Light bulbs

At Last 2nd May 2013

I trot round the park today and listen to the Navy lark. I Oh dear, oh dear
Troutbridge is sent off to escort a German visiting flotilla. They of course get lost turning to sail up the Thames instead of out to sea. Unfortunately the German flotilla is the German equivalent of Troutbridge and they are lost too Priceless.
A warm day so tired still I manage to potter around and get some tasks done the light bulbs arrive!
We Watch Forsyke Sage second episode more extra-marital goings on
Mary wins at Scrabble today, just and gets just under 400, I might get my revenge tomorrow, I hope.

Obituary:

John Wiles
John Wiles, who has died aged 88, was a film cameraman on many black-and-white crime “shorts” that became a staple of British cinema in the 1950s.

John Wiles (behind the camera) in 1951 
6:41PM BST 02 May 2013
As a young camera operator after the war, he shot a wide variety of documentaries as well as short cinema films, notably some of those in the Scotland Yard crime series presented by the popular criminologist Edgar Lustgarten, with titles such as The Candlelight Murder (1953), that became a cult genre. They were shot in black and white on 35mm stock, and when Channel Four showed some of them a few years ago, Wiles was pleased to note that the Time Out television critic referred to “the beautiful film noir camerawork”.
He also filmed several other B-features, among them the horror comedy The Headless Ghost (1959) and the crime drama Urge to Kill (1960), featuring a pre-Steptoe Wilfrid Brambell.
John Randolph Wiles was born in Streatham on January 11 1925. His father, Charles, was a director of Harrods for 25 years, responsible for their sales advertising. One of his most notable stunts was to get George Bernard Shaw, HG Wells and Arnold Bennett to endorse Harrods in newspaper advertisements.
John always wanted to go into the film business. When war broke out he left Charterhouse School in order to get some experience in the film industry before being conscripted. In 1942, at the age of 17, he joined Merton Park Studios as a clapper/loader and then assistant cameraman.
Wiles worked on a wide variety of films including Out of Chaos (1944) about the war artists Stanley Spencer and Henry Moore (directed by Jill Craigie), and Powell and Pressburger’s A Canterbury Tale (also 1944).
Called up by the Royal Navy in 1943, Wiles underwent an officer training course at HMS King Alfred in Brighton, before being posted to Australia as a sub-lieutenant, “liberating Sydney harbour”, as he put it, and to fight the Japanese. He sailed in Golden Hind and Gould, but the atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended the war before he saw any serious action, and he was demobbed in 1946.
Returning to Merton Park, Wiles worked as a cameraman on documentaries and feature films. But in 1951 he broke his spine and sustained other serious injuries while filming from the back of a lorry which went out of control at Aldershot and overturned. Fortunate not to be killed or permanently disabled, Wiles made a remarkable recovery but endured back pain for the rest of his life. Ironically the film he was shooting was called Road Sense, a driving training film for the Army.
His first cinema short featuring the lugubrious lawyer Edgar Lustgarten was The Drayton Case in 1953, starring a young John le Mesurier as Supt Henley of Scotland Yard, and which (like the 37 others in the series that followed) was shot in a week, with as many as 14 set-ups a day. His other work at Merton Park included a couple of Edgar Wallace B-features, such as The Clue of the Twisted Candle (1960). Wiles also shot several films for the Children’s Film Foundation, such as John of the Fair (1951).
In 1960 Wiles set up his own production company, Films of Today, with his business partner Geoff Busby, based at 62 Dean Street, making documentary films for clients like Mobil, British Steel, Tarmac, Dunlop, the Bank of England and Shell. He produced the award-winning series History of the Motor Car for BP in 1973, still available on DVD. The company also specialised in training and recruitment films for the Ministry of Defence.
In his later years Wiles worked with John Beckwith Smith at British Films, and played a significant role in both the British Industrial and Scientific Film Association and Bafta. He finally retired in 1994, at the age of 69, and in 2002 was interviewed for the BECTU History Project, which collects oral accounts of working life in the film and television industries.
John Wiles is survived by his wife, Betty, and their four sons.
John Wiles, born January 11 1925, died January 13 2013

Guardian

Today the University of London will be deciding whether or not to abolish its students’ union, the University of London Union, which represents more than 120,000 members across the city. ULU has existed for many decades and is currently the only London-wide union for students. Over the last few years, ULU has played a key role in the student movement, acting as a focal point for anti-cuts and workers’ rights campaigns.
These moves come as the culmination of a review on which no student was invited to sit. If approved, this would strip ULU of its building and resources and force its representative functions into an undefined and unresourced new structure. In a climate of privatisation and cuts, it would set a dangerous precedent for university managers to attack and undermine democratic union structures. As politicians from across London, we understand the value of having a strong student movement in London. Students, like many London residents, face issues of poverty, appalling housing conditions and attacks on public services. We cannot afford to lose the core of what could be a major force for good in the capital.
Ken Livingston Former leader, Greater London Council, Valerie Shawcross London assembly member, Lambeth and Southwark, Diane Abbott MP Shadow minister for public health, John McDonnell MP Lab, Hayes and Harlington; former deputy leader, Greater London Council, Andrew Dismore London assembly member, Barnet and Camden, John Biggs London assembly member, City and East London, Fiona Twycross London assembly member, Darren Johnson London assembly member, Tom Copley London assembly member, Jenny Jones London assembly member

Shameful, monumentally shameful! As a worker in the garment centre for over 35 years in New York, I’m furious at the needless brutality to the workers at the Bangladesh textile factory, which killed more than 400 and injured 2,500 (Letters, 29 April). As building owners, manufacturers, stores – including some in America – point fingers and blame each other, everyone needs to look straight at themselves, deep into their own hearts.
They will see that this tragedy, like too many others before it, has to do with two words: “cheap labour” – putting their thirst for profits over the living, breathing people who do the work, paying the lowest wages possible and skimping on workplace safety. With working men and women – and even children – so systematically exploited worldwide, there is nothing more important than for us to ask and answer this essential question, first asked by educator and founder of aesthetic realism, Eli Siegel: “What does a person deserve by being a person?”
Bruce Blaustein
New York, USA

