Astrid and Michael

Astrid and Michael 1 st June 2013

I trot round the park today and listen to the Navy lark. I Oh dear, oh dear
Troutbridge is taking the Honorbuskin Queen back to Honorbuska, but they won’t left them land until she flies the Honorbuska flag, and they are taken over. Our gallent crew are all made cabinet ministers, but thrown into jail at the next general election. Priceless.
A quiet day off out to have luh with Astrid and Micheal, and put the world to rights.
We watch Brandy for the Parson a wonderful old film
I win at Scrabble today, just and gets just under 400, ahe might get her revenge tomorrow, I hope.


Leolin Price
Leolin Price, who has died aged 88, was the most senior of a trio of Euro-sceptic lawyers (the others being Michael Shrimpton and Martin Howe) who provided legal advice for the anti-Maastricht campaign in Parliament in the early 1990s; in 1993 he prepared Lord Rees-Mogg’s challenge to the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty.

Leolin Price 
6:39PM BST 30 May 2013
With his relish for argument, taste for complex legal detail and scepticism about the EU and all its works, Price was ideally suited to the role of constitutional gadfly. In the end the Maastricht rebellion proved a major headache for the government during John Major’s troubled second term as prime minister, consuming some 200 hours of debate over 23 days in committee and producing 600 amendments, many of them drafted by Price .
The dispute came close to scuppering the treaty and bringing down the government.
The European Communities (Amendment) Bill (aka the Maastricht Bill) eventually became law at the end of July 1993, but in a last-ditch effort to prevent this, the former editor of The Times Lord Rees-Mogg, supported by Price and David Pannick, QC (and backed by Sir James Goldsmith), applied for judicial review.
The substance of the case revolved around the nature of the “social protocol” which Major had secured during negotiations with Britain’s EU partners, which enabled Britain to opt out of the Social Chapter of the Treaty. The legal team argued that the protocol also increased the powers of the European Parliament — something which, under a 1978 Act, required specific parliamentary approval, which had never been given during the passage of the Bill bringing the Maastricht Treaty into British law.
The case garnered much publicity, but Rees-Mogg’s application was rejected in the court of first instance and on appeal, one judge describing as “an exaggeration” Price’s claim that the case was “perhaps the most important constitutional issue to be faced by the courts for 300 years”. The Treaty was duly ratified, and the lasting scars left on the Conservative Party have not healed to this day.
One of five children of a village schoolmaster, Arthur Leolin Price was born at Talybont-on-Usk in Breconshire and educated at Judd School, Tonbridge, from where he won a scholarship to Keble College, Oxford, to read History. During the war he served as an officer in the Royal Artillery, latterly as adjutant of the Indian Mountain Artillery Training Centre in Ambala, Punjab province.
On demob he returned to Oxford to read Law. Called to the Bar by Middle Temple in 1949, he soon established a reputation in commercial and chancery litigation. After taking Silk in 1968, as well as his work in Britain he developed a thriving international practice, representing clients in New South Wales and the Bahamas. Later he was appointed a deputy High Court judge.
Although Price was a lifelong Conservative and on the committee of the Society of Conservative Lawyers for more than two decades, he acted for Arthur Scargill during the 1980s; and in 1982 he advised Harriet Harman when, as legal officer for the National Council for Civil Liberties, she was found in contempt of court after showing restricted legal documents to a journalist. Price acted for her during the appeal process that led to the European Court of Human Rights overturning her conviction, successfully arguing that the prosecution had breached her right to freedom of expression.
On the issue of Europe, Price always put principle before party, and after the Maastricht debates he campaigned against the subsequent Nice Treaty. In 2008 he supported the spread-betting millionaire Stuart Wheeler in his legal bid to force the government to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.
Price served as a governor of Great Ormond Street Hospital, and in the 1970s successfully persuaded the Labour Chancellor Denis Healey to promote a legislative amendment permitting British royalties for JM Barrie’s Peter Pan to go to Great Ormond Street in perpetuity.
Leolin Price finally retired from work last June at the age of 88. He was appointed CBE in 1996.
He married, in 1963, Rosalind (Lindy) Lewis, the elder daughter of the Conservative peer Lord Brecon. She died in 1999, and he is survived by their two sons and two daughters.
Leolin Price, born May 11 1924, died March 24 2013


So, my MP Stephen Phillips earns £740,000 as a barrister to add to his MP’s salary (Report ,28 May), believing it “enables me to keep a foot in the real world – though, I accept ,a well paid one”. The average wage in Sleaford is 79% of the national average and many Lincolnshire people are struggling to find one full-time job, let alone two. If he’d like to help his party leader’s “big society”, he might better spend his extra time volunteering in one of the many local charities, which include a food bank created because of the policies of his government.
Susanna Banks
Sleaford, Lincolnshire
• I’m impressed by Leeds council’s initiative (Leeds council tackles bedroom tax with semantic solution, 30 May). There are people in overcrowded homes who’d love just the right amount of bedrooms, let alone a spare one – perhaps even people working on low pay in cramped accommodation who are really happy about paying for others to have spare rooms or excess “non-specific rooms”.
Sarah Bell
• Not “everyone” complains about having to phone at 8am, often repeatedly using last-number redial, to get a GP appointment (Letters, 27 May). The surgery I attend introduced this system because of a high “no-show” rate for appointments booked in advance. Here in Nantwich we only have our fellow patients to blame. I support our GPs in their quest to be fair to all and to see as many patients as possible each day.
Annie Coombs
Nantwich, Cheshire
• Our St George’s mushrooms, which regularly appear before 23 April, did not show this year until 15 May, approximately a month late (Letters, 31 May).
Pat Ancliff
• Hypocrisy may be “eye-watering” (Letters, 31 May), but so are bankers’ bonuses. And they are always “trousered”. What do female bankers do?
Alan Hooper
Bexleyheath, Kent
• And why are “leaps” always “quantum”? It would come as a surprise to some to find out what its use really implies.
John Hunter

