Wet 29th May 2013

I trot round the park today and listen to the Navy lark. I Oh dear, oh dear
Lady Todd Hunter Brown thought she had seen a ghost ship and Troutbridge is sent off to investigate. But its Nunky’s tug. She has been painted with luminous paint by a gang of rival smugglers. Priceless.
A quiet day off out to the postbox very tired under the weather, its raining so no gardening
We watch Passportto Plimico a wonderful old film as just as true today
I win at Scrabble today, just and gets just under 400, Mary might get her revenge tomorrow, I hope.


For 18 years as Labour MP for Provan and then for Baillieston, Wray championed struggling Glasgow communities. With violent crime endemic, he pushed through a Bill in 1997 to curb the sale of knives, winning all-party support; he also stood firm against drugs.
Wray was the antithesis of New Labour. Firmly to the Left, he opposed abortion, was sceptical over Europe and was proud to call himself a “Fenian”.
Having started delivering coal by horse and cart in the slums of the Gorbals, Wray arrived in the Commons in 1987 a wealthy man. On the way he had been a street trader, lorry driver and scrap metal dealer before branching into property.
Wray’s generosity to the needy was matched by an unnerving determination never to be crossed. Constituents who complained to him of being exploited would be told: “Don’t worry. I’ll get him.”
His physical presence — and the respect in which he was held — owed much to youthful success in the ring. Wray believed fervently in the ability of boxing to keep young lads out of trouble, and as president of the Scottish Ex-Boxers’ Association promoted the sport to the full.
When calls for boxing to be banned in Britain reached their height, he organised a lunch for the press with the likes of Frank Bruno, Frank Warren and Prince Naseem.
Wray’s most passionate and long-running campaign was against fluoridation, which he scorned as unnecessary, and possibly harmful, mass medication. As a councillor, Wray took up the case of Catherine McColl, a grandmother who went to court challenging Strathclyde region’s right to add fluoride to the water supply.
Despite having no legal training, Wray argued — in what became the longest hearing in Scottish legal history — that fluoridation violated two Acts of Parliament. Lord Jauncey’s ruling, handed down in 1983, found for Mrs McColl.
In the Commons, Wray harried governments which tried to prevent local councils from blocking fluoridation. He insisted that there was no firm evidence that fluoride protected children’s teeth, poverty being the main cause of dental decay.
James Aloysius Joseph Patrick Gabriel Wray was born in the Gorbals on April 28 1935 (he claimed 1938), one of eight children of a poor family of Irish origin, and was educated at elementary school.
He built a following in the community organising rent strikes, and in 1964 was elected to the city council. He became a Strathclyde councillor in 1976.
As agent to the Gorbals’ MP Frank McElhone, Wray was renowned for his ability to conjure up workers and cars on polling day. He hoped to succeed McElhone, but when the MP died in 1982 his widow took the seat.
Instead Wray went for Provan, where Hugh Brown was retiring. The Trotskyist Militant Tendency believed that they had the seat sewn up, but Wray got to work and pipped their candidate by one vote. His election in 1987 — and for Baillieston from 1997 — became a formality.
Despite his Euroscepticism, Wray was appointed a delegate to the Council of Europe. Unwilling to fly, he travelled to Strasbourg by car, ferry and train.
As a sideline, Wray kept his parliamentary colleagues supplied with watches and jewellery. Forced by a stroke to give up his seat in 2005, he spent his retirement making jewellery.
Jimmy Wray’s first two marriages ended in divorce. In 1999 he married, thirdly, Laura Walker, a solicitor; they separated in 2010. He is survived by a son and two daughters of his first marriage, and a son of his third.
Jimmy Wray, born April 28 1935, died May 25 2013


As a London GP for 30 years I have, like Dr John Davies (Letters, 27 May), served my time in the old model of out-of-hours care, working all day, most of the night, and all the next day.
I take issue with his suggestion that this model perished due to an increasing proportion of women in the GP workforce; it perished because it was unequal to the rising demand for care. In south-east London, our out-of-hours care has been provided since 1996 by a co-operative of local GPs, most of whom have not exercised their right to opt out.
Yet our local accident and emergency departments are seeing the same explosion in attendance as others across the country – giving the lie to Jeremy Hunt’s argument that the increase is due to inadequate GP out-of-hours provision. GPs and A&E departments are experiencing increasing demand for care, and we must work together to address the factors responsible for this, not engage in sniping and scapegoating.
Dr Martin Edwards

