary abortion it appears to provide as all psychiatrists use the same method of identifying suicide risk”.
Perhaps this explains why safeguards, checks and balances could not hold back the tide of abortion in countries where suicide is a determining factor. Do the Irish people really want to go down this road? – Yours, etc,
Sir, – I am at a loss to understand the point of the article “AG should have role in vindicating rights of unborn” (Eamonn Barnes, Opinion, June 22nd).
Mr Barnes’s contention is that under the Constitution the foetus should have equal representation with the mother in any discussions relating to termination on the basis of suicidal ideation on the part of the mother. If this suggestion were to be adopted by our legislature it would be interesting to see how the foetus advocate could consult with his/her client.
I was under the impression that the pro-life lobby was standing up for the foetus. I was also under the impression that the underlying motive of the medical profession was to save the life of the mother and the foetus if that is at all possible. So under those circumstances it would be the responsibility of the mother to prove her suicidal ideation was adequate and sufficient reason to allow the medical representatives to permit a termination. Given the conservative nature of the Irish medical profession the woman would not have an easy task.

Sir, – Brian Hayes, not for the first time, is simply wrong when he states (Home News, June 24th) that there is so scope for any income tax cuts in the forthcoming budget. On the contrary, our tax system has become so unfair and imbalanced, and the growth of poverty so alarming, now is the perfect time to make adjustments that will cut the level of tax paid by those on low incomes.
We need at least two additional tax bands to increase the take from high-end incomes while lowering the take correspondingly from those at the lower end of the socio-economic ladder. Not only would that bring more fairness, it would increase the spending power of those with less, thereby giving a substantial boost to the local economy – it isn’t rocket science.
Mr Hayes simply needs to understand that good governance transcends ideology and the scales will fall from his eyes. – Yours, etc,

Sir, – What a cruel government we have, that will seemingly dash the hopes of Finn Liebenberg and his family (Irish Lives: “Alicia Liebenberg tells how special education cuts will affect her son Finn”, June 22nd). His mother and father are trying so hard to increase Finn’s limited chances of success in the future and the Government is spending money on “the most stupid things”. Can the government not see the suffering they inflict for such small savings? – Yours, etc,

A chara, – Michael Noonan asserts that Fine Gael never gave a free vote:“We have a whipping system in our party. We don’t give free votes and everybody, when they [sic] decided to become a Fine Gael candidate, signed a pledge to vote with the party” (Home News, June 18th).
He has a short memory. In 1974 the then taoiseach, Liam Cosgrave, and the then minister of education, Dick Burke, voted against their own Bill to legalise the availability of contraceptives to married couples. Neither Cosgrave not Burke was expelled from the Fine Gael party for this extraordinary behaviour.
The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013 will be passed by a large majority. Under these circumstances, there is no reason why Fine Gael should not allow a free vote to cater for those deputies with a conscientious objection to the Bill or who feel that they should honour a solemn undertaking given in the last pre-election campaign, however naive this may appear to be to their more worldly-wise colleagues.
There is always the possibility that Enda Kenny will have a damascene conversion, and will emulate his egregious predecessor by voting against his own Bill! – Is mise,

Sir, – In your supplement (June 19th) to mark the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s visit, Colm Tóibín writes “During the euphoria . . . it might have been possible to mention anyone’s name in a speech and win applause”. Well, not quite.
In his address to the joint session of the Oireachtas, Kennedy referred to “the little five feet high nations”. He attributed this comment to “one of the great orators of the English language”. In fact, the comment was made by David Lloyd George. However JFK’s speech-writers had the good sense to realise that Lloyd George’s name might not be favourably received by his audience, many of whom would have bitter personal memories of him. – Yours, etc,

Irish Independent:

* In America, a small shoal of crafty, pinstriped financial piranhas deliberately and knowingly decided to throw all the rules governing sensible financial lending overboard.
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Their intention was to become obscenely rich, regardless of the damage and hardship they would inevitably cause.
The feeding frenzy soon attracted other, equally-ravenous predators whose unwitting prey included countless hard-working but financially unsophisticated young couples.
Banking for Beginners, Lesson One: Every Boom is Inevitably Followed by a Bust. Professional money manipulators already knew this, and what the inevitable end of lunatic over-lending must be. However, besotted with productivity-related bonuses and regardless of scruples, they forged ahead.
Countless thousands of the wide-eyed unaware who still believed that bankers were people of probity and honesty were ushered into the trap.
So, surely the question arises: if a financially unsophisticated mortgage-holder ends up in serious negative equity as a direct result of a professional lender bamboozling them into taking on a ludicrously large loan, how should responsibility be apportioned?
If their house has to be sold for considerably less than the amount owed to the bank, should the basically innocent victim, already suffering terribly, still be saddled with making up the entire difference?
Insult to injury springs to mind.
Some will say it serves the young people right for borrowing too much.
However, financially aware and still-wealthy banks and bankers are being bailed out with billions of euro of taxpayers’ money, even though it was their incompetence and profit-chasing which largely created the mess.
But the little people at the bottom – those who are in the deepest trouble – are to get very little real help.
George MacDonald
Gorey, Co Wexford
* In the past two years we have been visited by the queen of England, the president of the United States and, latterly, the family of that same president. Now we are in the throes of celebrating the 50th anniversary of JFK’s visit to these shores.
Given the political, media, academic and public reaction to these visits, it is surely evident that we lack what many other societies have – a permanent focus of unqualified adoration that allows us to forget our woes. Such a lack could be addressed by the creation of an Irish monarchy, with all the attendant pomp and ceremony so beloved of our nearest neighbour.
Such a move would require some constitutional amendments and would certainly dilute our status as a republic, but look at the benefits – a new breed of red-top press, a proud and ever-growing list of titled citizenry and, above all, a more content and docile populace.
Imagine – King Michael D!
Larry Dunne
Bray, Co Wicklow
* With the midges paying unwelcome attention to Mrs Obama and her daughters in Glendalough, will plans for a return visit now be scratched?
Tom Gilsenan
Beaumont, Dublin
* President Higgins “rails against” materialism in Ireland for its detrimental effects on community spirit.
And yet, Aras an Uachtarain remains as ostentatiously massive and well-stocked as ever, and the president on his throne maintains his almost €250,000 salary.
Instead of paying lip service to anti-materialism, Michael, follow the lead of the Uruguayan president and donate the salary that you don’t need to those in our country in the direst of straits. Then you can lecture us on the ills of spending.
Killian Foley-Walsh
* Peter O’Rourke (Letters to the Editor, June 21) claims that I have got it wrong, and emotively states that insurance premiums are rising because there are more “five-star” clinics and hospitals where patients are treated quickly and expensively.
I feel he has got the cart before the horse, and has not fully understood the theme of my letter.
The cost of a single room in a private hospital is between €900 and €950 a night, compared with more than €1,100 in a public hospital. Fully staffed emergency departments are to be found in three of the seven large private hospitals in Dublin, not including the fact that the emergency department in St Vincent’s feeds into St Vincent’s Private Hospital, too.
His claim that private hospitals are not interested in this type of care due to lack of profit rings hollow. It also insults the staff.
I did not “blame” public hospitals for the rise in insurance premiums heretofore, and made the point that the idea that you can bill the insurance company of a patient who is admitted to a public hospital as a public patient simply because they have insurance is patently unjust.
I pay nearly €3,000 in insurance for my family, and I reserve the right to use that premium or refuse to and attend my local public hospital as a public patient.
The insurance companies have been unequivocal in their claim that any premium rise next year will be down to the minister’s plans.
“Five-star” private hospitals exist because of the state of the public health system. They are the effect, not the cause. They do a good job.
Turlough O’Donnell
Ardilea, Dublin
* Mohill, another of the severely distressed unions of the Great Famine, compares with Kilrush in the eponymous honouring of our ancestors’ persecutors whose names belong in the dustbin of history.
The name of Crofton, a landlord and yeoman who was hangman at the Battle of Ballinamuck in 1798, was honoured on new housing at Rynn in the wake of the bicentenary commemoration of that massacre. Among his execution exploits was the hanging of General Blake, who had pleaded to be shot as a soldier. Clements, the surname of Lord Leitrim, is also glorified on new housing at Rynn.
Amid this culture of revisionism, plans are under way to erect something of public honour in Mohill to Titanic victim Matthew Sadlier, who belonged to a family of land stewards of the notorious Lord Leitrim, and whose family home was built of the best stones of knocked cottages in a post-Famine series of evictions.
Sadly, there is no plaque of any kind in Carrick-on-Shannon for the 119 rebels who were brought from Ballinamuck after the battle and hanged there – patriots who fought and died for the freedom we so casually take for granted today.
Mary Reynolds
* I asked our daughter, Shannon, who is seven, what parents are for. She replied: “To take care of children.” Then I asked her what children are supposed to do for their parents, and she replied: “To have fun.”
There was a four-year-old child whose neighbour had recently lost his wife. On seeing the man crying, the little boy crossed over to his yard, climbed on to his lap and just sat there for a long time with him. When his mother asked what he had said to the man, the little boy replied: “Nothing, I just helped him to cry.”
Barry Clifford
Oughterard, Co Galway


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