Bank 14th May 2013

I trot round the park today and listen to the Navy lark. I Oh dear, oh dear
Its back to Batawanaland for our heroes and some depth measurements. Oh dear an island rises up and take Troutbridge with it. She is run aground three miles inland. Our heroes get home on a paddlesteamer Priceless.
Rain at last, a fine excuse for not doing anything in the garden. So I loaf around reading Doctor Who, back a bit better
The Fosdyke saga: Kenneth Moor’s son still in love with Soames daughter. Montague’s and Capulets.
Mary wins at Scrabble today, just and gets just over 400, I might get my revenge tomorrow, I hope.


Joe Farman
Joe Farman, who has died aged 82, was a research scientist with the British Antarctic Survey whose discovery, in 1982, of a “hole” in the ozone layer has been described as one of the most important scientific finds of the 20th century.

Joe Farman Photo: DAVID ROSE/REX
6:35PM BST 13 May 2013
The Earth’s protective layer of ozone shields terrestrial life from the damaging effects of ultraviolet solar rays, and Farman’s discovery of its rapid depletion by man-made chemicals led to fears of a dramatic increase in skin cancers and cataracts, with a long-term risk of damage to the genetic material of all living things. The threat was so serious that it forced politicians to act.
There had already been scientific speculation about how the ozone layer might be affected by man-made pollutants such as Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) — synthetic chemicals used in a huge range of products from foams to aerosol cans. Studies in the 1970s by Paul Crutzen, Mario Molina and Frank Sherwood Rowland had predicted such an effect, but Nasa satellites had failed to pick up any evidence to substantiate the theory. “The ozone layer isn’t vanishing after all,” proclaimed The Wall Street Journal in 1984.
British science in the early 1980s had been struggling with government-imposed cuts to its budget, with long-term scientific monitoring programmes first in the firing line. Among them was the British Antarctic Survey’s Halley research station on the Brunt Ice Shelf, where Farman had been working since 1957 as section head of atmospheric dynamics.
At a time when the Americans were using state-of-the-art satellite technology to measure changes in the atmosphere, Farman was still relying for his data on such old-fashioned devices as weather balloons and the Dobson meter, a rudimentary ozone-measuring machine which worked well only when swathed in a duvet. At the time there seemed little reason to keep the station going.
Things began to change in the Antarctic spring (ie October) of 1982, when Farman’s 25-year-old Dobson meter began showing sharp dips in ozone levels. The following October, as he recalled later, “it just went haywire; the levels really fell away”. Almost half the ozone layer seemed to have vanished.
It seemed incredible, since a Nasa satellite taking 140,000 ozone readings a day had reported nothing out of the ordinary. Thinking that his antiquated contraption might have finally gone on the blink, Farman replaced it with a new one in 1984. But by October 1984 the new one was showing an even deeper hole.
When Farman published his findings (with Jonathan Shanklin and Brian Gardiner) in the scientific journal Nature in May 1985 they caused a sensation. The study showed that levels of Antarctic ozone in mid-October had fallen by 40 per cent between 1975 and 1984; and Farman went on to explain the chemistry of what was happening, showing that the hole was not natural but the result of reactions triggered by CFCs in the stratosphere.
At first many politicians and industrialists poured scorn on his findings. How, they demanded to know, could CFCs released by a quick squirt of hairspray in a bathroom in Baltimore reach the atmosphere some 15 kilometres above the Antarctic circle? Ronald Reagan’s interior secretary, Don Hodel, suggested wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses as the best way to counteract any added risk of skin cancer, while American CFC manufacturers predicted “economic chaos” if the chemicals were phased out.
But in 1985 a research plane flew through the ozone “hole” and detected the chemical reactions Farman predicted were taking place on the surface of frozen particles in stratospheric clouds over the South Pole. At the same time Nasa was provoked to review its records — only to find that its satellite had indeed made similar measurements to Farman’s, but that its software had been set to dismiss unusual data as unreliable, and had substituted “fill values” that it thought more likely.
Even more embarrassingly, it subsequently emerged that Nasa had its own Dobson meter at the South Pole, which had also been registering low ozone levels but, in what was described as a “clerical error”, the data had been misread. Even today, American science is embarrassed by what is now regarded as one of the greatest scientific oversights of all time.
As the evidence became overwhelming, international negotiations on tackling ozone depletion sprang into life, with Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher (who had ordered that funding for the British Antarctic Survey be ring-fenced after the Falklands conflict) leading the drive for urgent action. On September 16 1987, 24 countries signed the Montreal protocol to phase out CFCs and other ozone-damaging chemicals; since then the agreement has been ratified by all 197 UN countries. The fruits of that agreement were reflected in research, published in 2006, suggesting that the dangerously thin ozone layer over Antarctica will heal within 70 years. The former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has hailed the Montreal protocol as “perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date”.
In 1990 Mrs Thatcher paid generous tribute to Farman for sounding the alarm at an international conference on the ozone layer. But while Crutzen, Rowland and Molina won the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their earlier theoretical work, Farman had to wait until 2000 to be appointed CBE.
The son of a builder, Joseph Farman was born in Norwich on August 7 1930 and educated at Norwich School. He won a scholarship to read Natural Sciences at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, going up after two years’ National Service in the Army.
After graduation and three years working for the de Havilland Aircraft Company at Hatfield, in 1956 he joined what was then called the Falklands Islands Dependency Survey, now the British Antarctic Survey. During International Geophysical Year, 1957, he took his trusty Dobson meter to the Halley research station and began measuring the ozone layer.
After work in the Falklands and in Edinburgh, Dobson shifted to Cambridge with the Survey in 1976, later becoming a fellow of Corpus Christi. He continued to work with the Survey until his retirement in 1990, making regular trips to the Antarctic. He then carried out research as a consultant to the European Ozone Research Coordinating Unit.
A low-key, pipe-smoking man, when he was not in the laboratory Farman enjoyed tending the vegetables on his Cambridge allotment.
Among other awards, he received the Society of Chemical Industry’s Environment Medal, the Chree Medal and Prize, and membership of the UN Environment Programme’s Global 500 Roll of Honour.
He married, in 1971, Paula Bowyer, who survives him.
Joe Farman, born August 7 1930, died May 11 2013


Carbon dioxide at its highest level for 3m years and Damian Carrington’s story merits only page five in the Guardian (Report, 11 May); it doesn’t even get a mention on the front cover. As a 15-year-old I am confused as to why this is considered less important than the horse meat scandal or the Co-op bank’s difficulties or, on the second page, talk of another coalition. I realise that these things are important, but I think that the survival of the human race is just a little more important than parliament, which, with the current rates of CO2 emissions, will most likely be flooded by about 2200.
Geoffrey Liddell
Clatford, Hampshire
•  Damian Carrington tells us: “The world’s governments have agreed to keep the rise in global average temperature … to 2C”. This is precisely what has not happened. More than 20 years of climate change negotiations have failed to yield any agreement whatsoever to limit global emissions to any specific target.
David Campbell
Professor of international business law, University of Leeds
• It is not only environmental campaigners who oppose European investments in coal power (Report, 13 May). It is also mainstream scientists, concerned citizens and the people that Christian Aid works with across the developing world, who are already feeling the impacts of a changing climate on their lives.
Investing now in unabated coal technologies in EU and EU accession countries will make it impossible for Europe to achieve the ambitious carbon cuts needed to lead global action against climate change.
Dr Alison Doig
Senior adviser on climate change, Christian Aid
• The letter writers against Oxford’s partnership with Shell (Letters, 9 May) forget that our understanding of climate change is underpinned by geological knowledge obtained in a relatively underfunded academic field, coupled with a neglected British Geological Survey.
As James Lovelock has demonstrated, once triggered, global heating will be irreversible on a human time scale, and so aiming to keep global temperatures within 2C is a meaningless target. It would be madness to turn our backs on investing in carbon capture and storage on a massive scale, even if this is a spinoff of the wicked hydrocarbon industry. This could eventually reduce atmospheric levels if it were treated with the same urgency as the second world war Manhattan project by governments who appear interested only in keeping enough of the people happy at any one time. Companies like Shell can only be expected to clear up our waste gases if they are given clear political leadership, not warm words.
David Nowell
New Barnet, Hertfordshire
• Roger Scruton (Comment, 11 May) criticises the government for not agreeing with conservative voters who believe the “climate change” agenda has been foisted on us by an unaccountable lobby of politicised intellectuals. Does he think manmade emissions of greenhouse gases should be reduced by other means, or does he consider the IPCC’s assessment of the science and its consequences is completely wrong?
Stewart Reddaway
Baldock, Hertfordshire 
My word, Roger Scruton is a romantic conservative (Comment, 11 May), what with his faith in marriage and family and his proclamation that “For two centuries the English countryside has been an icon of national identity and the loved reminder of our family home.”
Well yes, and no.
For most working country dwellers 200 years ago, the countryside was an uncertain and unstable place, subject to failed harvests, disease, brutal landlords and worse. Since then, a combination of urbanisation and industrialisation has shredded much of this “icon”.
The family as “the core institution whereby societies reproduce themselves and pass moral knowledge to the young”? For much of the past 200 years, many families have been oppressive; until the middle of the 20th century the majority of women subject to endless pregnancies, infant deaths, most children who survived without education or opportunity, empty of moral education.
As for a Burkean conservative “we”, this is surely the kind of utopian fantasy Roger Scruton rightly rejects. Do “social continuity and national identity take precedence over all other issues”? In Burke’s time, as now, survival, food, secure dwellings, jobs, healthcare (or lack of it)”take precedence over all other issues”. Though, of course, “we” must not forget Professor Scruton’s “wave after wave of immigrants [who] seek the benefit of our hard-won assets and freedoms”, a politer version of what the BNP has been saying for years.
Neither my version here nor Professor Scruton’s piece, both examples of what Michael Polanyi termed suppressed nucleation, stand up to scrutiny: truth (what truth? whose truth?) lies elsewhere.
Bruce Ross-Smith
Headington, Oxford
•  On 11 May 1792, there was a motion in the Commons for ending the penal statutes against the Unitarians (dating from 1698), which had denied that community the protection of the courts, debarred them from public life and threatened to take their children away from them. 
Edmund Burke opposed the motion, characterising the outlawed community thus: “These insect reptiles only fill us with disgust; if they get above their natural size, and increase the quantity, whilst they keep the quality, of their venom, they become the objects of the greatest terror … A spider in his natural size is only a spider, ugly and loathsome, and his flimsy net is only fit for catching flies. But, good God! Suppose a spider as large as an ox, and that he spread his cables about us, all the wilds of Africa would not produce anything so dreadful.”
Is this the sort of approach that the modern Conservative Party needs? Do we see here respect for traditional wisdom and social continuity? A paradigm of good-neighbourly co-operation? Where is the respect for the family, if the threat hangs over dissenters of having their children removed?
In the same debate, Charles James Fox declared that “toleration was not to be regarded as a thing convenient and useful to a state, but a thing in itself essentially right and just”. Why not try that?
Christopher Walker
•  Had Roger Scruton lived in the Austro-Hungarian Hapsburg empire in second half of the 19th century (it is fun to play such games), he could not but have noticed how the new-fangled, abstract and utopian ideologies of all those nationalisms fatally undermined the practical wisdom of the imperial political process, which genuinely sought to balance local autonomy and a rule of law based on a shared allegiance. Where would Scruton have stood in that political spectrum? I have always perceived “Europe” (the EU as it is now) as an essentially conservative response to the radical nationalisms and the excesses of abstract economic doctrines of the 19th and 20th century.
Tom Voûte
Purley, London
• Roger Scruton complains that “instead of the common law of England we have the abstract idea of human rights, slapped upon us by European judges”. In fact, UK human rights obligations largely derive from treaty commitments over 60 years old, and are not remotely abstract. The UK was a founder member of the Council of Europe in 1949. The council brought into being the European convention on human rights, and the Strasbourg court that exists to enforce it, in 1953. Much of the convention was drafted by British Conservatives, notably the future Home Secretary David Maxwell Fyfe, who promoted it as “a system of collective security against tyranny and oppression”. Was Scruton somehow unaware of all this?
Joel Donovan
•  Eighteenth-century Tories wheeled out Edmund Burke – an intellectual prostitute, Oliver Goldsmith called him – to defend status quo and privilege by fostering fear and loathing of revolutionary France. Against their 21st-century bogeyman, the Tories wheel out Roger Scruton to try to entice us down Memory Lane to some pre-Ukipian Tory Brigadoon. Haven’t come very far, have we?
John Smith
Beighton, South Yorkshire
•  Roger Scruton criticises the Conservative party because it “is prepared to sacrifice the loyalty of its core constituents to the demands of a lobby that is unlikely to vote for it”. This suggests that he believes it should sacrifice the opportunity to do what is right, or a good for a minority, to the utilitarian maximising of its votes (which would be a corruption of Bentham’s philosophy).
Penelope Stanford
Longfield, Kent
•  Why give space to Roger Scruton to expound views of conservatism which may be of historical interest but are a million miles away from the current Tory Party? Why not devote that space instead to encouraging a debate on the left as to how the EU might be reformed so as to make it more democratic?
Jonathan Harwood
•  That would be the Roger Scruton who in 2002 offered to serve the best interests of the tobacco industry for a mere £5,500 a month, placing articles in the world’s press to highlight/deflect the benefits/adverse effects of smoking?
Stephen Marland

With the scores level on the stroke of full time, Shaun Maloney takes a corner kick and lifts the ball above man-of-the-match Callum McManaman on to the head of substitute Ben Watson, who outjumps Jack Rodwell to find the back of the net inches beyond the outstretched hand of Joe Hart, City’s diving goalie. I’m sitting on Wigan Pier and I think it must be the 1930s.
Christopher Hughes
Street, Somerset
• ”Fergie time draws to a happy close” (Report, 13 May). Is that a promise?
Jonathan Harris
Royal Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire
• Catherine Shoard describes Col Needham as the man who “created the Internet Movie Database” (G2, 13 May). While true in a technical sense, this ignores the vast amount of data contributed, free, by users of the original website. Without their unrewarded (and apparently forgotten) labours, IMDb would not have been as attractive to Amazon in 1998, if at all.
Phil Gyford
• If there were a referendum tomorrow on the question “Should Mr Gove stay in Europe?” I would vote No.
David Halpin
• Marina Hyde’s phrase “in the retirement home of international life” (2013 – a year of prequels, sequels and reboots, Comment, 11 May) is a brilliant description of Ukip and half of the Tory party. I’m sure the Lib Dems will be making great use of it in the European elections next year.
David Pollard
Isle of Mull
• Pace Richard Lawson (Letters, 13 May), not all shots ring out. Some are muffled, some for calling, some are parting or Parthian, some are photographic and some are for flu.
Ian Mandleberg
• The spirit of Myles na Gopaleen lives on (Letters, 13 May).
Shona Murphy
• Just spotted my first “Scottish Independence in Europe” T-shirt.
Charlie McInally

