6 June 2013 Tired

Off around the park oh dear oh dear Everyone has secrets and there is a leak at Captain Povey’s office its only from his radiator, but Admirality thinks its a security leak and start an investigation. Priceless.
Another quiet day awfully tired can hardly move, Secom man comes
We watch The Pallaisers They are married, and and old flame is sniffing around
Mary wins at scrabble but get under 400 perhaps I can have my revenge tomorrow.


Caroline Harris-Jones
Caroline Harris-Jones, who has died aged 92, as a nurse tended to wounded pilots from one of the RAF’s crucial coastal fighter bases during the war; she was also the backbone of a family whose medical history spanned many generations.

Caroline Harris-Jones 
5:03PM BST 05 Jun 2013
The only child of Scottish parents, she was born Caroline Agnes MacKenzie on July 12 1920 at Thornton Heath, Surrey. Her own immediate family were not doctors, but a mid-19th century ancestor – the son of the Duke of Hamilton – forged a career as a Naval surgeon after discovering that he was illegitimate.
Caroline’s own parents were musical and, after the family moved to Croydon, her mother played the organ at the parish church. Caroline attended a convent school and, on leaving, decided to train as a nurse.
As part of her training she spent six months in Edinburgh on a midwifery course, but by the time she had qualified, and was posted to Southend General Hospital, war had broken out, and it was her skill in dealing with trauma injuries that was most in demand. She treated those from every Service but, as Southend airport had been requisitioned and transformed into RAF Rochford, it was the pilots of Supermarine Spitfires and Hawker Hurricane fighters she saw most.
While at Southend she met John Harris-Jones, who was one of an eminent group of doctors at the hospital which included Leslie le Quesne, a future professor of surgery who made it his life’s work to improve survival rates of those undergoing major operations.
John Harris-Jones, himself the son of a doctor, was then serving with the RAMC. He was something of an anti-establishment figure, and military life did not come easily to him. On one occasion he forgot his parade ground commands and directed a platoon into a brick wall.
The war and its casualties provided a rigorous training ground for both of them, and it was not until 1948, two years after he had married Caroline MacKenzie, that John Harris-Jones was demobilised.
The couple moved to Sheffield, struggling to enliven a drab post-war existence marked by rationing and tight budgets. It was tempting to look abroad for solace, and Caroline Harris-Jones had packed the family’s bags in anticipation of a permanent move to Canada, where they had found new jobs, when her husband returned home to tell her that it was all off: he had decided at the last moment that he could not live without cricket.
They moved instead to Swansea, where he rose to become senior physician for west Wales. Caroline Harris-Jones became a leading figure in the local Red Cross, also helping to run her husband’s private practice.
When he died in 1987, aged 68, Caroline Harris-Jones moved to Lymington, where she again became a stalwart of the local Red Cross, and determined to explore the New Forest. She travelled by bicycle into advanced age, proving her determination by undergoing a double knee replacement and returning to the saddle within three months.
She greatly enjoyed bridge, and her membership of the Royal Lymington Yacht Club, as well as tending a beautiful garden.
Caroline Harris-Jones is survived by a daughter, Hilary, and a son, Richard Harris-Jones, who is the long-standing doctor at The Daily Telegraph.
Caroline Harris-Jones, born July 12 1920, died April 29 2013


Your obituary of Lord Gilbert (4 June) refers to the 70s proposals to improve London’s road system, which as a minister he dropped. There were not proposals for “several ringroads” but merely three: one around central London, one roughly on the alignment of the existing North and South Circulars, and one outer orbital around the edges of the outer boroughs.
I was one of the people who worked on those proposals briefly in the early 70s whom Gilbert described as “not very perceptive” and “unambitious”. We ran very well-based computer forecasts then of projected increases in car and freight trips by 1991, and the serious increases in journey times, congestion, and economic costs that would result from a failure to improve the road network.
Those forecasts were amply borne out by what actually happened in London by the late 80s and 90s. Anyone who seeks to travel across London by car or with freight, but with a destination well within the M25, is living with the unacceptable consequences of Gilbert’s decision which your obituary describes as “decisive shrewdness”.
In fact the decision to drop the ringway proposals was largely borne out of an unwillingness by weak politicians to take on the lobby of those whose properties were to be affected by road-building (and to meet the project costs).
The result is a massive and growing conurbation with a totally inadequate strategic road system. Hardly a legacy of which Gilbert could be proud.
Steve Smart
Malvern, Worcestershire

