Still at home

3 June 2013 Still at home

Off around the park oh dear All the other ships in the harbour have disappeared leave Troutbridge all on her own. Has there been an invasion? Pertwee suspects Little Green men with four head and all blue crew. But is only the fleet review and Troutbridge has been left out to stop her bumping into the other ships

Another quiet day we are both so tired, but manage a little pottering around.
We watch Too Many Crooks about the revenge of a faithfulful on a crooked husband.
I wind at scrabble but get under 400 perhaps Mary can have her revenge tomorrow.


4. ies
Father Andrew Greeley
Father Andrew Greeley, who has died aged 85, was an American Roman Catholic priest and the author of bestselling novels which some considered salacious.

Father Andrew Greeley Photo: GETTY
6:26PM BST 02 Jun 2013
His book The Cardinal Sins, which was published in 1981 with a provocative cover showing a young woman scantily clad in red, is about a curate who rises to archbishop while enjoying affairs, fathering a child and becoming immured in financial scandal.
Greeley was unfazed by the resulting uproar or by the opinion that this was an inappropriate subject for a clerical author. His books were “theological novels” and “comedies of grace”, he maintained, and the sex less explicit than that in the Song of Solomon.
The Cardinal Sins sold more than two million copies. His next novel, Thy Brother’s Wife, was about a priest who falls in love with his sister-in-law.
For the archdiocese of Chicago the books were part of a long list of provocations by a highly turbulent priest, who had earned some respect through his early sociological studies but later exasperated Catholics with his columns in the Sun-Times as well as some 80 other newspapers.
The son of a corporation lawyer, Andrew Moran Greeley was born on February 5 1928. He wanted to become a priest from an early age, and went to St Mary of the Lake seminary at Mundelein, Illinois, where he was ordained and graduated with a licentiate in sacred theology.
His first appointment was as an assistant priest to an Irish parish on Chicago’s Southside. He was then given leave to study Sociology at the University of Chicago, producing a doctoral dissertation about the influence of religion on the career choices of college students . He followed this with a stream of studies, centring on religion, education and ethnicity in America.
After about 10 years, during which he earned a Masters in Sociology, Greeley was recorded in the Catholic Directory as “on special assignment”, and listed as a member of the faculty at the National Opinion Research Centre at the University of Chicago. Neither the archdiocese nor the university was keen to employ him.
He held some of the conventional liberal views of the 1960s and 1970s, approving of contraception, women’s ordination and the right of the faithful to choose their bishops. Yet he criticised those priests and nuns who were more interested in a Marxist victory in Central America than the souls of their own Catholics, and was a supporter of Catholic schools. Although generally a supporter of Vatican II, he dismissed the celebration of the secular as “nonsense” in his Unsecular Man.
He continued to deal with sensitive subjects in his novels. Fall from Grace (1994) was about paedophilia and battered women, and Wages of Sin about the sex lives of senior citizens .
During the 2004 presidential election he wrote an article in the New York Daily News under the headline “Catholics Can Vote for Kerry”. It interpreted a memorandum from Cardinal Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI, as saying that Catholics could vote for politicians willing to condone abortion in certain circumstances, and drew the wrath of three bishops — one of whom declared: “It is often said by priests and people in [Greeley’s] native Chicago that he long ago published all his thoughts, and in the last decade has been publishing his fantasies.”
Greeley’s reply to all criticisms was that he dealt with the realities of priestly life; human life was not dirty, nasty or immoral, it was a hint of what God’s love is like. Such honesty, he claimed, won him the support of many women, and there was no hint of sexual impropriety in his life. “I suppose I have an Irish weakness for words gone wild,” he said. “Besides, if you’re celibate, you have to do something.”
Earnings from his books enabled him to maintain three homes: an apartment in Chicago; a house in Tucson, Arizona, where he acted as an assistant priest at weekends; and another on Lake Michigan. But he gave away much of his money to Catholic causes .
In his later years, Greeley’s quarrel with Chicago archdiocese faded, until he claimed to be on friendly terms with the archbishop Cardinal Francis George. An academic was said to be working on a comparison between Greeley and Balzac.
He continued to write , producing one series of stories about an auxiliary bishop who is an amateur detective and refers to God as “She”.
Father Andrew Greeley, born February 5 1928, died May 29 2013


When they attack the EU and portray themselves as the patriotic party, Conservatives insist Britain needs to retain or regain control over its own affairs, not least economic decisions. So why are they actively seeking foreign buyers for the Royal Mail (Unthinkable?, 1 June)?
Professor Pete Dorey
• Ford fitted a dashboard warning light to my car to show that the doors are not closed. Couldn’t Airbus incorporate the same technology into a $77m Airbus to warn the pilot that the engine cowls have been left open (Report, 1 June)?
Ralph Jones
Rochester, Kent
• When did the standing ovation become de rigeur in the British theatre? Where once it was the volume and duration of the applause that marked the exceptional from the ordinary, it now seems that even the most modest of performances has half the theatre on its feet whooping for more. If we are to mimic the audiences of La Scala et al, I reserve the right to boo.
Tom Challenor
• Southern readers, do keep up! “Up north” “pretty” market towns are now “once-bustling” (Letters, 29 May). But don’t despair. They’re “easing” the planning regulations.
Eva Lawrence
St Albans, Hertfordshire
• Why are additions always stunning (In praise of… the Mary Rose, 31 May)?
David Griffiths
Esher, Surrey