The International Labour Organisation’s latest Global Employment Trends for Youth report makes tragic reading: an estimated 73.4 million young people are expected to be unemployed around the world in 2013, and the picture is set to get only worse. We believe that if we abandon young people on the cusp of adulthood it could lead to a generation permanently scarred in terms of future employability and earnings, with wide ripple effects for families and communities.
Our global partnership with Barclays is striving to reach these young people. We use the best of both our experience, combining Barclays financial and business expertise with Unicef’s local knowledge, to work with young people in communities of high unemployment in developing countries. We provide in-depth training, encouraging entrepreneurship along with mentoring and access to work placements that give young people the skills they need.
We know this approach works. Nanda Khadke, 24, from India, one of the many young people we have helped, says: “I now have the confidence to tackle any aspect of life. I am a young entrepreneur and I’m determined to do a lot more.”
We must invest more attention, resources and effort today in our young people, with projects such as this, or suffer tomorrow the social and economic consequences of a generation excluded from the opportunity to fulfil their huge potential.
David Bull
Executive director, Unicef UK

Your interview with Andrew Adonis (‘I learned to survive very young’, 11 May) made fascinating reading for me, as one of the Liberal Democrat team negotiating with the Labour party in 2010.
Lord Adonis rightly spells out Labour’s lack of preparation, which certainly astonished us at the time. But he doesn’t mention that they made up in arrogance what they lacked in comprehension. Their offer was for us to join them to deliver Labour’s programme unconditionally. It took two days to wring out the only “concession” ever offered – to cancel Heathrow’s runway 3. Indeed, when Danny Alexander, Chris Huhne, David Laws and I met Adonis and the rest of the Labour team, they wouldn’t even commit to supporting legislation on alternative voting, despite Labour being the only party that had such a proposal in its manifesto.
I can appreciate how keen he now is to avoid making the same egregious mistakes twice. But it is a pity that he feels the need to cloak that welcome reappraisal in some spurious rubbish about the Lib Dem approach to the same negotiations.
The fact is that Labour was lamentably unprepared, disunited on the merits of coalition, and never accepted that give and take would always be of the essence of it. Slagging off Nick Clegg ill serves the facts of the case. Those are that both Clegg and our team made it clear to our parliamentary colleagues every step of the way just what an intransigent shambles Labour presented. Hardly misleading, as it’s a view I see that Adonis now shares.
And Clegg said loudly and clearly throughout the campaign that we would, if the need arose, enter negotiations with the largest party first. We did just that – no tricks, and no surprises.
In the event, it would have been odd to do otherwise, with the election outcome meaning no Lib-Lab government on its own would be possible, and would have also had to include various stripes of nationalists. Interestingly enough, that was the one aspect the Labour team was most blasé about. It seemed their lack of understanding didn’t stop with us but embraced an assumption that the SNP and the DUP would happily string along with them, too. In return for what?
Coalitions are new to British politics, so it’s all the more important to ensure they’re seen as legitimate. That’s why our approach was right, and is the one we’ll adopt again in future.
Andrew Stunell MP
Liberal Democrat, Hazel Grove

A Conservative Prime Minister abroad besieged by a civil war on Europe. Falling poll ratings at home, the NHS in a mess and a deeply unpopular tax on the poor causing tragedies. As with Mrs Thatcher in November 1990, the Tory vultures are circling again. One wonders who will be the first to come forward and deliver the fatal blow this time.  
Short of a miracle, and perhaps a successful intervention in Syria, a Tory leadership contest and an early general election are becoming inevitable.
Anthony Rodriguez, Staines, Middlesex
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown’s claim that Ukip enhances “hatred of the outsider” (13 May) is short-sighted. Today, hatred and divisions exist among the insiders, perhaps because of the past and present governments controlled by the elite.
She has also forgotten to add that Nigel Farage is against the EU because it is dictating some of the UK’s laws and regulations that are not just limited to immigration. Mr Farage would like Britain to govern itself while retaining trade links within the EU.
Dean Ferns, Dover
In 10 or more years’ time, when the European Union is likely to exceed 30 countries, how can the UK (possibly without Scotland) compete with our nearest rivals, should we leave? So why not have a United States of Europe, where we all pull together with one currency instead of this continual fight to be somehow different?
If we leave the EU, we will become a completely broken, third-rate country. You might as well close the Channel tunnel and stop talking about airport expansion or high-speed railways, because we won’t be able to afford them.
Richard Grant, Burley, Hampshire
If Britain is to maintain that it may be appropriate to renegotiate her relationship with the EU then she must maintain that it would not be appropriate for any of the others to do so at the same time. And how could she know that no other member would want to renegotiate? You either belong to a club and obey the rules or you leave.
Robert Edwards, Hornchurch, Essex
Planet doomed? Tell us about the poll in Pakistan
It is instructive to observe the response of the media in the week that levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached 400 parts per million. It tells us a lot about why this government has been allowed to abandon its environmental policies and why so many of its climate-change advisers are resigning (report, 11 May).
The public looks to the BBC to provide a “balanced” view of climate change, but its record is lamentable. Instead of asking its correspondents to deal with it as a scientific issue, it treats it as a left/right issue and seems to think it has to provide “political balance”.
The Today programme (11 May) mentioned that CO2 had reached 400ppm, but this item was fourth behind the election in Pakistan, a solicitor who had been arrested without justification by the police, and the prevalence of depression among carers; without doubt important issues but why are they considered of greater relevance than the future of the planet?
Could it be, as has been suggested, that editors and journalists, trained in the humanities, just don’t get it?
Dr Robin Russell-Jones MA FRCP FRCPath, Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire
Hawking’s  Israel boycott
Here are a couple of inconsistencies in the call to boycott Israel’s academia (“Row deepens over Hawking’s Israel boycott”, 9 May). 
First – and most obviously – the call has not been accompanied by similar calls to boycott the USA’s academic institutions, despite the horrendous treatment, immoral and illegal, of Guantanamo prisoners. We could, of course, also argue for similar boycotting calls regarding Russia, China and many, many more.
Second, the boycotters know that Israeli citizens have suffered horribly from Palestinian rocket attacks, but, not unreasonably, they object to Israel’s retaliation, seemingly on the basis of rejecting the doctrine of collective responsibility, the result of the retaliation being injury and death of innocent civilians. The boycotters, though, are themselves guilty of using that doctrine – for they must surely know that many Israeli academics oppose their government’s policies towards the Palestinians.
Peter Cave, London W1
The furore surrounding the decision by Professor Hawking to support the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions movement shows up an important aspect of the propaganda war in the Israel/Palestine conflict.
On the one hand widespread imprisonment without trial, use of white phosphorus, Hellfire missile technology and heavy bombing resulting in the deaths of hundreds of civilians are morally acceptable because “we are at war”.
On the other hand the boycott of an Israeli presidential conference is an outrage. It would be laughable if not for the tragedy behind it.
May God bless Professor Hawking and may his courage and example lead many others to stand up and be counted for justice and peace, which includes an Israel entirely at peace and secure within its own borders.
Brendan O’Brien, London N21
It is a pity that Professor Stephen Hawking, by choosing to boycott Israel, has allowed himself to become a part of the “de-legitimisation of Israel” campaign, which associates the Jewish movement for self-determination with racism, and the state of Israel with  apartheid-like regimes.
In Israel, all citizens, including the Arab minority, actively participate in the political process; incitement to racism is a criminal offence, as is discrimination on the basis of race or religion.
Since apartheid South Africa was a racist State, it had – one can argue – no right to exist. This argument, however, cannot be used against Israel, for Israel is a multi-religious state, where Arab parliamentarians, Arab judges, Arab diplomats, Arab cabinet ministers work along with their Jewish colleagues.
Randhir Singh Bains, Gants Hill, Essex
London sucks up nation’s wealth
Apparently, London house prices have risen by around 8 per cent in the past 12 months, indicating that the wealth of Londoners has increased by something like £1trn in that time (a comparable figure for the rest of the UK would be negative).
If you add to that the virtual monopoly of large-infrastructure and private-sector projects enjoyed by the capital, increasing centralisation of business and government and the insane levels of subsidy applied to transport for London, a picture emerges of London hoovering up wealth, and by natural extension, youth and energy, leaving the badly under-invested and over-taxed provinces to cope with the mundane tasks of caring for their dependent young and elderly.
As the provincial economy withers, these activities require increasing government funding, which has unsurprisingly morphed from responsibility, through obligation, to the increasingly niggardly and moralistic “charity” of the present administration. At the same time, economic and social power is forcing the entirely inappropriate values of a polyglot world city on to the UK communities.
R Goodall, Bewdley, Worcestershire
I stand by my sarcasm
Rebecca Wheeler (letter, 10 May) asks whether I would have written my sarcastic letter about women’s City bonuses (9 May) had the matter concerned, say, a group of black workers, and whether The Independent would have published it. 
While the rest of society is suffering from the consequences of the bankers’ greed, it’s hard to have much sympathy for people who have a sense of entitlement completely out of proportion to their worth, whether these people be male, female, black, or white. Trying to enlist sympathy for them because we should oppose discrimination in principle is laughable when one considers the poverty and oppression that millions of people suffer around the world.
So yes, I would have written the same letter
Nick Wray, Derby
Rote learning  has its place
The argument between Michael Gove and the teaching professionals is becoming ever more sterile. Rote learning and creative analysis and deduction are not incompatible – each is essential to the overall education experience.
I ask the opponents of rote learning to explain how else one can learn the alphabet, or the position of Thailand on a world map? Rote learning is the essential foundation of many everyday and high-level intellectual tasks. If a nuclear scientist had to work out E=MC2 every time he made use of it, it would slow his work down somewhat.
Yet rote learning is a sterile tool unless allied to creative thinking and analysis, and on its own leads to dogmatic thinking and reactive actions – dangerous in all walks of life.
Peter Evans, Billericay, Essex
Martyrs for their faiths
The news from the Vatican is that Pope Francis has canonised the hundreds of Christian inhabitants of the southern Italian town of Otranto who were massacred by Muslim Ottoman Turks in 1480.
May we reasonably expect now that His Holiness will similarly canonise the thousands of Muslim inhabitants of Jerusalem who were massacred for their faith by western Christian crusaders after they took the city on 15 July 1099?
Others are surely to follow. Victims of the Inquisition next, perhaps?
Professor P P Anthony, Exeter
Nurse, nurse…
As a regular visitor to three elderly inpatients at three major hospitals in Lincolnshire over the past five years, I have noticed that there are always plenty of NHS employees gathered around the area usually called the nurses’ station. Gaining their attention, or at least the attention of the staff member appropriate to patient need, is a greater challenge.
Bob Simmonds, Stickney, Lincolnshire
Who are we?
If Scotland votes for independence in a year’s time, the United Kingdom will, I suppose, cease to exist. Scots will be happy being Scottish, but what are the rest of us going to call ourselves and our nation?  Great Britain will be divided, so British doesn’t really work. 
Derek Chapman, Southampton


The key skill that the study of history teaches is the ability to evaluate evidence, rather than manipulating and distorting it for effect
Sir, As historians from the Higher Education sector we deplore Michael Gove’s extraordinary and misleading attack on the Historical Association (report, May 10). Mr Gove suggested that the HA favours a dumbed-down or infantilised version of history teaching in schools. Citing a single sentence in an article by an experienced teacher in the HA’s journal Primary History, he claims that the HA suggests students “learn about the early Middle Ages by studying the depiction of King John as a cowardly lion in Disney’s Robin Hood.” In fact, the journal piece is a very thoughtful one which explains how students can be helped to realise that they should not take film depictions of history at face value. Mr Gove ignores the important statement that “Publication of a contribution in Primary History does not necessarily imply the Historical Association’s approval of the opinions expressed in it.”
Mr Gove would have us believe that the HA is an ideologically motivated organisation dedicated to the erosion of academic standards. In fact, its 6,000-plus members have widely divergent political views but are united by their love of history and their devotion to bringing high-quality scholarship to schools and the wider public.
The key skill that the study of history teaches is the ability to evaluate evidence. Regrettably, what Mr Gove has demonstrated in his speech is a remarkable capacity for manipulating and distorting it.
Dr Sophie T. Ambler, King’s College London; Dr Sara Barker, University of Exeter; Professor Jonathan Barry, University of Exeter; Professor Eugenio F. Biagini, University of Cambridge; Dr Adrian Bingham, University of Sheffield; Dr Helen Birkett, University of Exeter Professor Lawrence Black, University of York; Dr Elizabeth Boyle, University of Cambridge; Professor Kathleen Burk, Professor Emerita of Modern and Contemporary History, University College London; Dr John-Henry Clay, Durham University; Dr Timothy Cooper, University of Exeter; Dr Pat Cullum, University of Huddersfield; Professor Martin Daunton, University of Cambridge; Dr Simon Ditchfield, University of York; Kenneth F. Duggan, Doctoral Student, King’s College London; Dr Ann-Marie Einhaus, Northumbria University; Dr Steven Gunn, Merton College, Oxford; Professor Sarah Hamilton, University of Exeter; Dr Freyja Cox Jensen, University of Exeter; Dr Helen Foxhall Forbes, University of Exeter; Dr Felicity Heal, Emeritus Fellow, Jesus College, Oxford; Professor David Hendy, University of Sussex; Dr Clive Holmes, Emeritus Fellow and Lecturer in History at Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford; Dr Matt Houlbrook, Magdalen College, Oxford; Dr Bronach Kane, Bath Spa University; Professor Evan Mawdsley, Senior Professorial Research Fellow, University of Glasgow; Dr Helen McCarthy, Queen Mary University of London; Dr George Molyneaux, All Souls College, Oxford; Dr Staffan Müller-Wille, University of Exeter; Jamie Page, PhD student, St Andrews Institute of Mediaeval Studies; Dr Hugh Pemberton, Senior Lecturer in Modern British History, University of Bristol; Dr Catriona Pennell, University of Exeter; Dr Tim Rees, University of Exeter; Dr Matthias Reiss, University of Exeter; Dr Catherine Rider, University of Exeter; Dr Laura Sangha, University of Exeter; Dr Levi Roach, University of Exeter; Dr Mark Roodhouse, University of York; Professor John Shepherd, University of Huddersfield; Dr Nicholas Terry, University of Exeter; Dr David Thackeray, University of Exeter; Professor Patricia M. Thane, Institute for Contemporary British History, Kings College London; Professor Andrew Thorpe, University of Exeter; Dr Hereward Tilton, University of Exeter; Dr Daniel Todman, Queen Mary University of London; Laura Tompkins, PhD Candidate, University of St Andrews; Professor Richard Toye, University of Exeter; Professor Paul Ward, University of Huddersfield; Dr Cordelia Warr, University of Manchester; Tosh Warwick, PhD candidate, University of Huddersfield; Professor Jane Whittle, University of Exeter; Dr Alun Withey, University of Exeter; Professor Matthew Worley, University of Reading; Professor, Chris Wrigley, Professor Emeritus, Nottingham University
Sir, The reference to using Disney films in your report is not “a lesson plan” but actually an article entitled “Helping pupils to view historical film critically”, warning of distortion of history by film.
The Historical Association, which was founded in 1906 and was granted a Royal Charter in 2006, has been a critic of the recently proposed history curriculum but we have done so using the responses of teachers from many different political standpoints and many different schools.
Agreeing the content of a history curriculum can be a contentious and complicated process. However, for government officials to distort the output of charitable organisations for political point-scoring seems childish. Further, it is damaging to the long-term health of historical debate and teaching in this country.
Rebecca Sullivan
CEO, The Historical Association
Professor Jackie Eales President, The Historical Association
Sir, I should be delighted to invite Michael Gove into my classroom to teach my pupils Middlemarch; they are indeed hooked on such modern twaddle as Twilight. However, even in an academically selective, independent school such as King’s Ely, I think he might find they will be bored and mystified. In the age of the Xbox, many children follow their parents’ lead in preferring the instant gratification of on-screen entertainment to reading a book. I will happily teach Twilight if it means that children will read something, anything, which will eventually evolve into a love of reading that leads eventually to George Eliot.
That Mr Gove thinks we should force a 900-page 19th-century novel on teenagers who barely read at all — the fault of the zeitgeist, not of teachers — is more proof that he has no idea what happens in a classroom.
Frank Danes
Head of English, King’s Ely Senior,