We need a full and sensible debate about out-of-hours care. However, it is essential that we find a complete solution, not a piecemeal one. We are concerned that a system where some patients are treated and others are not – as proposed by the chair of the Royal College of GPs (GP leader offers way to end out-of-hours row, 5 June) – will not work, and will also be unfair and potentially discriminatory.
While out-of-hours care has featured heavily in the news recently, the facts do not support the claim that this is the main cause of pressures on A&E departments. The thousands of GPs who regularly work out-of-hours shifts also report increased demand. This mirrors the bigger workload seen by all GPs as we support more elderly patients with complex health needs while funding has remained static.
The service won’t improve until out-of-hours, urgent and emergency care are properly resourced and integrated with other services. Social services care, community nursing and support services are all part of the solution too. Our patients deserve better than another kneejerk solution that’s not been thought through.
Dr Laurence Buckman
Chair, BMA GPs committee
• Jeremy Hunt says he wants GPs to take back out-of-hours responsibility (Out of GPs’ hands, Society, 5 June). I have written to him twice asking for his support in City and Hackney. He didn’t answer my first letter. He said we could tender for the contract like any other provider in response to my second letter. We have heard him repeatedly state over the last few weeks that GPs taking ownership of out-of-hours care is the way forward to provide safe and effective care for patients out of core GP opening hours. Our clinical commissioning group have been told they cannot “legally” make the decision to give our newly formed social enterprise a contract to do this, although it is the preferred option for the GPs and residents of City and Hackney. In spite of the secretary of state saying that CCGs will be able to decide how they procure services, the contract has to go out to open tender, the costs of which are prohibitive to social enterprises. The law requires it. So if he thinks this is the way forward, why doesn’t he legislate to make it possible? Otherwise all his words are empty.
Deborah Colvin
GP, Hackney
It is inherently wrong that money can buy influence in a modern democracy – and yet this is what is offered for open sale by lobbying firms (Corporate power has turned Britain into a corrupt state, 5 June). There are two simple measures to clean up our democratic system.
The first is to ban professional lobbying. There is no justification for commercial influences to have preferred access to political processes. The second is to ban MPs from taking on consultancy and other activities while an MP, and to publish any payments post-office. The justification for MP salaries is that it enables anyone from any background to become an MP since an independent income is not necessary; given this, it seems farcical that many MPs work many more hours for personal gain that for their constituents who ultimately fund their salaries.
Both these measures would be simple to implement, easy to enforce and would clean up politics no end. They may even remove the people who are in politics for the wrong reasons.
Professor Russell Beale
Market Drayton, Shropshire
• Nigel Farage (This cosy trialogue, 4 June) regards the funding of politicians and their operations as an abuse of the public purse. It’s an argument which in the current climate of public mistrust of parliament is extremely difficult to understand. What is needed is more publicly accountable scrutiny, not less.
The public needs to be reassured that the lobbying of parliament is an open process agreed in advance, case by case, by an independent body inside parliament whose files are open to public scrutiny. If the government wishes to restrict lobbying and funding by the unions then it must also restrict the funding of the Tories by big business or rich individuals. Even better to let this process be funded on an even-handed process by parliament. However, this is but a small part of making parliament more accountable to people. At a period when the percentage of those voting has fallen to an all-time low, why is there no debate about making voting compulsory. What are the parties afraid of?
Dr Simon Harris and Dr Celia Prussia
• Seumas Milne is absolutely right to bemoan the increase in corruption in Britain’s public sector, but his medicine is overly punitive (stop letting this or that happen). What we also need is something that has been lost: a positive endorsement of the concept of public service and its essential place in a civilised society. Forty to 50 years ago, the private sector was damagingly shaded by the public sector. Now the balance has swung too far the other way. Highlighting public service as a value would help restore the balance.
John Webster
• Just as the phone-hacking scandal was not ultimately about a handful of dodgy journalists and coppers on the make, so the political lobbying scandal is not really about some rogue lobbyists and a few avaricious MPs. Instead both form part of a much wider scandal about how power and influence are exerted within British society. By focusing narrowly on press regulation, the Leveson inquiry steered well away from any deeper exploration of the dangers corporate power presents to our stuttering democracy. Sadly attempts to investigate and regulate the lobbyists are certain to have a similarly narrow focus.
Stefan Simanowitz
• It is disappointing that a good editorial on lobbying (5 June) was let down by the unnecessary statement that Labour’s link with the trade unions is worthy of a rethink. The relationship between the Labour party and the unions ensures that the views of over 3 million working people are represented in politics. The unions and their members provide a bulwark against the vested interests of capital that seeks only to reduce the rights of working people in pursuit of profits. The union movement is profoundly democratic. The suggestion the link needs to be re-examined represents nothing more than an unenlightened attempt to placate those whose ignorance of the issue leads to ill-informed assumptions.
Andy Prendergast
Senior organiser, GMB
• As Frances O’Grady says, this move smacks of political opportunism (PM moves to cut Labour’s union funding, 4 June). I would, however, have no complaint if it were part of an overall reform of party funding; I note Cameron is not cutting business funding of the Tories. The only way to have a level playing field is for all parties to be given modest state funding topped up by individual donations capped at a low level (although, of course, it tends to be Tory supporters who have most wealth to spare). It should also be illegal for any organisation to pay an MP for services to them.
Michael Miller
• The Conservatives will be well aware that reform of party funding – which Labour spent its time in power talking about, but failing to act on – has nothing to do with a register of lobbyists. But that is their masterstroke: by forcing Labour to vote against the bill as presented by the coalition and thus ensure it is lost, they can paint Labour as indifferent to political sleaze yet continue to enjoy the fruits of their cosy relationship with unaccountable corporate interests.
Joseph Nicholas
•  As a trade unionist I had to tick a box to allow my union to contribute part of my paltry subscription to the Labour party. As a shareholder, in various companies, I have never been able to affect a part of what would have been my dividend to the Tory party. In 2010, the financial services sector contributed over £11m to the Tories, so the attack on party funding should, in fairness, affect the very big donors and not the accumulation of funds from working people.
Gren Gaskell
Malvern, Worcestershire

I’m interested to learn that Waltham Forest’s Labour council is going to be spending our council tax providing advice through what is left of our tattered library service as to “what vegetables are in demand” (Letters, 4 June). Wouldn’t it be simpler to just take a walk through Walthamstow’s famous street market?
Katy Andrews
• Why is everyone in the photo on your front page looking so bored and bemused (By royal appointment, 5 June)? Does the black lollipop lady represent a multicultural Britain? The photographer, Jack Hill, deserves a Queen’s award for services to republicanism.
David Bishop
Nantwich, Cheshire
• I was pleased to read that Sophie Heawood (G2, 5 June) has rediscovered the pleasure of listening to good music on a decent stereo. As Alex said in A Clockwork Orange: “What you got back home little sister, to play your fuzzy warbles on? I bet you got little save pitiful, portable picnic players. Come with uncle and hear all proper! Hear angel trumpets and devil trombones. You are invited.”
Ralph Jones
Rochester, Kent
• Sophie Okonedo as Doctor Who, please (Matt Smith’s departure sparks speculation, 3 June).
Pam Laurance
• If the next Doctor Who is to be female, I cannot think of a better actor to play the role than the (slightly unworldly) Tilda Swinton.
David Gibson
• With reference to Simon Hoggart’s week (1 June), in what way does the kleptocracy “rob us blind”?
Kevin Carey
Chair, RNIB
• Why are old ladies always referred to as “little” when nearly all my elderly female friends are quite tall (Letters, 4 June)?
Wendy Collins
Batley, West Yorkshire
• They’re going on to the bitter end.
Peter Gibson
Morebath, Devon

Surely Sarah Bell (Letters, 1 June) is missing the point if she is implying that people who are overcrowded can be helped by forcing people with “spare” bedrooms into debt – and potentially into homelessness. Norris Green in Liverpool has over 1,000 families affected by the bedroom tax and many of them describe its implementation as “simply evil”. It is evil because of the way it has been introduced retrospectively. Hundreds of thousands of tenants with the financial support of successive governments have happily made social housing their family home but are now being forced into debt and possible eviction, leading many to despair and some to suicide. Like many I would prefer to see the bedroom tax scrapped completely, but a more humane way of introducing it would be to protect all existing tenants, not just the elderly, and to introduce changes gradually for prospective tenants.
Cllr Alan Walker
Norris Green & Sparrowhall ward, Liverpool