By emphasising transparency, accountability and people’s participation in their proposals for new global development goals, the UN high level panel has paved the way for a breakthrough for citizen accountability (Report, 31 May). The focus on improved data and measurable targets will mean that policymakers and citizens will be able to track progress, monitor the delivery of services and hold governments to account. Better access to information will reduce corruption, improve decision-making and allocation of resources, and support good governance. It will also increase vulnerable people’s awareness of their rights and of the services available to them. These are all prerequisites for successful poverty reduction.
The current millennium development goals have delivered enormous education and health benefits. However, the lack of an explicit focus on transparency, accountability and participation is part of the reason why not all of the targets will be met.We are very glad the panel has learnt the lessons from the past and hope their proposals will be adopted by governments and institutions around the world.
Graham Gordon Cafod, Judith Randel Development Initiatives, Gavin Hayman Global Witness, Fredrik Galtung Integrity Action, Carol Priestley Nida (Network for Information & Digital Access), David Hall-Matthews Publish What You Fund, Marinke van Riet Publish What You Pay
• Global governance must also be renewed. Unequal power in the UN security council, World Bank, IMF and other agencies has created a form of global separate development which is more unequal than apartheid South Africa. The G8 must show that good governance applies at all levels.
Titus Alexander
Coordinator, Charter 2020

It is simply wrong of Peter Lilley to state that the European commission is seeking to extend its competence (UK faces court action over EU migrant benefits, 30 May). EU competence on social security law has existed for more than half a century and was within the original treaty signed by the UK when it joined the then EEC. Extensive EU regulations on the matter have sat alongside the treaty provisions for a similar period. The same co-ordination rules also provide us with access to medical treatment through  the European health insurance card and its predecessor, the E111.
This infringement action is not something the commission has rushed into, or of its own initiative. I raised a complaint in 2008 because, in my view, the UK right-to-reside test was in conflict with the rights of EU nationals under the co-ordination rules. Many others from the UK have also raised complaints and the commission is responding. I made the complaint because while working as a welfare rights adviser I witnessed significant numbers of EU nationals faced with the stark choice of working when clearly unable to do so or facing destitution. Many of the cases I advised on involved pregnant women who continued working until days before giving birth, or who had been dismissed in the late stages of pregnancy. Unable to get benefit because of the right-to-reside test, they often had no choice but to return to work only days after giving birth. It was my view that the rules exist specifically to provide protection for migrants in such situations.
Taking infringement proceedings some six years after complaints were made would indicate that the European commission has actually been overly cautious in dealing with those complaints, taking legal action only as an absolutely last resort.
Pamela Fitzpatrick
Director, Harrow Law Centre

Inside the lovely church at Ottery St Mary, in Devon, there is a plaque commemorating a British soldier killed in the Second British-Afghan war in 1879. I was reminded of this by your report (Afghanistan war to cost every household in the UK £2,000, 30 May). The United States has been desperate to involve others in its imperial projects, and the concept of “coalition” was all-too-often a fig-leaf in Iraq and Afghanistan. The most toe-curlingly embarrassing footage pre-Iraq war was that of Tony Blair trying to imitate George Bush’s swagger. In Europe, Blair’s only real supporters were those highly principled leaders Silvio Berlusconi and José María Aznar. 
So British blood and British capital have been wasted in making matters worse in Iraq and Afghanistan, something admitted by many of those involved, military and civilian. It is wrong to always attribute bad motives to those in power, but even if the motives are humanitarian, history should be consulted as to the likely outcomes of military intervention, direct or by proxy. Now we are talking about intervention in Syria, but most would agree that this is exactly why we have a UN – it should not be up to the EU, let alone just Britain and France.
Joseph Cocker
Leominster, Herefordshire
• By offhandedly referring to “Gallic vetoes” in her review of the BBC’s Iraq war documentary (G2, 30 May), Lucy Mangan gives credence to the dishonest narrative Tony Blair peddled about the discussions at the UN security council in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq.
So while Blair stated on 18 March 2003 that “the French position is that France will vote no, whatever the circumstances”, in actual fact French President Jacques Chirac had said: “My position is that, regardless of the circumstances, France will vote ‘no’ because she considers this evening that there are no grounds for waging war in order to achieve the goal we have set ourselves, ie to disarm Iraq.” Chirac went on to say that France would support military action if the UN weapons inspectors told the security council that Iraq wasn’t cooperating: “It will be for the security council and it alone to decide the right thing to do. But in that case, of course, regrettably, the war would become inevitable. It isn’t today.”
Ian Sinclair
Author, The March That Shook Blair
• John Pilger rightly points to the terrible legacies left in Iraq, some associated with the bombing by the UK and the US in the Gulf war and again in 2003, with depleted uranium (DU) weapons (We’ve moved on from the war. But Iraqis don’t have that choice, 27 May). We have on file letter after letter from the British government denying there have been any problems with use of these radiological and toxic weapons. At the UN in the autumn, the UK was one of only four countries to vote against a resolution advocating a precautionary approach to the use of DU weapons and a call for post-conflict management.There was an overwhelming majority in support of the resolution: 155 states in support, 27 abstainers and the infamous four against: the UK, the US, France and Israel.
DU weapons have to be test-fired, and for years, the UK has been carrying this out in Scotland, from the Dundrennan range into the Solway Firth. Thanks to the work of campaigners, the Ministry of Defence has now announced that it has shelved plans for the testing necessary to extend the life of the UK’s current DU round. But it is time that the government went further and acknowledged the dangers of DU weapons both here in and wherever they were used in the world, most significantly in Iraq.
Rae Street
Campaign Against Depleted Uranium
• Hans Blix challenges Britain to consider whether it is paying £100bn for a Trident upgrade to “protect UK independence or UK pride” (Report, 27 May). It’s probably a third reason: to justify Britain’s permanent seat on the UN security council. No nuclear deterrent: no real reason for the UK to occupy it. Now, that could be a useful referendum question: nuclear subs and a veto in a meeting, or £100bn devoted to wiping out the austerity squeeze?
Andy Day
Beverley, East Yorkshire
• At last, there is a glimmer of understanding about how to get things done (Sleaze returns to damage Tories as MP quits in lobbying scandal, 1 June). If we were to contribute £1 per head to a “lobbying fund”, we could pay every MP and lord £1,000 to support our cause and to prevent reckless intervention in Syria. This is clearly the way forward for democratic policy-making.
Susan Tomes