On Tuesday on ITN News Peter Davies, the UK’s leading police officer in the fight against online crimes against children, made a startling confession. He announced that Britain’s police are not able to arrest everyone they know is involved in downloading child abuse images (child pornography). He said he would like to but the police “do not have the capacity”. What an awful admission about a crime such as this (Investigators focus on the use of online child abuse images by killers, 31 May). No police force anywhere in the world has ever admitted in public what many insiders have known for some time. It is not Davies’s fault. He is speaking the truth as he sees it and it is better that this is out in the open than buried away. It must be all the more painful for Davies because he also knows that, aside from the crime they have already committed against the children depicted in the images they have downloaded, a proportion of these people he cannot arrest will go on to commit hands-on offences against their own or other people’s children. How has the internet industry allowed us to get to such an unpretty pass? They can and should do a lot more. I trust the home secretary will have words.
John Carr
• With regard to reining in internet service providers and social networks (We won’t co-operate with snooper’s charter, 31 May), all the UK has to do is bring forward a licensing system. This doesn’t necessarily mean the introduction of a “spectrum” fee, but it would mean the Home Office coming up with a charter to which companies would have to sign up.
Derek Wyatt
The Guardian is known for its fearless investigative journalism, but when it wrote a story about MPs benefiting from second incomes and led with a photograph of and caption about Gordon Brown, it fired at the wrong target. Mr Brown receives no second income: he receives only his MP’s salary, and he has renounced the ex-prime minister’s pension automatically paid to former PMs. All the money from speeches and writings goes to donations to outside charities, to charitable projects undertaken by his office and to his and Mrs Brown’s charitable and public service work. For complete transparency, all speeches and writings and their beneficiaries are declared in the Register of Members’ Interests with a declaration attached to each of them from Mr Brown stating, “I am not receiving any money from this engagement personally”.
Charlie King
Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown

You rightly conclude that the European commission’s giving more time to seven declining EU economies to reach their unchanged austerity targets, as Osborne has similarly for the UK, is a palliative, not a cure (Editorial, 30 May). It is astonishing, and tragic, that there continues to be no official momentum behind the necessary alternative of economic expansion, since current austerity policy is doomed when the budget deficit is growing because government tax receipts are falling faster than cuts being made in public expenditure.
There are two reasons for this refusal to face glaring reality. First, while the UK private sector is sitting on a cash mountain of £775bn and won’t invest till the prospect of growth makes their investment profitable, the public sector has the role of kickstarting the economy. But Osborne and fellow austerians won’t contemplate this because their western free market capitalism, which believes markets are infallible and the role of government is to get out of the way, holds that any such public intervention is taboo.
The other reason, an uncovenanted bonus for the Thatcherite right, is that the financial crash of 2008-09 gave them the chance they’d been waiting 70 years for to wind up our postwar social democracy and replace it by their ultimate objective: a fully market state. Since Osborne must know as well as anybody that his policy is utterly failing, the only rational reason he persists with it must be that it provides a cover for shrinking the state and minimising or eliminating the welfare safety net, and that task is not yet finished.
Michael Meacher MP
Labour, Oldham West and Royton
• I have been following your coverage of the financial manipulations of Google, Apple, Starbucks etc. I was struck by the firm, unguilty tone taken by Eric Schmidt of Google by saying he would pay tax if it was an amount suitable to him (Report, 27 May). It reminds me of the theme running through Ayn Rand’s book Atlas Shrugged. A group of very rich people decide that they are “carrying” the rest of the world and decide to “opt out”. The important thing to note and decide with these amoral beasts is don’t try to appeal to their better sides. They don’t have any. Just tax them.
William Vukmirovic
• The article by Ross McKibbin in the London Review of Books (25 April) should be read by all those who want to understand this government’s welfare policy. It details the deliberate misinformation relating to welfare expenditure (its distribution and recipients, where most people haven’t a clue as to where the money actually goes but accept the fairy tales of some tabloids). In McKibbin’s view, the real aim of the cuts is to turn the working class against itself. As he says: “It exploits a tendency in working-class life for people to distrust their own class more than they distrust the people above them.” This is not the first time the Tories have tried this – they did it with some success in the 30s. The misinformation and propaganda from Iain Duncan Smith are all part of this strategy.
The theses of some economists on debt levels is completely unfounded as is also their reasoning related to wealth effects. These are simply rebranding the old classical arguments, together with an ongoing belief that real wage cuts are the route to economic recovery.
Desmond Cohen
Brighton, East Sussex
• Whether borrowing more to expand the economy raises taxes long-term depends on many factors that Paul Negrotti and David Redshaw simplify (Letters, 30 May). But both letters ignore the problem of excess saving the UN Conference on Trade and Development has been discussing for years. As the treasuries of most high-wage nations know, these savings must be borrowed and spent preferably on new investments and on consumption, or else a slump. Why is this so often ignored? Redshaw may be right that Osborne will be known as the chancellor who grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory with austerity. But why Labour chose to hand power to the Tories and Lib Dems is more interesting and, I assume, something newspapers are unlikely to report either. But it hasn’t worked, has it?
George Talbot
Watford, Hertfordshire