“Pleading with the government” to combat Amazon, “destroyer of bookshops”, is a woeful sign of our times (Booksellers seek Amazon curb, 5 June). Enduring under an oppressive, philistine government has sapped the energy of booksellers. Bookshop viability is undermined by a complex set of factors including: unmatchable discounting from outlets such as Amazon, chainstores, newspapers (even the Guardian); rising ebook sales; the intensive promotion of Kindle; scandalous underfunding of print books in schools and libraries; rising rent and utility costs for our premises in town centres as potential customers are diverted to soulless retail parks. Perhaps we should emulate the French and make culture a political priority. But then our Booksellers Association allows chainstores membership for its services and favours giving away 1 million books on World Book Night. I retire this summer after 22 years as an independent bookseller. So there’s another gap in the crumbling high street.
Malcolm Stanton
Red Balloon Bookshop, Ludlow
•  Bookshops are in a bad way, but Amazon is not the only cause. I retired from 37 years of bookselling seven years ago, but before I went, I had been hit in other ways. A charity bookshop opened, wiping £30k off my takings in its first year. Few could compete with a shop with only a managerial wage, subsidised rates and free stock. The university librarian told me some course organisers had said their students no longer needed the library (and by implication, bookshops). Course packs and downloaded PDF files had seen to that. I went down the standard route to salvation via specialisation; customers would exclaim that they had never seen so many golf books, with whole shelves even on golf course architecture, and then copy down the ISBNs. The books were no cheaper on Amazon, but they didn’t have to carry them home. All power to the campaign for a level playing field, but I fear that some of the bumps in the field cannot be explained simply by curbing Amazon’s financial advantage.
Margaret Squires
St Andrews, Fife



Archie Bland starts his piece “What planet are the Lords living on?” (5 June) by referring to a remark in my speech in the Lords’ same-sex marriage debate that I had been “immensely impressed” by its quality.
That was prelude to his purporting to give any reader  the “chance to make up your own mind” by providing extracts from that debate.
However, he quoted seven carefully selected peers highly selectively from among the 91 who spoke, in order to smear the Lords as a whole. He also failed to point out that we (me amongst them) overwhelmingly rejected the vote to kill the Bill by 390 votes to 148, a greater majority than in the Commons.
There are many failings of which the House of Lords can be convicted, but on this issue Mr Bland should practise what he preaches with regard to gay people, namely fairness. The government minister, Baroness Stowell of Beeston,  winding up the debate, got things right when she concluded (as had others) that it  showed that the Lords “takes its role seriously and is able to deal with controversial and sensitive issues in a measured way that respects differing views.”
Andrew Phillips (Lord Phillips of Sudbury), House of Lords
In the Lords debate on gay marriage Baroness Knight reportedly said: “Of course homosexuals are very artistic and delightful people, too.”
As a straight man I have to say I find this comment outrageous, unacceptable, arrogant, prejudiced and an appalling example of the worst kind of stereotyping. Such a view has no place in a forum charged with responsibility for influencing the laws of this country, and shows  yet again that the House of Lords is not fit for this role.
It’s not simply a question of what century Baroness Knight and her like are living in, but what reality.
Stanley Knill, London N15
I find it hypocritical that your headline (4 June) puts the House of Lords on trial for potentially “wrecking” the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill while not acknowledging that this Government has taken a decidedly undemocratic approach on the matter.   
This Bill was not in any manifesto prior to the last election; the so-called consultation, which had to be forced upon the Government, ignored a 600,000-strong petition against the Bill; and even this week the Government moved the date of the debate to try and avoid defeat.
Elizabeth Baugh, Reading
The price of  revealing US dirty dealings
Thank goodness for your truth teller Owen Jones (3 June), clearly spelling out America’s history of dirty dealings in foreign lands and the need to keep those operations secret. The public needs journalists like Mr Jones to bring these disturbing facts into the public domain, although I despair that his article will not be read by those most in need of enlightening. 
I despair too for Bradley Manning, as he will undoubtedly be paying a very high price for his attempt to bring our attention to the reality behind the smokescreen of keeping us in the West “safe”. Anyone who seriously challenges the military might of America and its allies, will be hounded and punished, including Julian Assange, who has been much criticised. 
We must be very careful not to fall prey to attempts to distract attention away from the content of the material released by WikiLeaks, and on to the personal life of the messenger. This has been done many times before and unfortunately it is often successful. 
Many facts about America’s cruel, ruthless and disfunctional military have been in the public domain (via the internet) for some time, but this issue of, as Owen Jones puts it, the hidden realities of US power and the poorly scrutinised actions of the US foreign policy elite, needs to be highlighted as much as possible in the general media. Your paper is one of the few  that can be depended upon  to do that.
M Chaplin, Haslemere, Surrey
To whom does Bradley Manning owe his allegiance – his fellow citizens or his government? 
If one comes into possession of information that the government is engaged in activities which are unknown to the public and/or against the moral conscience of the majority, where does one’s duty lie? I would suggest clearly to the general public. To do otherwise would be treason indeed.
Madelyne Edwards, Maulden, Bedfordshire
Badger cull is based on science
Your report on the letter from a small group of veterinary surgeons regarding bovine TB and the badger cull (5 June) suggests that the signatories are members of our Association and that they accuse BVA of not consulting the membership before taking a position on the badger cull.
In fact only a third of the signatories are BVA members and those that are members have had plenty of opportunity to contribute to our policy on bovine TB, which has been in development for many years. Not every member will have an opinion on every BVA policy, but through our committee system and Council, which includes elected representatives from every region, we are able to give every member a voice.
Like the signatories to the letter we too are absolutely committed to animal health and welfare and, as veterinary surgeons, we believe that effective measures to eradicate endemic disease are an integral part of that commitment. We want to see healthy cattle and healthy badgers and we have been insistent that measures to control bovine TB in wildlife must be humane.
That is why we are supporting the pilot culls. We know that culling badgers reduces the incidence of bovine TB in cattle, but we need to be reassured that the proposed method of controlled shooting is humane, safe and effective. The pilot culls have been designed to be as humane as possible, with trained marksmen and detailed guidance on which types of gun and ammunition may be used, but the methods need to be tested in the field so, as scientists, we have to support the pilots.
Members of our profession are battling daily against bovine TB, working alongside farmers to advise on better biosecurity and carrying out TB tests on cattle. We believe the current policy is science-led and is part of a holistic eradication policy. We support the strong cattle measures in place and the use of badger vaccination, but they are not enough. We are all working towards a cattle vaccine, but that is still many years away.
Our support for the badger cull was not taken lightly but it was taken with the primacy of animal health and welfare and scientific evidence in mind.
Peter Jones, President,  British Veterinary Association,  London W1
Gove’s latest bright idea
Your leading article (5 June) applauds moves by Ofqual to transform GCSEs into I-levels and in particular “the decision to spread existing A and A* grades across four numerical marks”.
In reality approximately 15 per cent of candidates each year in each of English and maths get these top grades. So the new system will try to provide greater discrimination for high-achieving candidates, who will be awarded one of four numerical marks while the remaining 85 per cent of candidates will be allocated one of the remaining four marks.
Surely, this will be an inadequate system at providing any meaningful result for the majority of students and for those who use these qualifications to make any judgements about students’ abilities.
This looks like another idea from Mr Gove that will eventually be found to be worthy of a mark outside the top four.
Geoff Wake, Horsley,  Derbyshire
Upon reading that Michael Gove’s new I-level certificate will be graded from 1 to 8, to allow 9 and 10 to be added later, it was impossible to avoid recalling the guitarist Nigel Tufnel in the spoof rockumentary This is Spinal Tap.
Tufnel had an amplifier that went up to 11. Presumably when a student finally gets a 10, Gove will heed Nigel’s paraphrased prophetic words:  “It’s an 11. It’s one better isn’t it? Most exam results go up to 10, but when you are at 10, where can you go from there? The I-level goes to 11.”
Michael O’Hare, Northwood,  Middlesex
Missing the real scandal
Just as the phone-hacking scandal was not ultimately about a handful of dodgy journalists and  coppers-on-the-make, so the political lobbying scandal is not really about some rogue lobbyists and a few avaricious MPs. Instead both form part of a much wider scandal about how power and influence are exerted within British society.
By focusing narrowly on press regulation, the Leveson inquiry steered well away from any deeper exploration of the dangers corporate power presents to our stuttering democracy. Sadly, attempts to investigate and regulate the lobbyists are certain to have a similarly narrow focus.
Stefan Simanowitz, London NW3
Victors’ peace
Dr Jacob Amir states the peace talks are only awaiting the Palestinians to arrive at the table (letter, 4 June). So Israeli Netenyahu sits down with Abbas while he fails to stop the illegal settlements being constructed; and when he has failed to state, unlike his predecessors, that talks would be based on the 1967 borders. It would be suicide for Abbas.
Peter Downey, Bath
No surprise
I hope Vaughan Thomas (letter, 4 June) is never the victim of rape. Surprise is not the overriding emotion in such a situation. Terrifying fear, horror, shock, pain and utter humiliation? Yes. Surprise? Mmmm, rather less so.
Alison Rayner, London N16
History lesson
Over 40 years ago, one of the questions in my A-level history examination was: “Shrewd, mean and unscrupulous: is this a fair comment on Henry VII?” Is this a fair question to ask our Coalition Government?
Raj Kothari, Bridport, Dorset
Mystery mags
I must have visited a newsagent almost every day of my adult life, yet I don’t think I have ever seen anyone buy a “lads’ mag” (letter, 5 June). Perhaps they just fly off the shelf.
David Ridge, London N19
Where’s the roof?
The Serpentine Pavilion (report, 5 June) looks delightful – but will it keep the rain out?
Sara Neill, Tunbridge Wells, Kent