The proposed break-up and disposal of the Mendham Collection threatens historical scholarship and diminishes the Law Society’s standing
Sir, As a history graduate, solicitor and former employee of the Law Society of England and Wales, I am dismayed by the society’s proposal to break up and dispose of the Mendham Collection (letter, May 11). The society is itself a historic national institution founded in the 19th century under Royal Charter. Although it has an important contemporary function as the representative body for English and Welsh solicitors its role in the life of the country has always been perceived as going well beyond simply that of a professional association. Indeed, it is inconceivable that the Mendham Collection would ever have been gifted to the society had it not been for this understanding of the society’s status. The donor’s intention was to find a secure permanent home for the collection, not to provide the profession with a disposable asset.
Many solicitors will be concerned at the risk of damage both to historical scholarship and to the society’s standing if the plans are allowed to proceed. I hope the society’s leadership will reflect on the consequences of placing the short-term realisation of assets before the duties of stewardship and the needs of academic research.
Ian Stevens
Director of Policy, Solicitors Regulation Authority 2007-10,
Leamington Spa, Warks

Some Scots honours have always been inheritable by eldest daughters as peeresses in their own right — perhaps the English should follow suit
Sir, A solution to the question of succession (Opinion, May 11) has long existed in Scots law. A peer or baronet who wished to change the succession of their title could simply resign their existing honour into the hands of the Crown for re-grant to a different heir. This was commonly done to divert the succession from an heir who was unsuitable for some reason, usually mental or physical, but upon occasion improvidence or rebellion. This has not been done since the Act of Union in 1707, but the opinion of Scots lawyers is that it has not been abolished.
There is no reason why this should not be applied to substituting a female heir. Some Scots honours have always been inheritable by eldest daughters as peeresses in their own right, and the English concept, in the case of baronies by writ, of abeyance between co-heiresses has never applied in Scotland. One safeguard is that the sovereign was not obliged to re-grant the honour exactly as wished by the resigning peer. When Lord Oliphant resigned his peerage for re-grant in 1630, Charles I re-granted it as he saw fit, contrary to Lord Oliphant’s wishes.
Hugh Peskett
Former Scottish Editor, Burke’s Peerage, Winchester

Why restrict assisted suicide to those with six months to live when is it so complex to establish such a value for each terminal condition?
Sir, Lord Falconer of Thoroton’s latest attempt to get legalised suicide onto the statute book, the Assisted Dying Bill (report, May 11), proposes to limit its applicability to those who have only six months to live.
How feasible is this? Inevitably one remembers the Lockerbie bomber, Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi, who was returned to Libya in August 2009 with only three months to live but who survived until May 2012. He is not alone. Saturday’s Times Magazine featured Kate Granger, a young doctor who “statistically, should have died in October last year” and is currently working four days a week. As she put it, she has lived well beyond her “expiry date”. These and many individual experiences prove that human beings often confound expectations.
Lord Falconer will surely appreciate that a legally acceptable value needs to be accessible for the “six months to end of life” prediction needed to trigger his assisted dying process. Perhaps he has not envisaged the complexity of establishing such a value for each terminal condition.
Margaret Collier

French pharmacists readily provide a guide to poisonous fungi and identify unknown mushrooms and toadstools — ours should do the same
Sir, In France, chemist shops display beautiful posters of mushrooms and toadstools, edible and inedible, with precise descriptions of what is likely to happen if you eat, or even touch, the poisonous ones (report, May 10). They also provide a free identification service. Why don’t we do that here?
Henrietta Smith Curry
Rivel, Somerset


SIR – When the Duchess of Cambridge gives birth to her first child later this year, the Succession to the Crown Act will mean that whatever its gender, the child will remain next in line to the throne after Prince William. From now on, no Royal girl will be considered inferior to her brothers.
While we applaud this sensible piece of legislation, we believe if gender equality can be granted to the Royal Family, it is only logical and just that it be granted to all families, including the 1,000 families who carry Britain’s hereditary titles.
At present, the majority of these are only able to be handed down through male heirs – a practice which is outdated and manifestly unfair – although there are titles which can go through the female line so the precedent is there and accepted. Some titles also carry with them entailed estates which follow the title – meaning a daughter may not only lose the right to her father’s title on his death, but also the family home.
As the Labour peer Lord Dubs has said: “There should not be gender discrimination in Britain, full stop.”
We call upon Parliament to seize this opportunity to grant equality to both sexes – and to support Mary MacLeod and Lord Lucas’ forthcoming Bills that we believe address many of the complications that would arise with a change.
Earl Alexander of Tunis
Celestria Alexander-Sinclair
Storm Athill
Atticus Athill
The Earl of Balfour
Rose Baring
Lord Beaverbrook
Matthew Bell
Ellen Berkeley
David Bernstein
Miranda Blum
Mark Borwick
Katrina Bovill
Angie Bray MP (Con)
Kay Brooks
Fiona Bruce
Sally Bruce
Aiden Burley MP (Con)
Caroline Burnard
Ruth Burnett
Lady Arabella Burwood
Melanie Cable-Alexander
Stephen Cabrol
Alun Cairns MP (Con)
Hon James Campbell
Lady Laura Campbell
Lady Liza Campbell
Lucy Campbell
Sophie Caruth
Marchioness of Cholmondeley
Johanna Christie-Smith
Countess of Clancarty
Earl of Clancarty
Viscount Clanfield (Son of Earl Peel)
Alexi Clegg Littler
George Clegg Littler
Xenia Clegg Littler
Ella Cory-Wright
Charles Cummings
Rosamond Collins
Julian Crandall Hollick
Martine Crandall
Sebastiano d’Avanzo
Marquesa Victoria d’Avanzo
Irene Danilovich
Lucy Dantec-Hodges
Violet Day
Lauren Der
Rosanna Dickinson
Adam Drew
Linda Duberley
Sophie Dundas
Sheila Eaton
Jane Ellison
Catherine Fairweather
Gerry Farrell
Joanna Farrell
Mark Field MP (Con)
Gaile Firth
Hon Catherine Fitzgerald
Hon Nesta Fitzgerald
Lady Pollyanna Fitzgerald
Anda Fitzgerald-O’Connor
John-Paul Flintoff
Anselm Fraser
Benjie Fraser
Natalie Galustian
Amelia Garnett
Joelle Gemehl
Pamela Lloyd George
Catherine Gibbs
Mary Gibson
Clare Gilchrist
Lord Gisborough
John Gordon
Atlanta Goulandris
Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson
Amber Guinness
Hon Mrs Camilla Guinness
John Hadsay
Viscount Hambleden
Lizzie Hartnoll
Kate Hesketh-Harvey
Henrietta Hawxwell
Christabel Holland
Jane Hooker
Theresa Howard
Gay Hudson
Imogen Hughes-Onslow
Ken Hulbert
Eryl Humphrey-Jones
Dr Julian Huppert
Victoria Jack
Margot James MP (Con)
Clive Joyce
Clive Kaiser-Davies
Chris Kelly MP (Con)
Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws
Christopher Kemp
Matthew Kilburn
Ruth Knox
Rose Knox-Peebles
Brian Knox-Peebles
Gayle Kyle
Peter Kyle
Eleanor Laing MP (Con)
Andrea Leadsom MP (Con)
Lady Lucinda Lambton
Hon Lucinda Lawrence
Jessica Lee
Jeremy Lefroy MP (Con)
John Leigh
Sandra Leigh
Duchess of Leinster
Duke of Leinster
Catherine Lillingston
Ludovic Lindsay
Viscountess Linley
Laura Lonsdale
Hon Sarah Long
Viscountess Helen Long
Ivana Lowell
Karen Lumley
Sarah Lutyens
Celia Lyttleton
Emma Lyttleton
Sue McCartney Snape
Earl Of Macclesfield
Countess Of Macclesfield
Fiona Macleod
Amanda Marmot
Kedge Martin
Stephen Martin
Roger Matthews
Fiona Matthews
Neil Mendoza
Jane Merrick
Joanne Metcalf
Charlotte Metcalfe
Penny Mordaunt MP (Con)
Colin Merrick
Fevronia Micklethwait
Marchioness Of Milford-Haven
Hon Sophie Montgomery
Bel Mooney
Lord Monson
Lady Monson
The Hon Isabella Monson
Anne Marie Morris
Zoe Morris
Charles Morrison
Hon Amanda Murray
Stephen Murray
Brooks Newmark MP (Con)
Lord Newborough
Bill Nighy
Gilly Norton
James Norton
Eleanor O’Connor
Hon Geraldine Ogilvy
Alexandra Oldham
Nigel Oldham
Richard Osborn
Hugo Page QC
Christine Paice
Erica Patterson
Christine Paulet
Emma Paulet
Catherine Pawson
Hon Rosie Pearson
Roland Philipps
Clarissa Pilkington
Michael Pilkington
Mandy Pitman
Eliza Poklewski Koziell
Jane Proctor
Susannah Procter
Sir William Proby
Saffron Rainey
Nicholas Rakic
Katherine Roberts
Lorna Roche
Sir Piers Rodgers
Lady Rodgers
Nicholas Roesner
Andrew Rosindell MP (Con)
Esdille Ross
Carolyn Ryle-Hodges
Earl St Aldwyn
Jacquetta, Countess Stgermans
Mary Sarson
Simon Sarson
Dr Charles Saumarez Smith
Sarah F Snowden
Fiona Shires
Sebastian Scott
Rufus Sewell
Mary Ann Sieghart
William Sieghart
The Hon Milly Soames
Lady Cosima Somerset
Lord Xan Somerset
William Strafford
Kay Star
Henrietta Statham
Don Statham
John Stewart
Caroline Stuart-Taylor
Malvina Stuart Taylor
Nicholas Stuart Taylor
Olivia Stuart-Taylor
Virginia Stuart-Taylor
Jenny Swire
Mark Tandy
Sir John Tavener
Lady Tavener
Jake Tierney-Elliott
Florence Uniacke
Aly van den Berg
Pete van den Berg
Fiona Walsh
Shane Watson
Earl Of Westmorland
Charles Welby
Isadora Welby
Suzanna Welby
Venetia Welby
Zinnia Welby
Kay Whalley
Ian Wheater
Heather Wheeler
Clare White
Emmeline Winterbotham
Dr Sarah Woollaston MP (Con)
Marchioness of Worcester
Judy Wragg
Angela Wynn
Baroness Young of Hornsey
Francesca Yarde-Buller