There is no way that the entire badger population in the two pilot cull zones will be destroyed (Culls risk illegally exterminating badgers, animal expert warns, 27 May). Safeguards have been put in place to ensure this does not happen. The culls will not take place over 100% of the cull zones and will be carried out under licence by trained professionals to ensure they are safe, effective and humane. These safeguards are based on the most up-to-date science and badger population estimates.
No farmer wants to see the wholesale destruction of the badger population. Culls will only ever be carried out in areas where tuberculosis is endemic and will never be carried out nationwide. What the thousands of farmers living with the threat of bovine TB hanging over their businesses want to see is action now to curb the spread of this disease. This can only be achieved through a comprehensive suite of measures designed to tackle TB on all fronts, including in wildlife.
Tom Hind
Director of corporate affairs, National Farmers’ Union
• I cannot understand why reports on the findings of the independent scientific group on cattle TB concentrate on only one of its two key conclusions – that badger culling could make no meaningful contribution to control of TB in cattle.  
Sir John Bourne, in his covering letter to the secretary of state in June 2007, stated: “Scientific findings indicate that the rising incidence of disease can be reversed, and geographical spread contained, by the rigid application of cattle-based control measures alone… Our report provides advice on the need for Defra to develop disease-control strategies, based on scientific findings. Implementation of such strategies will require Defra to institute more effective operational structures, and the farming and veterinary communities to accept the scientific findings.”
Judging from Bourne’s recent remarks, it would appear that neither the previous Labour administration nor the current coalition has acted upon his committee’s advice and that the farming community has not accepted the established science.
Ivor Annetts
Tiverton, Devon
• George Monbiot (My manifesto for rewilding the world, 28 May) presents a delightful idea, except for the fact that Britain is a densely populated country – we have difficulty co-existing with badgers! Before we think of reintroducing mesofauna, let’s try to keep what we already have.
The Essex Wildlife Trust is trying to hang on to our minimal population of dormice by managing their habitat. Many other trusts are working in the same way with other species. Much of the damage to our ecosystems is due to the introduction of foreign mesofauna – sika deer for example – and even native deer have so increased in numbers that they need culling, having no natural predators. Reintroduce the wolf to control them? Have you any idea of the range needed for a wolf pack?
Val Spouge
Braintree, Essex
• I read Chris Packham’s article (Britain’s paradise has been lost, 25 May) with interest. The fact that Natural England is about to allow the destruction of buzzards and their nests is outrageous. The war against protected raptors continues unabated. The fact that much of this activity is illegal is no deterrent. Unfortunately, none of the main parties shows much interest in the natural world. They would if their seats were threatened.
Gordon Woodroffe
• Sad to read that Natural England has granted a licence to destroy buzzard nests and eggs to protect pheasants. I’ve walked the woods around here for many years and seen countless buzzards and far too many pheasants but I’ve never seen a buzzard take a pheasant. I would prefer them to grant a licence to destroy the halfwits who present the greatest threat to pheasants. The winter months are ruined around here by the sound of incessant shooting.
Rod White
Uley, Gloucestershire
• The State of Nature report Chris Packham refers to is a catalogue of despair for our wildlife, highlighting how butterflies have declined by 72% in the last 10 years for example. However, the future is even more uncertain for our enigmatic glowworms, a beetle of warm summer evenings, which recent research from Essex suggests is declining faster than our butterflies – with a 74% reduction in numbers between 2001 and 2010.
It is hard to be optimistic, but there are things that can be done to bring our wildlife back. For glowworms, active habitat management could slow down the decline and possibly reverse it in the long term.
Coppicing of ancient woodland is one such conservation practice that could help our glowworms survive for future generations to enjoy. What a real tragedy it would be if the naturalists of the future couldn’t see these green pin pricks of light, which have inspired poets through the centuries. We need more people out and about finding where glowworms are in the countryside, particularly as many people have never seen one.
Finding them for the first time is one of nature’s special treats. I urge people to visit the UK glowworm website (www.glowworms.org.uk) to get involved with the search for glowworms.
Dr Tim Gardiner
Manningtree, Essex
• Amid the many reasons given for the decline in our wildlife, Chris Packham does not mention predation by cats. A survey by the Mammal Society revealed a horrifying hit list. Extrapolating from this, the estimated 9 million cat population kills over 20 million birds, 5 million frogs and countless slowworms, lizards and snakes. It would help if cat owners kept their cats in during daylight hours and fitted them with electronic collar tags.
John Butter
Barnstaple, Devon

In his article on austerity, Larry Elliott (Even the lab rats know Osborne experiment has failed, 27 May) is sceptical of the notion that “higher borrowing today means higher taxes tomorrow” and economic agents react accordingly by saving. While this doctrine – Ricardian equivalence (RE) – may not necessarily hit the nail on the head, it does not necessarily follow that there is nothing in it.
In my view, where an economy is running a budget deficit which is below its capacity to grow its way out of, there probably is scope for fiscal activism to kickstart it. Unfortunately, this almost certainly is not true of the UK. We ran a budget deficit at the top of a boom when we should have been running a surplus. While I count myself at the more optimistic end of estimates of how much capacity was lost in the recession, it may be brave to assert RE does not apply at all to the situation we find ourselves in.
Paul Negrotti
Greenford, Middlesex
• Larry Elliott takes a much-needed swipe at the austerity brigade who seek to spin what was a crisis of private debt into one of public debt. The first two quarters of election year 2010 saw GDP growth of 0.6% and 0.7% respectively, and in addition saw the bond markets quite happily oversubscribing on auctions of gilts (government debt) in the short term and the long term – generally a sign that they believe the economy has turned the corner. And this in the months before any cuts were mooted and before the complexion of the next parliament was known.
As news of George Osborne’s unprecedentedly draconian cuts sunk in during the autumn of that year, the final (Christmas) quarter saw the GDP index plunge back through zero and into 0.4% negative. Will this go down as a spectacular example of a chancellor grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory, or perhaps of a Labour leadership still on the back foot and losing the propaganda war?
David Redshaw
Gravesend, Kent