Leaders of the legal Circuits protest at legal aid reforms, while another reader points out the flaws in the current system
Sir, The rights to choose one’s lawyer and to have a fair trial have been tenets of British law for centuries. Yet under proposed cuts to legal aid, the Government will erase 400 years of legal history after a consultation of just 40 days.
The Justice Minister claims these reforms are about cutting legal aid to the wealthiest individuals, but with the right to a lawyer on criminal legal aid capped at just £37,500 joint household disposable income, it will be hard-working families hit hardest yet again. He also claims that this won’t have a negative impact on the criminal justice system, despite protest to the contrary from the Law Society, the Bar Council, the Criminal Bar Association, several senior judges, as well as the leaders of the six legal Circuits all of whom are signatories of this letter.
Those who qualify for legal aid will have their lawyer chosen for them by the state. This lawyer could be from G4S, Serco or Eddie Stobart.
Contracts for criminal cases will be awarded to the lowest bidder. Experienced high street firms of solicitors will fold, and the quality of advice and representation will plummet. Miscarriages of justice and the expense of putting them right in the appeal courts will soar.
Those earning above the income threshold will face the prospect of remortgaging their home, or seeking external finance in order to afford the expert witnesses, forensic specialists and new technology which are part and parcel of modern trials.
Law-abiding citizens may think these changes won’t affect them, but in our experience ordinary families are involved in thousands of cases every year because they defend their homes against a burglar or have a dispute with their neighbour.
We know money needs to be saved, but with bankruptcy of families and miscarriages of justice on the cards, there is little to support in the proposed reforms. We ask the Government to give the legal profession the time and opportunity to develop with it new, more effective reforms which maintain the fairness of the justice system and protect the rights of the ordinary people.
Alistair Macdonald, QC, Leader of the North Eastern Circuit; Sarah Forshaw, QC, Leader of the South Eastern Circuit; Nigel Lickley, QC, Leader of the Western Circuit; Rick Pratt, QC, Leader of the Northern Circuit; Mark Wall, QC, Leader of the Midland Circuit; Greg Bull, QC, Leader, Wales and Chester Circuit
Sir, The suggestion from some of your correspondents that the proposed withdrawal of legal aid in judicial review proceedings will lead to widespread injustice does not stand up to reasoned argument.
Legal aid has contributed to substantial and sustained abuse of the system by those who seek to use the legal process in order to frustrate the legitimate actions of government, particularly in asylum and immigration cases. Most cases fail.
The number of judicial review cases that settle before proceedings is a reflection of the legally aided claimant’s significant and unfair financial advantage. He bears little risk in pursuing the most spurious claim; he is unlikely to have costs awarded against him if his claim fails, while his opponent has to use scarce public resources to fund defended proceedings. It is not unknown for some lawyers to exploit this imbalance.
It is surely wrong that the public should fund individuals who seek to frustrate legitimate and lawful government actions, or to have their lawyers pursue what are effectively political or publicity campaigns on their behalf that ought properly to be aired through the democratic rather than the judicial process.
Legal aid should be granted only in those judicial review cases where a judge is satisfied that the case has a reasonable prospect of success.
James Blair
Winsford, Cheshire

Six QCs representing 10,000 barristers accuse the Justice Secretary today of “wiping away” 400 years of legal history in 40 days.
In a letter to The Times, the six circuit leaders say that the right to choose a lawyer and the right to a fair trial “have been tenets of British law for centuries”. Yet legal aid changes proposed by Chris Grayling would end them, they say.
The QCs warn that the changes will see people accused of crimes having a lawyer “chosen for them by the state”. Appeals and miscarriages of justice will soar, they say.
The letter coincides with the deadline this week for responses to Mr Grayling’s plans to cut £220 million from the legal aid bill.
More than 600 circuit judges as well as the Bar, Law Society and groups such as Catholic Charities and the Children’s Society have all condemned the plans to remove a suspect’s choice of lawyer and to introduce price competitive bidding between lawyers for legal aid contracts.
Yesterday the Bar Council reacted with fury after new figures of top-earning legal aid law firms were leaked to tabloid newspapers. They told Mr Grayling that it would not help him to devise a system of quality standards for barristers which could “wreck the criminal justice system”.
The quality standards are central to the Justice Secretary’s plans to bring in competitive tendering for criminal legal aid.
Michael Turner, QC, chairman of the Criminal Bar, said: “Most criminal members earn less than a plumber.”
He said that Mr Grayling’s plans for introducing quality standards would enable him to abolish a suspect’s choice of lawyer — the time-honoured way of ensuring quality among barristers. “The marketplace has sorted out quality for thousands of years and maintained a profession that is respected worldwide. We are not going to play ball with the Justice Secretary’s agenda.”
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said that it had invited the Bar to work with it on improving its proposals. “It’s disappointing that having had regular discussions with them over the last few weeks, they now seem unwilling to engage on the important issue of ensuring equality.”
On Tuesday hundreds of protesters demonstrated against the plans outside the Ministry of Justice.
In a statement read out to the protest, Michael Mansfield, QC, who has represented the families of Stephen Lawrence and represents families of Hillsborough disaster victims, said: “None of this is primarily about lawyers, although they are affected. It is about a basic provision, justice, the very substance of what is left of our democracy.
“No fundamental rights are worth the paper they are written upon unless they can be enforced, especially against overweening and corruptive authorities.
“There has been, with small exceptions, an intransigence and almost dismissive contempt by government towards the plight of the citizen.”
The demonstration, organised by Save Justice, whose members include Wilson Solicitors LLP, Public Law Project, Liberty and Amnesty International among others, was addressed by a range of speakers including human rights campaigner and Mick Jagger’s ex-wife Bianca Jagger.
Millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money is spent annually supplying lawyers to prisoners who launch “unnecessary” legal claims, the Government said today.
The Ministry of Justice said most of the claims could be handled through a prison service complaints system.
The Association of Prison Lawyers said planned legal aid cuts made “no sense” and warned that confidence in the prison system could be undermined.
“The proposals being put forward make no sense either financially or in terms of public protection,” said an association spokesman. “The removal of public funding will only serve to undermine confidence in the prison system and will inevitably cost the public far more than the current legal aid fees.”

To allow Ministers to extend their own ‘short termism’ to the Civil Service by choosing postholders is ‘a sure-fire recipe for confusion’
Sir, Your report (June 3) that Jonathan Stephens is being pushed out of his Permanent Secretary post on the say-so of the Culture Secretary Maria Miller is perhaps regrettable but hardly surprising.
It can be seen as the latest in a string of enforced departures of civil servants which started after the 1997 general election. In the two years after Tony Blair came to power some two dozen heads of information in the then Government Information Service (GIS) were either removed, bullied and badmouthed, bypassed or otherwise dispensed with.
In evidence to the Commons Public Administration Committee at the time, more than one of us voiced the suspicion that the “mainstream” of the Civil Service stayed silent and let this happen in the belief that ministers, having culled the GIS — and, in many cases, moved in their party placemen and women as replacements — would now call a halt.
They were wrong: while the pace of departures may have slowed, the appetite for what (in a letter to these pages in 1998) I called the “Washingtonisation” of the Civil Service is undiminished, witness — as you report — the success of Michael Gove and Philip Hammond in having their Permanent Secretaries removed. I would not object to any Secretary of State choosing his or her Permanent Secretary or similarly senior figure, provided always the choice was made from among qualified candidates who had passed through the Civil Service selection procedure.
Ministers are, in the main, short-term holders of departmental briefs; to allow them to extend their own “short termism” to the Civil Service by choosing the key post-holders in their departments seems to me to be a sure-fire recipe for confusion, loss of momentum and lack of direction every time there is a change of Minister.
Andy Wood
Director of Information, Northern Ireland Office 1987-97, Holywood, Northern Ireland
Sir, Having served in the Home Office, the Ministry of Defence and the Central Office of Information, it is quite clear to me that the Government, having already destroyed the morale of the Civil Service, is now out to destroy its impartiality.
In the past, experienced senior civil servants have often been able to save ministers of all parties from their own stupidity. If we lose this essential body of knowledge this country will be on a dangerous downward slope.
Barry Richardson
Isham, Northants

The existing policy on drugs in this country costs £3 billion a year and does little to address the causes of addiction
Sir, Worldwide there is growing recognition that the “war on drugs” has failed — having cost billions and caused tens of thousands of deaths.
The Organisation of American States meeting in Guatemala this week is considering a radical rethink of drug policy. In the UK there is growing agreement among scientists, politicians, lawyers and police that we need to review existing policy — which costs £3 billion a year, does little to address the causes of addiction and pointlessly criminalises people.
A Home Affairs Select Committee report being debated in Westminster today warns that the Government can no longer ignore the pressure to consider a new approach and show support for the bold Latin American initiatives to end the drugs war.
The UK Government can start with an independent review of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 to examine whether it is effective or good value for money. This would indicate a willingness to acknowledge its failures and to join in the global effort towards an alternative drug strategy.
Caroline Lucas, MP; Sir Richard Branson; Sting; Keith Vaz, MP; Professor David Nutt; Dame Joan Bakewell; Sir Ian Gilmore; Dame Ruth Runciman; Mike Trace; Russell Brand; Zac Goldsmith, MP; Julian Huppert, MP; Paul Flynn, MP; Niamh Eastwood; Danny Kushlick; Lord Rea; Baroness Butler-Sloss; Lord Dholakia; Lord Ramsbotham

Friends of Liberace have been distressed by the film about his life, and knew a different man from that portrayed on screen
Sir, Your piece (June 5) about the Michael Douglas/Liberace film greatly distressed those of us who knew the real Liberace. Michael Douglas’s Liberace is not the man I knew.
The view of Jerry Weintraub, the producer, that Liberace “was tortured by living a lie” is false. I last saw him only a few weeks before he died, and nothing about him suggested a tortured soul. Quite the contrary. In spite of being sick, he was still loved by his audience, and he loved them. And that was all that mattered to him.
Tony Palmer