In his article (Philosophy isn’t dead yet, 27 May) Raymond Tallis raises some important and difficult issues about the extent to which contemporary physics has largely parted company with philosophy, briefly dismissing the alternative view – espoused by Hawking etc – that it is philosophy that has died from failing to keep abreast with physics.
But occasionally peeping through his argument is the outline of a rather different version of the Hawking position, which suggests that philosophy is losing touch with physics not so much as a result of the obscure mathematical language deployed by physicists – as Tallis claims – but because of the unbelievable immensity and complexity of the reality emerging from the discoveries of physics (dark matter, black holes and so on). To put it crudely, it is becoming increasingly difficult to apply some of the basic concepts of traditional philosophy, including metaphysics, such as beginning and end, fixed identity, empiricism and even logic and truth, to the phenomena revealed by physics.
And increasingly, more ordinary notions/criteria such as “everyday experience”, the “reality of our world” and the nature of “our humanity” – variously invoked by Tallis in contrast to the obscure accounts projected by physicists – no longer seem to have the full capacity to carry us through the cosmological realities. This is not, I think, because physicists have lost the meaning of such terms, but because the sheer mystery and complexity of the worlds now being explored can no longer be fully captured, either by our comforting homespun philosophy or through the traditional language of ontology and epistemology.
I am not claiming that Dr Tallis is mistaken in stressing some of the communication failures of physics. Rather I would advocate that both sides, physicists and philosophers, admit their problems and then come together to construct a new dialogue to confront, explore and share the physical and metaphysical questions that divide them. In this way science and philosophy will unite, as once they did when Kant espoused Newton.
Martin Moir
• So Einstein mourned the fact that the present tense “now” lay “just outside the realm of science”. Locals in Lincolnshire often say “Now then”, followed by a profound pause, when meeting someone. When I first encountered this my consciousness was mystified when I tried to grapple with the meaning of the message my nerve impulses were transmitting. I had a hunch that I was on the edge of Deep Philosophy, and now Raymond Tallis confirms this was indeed the case.
Ivor Morgan


Scientific research does support the decision to cull badgers to control TB in cattle (leading article, 31 May).
Analysis shows the negative effects of culling in the Randomised Badger Culling Trial disappeared within 18 months after the last cull and that there are lasting benefits up to six years later.
Reducing the size of the wildlife reservoir has led to the elimination of bovine TB as a problem in other countries.
We already use regular TB testing of cattle and slaughter of infected animals and strict cattle movement controls. In addition, considerable effort is being expended to develop usable cattle and badger vaccines. In spite of this, TB is relentlessly spreading through the countryside and we need to use all the tools available to us. The pilot culls will test whether a culling policy based upon experimental evidence can be turned in to one of those operational tools.
Those who do not want culling need to be clear about how they would tackle the disease. The currently available injectable badger vaccine is not a viable method of widespread control in England, and there is less evidence that it is effective at reducing TB in cattle than exists for culling.
Professor Ian Boyd, Chief Scientific Adviser, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, London SW1
The results of the badger culling experiment did not show that culling “only exacerbated the problem” as you state (leading article, 31 May). Within the cull areas, there was a substantial and sustained reduction in the incidence of disease on cattle farms, which lasted for some years longer than the culling programme itself.
Where things were more complicated was in the rim around the culling areas, where the incidence in cattle increased while badger culling was ongoing, but this increase was not sustained after culling ended. In the areas that are being trialled this year, the published calculations are that the overall benefits in reducing cattle disease outweigh the downsides.
What is absolutely clear is that badger culls will not work on their own, and efforts simultaneously to improve the control programme in cattle are equally important.  
James Wood, Alborada Professor of Equine and Farm Animal Science, University of Cambridge
The National Farmers Union is not leading the farming community to slaughter without giving the issue of a badger cull any debate (letter, 30 May). We support the Government’s policy to help control TB by using measures including rigorous TB testing for cattle, movement controls, and a cull of badgers in areas where TB is endemic.
The link between badgers, cattle and bovine TB has been proved beyond doubt. The disease is a massive risk to our cattle population and is out of control. Thousands of farmers are living with the threat of bovine TB hanging over their businesses and families and they need to see action.
Last year, 38,000 cattle were slaughtered because of this disease. There is no single solution, but the best scientific information, and the experience of other countries around the world, shows we need a multi-faceted approach. This includes tackling the disease in wildlife through targeted culling.
The idea that the two pilot culls are likely to eradicate badgers from many areas of England is completely wrong. The two culls will be carried out in specific areas, under licence, by trained professionals to ensure they are safe, effective and humane. Culls will only ever be carried out in areas where TB is endemic and will never be carried out nationwide.
Tom Hind, Director of Corporate Affairs, National Farmers’ Union, Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire
Brutalist gem or barracks  in the sky?
I found Owen Hatherley’s nomination of the Brownfield Estate in Poplar as one of London’s “architectural gems” (“The beauty of bus depots”, 30 May) quite revealing. Why did he choose that development and not the much finer Lansbury estate a little further west? I imagine that what prompted the nomination was the estate’s proximity to Erno Goldfinger’s Balfron Tower. 
Balfron Tower is an icon to the architectural establishment but it isn’t to me. As a teenager I watched it going up at the end of my street. My family and our neighbours dreaded the prospect of being sent there under the slum clearance scheme. We called it “the Barracks” and it became a symbol of the threat to our community.
We wanted houses; no one wanted a flat, especially in Goldfinger’s gruesome tower. Where would children play? What happens when the lifts break down? Who would be looking out when criminals came by?
Nobody listened to us because idealists like Goldfinger knew best. The fact that my father kept a garden in our back yard, that our neighbours raced pigeons and others had dogs meant nothing.
We pleaded to be given a house on the Lansbury Estate but were refused. Eventually we gave up trying to stay in Poplar and were rehoused in Essex, although we didn’t want to go.  
Goldfinger lived for a few months in his tower and declared it a great success. An urban motorway was cut through what remained of the street below, and with that a good community in east London was lost for ever.
When identifying gems, it would be wise to remember that architecture is a process just as much as it is a product.
Joe Connolly
Bishops’ Stortford, Hertfordshire
Media circus at a gay wedding
I’m a gay man, and fully in favour of same-sex marriage.
But I’d have a lot more respect for France’s first gay marriage if they’d done it quietly like a proper wedding instead of inviting 150 journalists and turning it into a media freak show (report, 30 May). The younger groom looked distinctly uncomfortable with all the posturing.
It always annoys me when equality isn’t enough. The gobbier members of the “gay community” (whatever that is supposed to be) over here spend so much time and energy campaigning that they don’t realise they’re putting people off.
The battle had been won. It was bad form to stamp the defeated’s head into the ground.
Paul Harper, London E15
Victims can’t  prevent rape
By employing his Sarajevo sniper analogy, Philip Anthony (letter, 30 May) implies that women and men are at war. Perhaps Mr Anthony would now define “taking responsibility” in a non-battle context. How do potential rape victims, young and old, male and female, ensure that they are not irresponsibly bringing about their own rape?
Many instances of rape occur in a domestic setting – what is the irresponsible behaviour being condemned there? Simply being female seems to be enough.
The burka aside, how do we avert this unpredictable danger? Our most mature and constructive response to the crisis of rape must include interrogating those smug, thoughtlessly sexist beliefs which suggest that rape victims bring rape upon themselves.
Karen Jones, London SW19
Cheap justice for the poor
May I remind your readers that they have until 4 June to register a protest at the cuts and “reforms” of legal aid being pushed through by the Ministry of Justice.
Under Chris Grayling’s price-competitive tendering system we stand to lose our small high-street solicitor firms who know the problems of their clients, and find in their place big multiple-contract operators who, no doubt attracted by the prospect of fixed fees and minimum outlay, will use overworked, underpaid and inexperienced paralegals to represent some of the most vulnerable in society. No longer will those who cannot afford to go private have any choice over their access to justice.
The estimated saving – under £220m by 2018 – takes no account of the solicitors and support staff who will be made unemployed and is fairly paltry when set against the huge amounts escaping the national coffers in tax evasion.
Alan J Fisher, Finstock, Oxfordshire
Get paedophile porn off the net
After the murder of April Jones by the paedophile Mark Bridger it was found that Bridger was obsessed with images of kids being sexually abused, storing foul pornography on his laptop. Governments worldwide must unite and force the internet to remove any filth, not just extreme, which must fuel such deranged desires.
David Cameron and other politicians make the point that they are family men. Now for the sake of the family of April Jones they must act with urgency so that her death will not be in vain.
John Connor, Dunfermline, Fife
Medical mystery
Further to Grace Dent’s column (30 May), can anyone with medical training please explain, in simple terms, why it should not be a matter of national outrage that a British hospital has seen fit to discharge a patient who still has drains inserted in a wound following surgery? Words fail me.
Jennifer Phipps, Cardington, Bedfordshire
Act of equality
David Keating wonders, if the word “actress” is deleted, what would happen to Best Actress awards (Letter, 30 May). Perhaps they could be renamed, “Best Actor – Female”.
Keith O’Neill, Shrewsbury
If “actress” and other gender-defined titles are to be discarded, what will the Queen have to call herself?
Michael O’Hare, Northwood, Middlesex
Age of rockers
Can I thank Mick Jagger for restricting or even banning the BBC from broadcasting coverage of the Rolling Stones’ performance at Glastonbury. There is plenty of footage of the real Rolling Stones on YouTube rather than this awful tribute band he continues to hawk round the stadiums of the world charging ridiculous ticket prices.
Tim Johnson, Wakefield, West Yorkshire
Dizzy spell
In spite of what Professor Simon Horobin says, spelling is important. Today I received an email about someone’s gardening progress this year; he said that he had taken a gambol with his courgettes. The mind boggles.
Sigrid Stamm, Lympstone, Devon


The reason for closing down swimming pools is that they are expensive to maintain — unless you’re lucky enough to live near a beach
Sir, I have been a teacher in a small Peterborough primary school for the past 37 years. Over that time it has been my job to maintain our small, but extremely popular, swimming pool (“Pupils floundering as schools skimp on swimming lessons”, May 23, and letters, May 29).
Over those years I have had the privilege to work with headteachers who have ringfenced funds to keep the pool open. As a result we are one of a handful of schools in the area to still have a pool.
Now 95 per cent of our children can swim when they leave our primary school. I find this “Health and Safety diktat” a feeble excuse to close pools. In my mind the real reason for the closure of swimming pools is a money-saving exercise, because they are extremely expensive to maintain.
For most of our children this is the only opportunity they will have to learn to swim, and long may it continue.
Martin Pearce
Stilton, Cambs
Sir, Lin Corker expects parents to teach their children how to swim (letter, May 29). How quaint. Schools are now responsible for all aspects of a child’s development, from potty training to reminding parents to apply for a place at secondary school for their dear child. Many parents are far too busy to bother with such minor details.
Helen Edwards
London SW20
Sir, The question why it is the job of schools to teach children to swim is one I have asked on seeing our leisure centre pool hosting visits from schools.
The answer given by professionals at both the pool and the school end of this arrangement is that it is an extremely good “resource”. It fulfils the requirement to include sport/exercise, it does so for large groups of children, and with little demand on teacher time.
Norman Harris
Allendale, Northumberland
Sir, The only swimming lessons I received were by radio. When I was young one of the “uncles” on Children’s Hour described the arm and leg movements used in the various swimming strokes and we practised breathing exercises in the bathroom with a bowl or basin full of water. I never looked back.
Roy Hyde
Cheltenham, Glos
Sir, I agree entirely with David Rooney (letter, May 29) — my daughter learnt swimming at her school pool in the 1980s.
It should be pointed out (yet again) that the Health and Safety Executive was not set up to close down school swimming pools, or for that matter to issue the myriad other diktats to “preserve” our well-being. The HSE came from the Factory Inspectorate whose job was to keep check on the poor safety conditions in the workplace and in the building industry. It has simply grown out of all proportions to the extremely powerful body it is today.
Colin Round
Retired architectural technologist
Stourport-on-Severn, Worcs
Sir, Swimming pools — who needs them? As wartime schoolboys we were marched a mile to the nearest beach where we passed through the barbed wired defences, changed on the beach and non-swimmers were hauled through the surf at the end of a rope. We learnt quickly.
Derek Sowell

The river frontage would make a superb setting for a new modern building for our members of parliament to work from
Sir, Why are we so obsessed with preserving buildings that are no longer fit for purpose? Is Unesco not open to persuasion? Westminster does not lack heritage buildings. Why not demolish the Palace of Westminster and replace it with a modern, well-designed building with up-to-date debating chambers, good seating, a robust electronic voting system and offices suitable for the considerable amount of work which we expect our MPs to do? The river frontage would make a superb setting for a fine new building; there are several architectural practices with the vision and ability to undertake the work. Let us for once look forwards with confidence rather than backwards with nostalgia.
R. J. Guy
Great Malvern, Worcs

Perhaps the Government should reconsider plans to privatise the courts in light of what the Magna Carta has to say on the matter
Sir, As a barrister I too am troubled by the prospect of privatised courts. Professor Francis (letter, May 31) is right in saying that feudalism had a few drawbacks. Magna Carta sought to remove them. Cl. 30 of Magna Carta states “to no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.”
Perhaps the Government might reconsider its plans to privatise the courts in the light of this principle and in the shadow of the 800th anniversary of that Charter.
Andrew Francis
London WC2

‘Editors, who would never send an engineer to interview the Poet Laureate, think nothing of sending someone with an arts degree to interview a physicist’
Sir, Scientists wish to bypass traditional media and use the new website The Conversation (report, May 29, and letters, May 30 & 31) because they have found from experience that most journalists are so ignorant of anything technical that the reports they write are highly misleading and full of mistakes. Editors, who would never send an engineer to interview the Poet Laureate, think nothing of sending someone with an arts degree to interview a physicist.
The idea that these journalists can “interpret” the science for the “layman” is nonsense. Although in most of the subjects covered by the media the journalist has expertise between the expert and the reader, this is not true of scientific topics. Half of our graduates have science degrees, and many readers who do not are engaged in highly technical jobs. Furthermore the stories are rarely controversial — the only reason the scientists wish to edit the final version is to correct the mistakes.
We should give every support to this new venture, and so should the Science Media Centre.
Archie Campbell
Emeritus Professor of Electromagnetism, Cambridge

There may be different reasons why so few people have taken up a Green Deal loan — and a lack of follow-up may be one
Sir, You report (May 29) that few people have taken up a Green Deal loan, but that 18,000 have had home assessments under the scheme. As one of those 18,000 I am not surprised at the paltry uptake. It seems to be nigh impossible to persuade a Green Deal provider to follow up on an assessment, visit and quote for work suggested by the said assessment. My attempts to persuade providers to visit are rebuffed by multiple excuses.
You cannot, as you do in your report, claim that householders are trying to torpedo the Government’s energy efficiency drive — the Government’s own scheme is doing a very good job of that itself.
Rob Mackay


SIR – I wonder if I am one of the few remaining persons to have met all the members of the Everest expedition of 1953 (report, May 25).
When they left Kathmandu they came to New Delhi and the acting High Commissioner gave a reception for them on June 30. I still have my invitation card. As well as every member of the team, I also met Tensing’s wife and daughters.
Of course the team had not packed dinner suits in their kit and so the call went out for the loan of dinner jackets and trousers for them. They were arrayed that night in a mixture of black and white jackets and trousers in most combinations.
I cannot remember what I wore but it was probably the dress I made for the reception for the Coronation. I still have a photograph of that.
Nancy Hand
Fetcham, Surrey

SIR – Bishop Holtam (report, May 30) appears to be quite ready to set aside what has been a fundamental bedrock for society and substitute instead his own “reasoned experience”.
But it is precisely because a sizeable proportion of practising Christians mistrust the reasoned experience of today’s politicians – who appear to have scant regard for this country’s Christian heritage and principles in their pursuit of “the development of societal aims” – that they are extremely wary of accepting that the redefinition of marriage is either right or desirable.
Rev Anthony Durkin
Sherborne, Dorset
SIR – The Bishop of Salisbury suggests that not allowing same-sex couples to marry is discriminatory. However, the Government’s completely new definition of marriage for same-sex couples will not be exclusive, since it cannot be based on the sex act, and cannot be dissolved in the case of infidelity. The European Court of Human Rights may find that heterosexual couples are being discriminated against for having to remain faithful to each other. Far from being enhanced, traditional marriage is in danger of being redefined out of existence.
Ann Farmer
Woodford Green, Essex
Related Articles
Remembering the first conquerors of Everest
31 May 2013
SIR – It was the dissenting churches that opposed slavery and Apartheid, not the state church. The Church of England is legally obliged to marry people in their parish and therefore has a lower standard – many people only ever enter their church to get married or for their funeral.
Geraldine Lee
Norwich, Norfolk
SIR – Apartheid South Africa denied basic human rights to the vast majority of the population, terrorising them and oppressing them. In Britain, a tiny minority of people, who already have the full panoply of human rights enjoyed by the majority, are determined to annex to themselves the institution of marriage, despite already having, in civil partnerships, all that marriage affords.
Margaret Robinson
London SE9
SIR – Christians before Wilberforce did not see slavery as part of a God-given order of creation. This might have been true for the Anglican Church, but popes have condemned it from the 15th century.
Pope Eugenius IV in his bull Sicut Dudum in 1435 opposed Portuguese enslavement of the Canary Islanders 60 years before Columbus crossed the Atlantic. Philip II forbade the taking of slaves whether by just or unjust war in the Philippines.
Even earlier, we have in our own country St Wulfstan, Bishop of Worcester from 1062, who campaigned vigorously against the slave trade based in Bristol.
Dr John A Fannon
Weymouth, Dorset
Benefits for migrants
SIR – EU insistence that we pay UK benefits to migrants (“Brussels takes Britain to EU court over immigrant benefits”,, May 30), is reported to stem from a 1994 agreement.
Tory policy has been to be a member of a free-trade EU, not a single-state EU. Free trade is free movement of goods, not free movement of people, and certainly not common benefits systems. So why did John Major, the prime minister at the time, agree to this?
Perhaps the Tories do really seek a single-state EU but know they must proceed by lying to the British public.
John Allison
Maidenhead, Berkshire
SIR – To reduce the burden of benefit tourism on EU member states, perhaps any benefit paid to an EU claimant should be financed by the recipient’s home country as declared on their passport.
This would allow member states to stipulate how much benefit, and for how long, they are prepared to pay to nationals. It would also ensure that unauthorised immigrants could not obtain benefits.
Paul Gilbert
Knowle, Warwickshire
SIR – Have we considered taking the EU to court over its failure to produce audited accounts for the past 18 years?
Michael Allisstone
Chichester, West Sussex
Global warming
SIR – In your report on global warming (“Yeo: climate change may not be man-made”, May 30), you quote a survey which shows that 97 per cent of academic papers agree that human activities are causing the planet to warm. They would, wouldn’t they?
Funding for this research is based on the premise that the scientists involved can do something about climate change. As long as the fund-holders are being told that science can put a stop to global warming, they will continue to provide them with our money. If we are to spend at a time like this, let us concentrate on finding the best ways to cope with the expected conditions, rather than behaving like a bunch of King Canutes.
John Palmer
Wellington, Herefordshire
SIR – It is not true that 97 per cent of academic papers supported the Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) theory. Around 32 per cent of papers endorsed AGW while around 66 per cent stated no position for or against AGW.
To add these two numbers together is fraudulent.
Christopher Wright
Findon, West Sussex
SIR – If humans may not be responsible for global warming will the Government then consider repaying the public for carbon emission taxes?
Thorvald Peterson
Weisdale, Shetland
Belt up
SIR – Roger Crawshaw (Letters, May 29) asks what should he wear as a Renault Kangoo owner to avoid attracting the attention of the police.
A seat belt would be a good start.
David Robinson
Wiveliscombe, Somerset
Tobacco packaging
SIR – Further to your report that the Republic of Ireland is planning to introduce the plain packaging of tobacco (report, May 29), there is still no credible evidence linking tobacco packaging with children taking up smoking. The actual evidence suggests that those children who take up smoking do so because of the influence of peer pressure or family members who smoke.
As a responsible local retailer, I support every sensible approach to deter youngsters from smoking. These include: the existing proof-of-age registration schemes such as CitizenCard; outlawing the proxy purchasing of cigarettes in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, as in Scotland; giving more resources to our hard-pressed enforcement agencies; and stiffening the penalties for criminals involved in counterfeiting and smuggling.
Plain packaging would make it much easier to fake the packs and attract new criminals into the market who currently do not have the expertise to counterfeit the complicated existing packs. These criminals think nothing of offering their illegal tobacco to young people – the very people we are all trying to protect.
Cracking down on the criminals who sell illicit tobacco in our communities would be a more effective way of preventing children’s access to tobacco, as well as supporting local retailers.
Debbie Corris
The Tobacco Retailers’ Alliance
London SW1
Spelling trouble
SIR – You report from the Hay Festival (May 29) that an Oxford professor, Simon Horobin, has said that people do not need to spell accurately or use correct grammar and punctuation.
Without consistent spellings, the meaning can be completely altered. It matters whether someone was rapping or raping, and whether more mating or more matting is needed in the bedroom.
Affected (influenced) and effected (brought to completion) are quite different.
Similarly, punctuation can be the key to the meaning of a sentence. Ungrammatical English has spoiled many CVs and job applications.
If the professor thinks that Middle English was “comparatively recent” in our language, his history also seems faulty. He should listen to the appeals from employers for more literate graduates and school-leavers.
Dr Bernard Lamb
President of the Queen’s English Society London SW14
We need a cheaper, more efficient justice system
SIR – The body of Queen’s Counsel protesting in your paper over the restriction of legal aid (Letters, May 29) would reap more sympathy were they to co-operate in making our justice system more efficient, and less demanding of the public purse.
A large reduction in their fees would be a considerable help, as would the eradication of practices such as repeated appeals and delaying tactics in such cases as the deportation of persons deemed to be a risk to our society.
David Broughton
Woodborough, Wiltshire
SIR – Having read the pleading letter from a number of lawyers, my reaction is at least the Government is doing something right.
Dr John Bennett
Newick, East Sussex
SIR – The concern raised by the QCs over the reduction of legal aid has more to do with the loss of income their profession makes from this gravy train, than undermining the rule of law.
Gary P Butler
Chippenham, Wiltshire
SIR – It is bizarre that 90 QCs should demand that the Government pays huge sums of taxpayers’ money to lawyers to challenge the decisions of Government.
What is at stake here is not the rule of law, but the rule of lawyers. Law is best made by a democratically elected Parliament, not unelected judges.
Nigel Foster
East Cowes, Isle of Wight
SIR – If the number of judicial review cases is as limited as the 90 QCs claim in their letter, I trust that we will see them taking these cases on a pro bono basis until they can convince this or a future government to change the law.
Niall Garvie
Bromley, Kent

Irish Times:

Sir, – Much of the discussion following RTÉ’s ‘Breach of Trust’ programme has focused on the need for creches to have qualified staff. This is, of course, extremely important, however, what is more important than having a full complement of such staff is to have good managers. Even where there are some unqualified staff, if they are well managed no harm need come to any child. That means high standards, good supervision and the consistent application of sound child- care principles. Staff who lack qualifications can learn if well supervised and guided.
The key failure in this instance was at management level: both the micro-management in the centres but also the macro-management required of the HSE and the policy-makers in Government departments. This is hardly surprising when one considers that many of our creches were built during the “boom” years in response to the need to facilitate women, in particular, to work. At one point this drive was overseen by the Department of Justice – a very curious decision indeed – with a range of grants and tax-breaks for those who opened facilities.
The subsequent failure to adequately regulate the tax-incentive-driven childcare sector is a carbon copy of failure to regulate the tax-incentive-driven construction industry, which has led to the virtual collapse of the economy.
If this current controversy prompts a real rethink of our approach to childcare some good will have come from it. However, history would suggest that our capacity to learn is very limited. – Yours, etc,

Sir, – Several contributors to the debate on the future of the Seanad have called the system by which it is elected “undemocratic”. I beg to differ.
Indirect election by an electoral college is an acceptable form of democracy, especially when the members of the college are themselves elected by universal suffrage. Most Senators (43 out of 60) are elected in this way, the college consisting of elected local authority councillors, plus TDs and outgoing Senators.
A further six members are elected by graduates of two universities. Recognising the academic and financial efforts that students have to make to achieve graduation, as well as the State’s own contribution to costs (which means that third-level education is now accessible to many more adults, whether young or “mature”), the State is entitled to “reward” with the right to vote those who have increased their value to society by graduating. (The two universities would do well, however, to open their voters’ rolls to diploma-holders and senior students).
The main flaw in the system is that not all third-level institutions qualify. To correct this without taking seats away from the older universities (as an unused section of the Constitution foresees) the government could offer, say, four or five of the 11 seats that it now fills by appointment to be voted for by the graduates and senior students of the excluded institutions. – Yours, etc,

Sir, – Nora Scott (May 30th) eloquently described her harrowing evening stroll on Dublin’s O’Connell Street. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, she encountered various displays of anti-social behaviour, some of which were violent and made her feel threatened. Needless to say her unpleasant experience has become the norm in centre city Dublin, exposing numerous citizens and visitors alike to a vile and uncivil atmosphere.
I can remember 40 years ago when I was residing on Pembroke Road. I was a young lad from down the country who enthusiastically trod the streets of Dublin on a daily basis seeking out fabulous works of architecture, meeting inspirational characters and feeling the various vibrations of the very soul of the Old Smoke. Never once in my day and night explorations did I see violence or other serious activities. Certainly, there were the over-imbibers meandering along from time to time, but they went on their way with the odd tip of the cap and I went mine, rarely a word exchanged.
At the end of her letter Ms Scott asks: As a citizen of Dublin haven’t I got the right to walk the streets without fear? In answer to the question I have to ask an important question of the leaders of this country: When did the ordinary citizen, accosted by thugs on the streets of Ireland, simply become unheard and unseen entities in the human drama of good versus evil while the criminals were cast in the role of the victims? – Yours, etc,

Sir, – Constable James O’Brien cannot be the first man to die in the Rising (Colm Keena, Stories from the Revolution, May 22nd).
It is believed that the first deaths connected with the Rising were those in Killorglin on Good Friday night of 1916 when three Volunteers (Con Keating, Charlie Monahan and Donal Sheehan) were drowned. Their car, on its way to Cahersiveen/Valentia to seize radio equipment to secure contact with the Aud carrying arms and ammunition, went over the pier at Ballykissane.
Only the driver, Thomas McInerney was saved by a local resident Timothy O’Sullivan. – Yours, etc,

Irish Independent:

* In light of the current revelations of the sub-standard practices of some childcare providers in Ireland, I feel I have to write this letter to you. Firstly, I would like to say that I am delighted that this investigation has exposed the failings in certain childcare settings. It is high time that parents and the wider society began to examine the environment our children are in on a daily basis for almost nine or 10 hours. As a working practitioner, I was never questioned on my qualifications by parents. It was just “accepted”.
Also in this section
A moving poem that every parent should read
Nobody listening as families drown in debt
Let’s dispense with the fig-leaf of discretion
As an early years practitioner with a BA in Early Childhood Care and Education – and given that I’m currently completing an MA in Education – I feel that the childcare system in Ireland is not valued. In comparison with our European counterparts, we lack support from governmental and managerial levels. There is not enough emphasis on qualifications.
The Childcare Preschool Regulations 2006 only insist on a minimum level of standards regarding development, physical, social and emotional. In the primary school sector, a degree is the minimum qualification deemed acceptable, why not in early childhood education?
Childcare providers, especially in the private sector, are free to employ staff with the minimum level of qualifications to meet the job description, which is currently a minimum FETAC Level 5 in Childcare Studies. But people cannot be adequately trained in the appropriate child development and child psychology to control various child behaviours in just nine months.
Children are a precious commodity and education in early years should be a priority for our legislators. At the very minimum, childcare practitioners should have attained a degree in early education and childcare.
The abusive nature highlighted in the programme aired on Tuesday night was not surprising to me. In many settings, practitioners are overworked, undervalued and underpaid.
However, this does not excuse the behaviour. International research has shown that the years 0-6 are the most formative of a child’s education. We need action not words and empty promises from our government.
Natalie Walsh
Charlestown, Co Mayo
* So the Shatter saga goes on, while our country is sliding into oblivion, all we hear is he said this, and he said that, and we’re still no nearer to getting to the truth once and for all.
The simple solution to the Shatter saga is let Mr Shatter ask his pal the garda commissioner to question the garda who stopped Mr Shatter that night and in turn to submit a report on all that happened – it couldn’t be all that difficult.
Any filmmaker looking for actors for their next comedy blockbuster could do worse than have a look at our government frontbench.
We must be the greatest little country in the world being governed by a bunch of comedians.
Fred Molloy
Clonsilla, Dublin 15
* What’s the difference between my 2000 Toyota Corolla and creches in Ireland? My car is inspected every 12 months.
Kevin Devitte
Mill Street, Westport, Co Mayo
* Des Hanafin is appalled that the new bill has been referred to as the “Pro-Life” bill.
Well I’ve been appalled for years that his organisation is called the “Pro-Life” Campaign.
They have no views on “Life”, only views on being born. If that is at the cost of the mother’s “life” then so be it.
Life is a wonderful gift. It is the job of our society to make it so for every child born in Ireland.
This includes protecting the mothers who often make it so.
This is the meaning of Pro-Life.
And I believe it’s the best way of saving the lives of the unborn that Mr Hanafin cares so deeply about.
Pauline Bleach
Wolli Creek, NSW, Australia
* Most Dublin citizens are aware our city council has removed all of Dublin’s public toilets, citing the usual catch-all excuse of antisocial behaviour.
Now we learn that the government is looking to install drug injection rooms with toilets for the city’s addicts. Are the authorities really suggesting the only way you can be permitted to use a public convenience is if you become a heroin addict?
John Devlin
Erne Tce, Dublin 2
* It would appear that your radio ‘critic’ Darragh McManus has cranked up his regular Saturday morning column. He appears on the the same page as John Boland your TV critic (who is always worth reading). Last Saturday he criticised those who claim that there is a bias in the media against Catholics and then went on to slate everything about this faith. This was choice stuff.
In a previous column, which I found to be morally reprehensible and offensive, he claimed that ‘pro-life’ was a ‘nonsensical’ name and asked “who besides Satan and serial killers are anti-life”.
He might take a leaf from the great Con Houlihan. He always cast aside his bias in his column as he believed in balance and fairness. When comparing the old local town and Dublin reporters, he said: “As soon as a young pup sees his name in print he reckons he’s made it.”
John Burke
Clontarf, Dublin 3
* One must pose the question why did people get into so much debt, and others not. During the Celtic Tiger years some people lived like the contrived property boom was going to last forever. I remember vividly snooty people walking past me, with their head in the air, and refusing to look at me, as if I was a piece of dirt. Just because I wouldn’t act like a proud peacock living on borrowed money.
No four holidays a year for me. No weekends shopping in New York for a handbag. No third home in Bulgaria. No fancy dinners out. No designer clothes. No wallet full of credit cards. No six bank loans on the go. No sending the kids to private schools.
For me, I was just satisfied to do my job, and live on my wages, and pay off the mortgage on my old house.
Now those same people who didn’t want to know me, when they were running amok, with big ideas, expect me to pay for their good times, which I had no hand, act or part in.
Anthony Woods
Ennis, Co Clare
* In my opinion piece in yesterday’s paper, I explained how the Danish political system works with just one chamber in our parliament and a strong local government. Some of my words were picked up by your deputy political editor without my knowledge and I would like to underline that nothing I said in my piece should be construed as support for those who want to abolish the Seanad here.
I want to make it clear that while I follow and respect the Irish debate I have no wish to be seen as taking part in it.
Niels Pultz
Danish Ambassador to Ireland
Irish Independent


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