The various charities who report that half a million people now depend on food banks seem to believe that if only the Government realises what is happening, it will reverse its welfare cuts.
On the contrary, we need to wake up to the fact that this is all part of Mr Cameron’s idea of the Big Society, in which, just as in our Victorian past, welfare-funding for the lower orders was at the discretion of their more affluent neighbours.
Then there was no significant fiscal-based support for the poor, but merely an obligation on the part of the better-off, as Christians keen to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, to feed the hungry, tend the sick, house the homeless etc.
It is this, the compassion of the giver, whether driven by religious duty or slick conscience-tugging TV adverts, that is to be the mainstay of our future welfare provision, with lower levels of provision coupled with lower direct taxation, which will put available money into the donors’ pockets.
As your report “Hungry Britain” (30 May) points out, Mr Cameron has stated that the increase in food banks is proof that the Big Society is working and his government, with little opposition from Labour, is assessing, through a process of trial and error, just how much state spending on welfare can be replaced by charitable giving. We can expect more cries of alarm from charities as more and more responsibilities are pumped into them until their “pips squeak”.
This is the Tories’ brave new world, “compassionate” in giving, “conservative” in lowering taxes, a system that failed miserably in the past and will condemn millions to penury in the future.
Colin Burke, Manchester
Oxfam and Church Action on Poverty are right to produce evidence of destitution in their report, Walking the Breadline. There is no need to create hunger in the UK in order to reduce the deficit. But there is one further recommendation they could have made.
At the heart of growing poverty and inequality is the absence of any coherent affordable housing policy for the past 30 years. Housing benefit increased because landlords profited from increasing demand for rented property in a market in short supply. Instead of curbing rents the Coalition has embarked on slashing housing benefit and leaving claimants to pay rent out of incomes in work and unemployment which are steadily diminishing in value.
Without an affordable housing policy food and fuel poverty will increase; so will the cost of poverty -related ill-health and educational underachievement to the taxpayer.   
The Rev Paul Nicolson, Taxpayers Against Poverty, London N17
Muslim anger and the roots of terrorism
I have visited the West Bank, and stayed with Palestinian families living under the control of people who consider them a lesser, or at least “other” racial group. I have never quite been able to express what real bigotry, reinforced by a sense of power, really is. I’m not eloquent enough, and I always thought you have to see it in person to know it.
In regard to Muslim (and liberal lefty) anger, Howard Jacobson (1 June)  says that he “gets it”, and goes on to equate anger against the murderous sanctions against Iraq (perhaps 500,000 dead children before the subsequent invasion, with all the carnage that followed), the similar intentions against Iran and the ongoing brutality against the Palestinians with the belief that Western women have lax morals and The Satanic Verses should be banned.
This is a vile slander that should not be allowed to stand. Opposition to racism and wars of aggression do not equate to opposition to feminism or literature – good or bad.
Qasim Salimi, London SE16
Howard Jacobson beautifully exposes the absurdity of blaming ourselves for the radicalisation
of Islamic terrorists. I don’t much care for Saudi, Russian or Chinese foreign or domestic policy, but I have no wish to murder their citizens.
In a democracy an aggrieved minority does not have the right to undermine the parliamentary will of the majority. And this is why British involvement in Iraq or Afghanistan is an intellectually vacuous  way to “explain” terrorism.
Stan Labovitch, Windsor 
In the wake of Boston and Woolwich, the Western world braces itself against Muslim extremism and the Islamic community obviously feels vulnerable. Few politicians will focus on a main source of this problem: the active missionary zeal of Saudi wahhabism, financed by black gold. 
After the miseries we Western nations have inflicted on the Middle East we tend to forget that the majority of the 9/11 suicide pilots were Saudis. Many Muslims would abhor this puritanical exaggeration of their religion.  
Fr Christopher Basden, London SW12
In her article “Why do Muslims have to keep explaining themselves?” (27 May), I believe Yasmin Alibhai-Brown uses a false analogy. She compares the expectation of condemnation from Muslims of terrorist attacks made in the name of Islam, to asking why white Britons are not asked to condemn the use of drones that massacre innocents. 
These drones are not the fault of “white” Britons but of Britons; she is as complicit as I am, and yes we do both condemn the use of them in our name.
Carol Curtis, Holkham, Norfolk
How to curb payday lenders
James Moore in his Outlook column (29 May) observes that there is a simple solution to the problem of payday lenders, namely an interest-rate cap. What a sad reflection on those in power today that, as the headline says, “Regulators and politicians not ready to be courageous and set interest rate cap”.
Many decades ago, the politicians and regulators administering the British colony of Hong Kong had the courage and sense to enact the Moneylenders Ordinance, which made and still makes it a criminal offence to charge an effective rate of interest of more than 60 per cent, and determined that any rate above 48 per cent is prima facie extortionate.
An obvious law to address the excesses of an industry and protect its victims. The failure to introduce such a law in the UK in 2013 leads one to yet again ask the question as to whatever happened to the notion of responsible capitalism.
Nick Eastwell, London SE 10
Boots pays its taxes
Simon English’s Outlook piece (30 May) gives the misleading impression that Alliance Boots pays £2m tax on £2bn profit.
Last year we paid £114m tax, of which £64m was paid in UK corporation tax, more than double the previous year. This is even though more than half of our revenue is now generated in countries other than the UK.
Alliance Boots is fully committed to the UK, where we have a large retail pharmacy presence, a pharmaceutical wholesaling business and manufacturing operations. We employ around 70,000 people. In addition to paying corporation, employment, property and sales taxes in the UK, we have contributed over £1bn to our pension funds (which receives tax relief).
Yves Romestan , Director of Group Communications, Alliance Boots, London EC2
Driving round the bend
Your review of the Fiesta ST (30 May) is worthy of comment. You may think you have covered yourselves by advising that it is driven within the speed limit, but you are certainly advocating that it can be driven in a dangerous, irresponsible and reckless manner by suggesting that driving it at high “legal speeds down a bendy B-road” is OK.
This sort of macho review, straight from the Jeremy Clarkson school of motoring, has no place in The Independent. You are just boys who have been given toys to play with.
You may believe that anti-lock brakes and air bags will get you out of trouble, but that will be no consolation to the cyclist or horse rider just around the bend. You should not be encouraging such hooliganism.
Bob Stephens, Bovey Tracey, Devon
Long massacre of our wildlife
Patricia Lloyd (letter, 31 May) may be relieved to know that, contrary to what Michael McCarthy asserts (30 May), the decline in British wildlife began well before the advent of the baby boomers. 
The State of Nature report says: “It is well accepted that there were considerable (albeit largely unquantified) declines in the UK’s wildlife prior to the last 50 years, linked to habitat loss.”  The loss of British wildlife over the past decades has indeed been dreadful, but invoking the baby boomer myth yet again is misleading and unhelpful. It’s up to all of us to act more responsibly, regardless of our date of birth.
Lesley Riddle, London SW6
Range of opinion
Ben Chu’s article of 30 May told us that the OECD gave its backing to the Coalition’s deficit reduction schedule, that the IMF recommended the UK put its deficit reduction programme on pause, and that the European Commission advised that the Coalition should speed up its cuts to bring down the deficit. I wonder which of these authorities Ed Balls and David Blanchflower will call upon next in support of their critique of Government economic policy.
Nick Collier, London N5
The correspondence about “actress” and other gendered job titles reminds me that in the 1960s I was working at a girls’ secondary school in Sheffield. The day after Barbara Castle was appointed to  be in charge of transport, the head announced in assembly: “Girls, I know that you will be delighted that we have a Ministress of Transport.”
David Battye, Sheffield
Rape is rape
Is it time that men and boys learnt that, as with goods at a self-service shop, just because it’s on display doesn’t mean you can take it? Enough of blaming women for (some) men’s inability to know when to stop (letter, 30 May)
Sue Thomas, Bowness on Windermere, Cumbria
Nick Griffin and his supporters paraded outside Parliament on Saturday waving BNP placards proclaiming “HATE PREACHERS OUT”. Has nobody told them about irony? Or hypocrisy?
Martin Wallis, Shipdham, Norfolk


History suggests that religion has done more good than the harm that irreligious ideologies did in the 20th century alone
Sir, Philip Collins should be congratulated for his deconstruction of the pathology of identity (“Muslim or otherwise, we are more than a label”, Opinion, May 31). However, his assertion that “religion poisons everything” is part of the same problem of absolutising what is clearly conditional and relative. In the Christian faith identity is indeed relative, secondary and transient and, as St Paul says, even sex and gender become null and void in Christ. What might sound like a pious platitude to scepticism and unbelief veils a profound theological insight that our membership of the community of the faithful is a privilege conferred on us by the grace of divine forgiveness. To call this a poison seems perverse.
Paul Thomson
Knutsford, Cheshire
Sir, Philip Collins approves Christopher Hitchens’s dictum, that religion poisons everything. It would be more correct to say that ideology poisons everything. The central Christian principle is to love all human beings equally — doing otherwise neglected principle. But when non-religious ideologies treat some human beings — black people, aristocrats, unborn babies, capitalists — as less than equal it is in line with their actual principles.
Human beings have to believe in something. History suggests that, primitive paganisms apart, religion has always done far more good than the harm that irreligious ideologies did in the 20th century alone. Principle, not Philip Collins’s “persuasive excuse”.
Tom McIntyre
Frome, Somerset
Sir, I am British, Asian, Indian, Burmese, liberal and no less a Muslim. I very much welcome Philip Collins’s comments on the dangers of the “over-identification with a single aspect of life”; this is divisive to a cohesive liberal society, and is not just the fuel for terrorism.
We need to move away from policies such as Prevent which have focused on countering terrorist values by concentrating purely on people’s Muslim identities. Policies should be more inclusive, so that being a Muslim is not exclusive but inclusive of other parts of one’s identity. We should avoid trying to pigeonhole citizens — rather, we should allow them to express themselves without feeling that this impinges on their ability to be British.
Yusuf Tai
Associate Fellow, Institute for Statecraft
Sir, Single-issue fanatics are almost always deluded and potentially dangerous, whatever their persuasion — religious or otherwise.
Jonathan Baldock
Kew, Surrey

If the reforms go through as intended, the reduction in legal aid will distort the judicial review process out of all recognition
Sir, We write to highlight the attack on the fundamental rule of law which is being made by the Government. No government likes its activities to be declared unlawful by the courts, but not until now has any government sought to substantially remove the right of the citizen to have the legality of the State’s actions held up to scrutiny.
The Government’s proposal to remove legal aid for judicial review cases before they are given permission to proceed by a judge will have two dramatic effects. Justifying the proposals with the argument that only the minority of judicial reviews succeed, Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, omitted to mention that about 2,600 of the 4,000 legally aided judicial reviews are settled each year before a judge considers them.
These successes are achievable because people can instruct lawyers to put arguments that bring public authorities to their senses. But if the proposals are implemented a great many of these people will be denied access to justice altogether because there will be no payment for this work.
The second effect will be to ensure mediation, negotiation and thoughtful exchanges of correspondence will be things of the past. When cases are litigated, lawyers will have to be single-minded about reaching the point where they might be paid.
None of this can have escaped the Government’s attention. We do not accept that cost-saving is the main intention of these proposals. Their effect will be to prevent the courts from scrutinising decisions of agencies such as the Home Office which repeatedly act unlawfully.
The rule of law in relation to the actions of the State will be dominated by the concerns of the rich. Decisions on hospital closures, policies about the disabled, the elderly, and education or health reforms will be made without concern that they could be challenged.
We are writing as the firms identified in the legal press as the top claimant public law firms to make it absolutely clear that if the reforms go through as intended, the reduction in legal aid will distort the judicial review process out of all recognition.
Access to justice for many will become impractical. This constitutionally vital aspect of access to justice and the rule of law will wither.
John Halford, Bindmans Solicitors
Jamie Beagent, Leigh Day Solicitors
Simon Creighton, Bhatt Murphy Solicitors
Polly Glynn Deighton, Pierce Glynn Solicitors
Phil Shiner, Public Interest Lawyers
Daniel Machover, Hickman Rose Solicitors
Yogi Amin, Irwin Mitchell Solicitors

With expensive care home bills to pay for long-lived parents should readers be concerned that their own dotage may be spent in penury?
Sir, I was pleased to read that the risk of cancer is lower if your parents live a long life (report, May 31). My grandmother lived to 102 and my mother is 95. However, my mother lives in a residential home and has done for the past nine years. The fees are currently £42,000 a year and are funded by my mother and myself.
While I rejoice at the prospect that I am less likely to get cancer or suffer from strokes or diabetes, I am not convinced that my finances will remain in a healthy state as I am unlikely to inherit any money at all from my mother.
M. H. Brodie

A majority of the public now supports same-sex marriage, and legislatures around the world are reflecting this change of attitude
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill will be debated in the House of Lords today. We believe it is right to open up marriage to loving and committed same sex couples, and that this important institution will be strengthened by the change. The Bill rightly enshrines the principle of religious freedom, protecting those faith groups that do not wish to conduct same-sex marriages, but allowing others to do so if they wish.
Parliament has intervened to redefine the scope of marriage over the past three centuries. A majority of the public now supports same-sex marriage, and legislatures around the world are reflecting this change of attitude. The elected House of Commons passed this Bill on a free vote by more than a two to one cross-party majority. The House of Lords should consider this legislation carefully, but it would be wrong to hinder a measure whose time has come.
Lord Fowler
Lord Jenkin of Roding
Lord Hunt of Wirral
Lord Deben
Baroness Bottomley of Nettlestone
Lord Garel-Jones Sir,
Conservative Peers have every reason to oppose this Bill and vote it down at second reading. First, the central precept of the Bill stands in stark contradiction to the central Conservative commitment to marriage, family and children.
Second, the aggressive and manipulative manner in which this Bill has been pushed through, especially with such contempt for freedom of conscience and religion, is alien to long-held Conservative values and democratic principles.
Third, this Bill is politically toxic for the Conservative Party. Not only has it alienated the grassroots activists from the leadership but it is driving our traditional voters elsewhere while failing to draw in many new ones.
Robert Woollard, chairman, Conservative Grassroots, and former chairman, Wycombe Conservative Association; Guy Hordern, former chairman, Birmingham Ladywood Conservative Association; Ed Costelloe, former chairman, Somerton & Frome Conservative Association; Cllr Mary Douglas, Salisbury Conservative Association; Cllr Delyth Miles, chairman, Clacton Conservative Association; Geoffrey Vero, president, Surrey Heath Conservative Association

A reader’s father must have been one of very few to receive Coronation Medals from the Coronations of both George VI and Elizabeth II
Sir, The Diamond Jubilee of the Coronation reminds me that my father, the late Major H. G. Humberston, Royal Fusiliers, had what must surely be the rare distinction of having been awarded two Coronation Medals.
The first was for participating in the procession at the Coronation of George VI in 1937. The second, presented to him when he was Quartermaster of the Army Apprentices School in Harrogate, was one of very few coronation medals (three, I believe) allocated to each unit of the Armed Forces.
Professor J.W. Humberston
Epping, Essex


SIR – As we celebrate the Jubilee of the Queen’s coronation, it is worth remembering that during her reign there have been times when the Royal Family has come in for criticism. But never the Queen.
Having reigned for so long after coming to the throne at such a young age, she has never risked being a hostage to fortune by expressing her opinions publicly. She has thus been able to meet all conditions and types of people throughout the Commonwealth and the world.
She has given counsel to prime ministers and world leaders who knew that whatever they confided to her would never be divulged. There is no man or woman who can match this diplomatic record.
John Lidstone
Fleet, Hampshire
SIR – As head of the Church of England our monarch presides over an organization
that undoubtedly has falling support. On the other hand, as the leader of the British nation, the monarch rules over and enjoys the support of an
increasingly diverse people of all faiths and none. How fitting therefore that our new Archbishop has suggested that all Christian denominations and
representatives other faiths should play a part in the coronation of any
future monarch (report, May 19).
Duncan Rayner
Sunningdale, Berkshire

SIR – I have written to the Prime Minister in response to his letter to me on behalf of Conservative Grassroots to express our deep concern about the negative effect of the gay marriage Bill on both Conservative Party morale and electoral appeal. It is alienating much of our core support while
failing to attract new voters with under two years to go before the general election.
There is no solid evidence to support the Prime Minister’s claim that “from what the evidence tells us, the vast majority of public opinion agrees”. Polling data shows just how divided both the country and the party are.
Conservatives have always been at the forefront of innovation, development and growth but success has always hinged on recognising the enduring value of the fundamental institutions of society, marriage and family.
The Prime Minister believes that “enabling same–sex couples to get married will strengthen – not weaken – family ties, helping to ensure that marriage remains an essential building block of our society“. In fact, all the evidence from countries that have introduced this legislation over the last ten years shows that marriage is further devalued in the eyes of all and the tie between marriage and bringing up of children is seriously weakened.
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Discretion has been the secret of the Queen’s success
02 Jun 2013
The Prime Minister also states that, since this is a “conscience issue”, he would never put pressure on Parliamentary colleagues to vote against their conscience. Doing a shabby deal with Labour to get the Bill through the Commons and reports of coercion combined with the Government’s voting down of every proposed conscience amendment does not sound at all like “a free vote on a matter of conscience” and is inconsistent with Conservative principles.
Long-serving party members – many of whom have had the responsibility of bringing up children themselves – believe that the family lies at the heart of Conservative values. The golden inheritance of every previous generation, that has been lovingly handed down to us, is now being smashed on the anvil of “equality and fairness”. Is this the “new intolerance”? We sincerely hope that the Lords will take a more objective view of this misguided legislation, transcend party politics, uphold our constitutional processes, defend our freedoms – and reject the Bill.
Robert Woollard
Chairman, Conservative Grassroots
Marlow, Buckinghamshire
SIR – There was inadequate time to debate the critical issues of this Bill in the Commons – a maximum of four minutes per MP during the Second Reading, and a two-and-a-half hour debate at the more recent stage.
Nick Herbert MP claims that peers in the Lords will not want to be out of step with changing attitudes. But changing attitudes do not mean more sensible ones, or that it would be irresponsible for the Lords to make an independent judgment.
The readiness of the three party leaders to support a measure for which there was no manifesto commitment, and therefore no mandate, is a disgrace. Hopefully, the Lords will speak up for democracy, and throw out the Bill, thus enabling a genuine democratic debate to take place at the next election.
Bob Wright
London NW2
SIR – Conservatives who voted for the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill failed to follow the principle articulated by Edmund Burke, the philosophical founder of conservatism, that society is “a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are dead, and those who are to be born.”
They insult the honour paid to traditional marriage by our forebears. They disdain the rights of the living, who have been denied a chance to vote on manifesto commitments.
They betray the unborn by promoting an irreversible and profound shift in our moral understanding and social relations. Burke reminded those in power that they “act in trust” and are answerable for that trust to the “one great master, author and founder of society.”
Giles Mercer
Bath, Somerset
Preventing funding for extremist groups
SIR – Andrew Gilligan’s excellent article on “lone wolves” (Gilligan on Sunday, May 26) clearly highlights the inherent danger of providing public funding for certain Islamic or extremist groups.
The Government must now insist that directors, officers or trustees of these groups (and indeed any group that receives public funding) must sign personal guarantees to the effect that funding given will only be used to achieve the stated aim on the application.
Where there is a deviation, the guarantees must then be called with the responsible individuals becoming liable to repay the public purse. I wonder how many of these groups are ever properly audited?
George Morgan-Grenville
Cirencester, Gloucestershire
SIR – They say that devil makes work for idle hands. Perhaps if the Government cut off hate preacher Anjem Choudary’s benefits of £25,000 per annum he would have a bit less time to corrupt the minds of vulnerable young people?
Ted Shorter
Hildenborough, Kent
Britain’s energy future
SIR – Maureen O’Connor (Letters, May 26) asks “Will we see trains stranded between stations due to power cuts?”
If we continue to demonise carbon dioxide and invest in renewable energy, yes we will. There will be power failures due to lack of wind or sunshine. We need new fossil fuel and nuclear power stations like those being built elsewhere in the world.
Even Germany is building coal-fired power stations. Energy in America is now half of the price that it is here because of shale gas.
Thomas Sayers
Easington, North Yorkshire
SIR – Unless the Coalition Government revises its catastrophic energy policies, in addition to the lights going out in four years time, we could have the situation whereby HS2 will only be able to run when the wind blows.
What would W S Gilbert have made of it all?
John S Moxham
Prestwood, Buckinghamshire
Guards for Farage
SIR – When Ukip’s leader, Nigel Farage disclosed that, following his treatment at the hands of Scottish nationalist yobs, he has now been forced for the first time to engage bodyguards (report, May 26), he did not say who is paying for them.
If the Prime Minister’s bodyguard is paid for by the state, may we assume that Mr Farage’s status as an MEP entitles his bodyguard to be funded by the EU?
Richard Shaw
Dunstable, Bedfordshire
Train to safety
SIR – Lucy Ward’s interviews (Features, May 26) with several Jewish people who travelled on the Kindertransport as children made for me, as one of the succeeding generation, essential reading.
Their stories are similar to that of my mother, Lili Weissman. She had to travel from Vienna’s Westbahnhof on August 1 1939 on the last Kindertransport train provided.
Her father, Heinrich, was murdered in Buchenwald on December 12 1939. Her mother, Anna, and her younger brother, Heinz, were killed at Sobibor in June 1942.
It is something to be grateful for, that this country provided a new home for the 10,000 Jewish children. My mother was to work as a Land Girl within a day of arrival at London Liverpool Street, and like so many others had to learn a new language.
Rev Robert Weissman
London E18
In defence of red kites
SIR – Paul Sargeantson’s attitude towards red kites (Letters, May 26) is precisely the sort of misconception that resulted in the decimation of their population in the 19th century.
Red kites were once common in Britain and even scavenged on London’s streets. Unfortunately the kite’s tolerance of humans made it an easy target for those with shooting interests.
The persecution of a native species in order to preserve imported gamebirds is a peculiarly British irony. Although the diet of the current kite population has been shown to include pheasants, they are almost entirely scavenged carcasses, many of them road victims or killed by disease.
As for the decline in our songbirds, I’m afraid he can’t pin that on the kite too. Scientists have attributed this to the intensification of farming, the consequent loss of meadows and hedgerows, increased pesticide use, building development and climate change.
Ed Hutchings
Stoke-by-Nayland, Essex
Don’t judge a book…
SIR – Novelist Lionel Shriver complains of publishers putting pink “’chick-lit’-style” covers on “serious works by female authors” (“Pink book covers ‘insult to women’”, report, May 26).
No doubt publishers are aiming to avoid causing unnecessary confusion to female readers, an approach that one would have thought Ms Shriver, a female author with a man’s name, would appreciate.
Ann Farmer
Woodford Green, Essex

Irish Times:

Sir, – I was typing the word Dail into my smartphone when it “corrected” the word to Fail. I reckon it’s far more than a smartphone, it’s a knowledgeablephone. – Yours, etc,
Pococke Lower,

First published: Mon, Jun 3, 2013, 00:11

Sir, – We wish to register our dismay at the prospect that Civic, Social and Political Education (CSPE) will be removed as a compulsory State examinable subject in the new junior cycle curriculum.
At present every Junior Certificate student in the State studies this subject which has at its core an exploration of the meaning and application of active citizenship in society grounded in an understanding of international human rights.
We are aware that the NCCA is formulating a similar, but optional short course, to replace the present CSPE course. Further to this, we understand that completion of the proposed new Junior Certificate requires cognisance of associated statements of learning which demand, for example, that students “value what it means to be an active citizen with rights and responsibilities in local and wider contexts”. However, we believe the current provision of citizenship education is superior.
At present every child is afforded the same opportunity to engage in a syllabus based on the following seven concepts: human dignity, human rights and responsibility, stewardship, understanding of development in society, democracy, law, and interdependence. It includes an externally assessed State exam (40 per cent) as well as the completion of an action project (60 per cent) which has been innovative, beneficial, popular with students and regarded well internationally.
The possibility will exist under the new proposals for citizenship and human rights education to be delivered in a cross-curricular and piece-meal fashion. Available research from the UK has shown this to be less than satisfactory.
As pointed out in by the Irish Commission for Human Rights in a report in 2012, “the re-designation of CSPE as a non-compulsory subject means that there would be no mandatory citizenship education available to all students for the first time since 1966”.
Ireland has an obligation to provide human rights education as a result of various United Nations Conventions to which the Irish State is a party.
For these reasons we feel the Junior Certificate proposals are a retrograde step, which will remove equality of opportunity in regard to human rights and citizenship education in the Irish education system. We therefore would call on the Government to reverse this decision. – Yours, etc,
Association of Civic, Social

Sir, – It seems the National Children’s Hospital is not now likely to be completed before 2019 at the earliest, ie, in six years’ time, at a projected cost of €600 million.
Each year, the National Lottery gives away more than €200 million to good causes. Six times €200 million equals €1,200 million. In other words, more than twice the cost of the hospital.
If the Government reserves only half of what it disburses each year, into a fund specifically for the children’s hospital, it can easily pay for the hospital while still retaining full control of a valuable asset and continuing to have some funding for other good causes. After only six years, full funding would again be available for worthy causes.
This seems to be a better solution than selling off the rights to the Lottery for 20 years to a private agency for profit. – Yours, etc,
Royal Oak Road,

Sir, – On the final day for local property tax registration, two non-resident Irish companies (AMPI and ALVE) announce that, despite each reporting profits of more than €1 billion, no tax is due (“Two Abbott subsidiaries with €1bn plus profits paid no tax”, May 28th).
What perfect timing.
Without their exemptions these non-resident entities would have paid €374 million corporation tax: the maximum yield from the 1.66 million property-tax payers in a full year will be €400 million (“Tax will not prove major revenue raiser for the State”, May 28th). – Yours, etc,

Sir, – After the Senate, we could save hundreds of millions by abolishing the Army? If it cannot protect one tanker of diesel what hope for the country? — Yours, etc,
Crannagh Road,

Irish Independent:

Madam –I am not surprised by the attacks following John Crown’s article (Sunday Independent, May 19, 2013). In many ways Mr Crown is the lay equivalent of the arrogance and conceit that he rails so much against in the Catholic Church. This is a pity because it deflects from his central argument that the Catholic hierarchy is trying to mount a coup against the democratically elected government. Talks of potential excommunications against politicians who vote the ‘wrong way’ in upcoming ‘abortion legislation’ is undemocratic.
Also in this section
Media furthers homegrown myth
‘Cowardly’ label unfair
Adios, Matthew
The disgraceful way in which our Taoiseach was treated in Boston should be widely condemned and is another example of Catholic arrogance. Such disrespect happening in Boston is an even greater irony when one realises that its former cardinal Bernard Law is now a refugee from American justice in Vatican City. The charge against him is that he did nothing to prevent sexual abuse against children in his diocese.
Letter writers to your paper describe themselves as Catholics whose faith has been insulted by Mr Crown’s article. They write in irritation demanding apologies. I, on the other hand, am a Christian and found the central argument of Mr Crown’s article persuasive. I would add however that in Mr Crown’s future correspondence with the Sunday Independent, he should be a little more sensitive to the sensibilities of the Catholic church who see power slipping from their hands slowly but surely day by day.
Michael Clemenger,
Trim, Co Meath
Madam –John Crown’s piece entitled “A thoroughly Irish coup” hit the nail squarely on the head, which is why it drew a hail of anti-letters on your issue of May 26.
It is amazing that we have a declared republic since 1948 and that still many Irish citizens think we should be effectively ruled by the Vatican. Rule by any religion defines a country as a theocracy which is no relation to a republic.
It shows the power of religious brainwashing when people can be so intellectually confused they regard such polar opposites as compatible.
It is to Enda Kenny’s credit that he is the first ever Taoiseach to stand up to the might of the Vatican. Some former Fine Gael leaders were abject in their servility to the Church.
Paddy Phelan,
Ballymacarbry, Co Waterford
Madam – Dermot Desmond is described as “widely” considered to have been the person behind the IFSC (Sunday Independent, May 26, 2013).
Bearing in mind the IFSC was one of the great recent achievements of the Irish State, why is only “widely” used as it appears to cast some doubt?
Was Mr Desmond the person behind the IFSC or not?
Surely documents of the IDA, and other related State bodies, must be available in order to determine the genesis of the IFSC if the term “widely” does not give Mr Desmond the credit he actually deserves?
John R Kane,
Madam – I cannot believe the naivety of Eilis O’Hanlon in her article entitled ‘radiator man’ where she found it “odd” that the chap who locked himself to a radiator got such a hard time from the public on Liveline.
Did she honestly think that this unemployed man was treated fairly or impartially or that this was a fair representation of public opinion on the property tax?
How fortunate the Suffragettes and Gandhi were that Liveline wasn’t around for their peaceful protests. The unemployed in Ireland have no voice and it is no wonder that they have to resort to this to be heard.
E R Corcoran,
Clonsilla, Dublin 15
Madam –How pleased I was to see Florence Horsman-Hogan, again submitting articles to the Sunday Independent! I really missed them. They are so applicable to all of us and to living life and its consequences in the truest sense. Please continue. You made my day!
Patricia Ryan,
Thurles, Co. Tipperary.
Madam – It is great to read Colm McCarthy write a bit of sense on the ‘Ireland is a tax haven’ allegations (Sunday Independent, May 26, 2013). He stated that there is “no evidence whatsoever… that multinationals operating here are in breach of Irish or any other tax laws”.
This statement is especially important since many jobs in the Irish economy are at stake.
Also, as Mr McCarthy himself says, the Irish media, as well as opposition politicians, seem to have swallowed the line put out by international spin doctors in the US and Europe that Ireland is indeed a tax haven.
Colm McCarthy has unrivalled credibility in this area since he has being challenging conventional wisdom and various bandwagons for years.
As far back as 2002 he wrote that, due to the fact that the republic had lost control over its exchange rate, the management of the Irish economy back then was “unsustainable”.
If the powers that be had listened to him back then we might have been spared our present troubles.
Anyway I hope Colm McCarthy continues to say what is right as he sees it. But I am afraid that, as in 2002, too many will not want to hear.
A Leavy,
Sutton, Dublin 13
Madam – I want to congratulate Brendan O’Connor on the article on creches and the RTE Prime Time investigation (Sunday Independent, May 26, 2013). We have had many calls in the National Women’s Council of Ireland from mothers talking about their concerns and worries. His article brought together so many of those views and also that the issues raised are complex and not helped by knee jerk reactions. The NWCI has been campaigning for publicly subsidised childcare as we believe it is the only way to ensure high quality and affordable childcare in Ireland.
I also have a three-year-old in creche and found myself nodding to all your words, as I am sure did many mothers and fathers. Well done
Orla O’Connor, Director,
National Women’s Council of Ireland, Dublin 1
Madam –I would like to thank Alan O’Mara for his article about his experience with depression (Sunday Independent, May 26, 2013). I was so impressed with his honesty and courage to speak out. As a therapist and a volunteer with Jigsaw Galway in the West of Ireland, I found the article proved just how young men can come to terms with feelings of low mood and seek help. Mental health does not necessarily mean a diagnosis or medication, it may mean you just want to talk to someone and – most importantly – be listened to. We get so caught up within ourselves that it is difficult to see anything else and that is where the advantages of counselling services lie.
I just hope other young males and females recognise that it takes more courage to ask for help than to struggle alone.
Eimear Connaughton,
Madam – Re: Quotes Of The Week (Sunday Independent, May 26, 2013). Please note that Prince Charles is not the Duke of Edinburgh.
SM Adamson,
Celbridge, Co Kildare
Thanks for spotting that. Prince Charles is the Prince of Wales. His father, Prince Phillip, is the Duke of Edinburgh.
Letters Editor

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