Battersea can be come a major tourist attraction, with some imagination, while preserving the Brick-Cathedral style architecture
Sir, Both Bankside, which houses the Tate Modern, and Battersea power stations were constructed in the Brick-Cathedral style, the latter having an Art Deco interior using Italian marble.
You have to blame my grandfather, William Pearman, for this as he was in charge of the London Power Co in the 1930s.
With imagination Battersea can become a major tourist attraction too, well worth preserving in its entirety even if its “eyes are set too far” apart (letter, June 4).
Christopher Pearman
Oxted, Surrey


SIR – Chris Barmby (Letters, June 4) is concerned about supermarkets offering best-selling books at knock-down prices while proper booksellers cannot compete.
Not only do supermarkets not stock many items but they will not take special orders as was the tradition with grocers, butchers, greengrocers, hardware shops, newsagents and bookshops. Try to order unusual biscuits, books or trade magazines from a supermarket and one hears the excuse: “We are a supermarket.”
With the closure of so many specialist shops is it time for some regulations to protect the high street or will market forces destroy our shopping culture completely?
Chris Harding
Parkstone, Dorset
SIR – Books are so expensive that those who heavily discount them have great appeal – maybe if the suggested price were £10, rather than £20, those retailers would lose their edge. The independent shops would make a profit – albeit smaller – and have an opportunity to make more sales.
SIR – I spent nine years working for the Metropolitan Police as a crown court liaison officer. During that time I witnessed, on an almost daily basis, the shocking abuse of the legal aid system.
As soon as one dares to question the almost obscene profligacy of the system, lawyers start vehemently complaining. QC after QC explains to all that civilisation is under threat, and that thousands of innocent people will be thrown into jail because the funding has been cut for legally aided lawyers.
This thoroughly wasteful and discredited system needs to be properly reformed, but I hold out no great hope, as too many influential people have their fingers in this very lucrative pie.
P A Feltham
Epsom, Surrey
SIR – Sir Anthony Hooper, a retired appeal court judge, took to the radio yesterday to oppose proposed cuts to the legal aid budget. He described the English system of justice as the “envy of the world”.
Related Articles
The supermarket’s threat to our specialist shops
05 Jun 2013
As a British taxpayer, I am green with envy of the taxpayers in other countries in Europe and across the world who seem to be able to have perfectly satisfactory justice systems that cost a tiny fraction of that which we “enjoy” in this country.
Ian Goddard
Wickham, Hampshire
SIR – Leading barristers are not the only ones who are concerned by the Lord Chancellor’s proposed changes to legal aid (Letters, May 29).
Proposals to cut the number of criminal legal aid providers from 1,600 to 400, to remove client choice, and to make little or no proper provision for mentally ill defendants prior to conviction have been criticised by senior members of the judiciary, circuit judges and magistrates.
The proposals are fundamentally flawed, and will have a significant, irreversible impact on the criminal justice system.
It is of note that the changes are proposed by a Lord Chancellor who is the first non-lawyer since Tudor times. No lawyers have been consulted about the proposed changes. It is akin to failing to consult doctors or nurses about changes within the NHS.
Far from achieving the much-talked-about but uncosted £220 million in savings, the proposed changes are likely to cost far more in the long run, quite apart from destroying an essential part of the fabric of a civilised society.
His Honour Judge Ticehurst
Taunton, Somerset
SIR – If it is argued that offenders should be allowed their solicitor of choice at public expense then, in this supposedly equal rights society, victims should have the right to a prosecuting barrister of their choice. Under the present system, the defendant has all the rights of choice, while the victims get what they are given.
Linda Bos
Midhurst, West Sussex
Jobs for the children
SIR – James Caan, the new social mobility tsar, suggests that parents should not help their children to get a job (report, June 4). Really? It is every caring parents’ objective to do whatever they can to give their child every advantage in life. To suggest that it would level the playing field, is like asking caring parents not to give their children moral guidance and love so that they can be on the same level as children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The world is a competitive place and it is naive to think that parents would be willing to dumb down their level of commitment to their children to the lowest common denominator in the interests of social mobility.
If you could package that concept as a commercial venture, I wonder how much support Mr Caan would give it on Dragon’s Den.
Mike Sanders
Midhurst, West Sussex
SIR – When James Caan invests in a business he will do whatever he can to see a return on his capital: not to do so would be foolish – he would not stand idly by for a year watching that company flounder.
Parents make financial (and emotional) investments in their children regardless of whether their offspring went to private schools or not, so they are entitled to do whatever they can to help their progeny get into work as soon as possible.
Robert Warner
West Woodhay, Berkshire
Labour’s cost-cutting
SIR – Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, can think of no better way to highlight the paucity of the Labour Party’s competence to manage our economy than to choose the withdrawal of the £200-a-year heating allowance from higher-rate taxpaying pensioners (report, June 3).
If this is an example of Labour’s ability to take tough economic decisions, it begins to explain how they got our country into the financial mess it is in.
Paul Harrison
Terling, Essex
SIR – Many charities benefit from the better-off donating their winter fuel allowances to causes that help those in need. I hope that Mr Balls has factored this into his proposal.
John H Stephen
London NW8
Coronation service
SIR – What a delight to watch the Coronation anniversary service from my armchair. I watched the original from just outside Westminster Abbey, and got very wet. I was pleased to understand the address by Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury – that was a real bonus.
William Rodley
Woking, Surrey
Multiple births
SIR – The picture of Karen Rodger with her twins (“Triple crown mother defies odds to give birth to third set of twins”, report, June 3) prompted me to wonder whether anyone remembers the Cumming quads, born in Aberdeen in the Sixties.
Mrs Cumming had eight children from three pregnancies, twins, twins then quads. All were girls, except for one of the quads. My mother was one of the midwives in the research unit at Aberdeen Maternity Hospital where the quads were born and I have a photograph of her, the research unit sister, Mrs Cumming and all the children, taken when we visited them at their home.
Jenny Jones
Penrith, Cumbria
Lobbying alternative
SIR – Peter Ruck (Letters, June 4) says that businesses have no way to make their voice heard other than through lobbying.
But businesses have offices that lie within parliamentary constituencies. Any sensible MP knows that this means jobs, spending in the local economy and payment of local taxes.
Businesses can talk to their local MP about any issues. I am certainly aware that our own MP is very active in working with the business community, and I am sure that this applies to many, if not most, MPs.
The lobbying scandal is yet another sordid example of how a small group of people have brought shame on our Parliament. It is no wonder that there is such apathy for the democratic process.
John D Harris
Winchester, Hampshire
SIR – I am sure we are all very pleased that Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, is to clean up Parliament (report, June 3).
How about starting by removing all the MPs who have criminal records? As with the police, it is a disgrace that we are served by lawmakers and law enforcers who have, or have had, criminal records.
Jonathan Ward
Bungay, Suffolk
Controlling badgers
SIR – It has been clear for a long time that the huge and protected badger population has greatly contributed to the drastic loss of hedgehogs (Letters, June 4). It is also clear that any animal that will tackle a hedgehog will prey on other animals, such as voles, field mice, larks, lapwings, frogs and toads, which are also declining.
In the interests of conserving a broad spectrum of our wildlife, the badger – and anti-cull protesters – must be controlled.
Jeremy Chamberlayne
Hope springs eternal
SIR – While walking the dogs yesterday, the air was full of the aroma of wild garlic, but, for the first time, this was enhanced by the deliciously sweet smell of May blossom – an unexpected benefit of the late spring.
I have always been guided by the saying, “Oak before ash, we’ll have a splash. Ash before oak, we’re in for a soak”. However, in this part of the Forest of Dean the leaves on these trees are emerging not only late, but at the same time. Does this mean that we shall have no rain at all this summer?
Major John Carter
Bream, Gloucestershire
Rising costs and stagnant wages create hunger
SIR – Your leading article (“The politics of food”, May 31) claims that the economy is “stagnant, rather than cratering”, while also acknowledging that food prices are rising fast, as indeed are utilities bills and childcare costs. The truth is that behind the headline GDP figure, many families in Britain today are struggling with rising household costs and stagnant wages.
This is putting pressure on family life and childhoods, and for a very significant few it is causing a rise in severe poverty. Even an economic recovery will take a long time to reach many families. If talking about hunger in Britain is politicising the problem then there is something wrong with our politics, not with those who call attention to it.
Will Higham
UK Director, Save the Children
London EC1
SIR – “The politics of food” should be about opposing government policies that either increase, or fail to reduce, poverty.
Since the Eighties, governments of all colours have failed to introduce policies to provide affordable housing or adequate minimum incomes. Rents or mortgages take up an ever-increasing proportion of incomes, reducing the amount available for food, fuel and other necessities.
So poverty increases, to the extent that many food banks cannot keep up with the demand. Our political leaders are reluctant to tell the electorate about the misery of debt, hunger and homelessness in Britain, to shift the impact of deficit reduction away from the poorest citizens and to spread it more evenly across all taxpayers.
Rev Paul Nicolson
Taxpayers Against Poverty
London N17

Irish Times:

Sir, – Dick Ahlstrom has reminded us of the vicious double whammy penalising Leaving Cert students as they sit their exams in 2013 (Education, June 4th).
The catastrophic effect of the higher math bonus points has undermined the efforts of those students who excel in areas other than maths. This, on top of the cutbacks that diminish the State’s capacity to cater for rising numbers has meant an unprecedented increase in points for most courses.
This is quite simply unfair and increases the cynicism and disillusionment associated with this appalling and out-dated measurement of ability and intelligence. – Yours, etc,
Loreto Grange,

A chara, – Perhaps RTÉ’s Prime Time might produce another excellent programme – on childminders and au pairs – before every parent with their kids in a creche withdraws them thinking the alternatives are problem-free. 
In the case of childminders and au pairs, in many cases there is no proper legal employment agreement between employer and employee, insufficient insurance and no proper training.
This means if problems arise a complete mess can ensue. 
In addition, many parents are obliged to pay PRSI for employing childminders and never do: meaning the childminder has no social welfare rights if he or she is made redundant. That is an abuse of the worker which should be unacceptable in any civilised society. – Is mise,

Sir, – Fintan O’Toole’s revelation (Opinion, June 4th) that a private company called Abtran, which is, “controlled by a secretive Virgin Islands entity” is going to be the contact point for property tax and water tax customers requires further investigation and explanation.
When I lived in the UK I paid rates to the local council, and if there was a problem with the street lights or the state of the road or garbage collection I spoke directly to a council employee.
Here it seems I shall have to speak to an Abtran call centre rather than the correct council department, I say speak, but almost certainly this will become an online function, in other words the paying customer is being pushed further and further away from the people responsible for delivering the service.
My final point is even more disturbing. A small part of my property and water taxes is going to end up in the pocket of a Virgin Islands outfit instead of being used to improve local amenities or repair burst water mains.
What on earth is going on in the corridors of Leinster House? – Yours, etc,

Sir, – I read with interest David Begg’s article on the need for a new deal for Europe (Opinion, June 5th) and as an active trade unionist I find myself in agreement with him.
What amazes me, however, is Mr Begg’s silence on the recent anti-union Financial Emergency Measure in the Public Interest Bill 2013. Mr Begg and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions have stood by while the Government attempts to bully workers into accepting a deal they have already rejected. Mr Begg has been silent on these measures but has implicitly backed the Government against public service workers with his “we must be realistic speech”. Mr Begg and ICTU are in my opinion an embarrassment to the trade union movement in 2013. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Elaine Byrne (May 6th) asks “What is the difference between politicians looking to the market to solve all their problems and the drug addicts looking for drugs to solve all their problems?”. Easy one; the former are beneficiaries of the Wildean cynicism that knows the price of everything and the value of nothing; the latter its victims, trying to deaden by self-medication the pain it inflicts on those less brazen. See also Dean Swift, A Modest Proposal; as well as Joyce’s Portrait and “. . . the old sow that eats her farrow”.
For those of curious disposition it is suggested they also read up on the 19th-century origins of this problem as a tool of elimination of budget deficits, via Britannia’s Opium Wars to recover her bullion from China while simultaneously de-moralising its people. Britannia rules the brainwaves. – Yours, etc,
Castleview Estate,

Sir, – I have never met Tom Dunne nor have I read New Managerialism in Education: Commercialization, Carelessness and Gender by Lynch, Grummell and Devine reviewed by Dunne (Weekend Review, June 1st). However, I totally agree with almost everything he writes about third-level education in Ireland. As he quite rightly says “Irish education is being turned into a commodity, designed to suit market forces, rather than a transformative experience for the individual that also has incalculable social – and economic – value”.
The only disagreement I have with Dunne is that unfortunately Trinity College, while maintaining its place in world rankings, is slowly but surely following the managerial model and is in danger of losing its academic and educational values. This would be a tragedy for Ireland and Trinity College. – Yours, etc,
Hon FTCD, Prof Emeritus of

Sir, – I was very interested to read Gerald O’Carroll’s account (June 5th) of how the boar came to be adopted into the Earl of Desmond’s coat of arms. But my understanding was that the boar was adopted as sign of the love between Thomas FitzGerald, the Fifth Earl of Desmond and Catherine MacCormac, given it was while hunting boars that Thomas first met Catherine at her father’s house where he received hospitality.
As Catherine was from a Gaelic family their marriage resulted in Thomas losing his title and lands to his uncle as he had violated the Statute of Kilkenny and in 1418 they left for France where Thomas died in 1420 and his funeral was attended by both the King of England and the King of France. – Yours, etc,
Canary Wharf,

Irish Independent:
* From a remove of more than three decades it is still possible to summon a cold trickle of sweat down my spine by the mention of two words: Leaving Cert.
Also in this section
The enemy within
You can’t legislate for suicidal thoughts
Media furthers homegrown myth
* From a remove of more than three decades it is still possible to summon a cold trickle of sweat down my spine by the mention of two words: Leaving Cert.
As an indifferent student I managed to construct a “successful” life from the ruins of a very poor examinations performance.
I guess if you poke around in the cinders of disappointment, no matter how poor the results, you’ll always find a spark to ignite something, providing the glowing spirit of no surrender is still there.
I know most of you will sail through no bother, and therefore need only wish you all the very best. But, I came across this the other day – and whether you have a religion or not – it may be of some value to all those slightly stressed souls who will be sitting down today.
Prayers of a student:
Father, I have knowledge, so will you show me how to use it wisely and find a way somehow, to make the world I live in a little better place, and make life with its problems a bit easier to face.
Grant me faith and courage and put purpose in my days, and show me how to serve you in the most effective ways so all my education, my knowledge and my skill, may find their true fulfilment as I learn to do your will.
And may I ever be aware in everything I do, that knowledge comes from learning and wisdom comes from you.
Good luck to you all.
T O’ Brien
Dublin 4
* The ‘Prime Time’ programme on creches has evoked much critical reaction and rightly so. Calls for higher standards, more training, increased inspections ignore the elephant in the room. Creches, in my opinion, are not suitable places for children under three.
In the 1930s much research into the effects of maternal deprivation took place. Children in orphanages, foundling homes, psychiatric facilities, hospitals and children who were separated from their families throughout Europe because of war, were studied by many eminent professionals.
The emotional damage caused by early separations from parents was severe in all of these studies.
One psychologist noticed developmental differences between children in foster homes and children in institutions. He placed 13 babies with feebly minded girls from the same institution. Over 19 months the babies’ IQs went from an average of 64 up to 92 such was their emotional need for attachment.
The US National Institute of Child and Health Development studied over 1,000 kids in 10 locations. The UK Effective Provision of Pre-School Education studied 3,000 babies. The Penelope Leach lead group studied over 1,200 babies.
Amongst the studies’ findings, it was revealed that something is given by loving parents in one-to-one care that can’t be substituted. Quality childcare, while important, was not the panacea hoped for as it was stranger-care. The most important finding was that parenting quality and maternal sensitivity had the best outcomes for babies’ emotional wellbeing.
The information and research I have quoted is internationally recognised and accepted.
Babies’ emotional needs must be understood.
Jim Jackman
Park Drive Court, Castleknock, Dublin 15
* High pressure. Never have two words ever meant so much to a whole country.
Kevin Devitte
Mill Street, Westport, Co Mayo
* I wish to comment on an article written by Vincent Hogan (Irish Independent, June 3).
The article was in relation to Davy Fitzgerald and his Clare hurlers. Mr Hogan referred to our hurlers as “gawky young kids”.
The meaning of gawky is awkward or ungainly. As an avid Clare hurling supporter, I take umbrage with what Mr Hogan called our boys, as far from awkward or ungainly they are.
They are fine specimens of young men, well-built, strong, fit, intelligent and, most importantly, tenacious.
I do admire Mr Hogan’s writings, but on this occasion I think he needs to apologise for his choice of words and, more importantly, search the dictionary when compiling his next article on Davy and his Clare charges.
Clare Corry
Co Clare
* Martin Delaney (Letters, June 3) opposes the legislation now being proposed that “when there is a risk to a pregnant woman’s life because she is suicidal, action should be taken to remove that which led to her becoming suicidal”. He suggests that this is absurd because the parallel argument that, in cases of debt, nobody has ever argued “that debt should somehow be eliminated in order to save the person’s life”.
There is one significant difference in that the suicide of the mother will lead to the automatic death of the unborn child, whereas an unpaid debt will continue to exist and will simply be charged to the person’s estate.
Martin D Stern
Hanover Gardens, Salford, England
* Abortion is an extremely delicate issue which evokes intense personal feelings on both sides of the argument.
Which is why I found it curious that Anthony O’Leary (Letters, June 3) castigates Micheal Martin for allowing Fianna Fail TDs a free vote on the abortion legislation.
The party whip is a mechanism for ensuring discipline and unanimity within political parties. The whip is imposed to allow a party advance a political agenda and in the case of abortion, forcing TDs to vote a particular way – regardless of how they feel on this very personal issue – is quite cynical.
Fianna Fail has done very little in recent years worthy of admiration, but forgoing political unity to allow human beings vote with their conscience is to be applauded.
Simon O’Connor
Lismore Road, Crumlin, Dublin 12
* Martin Delaney, PP, quite rightly said you can’t legislate for suicidal thoughts.
But you can remove the pressures – social, economic, and emotional – that cause a mother to want an abortion, to feel suicidal even.
Both the church and State have failed continuously in this – making unwed mothers a shame, failing to create legally binding support with co-parenting arrangements, and no one needs to comment on the failures of care for vulnerable children by both parties.
But is he really saying that an abused 14-year-old really has the psychological ability to spend nine months pregnant by her abuser, to endure the major hormone fluctuations that go with pregnancy?
Pauline Bleach
Wolli Creek, NSW, Australia
* NTMA has, in its wisdom, decided that the interest rates provided by An Post and other state saving organisations would be lowered by up to 40pc. This is to be coupled with a decrease in the winnings provided by the Prize Bond organisation. It says this is to discourage intensive saving by consumers who should party on like it’s 1999, in effect.
What we see here though is another craven capitulation by politicians and the apparatus of the State to the will of the bankers who refuse to match the interest rates provided by An Post etc. We have seen the same interference by banking organisations in the organisational fabric of the Credit Union movement.
Are the people of this country sick of this dictatorship by our banks yet?
Tom Mangan
Ennis, Co Clare
Irish Independent


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