SIR – I would like to take issue with Lord Adonis’s assertion that “exclusive private schools are seriously disabling pupils by segregating them from the rest of society” (report, May 10).
Here in Newcastle, the independent day schools are very much part of the city and local communities. Sports fixtures, extra-curricular activities (eg dance and drama workshops) and language days are shared between maintained and private schools.
The latest Independent Schools Council census shows that there is social diversity within independent schools: a third of pupils receive assistance with their fees, nearly 8 per cent receive means-tested bursaries and the inclusion of ethnic minorities is higher in independent schools than in maintained schools.
Private schools are, in fact, “enablers”, helping to prepare pupils for their adult lives in a social, work and family context.
Hilary French
Central Newcastle High School
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SIR – Lord Adonis is right to highlight concerns that private schools are disabling pupils by segregating them from society. The British education system is one of the most segregated in the world and young people are increasingly spending their school careers without mixing with peers from different social backgrounds. This is creating an ever more polarised society, a segregated labour market and parallel communities.
Academies can be part of the solution to this problem, however what we really need is more activities that bond people together across social divides and create shared experiences. The National Citizen Service is one example of how this can be done, connecting thousands of young people with other members of their community. Unless we act now to fill the void between young people of different backgrounds, our future is a divided country.
Craig Morley
Chief Executive, The Challenge Network
London SE1
SIR – In his speech at Brighton College, Lord Adonis maintained in the teeth of the evidence that independent school students are filled with children of the privileged professional classes, insulated from the realities of modern life, and with large numbers of rich overseas students alongside them in classes. He prefers to rely upon his (largely inaccurate) knowledge of a few public boarding schools with relatively high fees.
He fails to recognise that for the vast majority of independent schools, very many parents live in ordinary, albeit typically not deprived, circumstances, with fees often paid as a result of huge personal sacrifices or from the savings of grandparents, and with pupils who through the substantial outreach activities of their schools as well as in their daily lives are thoroughly immersed in their diverse local communities.
Dr Christopher Ray
High Master
The Manchester Grammar School
Private universities
SIR – Fraser Nelson is no doubt correct that independent British universities would be better than state-dependent ones (Comment, May 10). However, for historical reasons, not to mention the tax system, this would be a very difficult transition for them to attempt at present. Meanwhile, he should be wary of jumping to conclusions comparing universities internationally. Funding is only one part of the picture. High school standards are another. Foreign Affairs has just published an article by an educationalist from Harvard entitled “Why American Education Fails And How Lessons From Abroad Could Improve It”. This is another reason why Michael Gove’s rather slow-moving educational reforms are vital.
In the meantime, British universities are doing rather well. In the recently published Quacquarelli Symonds world university rankings in my own area of expertise (history), out of the top 20, Cambridge came first, Oxford second, LSE sixth, UCL eleventh, Warwick sixteenth and King’s College London eighteenth. For all their endowments, Harvard came seventeenth and Stanford, Fraser Nelson’s own model, could not make the top 20 but came twenty-first.
Professor Alan Sked
London School of Economics
Hi-vis horse riders
SIR – We want horse riders to remain safe and encourage them to wear appropriate high visibility clothing. However, designs clearly intended to create a resemblance to mounted police officers (report, May 6) can confuse the public and have created situations where riders have been abused by members of the public who feel they are being deceived.
Some riders have reported drivers sounding their horns and revving their engines to frighten horses because they feel misled. We want to ensure the public make an informed decision about wearing such clothing.
Deputy Chief Constable Rod Hansen
ACPO lead for mounted police
London SW1
A swift appearance
SIR – At this time of year the skies above us are filled with wonderfully swooping swallows, house martins and swifts.
This year, I saw my first swallow three weeks ago – and that’s been it! Where have they all gone?
Paul Harrison
Terling, Essex
Motorboat training
SIR – Anybody who has been properly trained to drive a motorboat at a RYA-approved training centre knows that the kill cord is not an optional item of clothing (Letters, May 9). It is essential for safety and must be attached to the driver at all times. If the individual has not been properly trained, why are they allowed to drive a motorboat?
Robin Humphreys
Exmouth, Devon
Display televisions
SIR – In response to Harry Leeming’s letter (May 5), I’d like to clarify the law with regard to display televisions.
Electrical retailers who have televisions for display purposes only do not need a television licence, even if they are showing programmes at the same time as shown on television. A licence is still required for any televisions in staff areas showing programmes at the same time as they are shown on television – as would be the case with any other business.
Claire Wotherspoon
TV Licensing
London W12
Public spectacles
SIR – The picture accompanying Jesse Norman’s piece (Comment, May 10) shows Edmund Burke wearing spectacles. He seems to have been the first public figure usually portrayed as so doing. Sir Joshua Reynolds, also present, was portrayed wearing glasses but not for public pictures.
The next figure on the Continent generally so portrayed seems to have been the Austrian composer Franz Schubert. In Britain, we had to wait a century for Kipling. The first Test cricketer regularly wearing glasses seems to have been J N Crawford of Surrey from c. 1907 onwards. With the advent of contact lenses, we may not see their like again.
Laurence Gretton
London NW5
A novel use for a village telephone box
SIR – With regard to the “sad neglect of rural red telephone boxes” (Letters, May 10) I wish to inform you that our village telephone box has been fitted out with shelves and used as a village library most successfully for over a year. It was acquired by the residents’ association, which maintains it. We also have volunteer litter pickers who patrol the lanes regularly.
Rural communities do care.
Jean Scarborough
Coed y paen, Monmouthshire
SIR – Some time ago I contacted BT about the repair and refurbishment of our village telephone box to be informed that repainting, if at all possible, could not be scheduled for many months.
I then volunteered to paint it myself if they would send me the paint, to be informed that this was not “policy” (even though in our neighbouring village this had just been agreed to).
Finally, I asked if I could paint it if I purchased the paint at my own cost, only to be informed that this was not acceptable because if it was not of the exact colour they would immediately have to send out a “working party” to paint the box in the right colour.
Paul Strong
Claxby, Lincolnshire
SIR –The state of rural telephone boxes is the fault of BT, which has neglected them. We have just bought our village box for £1 and invested in a pot of extremely expensive paint (regulation Currant Red).
When the box has been painted by the man who lives behind it, I shall shin up my ladder and gild the crowns. I have already done our two post boxes – the Small Society in action.
Lady Coward
Torpoint, Cornwall
SIR – Within two weeks of sending an email to BT, its cleaning team was duly dispatched and our village telephone box was repainted a few months later.
Alison Botten
Garton on the Wolds, East Yorkshire