Having read Archbishop Desmond Tutu et al’s plea for boycotting Israel (Letters, 28 May), I found myself shifting uncomfortably in my seat. Isn’t Tutu the person who, a few years ago, encouraged an idea to bring an international football tournament to South Africa, and is now calling for a boycott of the idea to bring an international football tournament to Israel? Does football discriminate between nations, being a sport that “might work towards binding people together” in South Africa but not in Israel? Isn’t Tutu also the person who, 36 years ago, fought ferociously against a racist regime persecuting blacks in South Africa, the same one who, just over 20 years ago, preached for forgiveness for a racist regime which persecuted Jews in Nazi Germany?
The best answer to Tutu’s divisiveness can be found on the field, in the Israeli under-21 national team – half of the team are Israeli Arabs and the other half Israeli Jews: young people bringing real hope to the region.
Amir Ofek
Press attache, Israeli embassy, London
• The letter writers’ call for Uefa to join an anti-Israel academic and cultural boycott, far from fighting racism, would exemplify it. Tellingly, the letter writers hail the recent example of Stephen Hawking announcing his refusal to attend a conference hosted by long-time peace advocate Shimon Peres in Israel. Of course, if Mr Hawking refuses to travel to Israel or meet with leading theoretical astrophysicists like Avi Loeb and Jacob Bekenstein solely because they are Israelis, it may impede the progress of science, but it will not promote peace. Moreover, if there is any national entity whose sports teams should be subjected to a boycott, it is the Palestinians. They have never apologised for their massacre of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches at the 1972 summer Olympics, and last year, the Palestinian Authority coldly opposed even a proposed moment of silence during the opening ceremonies in London in memory of the Israeli victims of Palestinian terror.
Moreover, just this May, Palestinian Olympic committee president Jibril Rajoub declared: “I swear that if we had a nuke, we’d have used it this very morning”, which in my view was a threat against Israel. Surely Palestinian terrorism and apparent threats of nuclear genocide by Palestinian Authority officials deserve at least as strong a condemnation as Jews building homes in their ancestral homeland.
Stephen A Silver
San Francisco, California, USA
• Firstly, the reason Israel plays in European football tournaments is that, long before the 1967 war and the subsequent “occupation”, Arab and some Asian countries refused to play Israel at any level. Secondly, if countries were stopped from hosting tournaments because of their human rights records, we’d probably have to hold the World Cup etc in Luxembourg every four years!
Lastly, the games played in Israel will be played in front of crowds unhindered by restrictions on race or gender, unlike the United Nations-sponsored Gaza marathon, which was cancelled due to the fact women were banned from running with men. The World Cup after next is in Russia which, last weekend, saw the arrest of dozens of gay rights activists in Moscow. I don’t see any “show Russia the red card” protests.
Simon Lyons

Your piece (May’s plans to challenge extremism face backlash, 28 May), rightly pointed out that Ofcom enforces rules designed to protect audiences from harm from religious extremism broadcast on TV and radio. However, it omitted an important point: the broadcasters’ role in protecting viewers. They must make careful editorial judgements, balancing freedom of expression with care for their audiences.
Tony Close
Director of standards, Ofcom
• I wish the media would stop using the term “radicalised” to mean “lured into terrorism”. “Radical” used to have a respectable political meaning – seeking a fundamental reorganisation of society so as to end privilege and inequity. Now apparently it refers to religious zealots who try to behead soldiers. In what conceivable way can this be “radical”? “Brutalised” is surely a more accurate term.
Nick Rogers
• HMRC (Letters, 28 May): Help multinationals retain cash.
Alasdair McKee
• Bill Pertwee (Obituary, 28 May) was much more than just a member of the Dad’s Army company. He was the star of the 70s stage production derived from the TV series when, playing the part of Max Miller, he brought the show to life after the interval with the recreation of a wartime music hall. In contrast to his Hodges character, he lit up the theatre.
Michael Whelle
Wyke Regis, Dorset
• Why stop at fixing a ladder at the Hillary Step (Report, 27 May)? When the Goons climbed Mount Everest (in The Internal Mountain), they installed a lift to become the “the first men to go up Everest from the inside”.
David Nowell
New Barnet, Hertfordshire
• And why are large sums of money (except, of course, the price of a Guardian) always “eye-watering” (Letters, 28 May)?
Richard McClean
Marple Bridge, Greater Manchester
• Nothing is free any more. It’s always absolutely free.
Graham Guest
Beckenham, Kent