The British government should resist any conflation of the overseas aid budget with defence spending (Ministry of Defence campaigns for overseas aid to pay for military patrols, 30 April). First, official development assistance must be delivered with the objective of promoting the “economic development and welfare of developing countries”. Even though OECD’s definition of aid may allow military spending for humanitarian aid and development services, its explicit exclusion of direct military spending means that it should not be manipulated to cover shortfalls in the defence budget.
Second, the connection between development and security should not be taken as an argument for increased military spending in the interests of development. Although development cannot take place without security and stability – as indicated by the oft-cited fact that no conflict-affected country has achieved a single millennium development goal – it does not mean that development activity should be a military enterprise.
Third, the MoD eating into the 0.7% commitment will only lead to cuts in funding for civil society organisations, NGOs and agencies with the objective of supporting real development initiatives. At a time when the Department for International Development funds fewer organisations and for less, diverting even a portion of its budget will ultimately be counterproductive to the UK’s development commitments.
DfID’s budget has been ringfenced for a reason. If the UK wants to be a leader in supporting the sustainable development of lower income countries, it should resist pressure from the MoD.
Shireen Lau
Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict
• The suggestion that part of the UK’s aid budget could be spent on defence – including paying for flights of military aircraft, some navy patrols and body armour – jeopardises humanitarian principles. Aid work is founded on impartiality and based on need. We need to preserve neutrality, otherwise both the effectiveness of humanitarian work and the safety of staff will be put at risk.
British people do not expect aid money to be siphoned off to other government departments. They rightly want it to tackle poverty and inequality and save lives. By 2015, taxpayers’ money, channelled through DfID, will secure schooling for 11 million children internationally. This is more than we educate in the UK and, at 2.5% of the cost, is a vital contribution in a world where 66 million girls are denied an education. We must ensure that essential boundaries between aid and defence are not blurred which would put this kind of effectiveness and efficiency at risk.
Tanya Barron
Chief executive, Plan UK
• The MoD’s proposal needs to be considered alongside the other proposal that up to £30bn be spent in 2017-18 replacing the Trident submarines. Or, as I suspect, is that budget protected and ringfenced?
Professor David Stephens
University of Brighton
• So the Ministry of Defence wants to steal money from the aid budget. I am sure it would do more for world peace if the MoD’s budget were spent entirely on overseas aid.
Tony Augarde
Oxford

Just a reminder to Martyn Berry (Letters, 2 May) and other readers that some of us don’t “Google” anything. I do a search via Ixquick. Why? Because Ixquick does not record my IP address and, as an added bonus, it opens all searches in a separate window. If you value your privacy, stop Googling and use a search engine that doesn’t record your IP address. I found one that doesn’t – there may be others. Safety first.
Alan Bond
Watchet, Somerset
• As a former leader of Newcastle city council, I was surprised that the present leader, Nick Forbes, did not add his courageous promotion of the living wage to the impressive list of projects he’s launched to combat the recession (Letters, 2 May).
Jeremy Beecham
Labour, House of Lords
• Maev Kennedy’s assertion that The Sky at Night, with a run of 55 years, is the longest-running TV programme in the world is incorrect (Report, 2 May). Professor Richard Heffner’s The Open Mind first aired on New York’s NBC in May 1956. The Open Mind continues weekly on New York’s Channel 13 – itself a flagship for educational programming in the US. Dick recorded his latest show for transmission on 4 May.
Dr Henry Thompson
Harrogate, North Yorkshire
• Perhaps Greggs (Greggs blames ‘promiscuous’ shoppers for fall, 30 April) would sell more if their food was less unhealthy? The last time I had one of their pasties, it was so salty that I spent the rest of the day fearing a heart attack. That’s the reason I haven’t been back.
Tony Green
Ipswich, Suffolk
• I am 65 myself and I don’t think I would like to be helped to find a job now (Mary Portas, 2 May). It is no surprise that young people can’t find a job. If I can manage on my pension, why would I want to go to work? I’d like to enjoy my remaining years in peace. Just let me grow my vegetables, please!
Helena Johnson
Coventry
• Bad weather? What bad weather (Letters, 2 May)? I’ve just picked my first ripe tomato in my unheated greenhouse.
David Hearse
Dallington, East Sussex

Patrick Butler (If only cuts to youth services were fantasy, 30 April) touches on what is in effect the first public service to be destroyed. Not cut, destroyed. This destruction is echoed at ministerial level by Michael Gove’s abandonment of youth policy. This represents a retreat from national youth policy by government for the first time since the first world war. Butler uses the only publicly available figures culled ultimately from section 52 returns from local authorities. These are unreliable. The National Youth Agency used to research the accurate figures annually, but this work was one of its first key roles to be cut. The government did not want to have a clear picture presented of what it was about to do.
The coalition targeted the youth service for break up upon its election. The ultimate reason is that the youth service is the only public service built and sustained by young people themselves in a real “big society” partnership and a service designed to give young people a voice and to develop critical thinking and collective action for change. However, rather than silencing the voice of young people, the government’s stance generated the biggest-ever coalition of youth service organisation, youth groups and trade unions known as Choose Youth.
This had to be formed because the scale of the destruction of the youth service is far far worse than the figures Butler has been given. If we take the basic premise that underpinned the post war settlement, which created the youth service, that all young people should have sufficient access to leisure time education and recreational opportunities to an equal standard in every local authority area then the youth service has been 100% destroyed. Dozens of authorities have closed the service down, scores more have transformed a radically depleted service into a kind of social service add-on dealing with young people as problems rather than active individuals to be inspired, empowered and educated.
Choose Youth has proposed a manifesto to build a new youth service from the ruins of what was an internationally pioneering and acclaimed public service.
Doug Nicholls
Chair, Choose Youth
• Patrick Butler is right to identify the twin features now causing the devastation of local provision for young people: the severe cuts in funding and the laissez-faire stance taken by the government. Young people are enduring diminished leisure-time opportunities and facing insecure futures without the support of a whole range of services, both voluntary and statutory. The previous Labour government did not do enough to build resilient youth work services able to withstand the current storm; the coalition, particularly Michael Gove, with his narrow–minded fixation on schooling, is offering no leadership whatever. Quite apart from the need to identify explicitly the responsibilities of local government, the secretary of state should be given a clear duty to secure sufficient youth services designed to achieve the personal and social development of young people.
Tom Wylie
Former CEO, National Youth Agency
• Professor Auchmuty (Letters, 30 April) gives a terribly reductive and bleak description of less-able university candidates being “set up to struggle”. This is not my experience. I agree students come to us with varying abilities but there are many reasons. All sixth form students are expected to fall into a schooling system that places them according to their age and experience. But this is not a fine science. These are young people temporarily caught on the cusp between childhood and adulthood and most certainly at varying degrees of intellectual maturity. As a university candidate group, their collected identity also contains many differences qualified by issues such as gender, socio-economic status and many other subdivisions. They may have been herded into collective schooling but they have varying needs.
My experience is that once we have helped them through their first year at university, most go on to “develop the skills of independent research, analysis, critique and original thought”. Having just marked a pile of third-year projects from a large cohort about to graduate, I see little evidence of the educational “mismatch” referred to. It may have been there when they arrived but not when they graduate as mature, intelligent and interesting young adults.
Professor Andrew Melrose
University of Winchester