SIR – I was pleasantly surprised to read of Sarah Gall’s enthusiasm for the nutritional value of blackstrap molasses (Letters, May 9). In the early Fifties my mother was a devotee too, but she included in her diet wholemeal bread and home-made yoghurt.She lived into her late nineties.
Anne-Marie Woodfield
Wokingham, Berkshire
SIR – Before all of your readers rush out to buy organic blackstrap molasses to stop your hair turning grey (Letters, May 9), they may like to know that I have not been eating a teaspoon three times a day for the past 10 years, and so far my hair colour has been retained (I am 69 years old).
Daphne Bass
Crowthorne, Berkshire

Irish Times:
Sir, – You report that John Bruton has called for a “rein on regulation” in the financial services industry (Business Today, May 11th). Isn’t it precisely the existence of a rein on regulation that got us into this mess in the first place? – Yours, etc,
Old County Road,
Dublin 12.
Sir, – The current megaphone debate between the financial services industry and the Central Bank on over-regulation does the IFSC no service. Competitive jurisdictions for financial services feed off this.
It is very much a case of shooting ourselves in the foot. In the board rooms around the world this debate is referenced when decisions are being made on the location for new financial service operations.
Like it or not the debate is now positioning Ireland in the camp of heavy as against light regulation. This is a huge concern and needs to be managed. The trouble is that there are no benchmarks. The debate lacks merit. It is only of use if it involves comparisons with competitor jurisdictions. An honest broker such as the IDA needs to commission a study on current Irish financial regulation in an international context. It is the case that a significant amount of new regulation is driven by the EU. Again, industry references the return of IFSC banking licences. It does not mention the global contraction that has taken place in the sector nor the creation of substitute branch structures in the IFSC.
At the same time, the Central Bank references names like Cologne Re and Depfa as the reason for the need for the current regulatory regime of international players in the IFSC. This lacks perspective. The IFSC has been around for 25 years.
Any problems in the IFSC pale into insignificance to the debacle in the domestic financial services industry. Everyone recognises the need for a sea-change in the regulation of domestic financial services. The regulation of the IFSC needs to be more carefully calibrated.
The Central Bank recognises this but it is not getting its message across to industry and it is not recognised internationally.
Who regulates the financial regulator? How this happens is not clear. However, the current slanging match shows something is wrong and needs to be quickly rectified. – Yours, etc,
Rostrevor Road,
Dublin 6.

Sir, – I must concur with Dave Thomas (Opinion, May 10th). Croke Park II is indeed unjust. It offers taxpayers nowhere near as much bang for their buck as they deserve.
No private or indeed social enterprise would ever be allowed to be run so inefficiently.
Why shouldn’t the State apparatus have to live by the same rules as the rest of us?
Of course Mr Thomas would be in favour of increasing taxes over streamlining since it is the taxes of ordinary workers and entrepreneurs that keep the State’s unwieldy and uncompetitive civil service on life support. SMEs (from which the lion’s share of this State’s revenue comes) and the trade level of the private sector have paid a disproportionate price. No more. – Yours, etc,
Shetland Road,
Co Louth.

Sir, – Your article on the Church of Ireland Synod (Home News, May 11th), omits to mention that a motion was passed asking the General Synod Board of Education to review the proposed integration of the Church of Ireland College of Education (CICE) with St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra and Mater Dei Institute under the auspices of DCU. This proposed integration with DCU would have ended the 90-year association that CICE has had with Trinity College.
However, it does quote Adrian Oughton, where he was referring to negotiations with Trinity and said, “Trinity by its actions in effect refused to accept as undergraduates Protestant young men and women who wish to be primary teachers’’. This comment has no basis in reality.
I am aware that Trinity College authorities are willing to engage with the authorities in CICE and are keen to accept the Protestant young people who wish to train as primary teachers. – Yours, etc,
Co Donegal.

Sir, – I note your coverage of a dispute between the Office of the Garda Ombudsman, and the Garda Commissioner about unfettered access to confidential Garda records (Conor Lally, Front page, May 10th) .
I have consistently pressed for greater public access to once-sensitive official records.
However, with contemporary Garda records very serious issues arise. As well as the confidentiality and security of individuals and procedures, these relate to the very act of securing intelligence which has always been crucial to the thwarting of criminal and subversive activities which threaten the State and its citizens.
Danger lies not simply in a single unfortunate leak of material, but in the possibility that it might prove more difficult in future for the gardaí, the Customs Service or other agencies to persuade people to act as informants if secrecy could not be absolutely guaranteed. Such legitimate considerations have to be put in the scales, even where suspicion exists that individual gardaí may adduce them as a way to hide wrongdoing.
There must be a means, perhaps by asking a judge to review the relevant Garda material, by which this matter can be safely and fairly resolved without conceding the dangerous principle that the Office of the Garda Ombudsman can have “unfettered access” to the Garda databases. Such a right would, however honourably operated, inevitably lead essentially to fishing expeditions by investigators and could compromise the security of the State’s most sensitive records.
Finally, I hope during this controversy the members of the Garda Ombudsman Commission will continue to operate in decent obscurity, unlike some of their analogues in other spheres of the public sector. Ombudsmen are there solely to serve the public good, not to promote themselves. – Yours, etc,
Centre for Contemporary
Irish History,

Sir, – Prof Jeremy Pearson of the British Heart Foundation implicates dietary saturated fats in Northern Ireland as the prime cause “behind the relatively high heart disease rate”, compared to southeast England (Home News, May 8th). He also warned about the escalation of heart failure, compared to a recorded reduction in deaths from heart attack. Critical evidence does not support Prof Pearson’s theory. 1. Saturated fats do not cause heart disease, and may offer much needed heart protection. The real culprits are trans-fats, poly-unsaturated fats and excess sugar, as found in processed “foods”. 2. The comparative lack of natural vitamin D in Northern Ireland, compared to southeast England, is a strong implicating factor for heart disease. 3. The acknowledged escalation of heart failure in the UK (and also the US) has been linked by several researchers to low levels of coenzyme Q10, an essential nutrient for heart disease, and which is depleted by the unwarranted and widespread use of statin drugs in these countries for high cholesterol. The conventional views regarding the causes of heart disease, as espoused by Prof Pearson, are in urgent need of revision. – Yours, etc,
Medical Director,
The Leinster Clinic,

Sir, – My condolences to the family and friends of Donal Walsh (Home News, May 13th). He was a truly inspirational young man. He lived his short life to the full and showed his love for his fellow human beings with his fundraising activities and appeals to young people not to take their own lives.
He has made a unique contribution to the human race in his short 16 years on this planet, a contribution many people don’t make in a lifetime. He will never be forgotten. – Yours, etc,
Lower Salthill, Galway.