Without giving the issue any debate the National Farmers Union has gathered the farming community under its wing and led it to slaughter. The badgers must pay the price for cattle, as raptors have paid the price for pheasants.
Badgers have been blamed for the loss of songbirds, hedgehogs, honeybees, as well as the rise of TB in cattle. Badgers aren’t responsible. Neither are they responsible for hedgehog decline – earthworms and grubs are their staple diet . Intensive farming lies at the root. But the cull beginning on 1 June will be thorough and an indigenous species, here with the Celts, will become little more than vermin. 
Whatever is said by those in power, this cannot be humane: there is a very small target area on a badger where the shot is likely to be quickly fatal: it will be extremely difficult, and those who consider them vermin aren’t likely to attempt that kind of accuracy with commitment.
Illegal badger-baiting will presumably step up apace, using the cull as a smokescreen.
If too many problems become known, Owen Paterson has said they will consider non-cyanide gassing instead. Setts will be filled in once (hopefully) empty. There is no intention of keeping any badgers on the land.  
Developers dislike badgers too; sett surveys, consultations and limited licensing periods greatly restrict timetables and are (possibly) the last barrier to building on green-belt land.If protections are lifted, as Mr Paterson has suggested, there wouldn’t be a problem.
This cull is very likely to eradicate badgers from many areas of England – and we will, of course, still have bovine TB.
Wendy Rayner, Warminster, Wiltshire
Render unto Caesar the taxes you can’t avoid
Whether there can be a moral dimension to company taxation is debatable. The Gospels quote the response by Jesus to questioners: “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s”. Only the latter involves a code of ethics. The former is a matter of not falling foul of Caesar’s laws. Company managers may make generous provisions for their employees and shareholders, but the company itself has no ethical dimension other than abiding by the law.
Since companies recoup the cost of taxation through the prices charged to customers for their goods and services, it can be argued that company taxation is pointless. Abolishing it would remove every reason for endless legal wrangles and the need for thousands of corporate accountants and HMRC inspectors.
In the real world, however, governments will reap what they think they can get away with from taxpayers in the form of VAT, income and capital taxes, customs and excise duties. Companies will continue to provide a convenient and cheap short-cut to stealth-taxing customers, even though international experience has shown that company tax rarely produces more than one tenth of revenues. 
Has it occurred to our moralising politicians that a clearly administered, low company tax system will ultimately yield predictable, and possibly larger, income tax revenues from distributed dividends, corporate wages and salaries, as well as lower prices, than would result from a complex, high-rate company tax system supplemented by sudden “ethical” tax demands promoted by publicity-seeking MPs and pressure groups?
Caroline Doggart, London SW3
 It is hardly surprising that corporation tax gets “avoided” since it depends on a computation of “profits”, which is an entirely hypothetical concept, especially in the case of a multi-national, multi-layered group with lots of inter-company transactions.
But a tax on sales output, such as VAT, is almost impossible legally to avoid. And what difference does it make to the consumer whether their supplier pays tax in the form of VAT or as corporation tax? In both cases the paying company is free to fix its end-prices according to what the market will pay. The best answer is to abolish corporation tax, which does not raise mega-billions in any case, and recover the shortfall by increasing VAT.
Whether an ice-cream retailer pays a certain amount of tax as corporation tax, or as VAT, will not in any way influence the tax-inclusive price she charges for the ice-creams she sells. Hauling her up before a House of Commons Committee and bawling at her is about the least effective way of achieving anything.
Chris Sexton, Crowthorne, Berkshire
A plot to build your own house
I wholeheartedly agree with Graham Currie (letter, 17 May) that a rethink is needed over land for house-building. When the Government announced that it was putting money into new houses it was only through commercial housing developers, who would need to make a return for their shareholders.
The way forward is for small tracts of land to be bought by local authorities (enabling brownfield sites to be utilised, thus saving green belt intrusion) and for basic infrastructure (roads, drainage, open areas) to be set in place.
When the land is then divided into various-sized plots, these could be sold on to individuals to cover the costs of the council’s initial investment. The new owners could then self-build their own houses, within a framework of locally agreed design parameters.
The result should be a pleasant variety of houses at affordable (market) prices, rather than large estates of similar houses (usually of limited design merit) sold for commercial gain.
There is a successful example of such a development here in Bristol (although not council-initiated) and I understand Holland also has a successful track record in such developments.
Joel Baillie-Lane, Bristol
Dialogue of the deaf with Israel
Ben Marshall (letter, 21 May) urges academics not to join the Israel boycott campaign, but to support dialogue with their Israeli counterparts.
This is exactly what a succession of politicians have been saying regarding the Israeli-Palestinian problem and Israel’s illegal building of settlements for the past 30-odd years. In that time, Israel has taken no notice of countless UN resolutions ordering them to withdraw from the occupied territories and cease building illegal settlements. Even while they were at Camp David supposedly discussing peace the building continued with gusto, even though they had said they would stop.
It is not just time for an academic boycott of Israel, but high time our politicians seriously talked about international sanctions and a boycott. After 30 years of failed dialogue, and with Israel clearly having no intention of obeying international law, more serious measures are certainly needed to bring them into line.
Michael W Cook, Soulbury, Buckinghamshire
Apply to join  the Masons
John Walsh in his Notebook column (23 May) should note that it is “a terrible day for champions of reason” when journalists repeat myths as facts, for example: “That you can’t join the Masons as you can the Scientologists. You have to be asked”. This is untrue. 
You can apply to your local provincial office or the United Grand Lodge of England’s HQ, or through their websites, or ask anyone you know who might already be a member. In fact, they have always preferred that potential candidates are recruited from those who express an interest; they don’t want to “hard-sell” membership to you. 
They accept people from all backgrounds, but not people with criminal records; or atheists, so that’s Richard Dawkins out.
Chavez Pov, Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire
Tea and biscuits overcome hatred
After working my way through a thoroughly disheartening article, “Ten attacks on mosques since Woolwich murder” (28 May), my spirits were lifted by the last paragraph: 
“A lacklustre English Defence League march on a mosque in York on Sunday had been met by a show of solidarity from the local community. When only about seven EDL members turned up, they were approached by mosque members and four reportedly entered the mosque for tea and biscuits.”
Congratulations to the journalists Cahal Milmo and Nigel Morris for giving us something to restore our faith in human nature in the midst of extremely grim events.
Terry Mahoney, Chichester, West Sussex
Weekends in hospital
After hearing the report that the chance of fatal complications after planned surgery increases towards the end of the week, can anyone get the Health Secretary to explain why NHS hospitals differentiate between weekdays and the weekend at all?
Since our bodies and our health do not discriminate the day of the week, hospitals should operate the same way every day.
Laurence Williams, South Cockerington, Lincolnshire
Rights won’t cut the risk of rape
According to Owen Jones (27 May), “We have to challenge a culture that allows some men to think they can get away with rape.” Amen to that, but why is it heresy to suggest that women should take responsibility for behaviour which puts them at added risk?
An old saying comes to mind: “Only a fool walks the Green Line in Sarajevo believing that their right to life will save them from the sniper’s bullet.” That is not to condone the actions of the sniper, or the rapist. 
Philip Anthony, Brighton
Weeds on the line
Josh Cluderay (letter, 27 May) asks why councils don’t plant railway embankments with wild flowers to replace the miles of grass, nettles and “weeds” . There is no such plant as a weed. They are all unlucky wild flowers that have landed where it is inconvenient to humans.  Stop using the word “weed” and your wish has been fulfilled at no cost to anyone.
Nicky Fraser, Shrewsbury
Dave’s holiday
There’s no problem with a Prime Minister taking a short vacation, provided he has a reliable deputy to look after the shop. And provided he doesn’t have senior Cabinet members vying for position within the Tory party in an attempt to become his successor. While “call me Dave” should be concerned about what is happening in this country, the country should be worried about what is happening within this government!
Duncan Anderson, East Halton, Lincolnshire
Gender roles
If the word “actress” is to be deleted (letter, 28 May), then what happens to Best Actress awards?
David Keating, Lismore, Co Waterford,  Ireland