Independent

As doctors we believe that standardised tobacco packaging should be introduced internationally to reduce smoking uptake among children and young people. Tobacco packaging is designed to make tobacco products attractive, to distract the attention of smokers and potential smokers from health warnings, to reduce the perceived harm of the product, and build brand identity and loyalty.
In December 2012, Australia became the first country to legislate for plain packaging of cigarettes with no brand identification and graphic health warnings and images. Plain packaging was a challenging two-year battle for the Australian federal government and the health industry. The implementation of plain packaging identifies Australia as a nation leading the way in progressive public health schemes.
Evidence shows that plain packaging is less attractive to young people. Health warnings are prominent and effective and remove any misconception that some brands are “safer” than others. As a result, plain packaging of cigarettes is likely to reduce smoking uptake among children and young people. The Australian government’s brave and ground-breaking initiative should be echoed around the world, as children and young adults everywhere deserve the same protection.
In the UK, two thirds of regular smokers started smoking before the age of 18; two fifths started before the age of 16. Approximately half will manage to stop smoking during their lifetime. Following consultation, the Department of Health is due to decide on whether to introduce legislation for standardised packs. We urge the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, to join Australia in this important measure to protect children from starting to smoke.
Sir Richard Thompson, President, Royal College of Physicians
Dr Hilary Cass, President, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
Dr Leslie E Bolitho AM, President, Royal Australasian College of Physicians, London NW1
Legal aid cuts undermine  equal justice
The ministry of justice in their consultation “Transforming Legal Aid” propose price-competitive tendering and the  removal of a defendant’s right to choose a solicitor who will work for legal aid rates to represent them. Defendants who need legal aid will be allocated a lawyer, with no regard to choice about distance, language, sex or previous professional relationship. This lawyer will have a fixed block of contracted work and no incentive to work hard for their reputation.
Our neighbours require a quality of defence which is driven by choice to ensure a fair system of justice and avoid costly miscarriages of justice.
Martha Whitehead, Solicitor, Manchester
My wife is a solicitor who is a co-partner in a small firm that specialises in legal aid. Hers is the only legal aid firm in David Cameron’s constituency and has a close relationship with Base 33, a youth charity which works with young people from troubled backgrounds and which our Prime Minister has supported in the past.
As a result of the recent slashing of legal aid, combined with the fact that from June 2014 licences to practice in the Thames Valley region will only be granted to four firms (likely to include big operators who will seek to cut costs by using legal reps, rather than qualified lawyers, for much of the work) it is looking certain that my wife’s firm will be forced to close and that Base 33 will lose its vital support.
Around 75 per cent of those previously entitled to claim legal aid are now no longer eligible and the timing of the cuts, when so many people may need to challenge the attack on welfare benefits, is monstrous.
Contrary to media myth, my wife’s firm operates on very tight financial margins and we will be forced to move from our rented home. But what is most at threat is equal representation before the law.
Alan J Fisher, Finstock, Oxfordshire
Prison not a holiday camp
Chris Grayling has announced a tightening of prisoners’ privileges. In the prison where I taught for 17 years, TV was a privilege which could be withdrawn for bad behaviour, and prisoners had to make a payment from their wages to get one. All privileges were conditional on good behaviour.
Prison education – where we saw many prisoners advance from sub-literacy to Open University level – was  the lowest-paid “work activity”. Urging prison governors to make education the highest-paid work option would really do something to boost rehabilitation.
Richard Humble, Exeter
Without profits, no new drugs
We strongly deny any accusations of profiteering aimed at the pharmaceutical industry (“The real cancer killer: rip-off prices for drugs”, 29 April).
In fact, the profits companies make in the UK are capped by government. Medicine prices in the UK are already among the lowest in Europe, and the proportion of the NHS budget spent on new medicines is set to fall in real terms over the coming years.
Pharmaceutical companies can only create medicines if the £1.15bn research and development cost of bringing a new product to market can be recovered by the profits generated during the period of patent protection.
Companies also need to factor in the huge risks involved in medicine development: only one in every 5,000 molecules screened becomes a treatment and of those medicines that reach the market just one in five goes on to recoup its costs. It is important to note that once a medicine’s patent has expired, the NHS can prescribe it at a fraction of the original price. This is a process that we welcome.
But without reasonable profits, the pharmaceutical industry would be unable to invest further in researching and developing new treatments. The ABPI remains committed to working with the Government and the NHS to ensure that patients can access the most innovative treatments when they need them.
Stephen Whitehead, Chief Executive, Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, London SW1
What Keynes really said
Every day we read statements that the Government cannot spend money to get the economy going because we need to reduce the deficit. On the next page are stories about the billions in taxes that the big companies are evading.
Keynes said it was necessary for the government to spend money to recover from a depression, but he never said that money should be borrowed for the purpose. Rather, the Government should collect a surplus during the good times, which governments of both stripes have failed to do.
To create this surplus, taxation of the wealthy is essential, quite contrary to the neo-liberal thinking of recent years. In fact, in the decades after the Second World War, the money for recovery came from taxing the rich – income tax of 94 per cent in the US and 97.5 per cent in the UK. Can’t someone in politics join up the dots?
John Day, Port Solent, Hampshire
Not as prosperous as we like to think
Fiona Twycross’ concern (letters, 27 April) over the rise in the use of food banks is well founded, but her reliance on the UK’s position at 7th in the GDP rankings as a measure of our relative prosperity is not.
For far too long politicians of all persuasions have bamboozled us by concentrating on GDP per country and ignoring  GDP per head of population, which currently ranks the UK at 22nd in the world: still a relatively privileged position but a long way down from 7th.
Roger Chapman, Keighley, West Yorkshire
Victims of benefit cap
Scarcely a month after they came into effect benefit caps are already leading to an increase in eviction notices. Haringey’s social landlord Genesis is threatening to terminate the tenancies of some their clients who, because of benefit caps, “may not be able to afford the rent”.
This is not the fault of the Bulgarians. This is not the fault of Romanians. This is being done by the Etonians.
Sasha Simic, London N16
Join Canada in Colombo boycott
I concur with your leading article (1 May) that other countries should join Canada and boycott the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo, should the Rajapaksa regime not quickly mend its ways.
The so-called democracy in Sri Lanka has always been highly qualified at best for many Tamils, as well as Sinhalese opponents of the continuous assaults on free speech and human rights. It is therefore high time that Commonwealth members showed their disgust at the bad behaviour of the regime.
Dr Alan Bullion, Tunbridge Wells, Kent
On hold
Mary Dejevsky (“Get companies to answer the phone”, 1 May) would do well to try and contact the Jobcentre Plus or Tax Credit offices. She would then realise that half an hour listening to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons is the norm rather than the exception. It would be interesting to know how much money is wasted (or made by the phone companies) because of the time callers are kept on hold.
John Peake, Bristol
Well-earned
Why shouldn’t I take the pensioner perks regardless of my personal wealth? I spent two years doing my National Service, suffering under the authority of mindless corporals and sergeants, starving on inedible food and wearing uncomfortable uniform. I served overseas keeping warring tribesmen apart. I was paid peanuts. I lost earnings and savings opportunities. As far as I am concerned it is payback time.
Chris Harding, Parkstone, Dorset
To boldly split
What has Eileen Noakes got against split infinitives (letter, 2 April)? The only reason I can think why some grammarians think split infinitives are wrong is because one cannot split an infinitive in Latin. The ability to split an infinitive in English gives greater flexibility and expressiveness.
Peter Calviou, Amersham, Buckinghamshire
Beyond Norway
Alex Wilson claims (letter, 1 May) that if we left the EU we would ending up with “the political clout of Norway”.  Since when has Norway headed a Commonwealth of 54 nations spread across the world and including three members of the G20? And since when has Norwegian been the global lingua franca?
Michael Montgomery, Idbury, Oxfordshire

Times

The UK is committed to working towards nuclear disarmament, but who knows what dangers we will face in the future?
Sir, As Field Marshal Lord Bramall was one of two other retired generals who, together with General Sir Hugh Beach, wrote to The Times attacking Trident in January 2009, his support for Sir Hugh is predictable (letter, Apr 30). But his analysis differs in one vital respect: Sir Hugh opposed the UK nuclear deterrent even in the 1980s, however Lord Bramall concedes that it “served both sides in the Cold War well”.
His case, that “the reality today” is different and there is no credible, likely threat which Trident could deter, fails to address the central point made by Admiral Lord West of Spithead and Dr Julian Lewis (letter, Apr 26): the unpredictability of future military crises.
The first successor Trident submarines do not enter service before 2028 and have a minimum 25-year lifespan. The events of 9/11 do not suggest that Trident is irrelevant to modern threats. Who knows what threats we will face by 2030–2060? Yes, circumstances have changed since the Cold War, but that just proves they can change again.
Bernard Jenkin, MP
Commodore Tim Hare, RN
Director Nuclear Policy MoD, 1999-2002
Sir, If I may be permitted to intervene in the debate between General Sir Hugh Beach (letter, Apr 23), Admiral Lord West of Spithead (Apr 26), Field Marshal Lord Bramall (Apr 30) and Vice-Admiral Sir James Jungius (May 2) on Trident. Each overlooks the United Kingdom’s longstanding obligations to negotiate nuclear disarmament in a multilateral forum.
The Foreign Office’s own website states, without qualification, in respect of membership of the 1970 Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT): “States that have nuclear weapons (China, France, Russia, UK and US) agree to work towards nuclear disarmament.”
But the UK, which drafted the NPT in conjunction with the United States and former Soviet Union between 1966-68, in not entering a single nuclear weapon into multilateral disarmament negotiations since the NPT came into force 43 years ago, is also in flagrant breach of Article 6.
Lord West (jointly with Dr Lewis) also mentioned dangers from “rogue states” such as North Korea. But they overlook the fact that North Korea’s Yongbyon plutonium production reactor was built from the publicly available blueprint of the Calder Hall plutonium production reactor at Sellafield. The UK obsession with nuclear technology — civil and military — since the 1950s has had serious security consequences.
Dr David Lowry
Former director, European Proliferation Information Centre
Sir, Field Marshal Lord Bramall must ask himself what our reaction would be to American unilateral nuclear disarmament, thus removing our ultimate shield against any form of nuclear blackmail. The reaction in Europe I suspect would be one of instant and widespread alarm.
Without question, Europe is safer under the American (and British) nuclear umbrella but it must be remembered that Europe’s overall defence capability is strictly limited without American support in Nato.
Thus, our retention of this admittedly appalling weapon system demonstrates clearly to our one powerful and close ally that we have the courage to share this unpopular but ultimate and effective deterrent.
With America’s interests moving towards the East, Europe’s commitment to its own defence may be more important than we perceive.
W. Hercus
Forres, Moray

Britain should not flout human rights law which exists to protect everyone, no matter how undesirable, from abuse
Sir, Daniel Finkelstein (Opinion, May 1) was the voice of reason in opposing the notion floated by Conservatives to suspend the European Convention of Human Rights — drafted by British lawyers in reaction to the horrors of the 1930s and 40s — in order to deport Abu Qatada in defiance of court rulings.
While the Qatada saga has caused a great deal of frustration for the government and the public, the courts have rightly placed emphasis on ensuring that Qatada receives a fair trial in Jordan untainted by evidence obtained by torture. Human rights law exists to protect everyone, no matter how apparently undesirable, from abuse. For Britain to flout such law would be both dishonourable and counter-productive.
The Home Secretary Theresa May deserves credit for securing a fresh agreement with Jordan that torture-tainted evidence cannot be used in court. But its chances of successful implementation are undermined rather than buttressed by the Downing St noise about suspending the ECHR. That would destroy Britain’s reputation for upholding human rights and render our condemnation of those countries which flout the ECHR meaningless. It is not only right but the only sensible policy for Liberal Democrats to robustly oppose the Tories on this issue and stand by the rule of law.
Baroness Ludford
Liberal Democrat MEP for London
Sir, Daniel Finkelstein points out that Abu Qatada “is a dangerous man who thinks it is a good idea to kill Jews”. He tells us he feels personally affected by this.
Mr Finkelstein rightly says, “everyone has human rights”. That includes Jews in the United Kingdom, whose life Abu Qatada threatens. So far in the Abu Qatada litigation the courts have taken account only of his human rights. In saying, “We should be able to balance the rights of the individual against the wider rights of society”, the Home Secretary was suggesting that the courts have here gone wrong in law.
Mr Finkelstein hints that in this matter the Home Secretary is prepared to flout the rule of law.
The opposite is the truth, but she rightly expects the law to be correctly applied.
Francis Bennion
Budleigh Salterton, Devon