Sir, – While waiting to board a flight at Dublin Airport on Monday morning, I came across a rather strange ATM-style machine, designed to allow you to pay your local property tax while waiting for your flight!
How much is the taxpayer paying for these machines? And why are they at Dublin Airport? Are they at every boarding area? Will I see them at railway stations and, when operating, at Busáras? Why is it that, while most European countries have a property tax (more expensive in many cases than ours), they implement it without fuss, while Ireland has to make a song and dance about it? In my opinion, this requires a full and thorough investigation of the highest order. Who commissioned these machines? Who built them and installed them? How much do they cost? Who is paying for them? Have they ever been used? Are they ever likely to be used?
Like good citizens we’ve already paid our LPT – but if this is where the money is going then it’ll be the last time that we pay it! – Yours, etc,
Newtown Abbey,

Irish Independent:

• I assumed Enda Kenny was the Taoiseach and leader of Fine Gael. But I am beginning to wonder. John Bruton, allegedly retired, seems to have wide-ranging opinions on how this State is run.
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British right to bail on EU
Mr Bruton chides the President, who took issue with the curse of austerity that has hung on our shoulders.
Mr Bruton asks that we tighten our belts further to help lift the nation from the mess his class has left us in. Tighten it more and we will choke.
Mr Bruton derides Keynesian policies, stating: “Keynesian economics is completely unreal.”
Hmm. I’ll tell you what’s unreal. The barefaced cheek of a man who has supped generously from the public purse since first elected as a 22-year-old.
Being able to retire on a €140,000 pension in 2004, aged 57, is unreal. Stepping into an ambassadorship of EU emissary to the US is what I call fortuitous.
Mr Bruton had his shot at politics.
We all think we have the answers. Most of us never got the chance to do something about it. Mr Bruton did.
When he divests himself of the state pensions, privileges and perks he enjoys, and tightens his own belt, then he can come and share his wisdom with us about austerity.
John Cuffe
Stick to the day job
• Quite a lot of inches have been printed since the minister’s attempt at a bit of comedy up in Donegal – and if anybody needs to be advised about sticking to the day job, it surely is himself.
A lot of our TDs can get away with bits of repartee, and a lot of them should steer well clear of any kind of ad-lib – particularly James Reilly.
But as he did have a go at a bit of comedy, in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and his biggest sin was that he was James Reilly, the reaction to his little bit of inexperience was very much OTT. In fact, he was lucky to get a bit of applause for delivering a bit of good news.
“Stick to the day job” is probably the most hackneyed cliche and, believe it or not, it can be expressed as a term of endearment.
In any event, Dr Reilly should stick to the day job and pay more attention to Michael Noonan and Joe Higgins.
Stand-up comedy is harder than it looks.
RJ Hanly
Screen, Co Wexford
Abortion legislation
• The proposed legislation allows anyone to say: “I am suicidal and I want an abortion.” No doctor or psychologist can prove for certain whether this statement is true or not.
Therefore, the proposed legislation is creating a situation of moral hazard undermining the ‘equal right to life’ provision of the Constitution because if a termination of pregnancy is approved, the professional opinion facilitating it can never be proven wrong. I think that this is placing the professionals concerned in an invidious position, where saying yes to a termination in such instances is the only guaranteed safe option for them.
I believe that the proposed legislation should concentrate instead on providing clarity in the matter of the protection of the life and health of the mother, which would attract the overwhelming support of the people.
Whatever outstanding issues there are could be tackled, as required, by further targeted legislation to give greater practical expression to the constitutional protection for all parties involved.
Laurence Moore
Walkinstown, Dublin 12
Red Devil reverie
• Ian O’Doherty’s article on his “rocky love affair with Manchester United” (Weekend Review, May 11) brought back many memories. My love affair with the Red Devils started as a six-year-old in 1969 as I got my hair cut in the local barbers in Meath Street and regular goal flashes on the radio heralded a 4-1 victory at Anfield by Best, Law and Charlton.
Unfortunately, this was the last death throes of a once-great team and, less than five years later, this 10-year-old roared crying as Denis Law consigned us to the ignominy of the second tier of English football.
The year 1969 also marked the start of a ferocious rivalry as a teenage right-half marked a tough, no-nonsense centre-forward in an Old Firm reserve match in Celtic Park. It will probably surprise you to hear that the defender was Kenny Dalglish, who apparently snuffed out the threat of Alex Ferguson on that occasion, despite the gruff Glaswegian’s claim to the youth that “you’ll need a doctor after this”.
Fast forward 30 years from that haircut moment, to a mad dash from the train station at Eyre Square to find a pub with a TV to watch the 1999 European Cup Final.
Already 1-0 down by the time I reach the Skeffington Arms, and as the minutes tick away and a certain Jan Koller is the width of a goalpost away (or was it a crossbar, or was it Mehmut Scholl? – in fact, it was both) from doubling Bayern’s lead, I watch as Alex Ferguson plays his last two cards with the introduction of Sheringham and Solskjær.
We move into extra time. Seeing Peter Schmeichel going up for a corner brings home the Last Chance Saloon nature of it all and as the initial efforts are repulsed, my eyes gaze mournfully downwards.
But suddenly, the ball is scuffed back across the box and there is the gunslinger, Terry Sheringham, caressing the ball into the corner of the net. We are still cheering when Ole Gunnar Solskjær directs the winner into the roof of the net.
So, Alex, it’s been a wonderful 26 years, but I will never forget when you played your final hand and won the jackpot.
Mark Lawler
Kilmainham, Dublin 8
Sense of entitlement
• Many facets of society have become imbued with a delusional sense of personal entitlement to a standard of living that is neither sustained by underlying economic fundamentals, nor bears any relationship to the value or contribution that they provide in return – and that includes politicians. The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) strike at Bus Eireann is an apt illustration of this.
The business of Bus Eireann is divided almost on a 50:50 basis. It involves the provision of school transport services, which requires the services of slightly more than 500 part-time bus drivers. Over the decade to the end of 2011, the number of journeys on school transport dropped by 8pc and the number of part-time drivers employed by the company dropped by 8pc.
The remainder of the business comprises scheduled services in provincial cities, Expressway and point-to-point. The annual number of passenger journeys on these services has dropped by 27pc, from 50.22 million in 2007 to 36.5 million four years later. But the number of people employed to operate these services only dropped by 5pc to 2,103, while their net average pay increased by 10.8pc in the period since 2007. Does this indicate there are a substantial number of underemployed personnel at Bus Eireann?
The collapse in demand for Bus Eireann services has coincided with the annual state subsidy to Bus Eireann being increased by 99pc in the decade to the end of 2011, to almost €44m. How can the claims of the striking NBRU members to preserve income and the chaos they are inflicting be reconciled with maintaining job numbers at Bus Eireann, while the travelling public are clearly opting for the products and services of alternative suppliers?
Why should the State continue to operate a subsidised bus service for which the demand has fallen away so severely that the viability of the business is unsustainable without extravagant subsidies?
Myles Duffy
Glenageary, Co Dublin
Irish Independent

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