‘Arguably Ed Hillary’s more impressive achievement was to improve the lives of Himalayan communities through a lifetime of service’
Sir, It was right to honour the 60th anniversary of mountaineering’s greatest feat, the ascent of Mount Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. Reading “Everest: fair play to a peculiarly British challenge” (May 29), however, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was solely a British feat. There is no mention of the fact that Ed Hillary was a New Zealander.
The article suggests it was a modern sense of sportsmanship which led to the expedition fudging that Hillary reached the summit before Norgay. In the same spirit, it’s important that Hillary’s New Zealand nationality is linked to this great feat. We’re a small country, it’s important to claim our national treasures.
Arguably Ed Hillary’s more impressive achievement was to improve the lives of Himalayan communities through a lifetime of service. This had nothing to do with his nationality and everything to do with his greatness.
Caleb Hulme-Moir
Sydney, Australia
Sir, Ben Macintyre says that attempts prior to 1953 were “each a chapter in the long and glorious narrative of heroic British failure”. This is unfair. Previous attempts brought new knowledge of routes, clothing, equipment and mountain leadership. This knowledge was bought at a cost of lives. It all increased by increments until brought together 60 years ago. The summit area was and still is known as the death zone.
I. H. Cairns
Sir, Smiths did beat Rolex to the summit of Everest in 1953 (report, May 27). Twenty-eight years after the conquest I was enjoying a quiet supper in Chengdu in China with Lord Hunt, leader of the successful ascent. As an amateur mountaineer, I was very keen to ask him who got to the top first. John told me that both Tenzing and Hillary shared the lead all the way up, but for what proved to be the final steps, Hillary just happened to be in the lead.
Now we are at the diamond jubilee celebration of their amazing ascent I thought it appropriate to relate John Hunt’s revelation, capped as it was by a sudden, loud, startled shout from John: “Tenzing!” At the very next table, unobserved by us, was sitting the famous Sherpa Tenzing, now professional guide for an American party on their way to Lhasha in Tibet. The joy of their meeting after so many years was a wonderful, profound moment for both of them, one which I remain deeply privileged to have shared.
Sir Kenneth Warren
Cranbrook, Kent
Sir, Mountaineering purists will be sorry to see fixed ladders on the Hillary Step (report, May 28). What would be hugely appreciated, however, is some form of shelter on the South Col. Here the sub-zero winds blow at force and never cease, and there are thousands of rocks lying about and simply inviting the idea of a wind wall or even of a shelter hut. Two or three Italian muratori would make short work of such a task if there were a means of mixing cement at low temperatures.
Roger D. Lascelles
London W14
Sir, A suitable way to celebrate the 60th anniversary might be to close the mountain to climbers for good, and ask the sponsors such as Rolex to clean up the mess left by recent climbers and provide pensions for the sherpas.
Jim Mann Taylor
Westbury-on-Severn, Glos

The citizens of Turkey are worried about the rise of Islamism, and even the top barristers in the country are not immune
Sir, Your warning to beware “Creeping Islamism” in Turkey (leading article, May 28) is timely.
At the close of an International Bar Association conference in Istanbul last month, the president of the Turkish Bar stunned the audience by informing us that he and nine other lawyers were facing criminal charges. Their crime? Making a public declaration in support of the right to a free trial. Their trial will take place in Istanbul on October 10.
To bring home the point, while I was being escorted round one of the local sights the next day, my Muslim tour guide fearfully whispered his concerns about the growth of Islamism and his worries for the future direction of his country.
We should all sit up and be concerned.
Simon Gallant
Gallant Maxwell, Solicitors, London W1


The rotten boroughs in the time of the Great Reform Bill of 1932 could be equated to the uneven constituency sizes today
Sir, As the great-great-great-grandson of Charles, 2nd Earl Grey, I have naturally warmed to Antonia Fraser’s excellent Perilous Question (review, May 4) detailing the drama of the Great Reform Bill 1832.
The rotten boroughs of that day remind us of the uneven size of constituencies today. I cannot believe that my Whig ancestor would approve of the Liberal Democrat leader of today vetoing measures to put that right.
It is high time that we had another Great Reform Bill.
Christopher Van Der Noot

Scientists need to take care when submitting a paper for publication as there are some new journals who will charge a fee
Sir, Governments, rightly, are asking those who receive public funds for research to publish in open-access journals. One effect of this policy is the growth of publishers providing online journals that require no subscriptions from individuals to read the articles. Instead authors are asked to pay.
More competition in the field of science publishing is to be welcomed, but one regrettable side-effect is that researchers are being inundated with emails inviting them to submit papers to these new journals.
Of greater concern is that some of these new publications have adopted the name of a highly respected journal and simply made a minor modification to the title, such as a single letter or the inclusion of a hyphen. At best scientists discover that they have published in a journal that has a low scientific impact. At worst they may receive a substantial invoice in excess of the costs of publication.
Scientists and scientific societies do not have the funds to take legal action against these journals. They are also very concerned that they themselves may be the subjects of legal action if they suggest that such minor modifications to journal titles are a deliberate attempt to deceive. The best course of action is to make both funders and scientists aware of the problem and for scientists to take great care when submitting a paper.
Professor Cledwyn Thomas

Suggestions for the source of Ronald Searle’s inspiration for St Trinian’s have produced a lively and varied postbag
Sir, My aunt, Hilda Sims, was principal at Acton Reynald School (letter, May 17), and so when The Oldie published an article in May 2003 about St Trinian’s I kept the cutting. The writer was Ann Murray. In 1950, when she was 12, Ronald Searle visited and is pictured sitting with schoolgirls and sketching Greek dancing.
David Sims
Chingford, Greater London


SIR – British wildlife would be in a poorer state without the unique contribution of shooting. Land used for shooting acts as an oasis for wildlife, with two million hectares actively managed for conservation.
The Green Shoots programme of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) supports, encourages and delivers landscape-scale conservation projects. So far it has generated almost 50,000 wildlife records. No one knew dormice still existed in Cheshire until we found them. Now shooting is helping them to spread and thrive by creating and maintaining wildlife corridors.
In the South West, BASC is working from the Somerset levels down to Dorset’s Jurassic Coast to trap mink, which can devastate our native wildlife. In North Wales our members, together with preservation groups, are controlling grey squirrels to provide better habitat for the native red. It’s clear that shooting provides landscape-scale conservation, which is part of the answer to habitat loss and wildlife decline.
Richard Ali
Chief Executive, BASC
Rossett, Denbighshire