While journalists may have much to answer for, the fears about the MMR jab existed long before the recent media frenzy
Sir, David Aaronovitch (Opinion, May 2) is wrong. My children are 39 and 38, one an asthmatic — and frequently hospitalised — the other having Down’s Syndrome. When presented by me for vaccination with MMR (if it was so described then) in the late 1970s both children were turned away by the doctors. Some risk was believed to be attached for both of them in different ways.
They went on to have measles and chickenpox and were quite ill, although not seriously, and, therefore, fully immune. So there must have been doubt previous to Andrew Wakefield and the media frenzy.
It is not all about journalists.
Jo Davies
Dolwyddelan, Conwy

Britain should be working harder to ensure that it has strong links with Africa, as well as helping to further growth on both sides
Sir, Africa is certainly hot at present (“This Time for Africa”, leading article, Apr 29) and UK plc cannot afford to act cool towards this rapidly growing region. Indeed a City team is at this moment on an eight-day visit to Angola, Nigeria and Ghana.
As recently as 2009 the UK exported more to Ireland than to Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — which underlines how long it has taken us to realign resources according to our long-term strategic interests. Despite historic links, we probably have to work even harder with Africa.
Certainly, The Times CEO Summit Africa offered a welcome forum to discuss how we can strengthen links. UK business also needs to get out to the faster-growing countries and demonstrate why partner-businesses should choose British expertise over that of our rivals, all of whom are very evident here.
There are opportunities available all the way down the supply chain, from the largest multinational to the smallest SME, and hard work will be needed to export our way to greater growth in this new African era.
Roger Gifford
The Lord Mayor of the City of London
Mansion House
Sir, I was pleased to read in the Times supplement of the present opportunities for investment in Africa. But I was disappointed that nothing was said about the need to increase food production in order to keep pace with the growing urbanisation. Also, there is a need to protect many of the precious ecosystems that are under threat from development. African leaders need to realise that unless these two areas are given prominence, all other development will grind to a halt in the long run.
Roland Morriss
Rossendale, Lancs
Sir, What a misleading front-page headline (“Fury over decision to stop aid for Africa”, May 1). The UK is committed to increasing aid to Africa. Your article is about stopping aid to South Africa, which amounts to a paltry £19 million compared with the £2.13 billion spent by DfID in 2012.
As you report elsewhere, there are 54 countries in Africa.
Barry Patterson
London SW19

Telegraph

SIR – Boris Johnson may be right (Comment, April 29) that Nigel Farage, the Ukip leader, is basically a Conservative.
His party should, therefore, instead of resorting to name calling and dirty tricks, publish firm proposals for some of the policies which are obviously popular with potential Conservative voters who have been wooed away.
David Cameron is not trusted to deliver on his promise of an EU referendum. We know what will happen: minor issues renegotiated will be presented as a major triumph, and a referendum will be brushed under the carpet as no longer necessary.
Malcolm Benson
Beckenham, Kent
SIR – John Major won the general election in May 1992 with over 13 million votes on a turnout of nearly 80 per cent. By the 1997 election, after the great Exchange Rate Mechanism debacle, the Conservatives had lost nearly eight million supporters who have never voted since.
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Conservative support has been down to bed-rock since September 1992, as has that of Labour. Ukip could be tapping into this stratum of disgruntlement.
The appeal of Ukip is every bit as high for the working-class voter who sees his job threatened by mass immigration as it is to the Tory Eurosceptic.
John Hay-Heddle
Long Eaton, Derbyshire
SIR – Boris Johnson must be potty if he thinks the Tories are going to cut the burden on small businesses. They have just imposed a new, enormous burden for small businesses to submit a return every time they make a single payment to a member of staff.
What we need is cabinet ministers who have actually run a small business.
Andrew J Rixon
Hertford
SIR – I stood for Ukip in Ealing Southall in the 1997 general election. I have worked abroad for 25 years, teaching and researching in more than nine countries, in west Africa, north Africa, the Middle East, Malaysia, America and Thailand.
I have written a textbook on cross-cultural and international management and I have been happily married to an Asian lady since 1982.
So what, in my record, justifies Conservative sneers that as a Ukip supporter I am bound to be a “fruitcake, loonie and closet racist”?
Dr Richard Mead
London W4
SIR – Paul Fulton (Letters, May 1) questions the relevance of a national manifesto to the local elections. But national politics do bear upon local issues, no more so than in the imposition of wind farms on appeal against the local interest “because it’s government policy”.
Unlimited and uncontrolled immigration will have a huge effect on local services.
Votes are counted locally but weighed nationally. Every vote for the party you support increases its standing, and thus its media exposure.
Roger Smith
Shefford, Bedfordshire
SIR – Richard Lutwyche (Letters, April 30) is lucky that he had the opportunity to read Ukip election material.
Here, in Eastleigh, I have received one Lib Dem and one Labour leaflet for the county council elections; nothing from Ukip or the Tories.
It seems the parties took to heart the bad publicity caused by the acres of forest destroyed in the recent by-election; unfortunately they have over-compensated.
Does anyone know who my Conservative candidate is?
Steven Broomfield
Eastleigh, Hampshire
Tags for patients
SIR – The plan to have dementia patients carry GPS tags (report, May 1) would, I am sure, be welcomed not only by the tagged person but also by his or her family.
Tags would give patients a much improved lifestyle with more freedom to roam, even locally, and provide comfort to their families knowing that they have a communication link with them.
Ron Kirby
Dorchester
SIR – As a carer for my husband for 10 years, a fit and active man diagnosed with dementia at 67, I believe a tagging device would have saved hours of anxiety and distress for him as well as me, to say nothing of the expense of police time.
In one event, he was found at 3am on the far side of London, after being missing for 10 hours.
Margaret Towner
London SW1
Ringfencing budgets
SIR – The six eminent commentators who suggest removing the ringfence from the health budget (Letters, April 30) have clearly never stood for election. Notwithstanding the urgent need to increase NHS productivity and value for money, it is a foolish politician who campaigns to reduce health spending when the population is increasing and ageing simultaneously.
While reducing the comparatively tiny £11 billion overseas aid budget might be politically attractive, it could produce a negative economic impact on any trading advantage that Britain derives from such generosity. And instead of removing all pensioner benefits during the next parliament, an electorally palatable option that partially reduced their cost would be to restrict these to existing recipients, withdraw them from higher rate taxpayers and permanently freeze their value.
If the Government did abandon ringfencing, this could guarantee another spendthrift Labour administration.
Philip Duly
Haslemere, Surrey
Modern biographer
SIR – Charles Moore (Comment, April 27) is right to highlight the importance of James Boswell as the author of the first modern biography. So vivid is his portrayal of Samuel Johnson that this great figure is as alive to us today as he was to his contemporaries.
When Boswell’s London Journal 1762-3 was first published in 1950, after centuries of concealment by the family, it knocked Ernest Hemingway off the American best-seller list. Here was an 18th-century writer, describing with dazzling clarity the neuroses, failings and successes of a modern man. His depression, drunkenness, father (Lord Auchinleck), marriage, adultery and guilt are described by Boswell as if it were yesterday. Only Pepys is a match for his genius as a diarist.
James Knox
Chairman, The Boswell Trust
Ayr
Eating together
SIR – Can the disappearance of the dining or kitchen table (Leading article, April 30) be linked to the rise in obesity? Sitting down to a meal focuses the mind on what you are about to eat, whereas eating “on the go” is merely refuelling, often with food that would never be seen on a dinner plate.
Meal sharing should be a cornerstone of family living; it is a pity if this is being lost sight of in our increasingly hectic lifestyles.
Kay Clifton
West Horsley, Surrey
Deporting Abu Qatada
SIR – Philip Johnston’s article (“France shows us how to deal with jihadis”, Comment, April 30) was an excellent analysis of why this country has difficulty in deporting suspected terrorists.
I wonder whether another reason lies in the drafting of the Human Rights Act 1998.
Section 2 of the Act states that a court or tribunal determining a question which has arisen in connection with a Convention right must take into account any judgment, decision or advisory opinion of the European Court of Human Rights.
As the Human Rights Act is parliamentary legislation and therefore legally binding, this does seem to constrain our options in cases such as Abu Qatada’s.
Angus McPherson
Findon, West Sussex
Royal Mail’s future
SIR – I send and receive emails every day – if the post office decides to increase its price it will make no difference to me, but is likely to deplete its coffers even further.
It is a wonder why anyone would want to buy the Royal Mail if it is such a walloping loss maker (report, April 19). The worst decision the management ever made was to agree to deliver letters on behalf of the courier companies, thereby aiding and abetting its major competitors.
Freddie Pilditch
Wraysbury, Berkshire
Eye on the ball
SIR – It is a shame that the International Rugby Board (IRB) is excluding Cyprus from competing in the world cup because it is too small. The IRB has discretion on this – given the situation in Cyprus is there a chance it will use it?
Dr Michael Paraskos
London SE27

Comments
SIR – Peter Lilley, a senior Conservative MP and member of the Energy and Climate Change Committee, suggests people living in villages in the Weald will support fracking because of a reduction in their energy bills (Comment, April 30).
We are faced with the prospect of uninsurable homes, an industrialised countryside dotted with wells, convoys of giant water transporters breaking up entirely unsuitable rural roads, and the real possibility of seismic events such as earthquakes, polluted water and toxic fumes from drill-site flares.
Will a few pence off our gas bills compensate for the loss of the beautiful Weald environment, a collapse in the value of our homes and health-threatening pollution from air and water?
Charles Metcalfe
Balcombe, West Sussex
SIR – I am in contact with many people in Pennsylvania, Queensland, Alberta and elsewhere who are suffering from the effects of the ecocidal fracking industry. Livestock is sick, pets are dying. Peter Lilley should read The List of The Harmed – a list of more than 1,000 Pennsylvanian families detailing the devastating health effects they are suffering as a result of fracking.
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02 May 2013
High volume, horizontal, slickwater hydrofracking has not been going on for decades. It is a new process that wastes vast quantities of water and produces fluid contaminated with carcinogenic chemicals.
One does not have to be a hydrogeologist to realise the stark implications of what happens when this leaks into aquifers and reservoirs – which it will, if we let this industry take hold here.
Vanessa Vine
West Hoathly, West Sussex
SIR – Contrary to Mr Lilley’s suggestion that I have asked the British Geological Survey (BGS) to “redo their figures” on shale gas, I have had no involvement in the research.
The point of commissioning BGS to report to us on Britain’s shale gas resource is to help build up a robust evidence base to support future exploration and development. Geoscience experts from my department are contributing to the report, but it draws on all BGS’s data resources, and is being peer reviewed by BGS and an independent academic.
The first phase of the research, covering the North of England, will be published before the summer.
Edward Davey MP (Lib Dem)
Energy and Climate Change Secretary
London SW1
SIR – Fracking, Mr Lilley says, simply involves pumping water underground. But he doesn’t mention the huge quantities of chemicals, many linked to cancer or impacts on the nervous system, that are often used.
Shale gas is a fossil fuel. We already have enough known reserves of gas to last the world for 120 years. If we want to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we can only burn part of that – so why look for more?
Instead of gambling with shale gas, we should be building a safe and affordable power system based on clean energy from the wind, waves and sun.
Tony Bosworth
Friends of the Earth
London N1

Irish Times

Sir, – The letter from Dr John Monaghan et al (May 1st) makes a number of points.
The signatories to the letter suggest that the opinion I provided to the Galway inquest into the death of Savita Halappanavar was a personal view, not an expert one. I do not accept this judgment of me.
I was invited by the coroner to provide one of four expert opinions to the inquest. I reached my conclusions after completing a forensic analysis of Ms Halappanavar’s hospital chart, review of all witness statements and review of the daily transcripts of evidence. The coroner and the lawyers present at the inquest accepted my opinion as expert. Any suggestion that the opinion I gave was not an expert one is to impugn my professional reputation.
As the signatories know well, I have nearly 40 years experience in the field of obstetrics. I am a former Master of the National Maternity Hospital at Holles Street and am currently the clinical director. I also recently served on the Expert Group established by the Minister of Health to advise the Government on the implementation of the European Court of Human Rights judgment in respect of the X case.
The writers suggest that I predicted with certainty Ms Halappanavar’s clinical course. This is entirely incorrect. I clearly stated that “on the balance of probabilities” Ms Halappanavar would still be alive today had her pregnancy been terminated on either the Monday or the Tuesday. It is indeed impossible for any doctor to predict any clinical outcome with absolute certainty.
The signatories then go on to assert their certainty that termination of pregnancy can be performed “where ruptured membranes are accompanied by any clinical or bio-chemical marker of infection”. This is a truly astonishing statement. It implies that an elevated white blood cell count, which is a non-specific marker of inflammation, on its own would justify a termination of pregnancy. Such an opinion would not surprisingly be welcomed by those advocating a complete liberalisation of the abortion law in Ireland because, if adopted, would truly “open the floodgates”. I suspect that many of our colleagues in active clinical practice would not subscribe to this view.
The Galway coroner’s conclusion made a recommendation that greater clarity be brought to the circumstances in which termination may be legally performed in Ireland. The signatories fail to acknowledge that I was critical of many aspects of Ms Halappanavar’s care, and these criticisms clearly informed the coroner in coming to his conclusions. Had a termination been performed on the Monday or the Tuesday it is likely, on the balance of probabilities, that Ms Halappanavar would not have died and therefore an inquest would not have been necessary. Termination on those days, however, was not a practical, legal proposition because of the law as it stands.
The signatories are correct in stating that there has been an increase in maternal deaths from sepsis. What they fail to say is that the increase is due to a resurgence of Group A streptococcal infection predominantly in the late stages of pregnancy and the post-partum period, and is therefore not relevant to the law on termination.
It is indeed important “that all obstetric units in Ireland reflect on the events in Galway”. It is equally important that Irish doctors have clarity regarding the law in this area.
Finally, all the signatories would do well to heed their own advice regarding the avoidance of polemical argument and desist from personal attacks. – Yours, etc,
Dr PETER BOYLAN,
MAO, FRCOG, FRCPI,
National Maternity Hospital,
Holles Street,
Dublin 2.

Sir, – I want to congratulate Megan Greene for reminding all of us that this State “remains in a precarious fiscal position” and “has unsustainable public finances” (Opinion, April 27th).
This highlights the fact that recent anti-austerity declarations by prominent people in the media are hypocritical in the extreme.
Many of the people, who are now repeating the mantra that “austerity” is a vice, were either round the table when the decisions were being made which bankrupted the country or were supporting and deferring to the powerful people who were making those decisions during the Celtic tiger era.
Self-styled lords of the universe, who supported the recklessness which bankrupt the country, are now indulging in similar reckless propaganda against the consequences.
Austerity was caused by recklessness of the elite during the Celtic tiger era. Too many of them are still all over the media complaining about its consequences.
It is hypocritical and irresponsible for these people to ignore the fact that, as Megan Greene says, austerity is still necessary as this State “remains in a precarious fiscal position” and “has unsustainable public finances”. – Yours, etc,
ANTHONY LEAVY,
Shielmartin Drive,
Sutton, Dublin 13.

   
Sir, – I refer to the frustration illustrated by Fr Peter McVerry SJ (April 27th) regarding the homeless. Little if any thought or effort has been given by Government to the urgent matter of the homeless. Reckless bankers and developers still appear to be able to enjoy the luxury of privilege while our “beloved” Government ambles on aimlessly. Ejecting our heedless Government leaders and silent politicians of all parties from out of their cosy offices and on to the streets may be a good starting point. Fr McVerrry would bring integrity, honesty and a badly needed breath of fresh air to the Dáil. – Yours, etc,
T MCELLIGOTT,
Fortfield, Raheen, Limerick.

Sir, – On Wednesday morning I received a letter signed by John O’Reilly, secretary of the Pro Life Campaign, drawing my attention to a forthcoming church-organised event at Knock, and also misinforming me that abortion legislation would in some way “pervert our respect for human life”. The letter, however, was correct in one respect, namely in addressing me thus: “Dear Pro Life Supporter”. However, did they know that, as a supporter of abortion under certain limited circumstances, I am indeed pro-life? Which rational human being is not? A pregnant woman whose life may be threatened should have the ability to choose abortion if she so wishes. What right has the State to dictate to any pregnant woman that she must put her life at risk? – Yours, etc,
IVOR SHORTS,
Hermitage Close,
Rathfarnham, Dublin 16
A chara, – Presuming that Dr Graham Fry (May 1st) means human life when he asks for a definition of life, and further that he is seeking to know when human life begins, I am happy to essay an answer. Human life begins at conception. That is an indisputable scientific fact, as we know beyond all doubt that it is at that moment a completely unique genetic identity comes into being. Perhaps Dr Fry also wonders when we should begin caring for a human life? To my mind the answer to that is in the question: if they are alive and human than we must care and do our utmost to ensure their survival. – Is mise,
Revd Fr PATRICK G
BURKE,
Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny.
Sir, – The man who cuts off his own arm in order to save himself when he is stuck in a canyon is lauded a hero. The woman in Ireland who attempts to terminate her own pregnancy (and risks her own life in the process) is a criminal with a possible 14-year prison sentence. Plus ça change . – Yours, etc,
ALISON HACKETT,
Crosthwaite Park East,
Dún Laoghaire,
Co Dublin.
A chara, – The Irish Institute of Psychiatrists announced recently that its members are not willing to be the country’s “social policemen”. Now that the Catholic Church no longer has the power to play that role in Ireland, it and its well-financed US backers are changing tack and seeking to force others to fulfil it. I commend the institute for refusing to be put in this position.
The Catholic Church didn’t want divorce, contraception or homosexuality to be legal in this country, and fought against each of them. Thankfully, it was defeated on these matters, and now adults can take responsible decisions about their own lives.
Now I’m not anti-religion, and I fully believe people should have freedom of conscience. But no-one has the right to impose their view on others. So, if Catholics disagree with abortion, they should be and are fully entitled not to have them.

Sir, – On consecutive days, I have read (Property, April 25th and Home News, Dublin 26th) that there is a housing bubble in Dublin and that 90 per cent of Dublin flats and bedsits do not meet basic standards. By way of further evidence, I recently viewed a solid but unremarkable four-bed, detached house in a bucolic south Dublin suburb which I now understand has attracted an offer circa €150,000 in excess of, in my opinion, an already inflated guide price.
Although no observational evidence has previously existed, I can only assume that Albert Einstein’s theory of the existence of Einstein-Rosen Bridges, or “wormholes” allowing humankind to travel almost instantaneously through space and time do indeed exist. Based on the evidence, I have also reached the conclusion that I inadvertently wandered through a wormhole recently and that I am actually now living in May 2006.
In default of my admittedly far-fetched conclusion, an even more ludicrous reality would suggest that, in the midst of a broken, defunct and failed Irish economy requiring an EU/IMF bailout: 1. People are again paying inflated prices for properties which are not reflective of their actual and sustainable value. 2. That this bubble is again being part-facilitated by financial institutions and the State, this time due to delays in providing stock to the market thus abetting an under-supply. 3 That there is an apparent absence of regulation and/or enforcement with regard to standards of accommodation in the State.
Different symptoms producing familiar ailments? – Yours, etc,
ALLAN SWEENEY,
Butterfield Grove,
Rathfarnham,
Dublin 14.

Irish Independent

• A young Irish teen wrote to the Irish Independent explaining that he does not have long to live. But his message was one of hope telling those in pain that there are other options.
Also in this section
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He has had three episodes of cancer in four years. When he was hearing of some young people tragically ending their lives, Donal Walsh, aged 16 from near Tralee, Co Kerry, wrote the letter telling anyone of his age group who may be thinking of suicide that they can get help. He explained that he, on the other hand, had no choices and he would love to have more time to live and that he definitely didn’t want to die. He explained how it made him angry to think of others of his age group ending their lives when he had no choice in his coming to an end.
It is estimated that as many as 600 people from all age groups may end their lives in 2013. His message to his peer group is that for any of them considering suicide, there is help out there.
“As a 16-year-old who has no say in his death sentence, who has no choice in the pain he is about to cause, and who would take any chance at even a few more months on this planet, appreciate what you have, know there are always other options and help is always there,” he wrote.
There are many groups continuing to be set up around the country to offer support, including counselling, to those under severe pressure and stress in their lives. Our economic recession is believed to also be contributing to these stresses.
Last week, he was awarded €15,000 in compensation for an injury after a road accident last year.
His barrister told the judge that Donal wanted it to be given to his sister for her future education. The judge, knowing his health prognosis, said to his father who was there representing him that he wished Donal the very best and that he is a beacon of light.
M Sullivan
College Road, Cork
Absentee landlords
• It took a good century of national endeavour to rid the country of absentee landlords and the whole lot has been undone in 10 years.
We are flat out trying to package and sell off property abroad.
Not only will the rental income be denied to an economy crying out for growth but by virtue of double taxation agreements, no taxation will be forthcoming.
Wouldn’t it make sense to give tax breaks to locals if they invest in risky property? It might cause the eventual return to home-based and taxable ownership of the national resource. It would cost nothing and within 10 years it would redress most of the damage.
If we have to choose between an incentive to already rich locals and a sale of national assets abroad, we should be fully aware of the consequences of our choice.
There is no future in forcing whatever money is left in the country abroad when something can be made of it locally.
Frank Browne
Coolfin, Co Waterford
Abracadabra
• Long ago, in a far-off mythical land, a banker and a politician did a deal on a property development.
The politician stole €3m and put it in his pocket. He said to the banker: “See how good I am? The government didn’t see anything!”
The banker says quietly to the politician: “I’m going to show you there’s nobody better than a banker…”
Later there is a tribunal of inquiry. The banker goes to the chairman and says: “Please, give me €1m and I’ll show you a banking magic trick.”
Intrigued, the chairman accepts the offer and gives him the money.
The banker hides it and asks for another €1m. The chairman, watching closely, gives him the same again, which the banker hides again.
Then the banker asks for yet another €1m and he hides it, just the same.
The chairman is starting to wonder where the magic trick is and says: “What did you do with the three million? Are you trying to make a fool of me?”. The banker answers: “No, no, certainly not! Just have a look in the politician’s pocket.”
Anthony Woods
Ennis, Co Clare
Professional opinion
• The debate in relation to the request for abortion where a woman says she is suicidal should also include the fact that assessment of suicidal risk is more typically carried out where a patient is known to a psychiatrist/psychologist.
Risk factors include issues such as whether a person has a history of self- harm or trying to kill themselves previously, whether they have made a plan, whether they have any hope for the future, what type of social supports the person has around them and so on.
In the case where a woman presents with no previous mental health history and is previously unknown to the doctor, the reliability of the assessment is reduced.
At the end of the day, if a woman says she is suicidal is there any psychiatrist or psychologist who is going to disagree? I think not.
Legislating for abortion in cases where an individual claims to be at risk of suicide can only lead to a very liberal abortion regime. Abortion is not an evidence-based treatment for suicidal intent and, in fact, is a risk factor for mental health issues in the future.
Dr Ruth Cullen
Clinical Psychologist, SCR, Dublin 8
• One could be forgiven for thinking that John Bruton (Kenny abortion crisis as Bruton intervenes, Irish Independent, April 29) is trying to make Fine Gael a slightly constitutional party – a term once used for Fianna Fail.
Mr Bruton, as a former Taoiseach, should know that we are obligated by the European Court in the A B C cases to clarify and make clear our position in the matter. They are not dictating to us, just telling us to clean up what is our own law.
I don’t know what Mr Bruton is up to. Is he trying to make life difficult for Mr Kenny or has he put his foot in to it again, like the famous children’s shoes misfit!
Brendan Cafferty
Ballina, Co Mayo
Taxing issue
• Una Nic Fhionnlaoich makes the suggestion that along with the present property tax, there should be a tax imposed on the possession of productive land, because a property tax that discounts such land is, “discriminatory and unfair”.
Obviously, such a tax would impact on the biggest landowners – farmers – more than anyone.
The greatest sectors of the Irish economy at the moment are the ones that export. Food, pharmaceuticals, and anything that produces more than Ireland can use are all bringing in much-needed revenue. Food production is amongst the biggest of these sectors.
What happens, then, when we begin taxing the foundation of that sector; when we tax the land the food is grown on? Well, the same as happens when we tax any other means of wealth production – the wealth stops. If we tax productive land, its owners will (logically) stop it from producing, to save money.
Killian Foley-Walsh
Kilkenny city
Gathering’s Tara snub
• It seems to me a sad thing that in The Gathering, we commemorate the Famine deaths but fail to acknowledge the sunny August day in 1843 when those who were later affected by the Famine changed the world by holding the world’s first million-person march at Tara.
It was an event that affected not only the Martin Luther King and anti-slavery movement, through Frederick Douglass, but would also have been studied by Gandhi in his legal studies in London 1883.
But then that might mean Tara was a world heritage site worth protecting and we wouldn’t want that.
Pauline Bleach
New South Wales, Australia
Irish Independent

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