SIR – I welcome your leading article (“Capital and country, Britain needs both” May 18), describing the relationship between the High Speed Rail 2 project and the economy. The cabinet of Core Cities (the eight largest city economies outside London), of which I am the member responsible for transport, met the Prime Minister in January to discuss how those cities, including Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham, can create more jobs and growth for Britain, particularly on the back of high-speed rail.
Research has shown that an over-reliance on the capital city is bad for national economies. England needs these eight core cities to succeed. If these cities performed at the national average, another £1.3 billion would be put into the economy every year. Unlocking growth relies on rebalancing the economy of Britain, which HS2 will help to do, bringing regeneration benefits outside the South East.
The Core Cities group conducted a study in 2011, and found that Britain ranks only 34th in the world for its infrastructure, and only spends 1.5 per cent of GDP on infrastructure. This is compared with 6 per cent in Japan and 3 per cent in France. This lack of infrastructure investment has an increasingly negative impact.
High-speed rail is not just about fast trains. Increasing capacity on the rail network is critical to our economic future. There is an important relationship between growth, jobs and HS2. High-speed rail is the best way to achieve a more sustainable economic future for the nation as a whole.
Sir Albert Bore
Leader, Birmingham City Council
Related Articles
Shooting helps to combat British wildlife decline
29 May 2013
Proposals to limit legal aid for judicial review will undermine the rule of law
29 May 2013
SIR – I agree with the National Audit Office’s criticism of the business case for high speed rail (Business, May 16).
My train journey from Sheffield to London takes two hours and the service is half hourly. I find those two hours invaluable as they give me time to catch up on work. Without exception, I am not ready to put away my papers and laptop until a few minutes before arrival. The 20-minute time saving offered by HS2 would provide me with no benefit.
Distances between British cities are much smaller than in France, and a modest time saving is not of tangible benefit per se. The first TGV line in France between Paris and Lyon reduced the fastest journey times by 50 per cent from four hours to two. HS2 would never achieve anything approaching such a reduction.
Andrew Cook
Sheffield, South Yorkshire
SIR – HS2 is not so much London-centric (Letters, May 23) as EU-centric. It is but a part of the European Union’s grand projet, TEN-T, an integrated system of transport of all types intended to connect its major cities. While we remain in the EU this project will roll on in a preordained manner and any other alternatives, however sensible, are wishful thinking.
John P Kelly
Tipton St John, Devon
Royal Scotland
SIR – Allan Massie (Comment, May 27) believes that a breakaway Scottish state under SNP rule will maintain the monarchy indefinitely. This is a delusion.
Alex Salmond’s defence of the Crown is a mere show of tactics in order to keep the more conservative elements of Scottish opinion within the independence camp. A more radical successor to Mr Salmond will inevitably emerge; a Caledonian carbon-copy of the republican Australian premier, Paul Keating. Within a decade, a vote will be held on the future of the monarchy.
Stuart Millson
East Malling, Kent
Van ordinaire
SIR – Our local news reported that a cyclist was stopped by a policeman because he was riding a very expensive bike but not wearing correspondingly expensive cycle gear. What should I be wearing, as a Renault Kangoo owner, so that I don’t attract the attention of police officers?
Roger Crawshaw
Strike legislation
SIR – The Government’s unwillingness to introduce tougher strike legislation for the London Underground (report, May 23) is deeply regrettable. In April, the Greater London Authority Conservatives released a report calling for Tube strikes to be banned and replaced with a system of binding arbitration. It proposed that a majority of eligible union members must vote in favour for a strike ballot to pass.
The current system provides an incentive for militant trade unions to strike at the drop of a hat. Polls have shown that a majority of the public believe striking is too easy. Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, has strengthened his position on Tube strikes. It is time that both sides of the Coalition Government did the same.
Richard Tracey
Transport spokesman, GLA Conservatives
London SE1
Hunt the fusillo
SIR – Andrew H Molle (Letters, May 25) is hereby challenged to follow any of our D of E candidates from a trail of litter on their Bronze Expedition this weekend. He might be able to follow them from the sounds of young people enjoying themselves, and gearing up to the challenge of carrying everything they need for a weekend of camping and walking, but he will not find any litter. Even after we break camp, everyone falls in line for a campsite sweep, down to the last pasta twist.
Wayne H Burke
Duke of Edinburgh volunteer
Deeping St James, Lincolnshire
Restricting online porn
SIR – I don’t understand why any authority would want to acquaint five-year-olds with pornography (report, May 20). The problem is the ease by which a child can access porn on the internet – surely this is a matter of “closing doors”, not exposing children to adult material?
Joseph G Dawson
Preston, Lancashire
Isolation treatment
SIR – I had radioactivity treatment for thyroid cancer (report, May 28). The hospital had a lead-lined bed-sit where I spent a few days in isolation. When I left I was checked with a Geiger counter and had to wear a necklace warning that I was radioactive – “in case of a car-crash”, I was told, cheerfully.
Liz Wheeldon
Seaton, Devon
The place of scones in the history of cream teas
SIR – Your reference to cream teas being thought to date back to the 11th century (report, May 28) is way out. Tea was not known in this country at that time, though clotted cream was certainly produced on Tavistock Abbey farms centuries ago.
The use of scones is also a modern innovation, as is the mechanical cream separator, which dates from the 19th century.
Before that the cream was spread on small soft white bread rolls, variously referred to as “tuffs”, “halfpenny buns” or “splits”, depending on the district.
Often, though, the cream would simply be spread on slices of bread, and then, as on the tuffs, a spot of jam might be added as an enhancement.
Helen Harris
Tavistock, Devon
SIR – It was interesting to read that Dr Eugenia Cheng has spent so much time and effort on the vexing subject of the perfect cream tea. The Cornish, who invented the dish, do deploy the jam first for practical reasons (it is tidier to spread).
However, the scone is a recent innovation introduced by the Devonshirisation of the meal by lazy cafe owners and bakers in the Duchy.
Ron Harris
St Keverne, Cornwall
SIR – Cornish splits seem to have disappeared – is it because scones will keep for days and so are a more viable commercial entity? The cream tea has lost an essential component and, frankly, cream on top or beneath makes no odds.
Ann Morecraft
Kilmington, Devon

Irish Times:

Sir, – On the occasion of our most recent unannounced inspection by the HSE (the 10th in eight years) several battery-operated toys in one of our playrooms were found to have run flat. This contravened Regulation 25 ( Equipment and Materials ) Section (a) of the Child Care (Pre-School Services) ( No 2 ) Regulations 2006 and ensured we became part of the 75 per cent of childcare facilities in Ireland that don’t comply with current childcare legislation.
To suggest the HSE is failing in the standard of its inspections or that the majority of this country’s private childcare providers and their dedicated staff don’t treat children with care and understanding is not true.
As politicians of all parties jostle to demand tough action based on the evidence of a single, albeit excellent, television programme while conveniently ignoring advice and recommendations for many years from experts in the field, including childcarers, please let’s put things into perspective – and don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. – Yours, etc,
Ringlee House Pre-School,

Sir, – You report that the referendum – to be held in September – will ask us to “either scrap or retain the Seanad” (Arthur Beesley, Front page, May 29th).
Is any consideration being given to the fact this will not simply be a vote on whether or not the senate is to disappear but also on whether or not large numbers of Irish graduates living abroad are to be disenfranchised?
For most of us in that position, our only voting right in Ireland is the right to elect a senator in one of the senate’s two academic sector electoral constituencies (the National University of Ireland and the University of Dublin). Are we then to have a vote in the referendum on the abolition of our voting rights? If not, how does Ireland plan to justify removing voting rights without the consent of those to be disenfranchised? – Yours, etc,
Avenue Général de Gaulle,
A chara, – Why do we allow the cynical exploitation of the Seanad by political parties seeking electoral advantage in the Dáil to pass without comment?
A quick look at the websites for Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael shows that all incumbent senators of both parties have been assigned Dáil constituencies, such that a Fine Gael senator elected to the Seanad by the Labour Panel now represents constituents in Galway West, while the Fianna Fáil website proclaims another to be the “senator for Dublin North” (to pick but two examples). Although the Labour Party website does not assign constituencies to its senators, they appear free to make such a claim in their online biographies, and many do.
Under our Constitution, the two houses of the Oireachtas are supposed to perform distinct functions. To pretend that sitting senators somehow act as elected representatives for named Dáil constituencies that cannot vote for them is completely dishonest. This pretence not only subverts the constitutional distinction between the Seanad and Dáil, but also arguably demonstrates that a majority of senators either do not understand what their role is or are happy to disregard it, viewing their time in the upper house merely as a stepping stone to something better. – Is mise,

Sir, – There is a subliminal message in the CAP argument that rages at the moment. CAP is really to control and restrain agricultural production; it is what it was initiated for 40 years ago and must continue to do into the future and be replicated by other worldwide programmes to control and restrain all other forms of production. That is why the European Commission is so adamant about flattening out farm payments; they must under no circumstances encourage increased production. Agricultural production cannot be allowed to grow further as it already produces almost twice the amount of food needed to feed the human race.
Growth in economics is no longer needed or possible. But the economic philosophy we use to try and extricate society from this period of great economic insecurity and trauma is based on securing growth which has been a constant since the dawn of economic activity. There is no contingency plan to deal with the demise of growth and that is why the crisis gets constantly worse. The CAP was devised to control and restrict agricultural overproduction in Europe and has through quotas and payment to produce less or nothing at all achieved substantial success. The simple reality is that we no longer need or can sustain growth of production, as we are capable of and actively producing far too much already. – Yours, etc,
Tubbercurry, Co Sligo.

Sir, – As one involved in campaigning on right to life issues for more than 30 years, I am appalled at the stance of many parties and individuals in Leinster House on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill. Some even go so far as to call it a pro-life Bill.
If they understand the significance of the Bill and are honest in expressing their opinions, they would certainly not say that. There is a good reason why all governments since 1992 decided not to legislate for suicidality in the flawed X case judgment, because, if enacted into law it can, in time, lead to wide-ranging abortion.
This Bill allows a perfectly healthy baby, in the womb of a physically healthy mother, to be aborted in circumstances where there is no reliable scientific or moral justification for so doing. Pro-abortion elements in Leinster House are delighted, seeing such a law as capable of further development along the lines they wish.
The people in 1983 voted overwhelmingly for an equal right to life of mother and unborn baby. The politicians are subverting this and even hope to get it passed without a vote! Is there any sense of democratic accountability left? – Yours, etc,
(Honorary President Pro-life Campaign),

Sir, – I wonder if the Government would consider changing the current property tax to a window tax, similar to that first levied in 1697 in Britain? Initially every house could be charged a basic fee. Then properties with 10-20 windows pay an additional amount and those with more than 20 paying the highest amount. This more equitable tax would be easy for the Government to enforce as tax inspectors could roam the country counting windows. It would take all the guesswork from homeowners trying to value their properties, hoping that an undervaluation won’t come back to haunt them in the future.
Tax evaders would have the opportunity to engage in the practice of “stopping up”, permanently filling in windows and the resulting deprivation of daylight would serve as a self-imposed penalty, thereby saving the Government millions in bringing tax defaulters to account. – Yours,etc,
Clareville Road,

Irish Independent:

* The real tragedy in Flaubert’s ‘Madame Bovary’ was not the wife’s doomed extramarital affairs, but the insurmountable debt she found herself in.
Also in this section
Let’s dispense with the fig-leaf of discretion
Pope’s message gives hope for us all
We need public transport
* The real tragedy in Flaubert’s ‘Madame Bovary’ was not the wife’s doomed extramarital affairs, but the insurmountable debt she found herself in.
The arch-villain in this story is the devious draper who flattered and cajoled her into acquiring the fashion and style which her husband’s meagre salary could not cope with.
This is a common tale in today’s Ireland.
During the Celtic Tiger years many working couples were trapped into borrowing vast amounts of money by clever marketing by our national banks; now these couples are left in a state of despair similar to Emma and her husband.
The cuts in basic pay, new levies and various household charges brought in by the Government and the troika to stabilise the Irish economy have resulted in marriage break-ups and suicide caused by anxiety and stress to couples on fairly decent salaries.
This is a fact that is undisputable.
But where is the help for these couples? Who is going to lift their burden? Businesses get “haircuts” on debts, but are there no reliefs for PAYE workers whose tax is deducted at source?
The reader of ‘Madame Bovary’ is full of compassion for Emma, her husband and their neglected daughter at the end of this unhappy tale.
But one has to ask, where is that compassion for today’s couples, who find their relationships struggling under constant arguments over debt?
Where are we as a society if we leave “the middle-income family in mortgage arrears” without support while developers are bailed out and the media, along with politicians, drool over quashed penalty points?
The real tragedy in Irish society today is that no one seems to be listening to the cries from the over-burdened PAYE working couples with children who are not entitled to any state support and have to pay out for everything on a dwindling pay packet.
If we are serious about tackling suicide we must end patronising jargon and deal with this growing crisis.
Cllr Nuala Nolan (Labour)
* Surely we have had enough of the antics of James Reilly, Phil Hogan et al. Especially Al.
Gerry O’Donnell
Dublin 15
* We believe that fatal foetal abnormalities should be included in the proposed Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013.
Dr Ruth Fletcher, of Keele University, in her submission to the Joint Committee on Health and Children, recommended that the unborn should be defined not to mean those foetuses which have lethal abnormalities and will not have a future independent life.
Every year, women with fatal foetal anomaly pregnancies face inhuman treatment by being forced to make the harrowing journey to the Foetal Medicine Unit in Liverpool, without compassion from the Irish State.
They travel at significant personal, financial and emotional cost, often in isolation, abandoned by the Irish health services. Such women require non-judgmental care in a familiar supportive environment, yet must face the tragic bureaucracy of having to arrange the return of their child’s remains to Ireland, if they choose.
The stigma of travelling abroad may be heightened by the current wording of the heads of the bill. This is because such Irish women will receive a medical treatment which is deemed a criminal offence if performed in the Republic of Ireland, with up to 14 years’ imprisonment as the sanction.
This month the Irish College of General Practitioners supported a motion at its AGM calling on the Government to include within the proposed legislation the provision that women who are pregnant and have non-viable foetal anomalies have access to the choice of legal abortion in the Republic of Ireland.
We write to request that the Joint Committee on Health and Children invite representatives of Terminations For Medical Reasons to make a presentation to the committee as soon as is possible.
Women should not be forced to travel outside Ireland for a termination. Women’s voices and experiences are entirely absent from the current abortion debate. We hope that the joint committee will redress this imbalance as a matter of urgency.
Dr Mary Favier
Dr Mark Murphy
Dr Peadar O’Grady
Doctors for Choice Ireland, Dublin 1
* It appears to be the same old clique fighting to keep the Seanad. In my opinion the Seanad is a well-paid club which facilitates a narrow group of well-connected people to pursue a cushy existence, while the rest of the world works for a living.
It is an affront to the suffering taxpayers in Ireland.
Harry Mulhern
Millbrook Road, Dublin 13
* “Once the soccer and rugby peter out, the thoughts of many of us veer towards the great games of Gaelic football and hurling” (editorial comment, May 27).
Peter out? Is that what happened on Saturday last when packed bars and many GAA clubs from Ballydehob to Ballymena tuned in to witness one of the greatest sporting events of the entire year? Yes, that heartstopping Pro12 final between Ulster and Leinster – by coincidence two of the top teams in the western hemisphere.
More than the year has turned for Irish rugby. It has begun to rival soccer as the most popular game in the country, whereas the triumphalist tone of your editorial bore all the hallmarks of a cry for help.
Niall Ginty
Killester, Dublin 5
* On Monday night Vincent Browne’s TV3 programme was dedicated to a discussion on the possibilities for a new political party. However, it was quite obvious that the producer of the programme didn’t hold out much hope for the idea because four of the five participants were the usual suspects, so it was very much the same old, same old.
It seemed that the participants felt that the concept of the small party started with the Progressive Democrats, but I can remember Chlann na Poblachta in the 1940s.
Both Fine Gael and Fianna Fail have been happy to ride out a period of power with the help of a minnow but are always ready and happy to devour them at the first opportunity.
We can remember Albert Reynolds’ hand grenade when, as a minister in a coalition, he described the relationship as “this temporary little arrangement”. Same old, same old!
When Enda Kenny walked into his new office two years ago, he removed Dev’s portrait and replace it with Mick. So as long as the Civil War lives on, it looks as though it will continue to be either of the big two in a temporary arrangement with some soon-to-be-forgotten third party.
RJ Hanly
Screen, Co Wexford
* If knowledge is power and power corrupts, isn’t it about time that the confessors confessed as to exactly what they did with all those admissions of child abuse that they were hearing? And is it also not time that we heard from those who confessed the confessors?
All this would be purely in the spirit of truth and reconciliation, of course, or does that only apply to lesser mortals?
Liam Power
Angel’s Court, San Pawl Il-Bahar, Malta
Irish Independent


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: