Very hot

10 July 2013 Very hot

Off around the park listening to the Navy Lark, The rest of the fleet have gone on an exercise leaving Troutbridge all alone. But Captain Povey is determined that they will take part. He sets sail for the exercise area and accidentally blows up some fishing boats thinking that they were the target ships. Priceless.
Hot hot hot all day too hot to garden or almost even read, Mary waters the flowers. We go to the Solicitors and the man comes to service Joan’s stairlift
We watch Blue Murder at St Trinians its not bad, magic
Scrabble I win but gets under 400 She might get her revenge tomorrow.


Sir Colin Stansfield Smith
Sir Colin Stansfield Smith, who has died aged 80, was a leading British architect and academic whose work transformed the philosophy of school design; he also led a campaign against the “self-indulgent” fripperies of architectural education.

Sir Colin Stansfield Smith 
6:15PM BST 09 Jul 2013
At the time of Smith’s appointment in 1973 as head of Hampshire County Architects, the in-house Property Services Department of Hampshire County Council, local schools were built according to rigid, universal standards, with the focus firmly on keeping costs down. Components were factory-made and purchased in bulk, in a system that had prevailed for more than two decades.
Smith embraced more complex, site-specific designs, calling on leading engineers of the time, such as Edmund Happold and Anthony Hunt, to contribute during the development process. Inspiration often came from long-established local village schools: well-proportioned and low-rise, with a keen sense of the child’s perspective in the classroom.
Smith’s new breed of school used a wide variety of styles and materials, ranging from brick and tile to sheds in metal and timber. Removing chain-link fencing, Smith re-centred existing buildings on courtyards which he called “walled gardens, for growing children rather than just plants”. Other projects had large pitched roofs, to let in as much light as possible.
Over the course of his 19-year association with Hampshire County Council, such designs helped Smith to acquire a national reputation. His approach to school design was picked up throughout the country, and in 1991 the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) awarded him its Royal Gold Medal .
Colin Stansfield Smith was born at Disbury, Manchester, on October 1 1932. His father, Stansfield Smith, played regularly for Accrington Cricket Club between the wars, and Colin would later play for Cambridge University and Lancashire .
He attended William Hulmes Grammar School and, after National Service in the Intelligence Corps, studied Architecture at Cambridge University. He also acted, and for a time toyed with a career in the West End, appearing in a number of stage productions before qualifying as an architect. Beginning in the architecture department of the London County Council and the Greater London Council, he then became associate partner of Emberton Tardrew and Partners, moving to Cheshire County Council in 1971. While there he also served as vice-president of RIBA, from 1983 to 1986.
After leaving Hampshire County Architects in 1992, Smith became a professor at the University of Portsmouth’s School of Architecture.
He had a profound belief in the importance of architectural education, and designed the Portland Building, opened in 1996, which today houses the School of Architecture and the Built Environment . A white three-storey structure reminiscent of a fortress, its high steel roof and broad windows gave the interior a bright, open atmosphere. The design won the Portsmouth Society’s Best New Building Award in 1997.
He also chaired a major RIBA review of teaching practice, and in 1999 made 26 recommendations, calling for an end to “self-referential and self-indulgent” attitudes and outlining a broader, multidisciplinary approach. The reforms, Smith felt, would affirm the central purpose of the profession. “Architects are the rightful custodians of the public estate” he wrote, “because they have the capacity to introduce joy, imagination and wit into our environments.”
He continued to design schools in private practice and, in 2005, worked in conjunction with John Pardey Architects to create a flagship John Lewis store in Cambridge.
Colin Stansfield Smith was appointed CBE in 1988 and knighted in 1993.
He married, in 1961, Angela Earnshaw, who survives him with their two children.
Sir Colin Stansfield Smith, born October 1 1932, died June 19 2013


We welcome the parliamentary debate today on the effect of government policies on disabled people. More than 62,000 people signed Pat’s Petition calling for this debate. And 49,021 people have to date signed the WOW Petition. The Pat’s Petition team, along with many other campaigners, have continuously asked the government to conduct a cumulative impact study to assess the effects of the changes in policy affecting disabled people and carers. The government says this is too difficult. It is irresponsible to conduct an enormous experiment like this on disabled people without attempting to predict or measure the effects. It wouldn’t be allowed in any kind of building project – so why is it possible to experiment on disabled people without checking that it is safe? We urge everyone to contact their MP and explain how the changes are impacting on you.
Pat Onions Pat’s Petition
Karen Machin Pat’s Petition
Frances Kelly Pat’s Petition
Rosemary O’Neill Pat’s Petition
Francesca Martinez WOW petition steering group
Peter Beresford Chair, Shaping Our Lives
Carole Rutherford Co-Founder, Autism-in-Mind
Ian Sandeman DLA Helpgroup
Mo Stewart disability researcher
Jayne Linney Director, DEAEP
Linda Burnip Co founder DPAC
Debbie Jolly Co-founder DPAC
Eleanor Lisney campaigner
Ellen Clifford DPAC
Bill Scotland Inclusion Scotland
Kaliya Franklin Disability rights writer and campaigner
Sue Marsh Diary of a Benefit Scrounger/Spartacus
Jane Young Independent consultant/Spartacus
Paul Jenkins Chief executive, Rethink Mental Illness
John McCardle Black Triangle Campaign
Dr Stephen Carty Black Triangle
Annie Bishop Chair, Northumberland Disability and Deaf Network
Gail Ward NDDN
Jo Walker campaigner
Neal Lawson Chair, Compass
Ian Hodson National president, Bakers’, Food & Allied Workers Union
Dr Simon Duffy Centre for Welfare Reform
Alicia Wood Housing and Support Alliance
Jim Elder-Woodward Campaign for a Fair Society
Mark Shrimpton
Norma Curran Chief executive, Values Into Action Scotland
Susan Archibald Archibald Foundation
Caroline Richardson
Rosemary Trustam Community Living magazine
Tracey Lazard CEO, Inclusion London
Claire Glasman WinVisible
Penny Waterhouse National Coalition for Independent Action (NCIA)
Barry McDonald Chair, Bromley Experts by Experience
Liz Mercer Disability Action in Islington (DAII)

You rightly state (Editorial, 4 July) that the Murdoch tapes indicate “zero evidence here of the kind of culture change needed to restore public confidence in the press”. Yet in the same editorial you suggest some kind of parity of status between the “alternative” royal charter for press self-regulation proposed by Mr Murdoch’s newspapers and their Mail and Telegraph allies, and the royal charter based on the Leveson report backed by all three parties in parliament and endorsed by the victims of press abuse. You say that the Murdoch tapes “are one more reminder of the pressing need to restart negotiations and agree a regulatory system that works”. We suggest that the proper conclusion to draw is that Mr Murdoch cannot be trusted as a negotiating partner and that the tapes are one more reminder of the pressing need to implement the solution agreed by parliament. A public inquiry, prompted by some brilliant Guardian journalism, issued a blueprint for new voluntary self–regulation to replace the Press Complaints Commission – to be verified as being effective and independent by a statutory body. A number of major concessions have already been made to the press, including the establishment of the verification body by royal charter rather than by statute.
On behalf of the victims of press abuses and all who want to see the democratic will of parliament prevail over vested interest of media corporations, Hacked Off urges the Guardian and other responsible newspapers to resist Mr Murdoch and his allies and to start setting up a new self-regulator which delivers what Leveson said was required, and what the public expects.
Dr Evan Harris
Associate director, Hacked Off

The trap is opened and Labour falls straight in (Miliband looks at reducing power of union leaders, 8 July). Allegations are made of irregularities in the selection of a candidate in a single constituency and Labour decides that this is the moment to launch a controversial review of its whole constitution. People are suffering dire poverty, the NHS is being steadily privatised, our education system is being fragmented and the UK economy has not grown for years. But instead of focusing on the appalling actions of this terrible government, we will now witness a long and destructive row between the Labour leadership and the unions. The Tories must think that Christmas has come in July.
John Edmonds
Mitcham, Surrey 
• “I am weary,” pontificates Polly Toynbee (8 July), “of the pretensions of those who won’t join Labour because it isn’t exactly what they want it to be.” Would Toynbee care to remind readers of which party she spent the 1980s as a member of, when the unions (and Labour) were fighting for their lives? I would add that her recycling of a vicious sexist slur originated by a Tory blogger (“The suspicion that he [Len McCluskey] shoehorned girlfriends and mates’ girlfriends into safe seats and top union jobs doesn’t look good”) merely degrades both her and the Guardian.
Stewart Maclennan
• Len McCluskey (Comment, 9 July) says Progress has been “sparing no expense to get its candidates adopted” and suggests our funding isn’t accounted for. Both of these allegations are untrue. He should provide the evidence to substantiate them or withdraw them.
Robert Philpot
Director, Progress
• Did Labour become a “brand” to be “managed” before or after Baron Sainsbury bought in (Letters, 9 July)?
Danny Dorling

Sadly dog attacks on pets and livestock is a growing problem (Police seek bull terrier that bit off dog’s head, 8 July), and are causing significant emotional distress for owners. Blue Cross is urging the government to include attacks on protected animals as a criminal offence in its amendments to the Dangerous Dogs Act.
Steve Goody
Director of external affairs, Blue Cross pet charity
• It’s not only superyachts that are ugly (Ian Jack, 6 July); we have box-like car ferries, brick-like buses and shed-like diesel locomotives. No one seems able to design attractive public transport vehicles any more. Whatever happened to the Design Council or the late British Rail’s design panel?
Tony Robinson
Northallerton, North Yorkshire
• Having read Jon Henley’s article regarding the state of England’s beaches (Still fancy a dip? 8 July), can I suggest to any readers who want to do something about it to get involved in one of the many beach cleans that the Marine Conservation Society holds throughout the year. I organise cleans at Robin Hood’s Bay, where we are always in need of volunteers.
David March
Tadcaster, North Yorkshire
• I was very disappointed as I turned eagerly to your travel section on Saturday morning to see that you had taken the decision to entirely dedicate it to 100 activities for children during the school holidays. What are your childless readers meant to do without their regular fix of travel advice? You could at the very least have included a non-child focused cork board – my personal favourite.
Karen Eyre
• I can understand how strawberries are “handpicked”, but hotels? (Handpicked hotels for your holiday, 1 July)
Ulf Dantanus
• It was good to know from Mark Cocker’s Country diary (8 July) that a species of swift made the front page of the Sun. Tits generally only make page three.
Lyn Ebbs

Jonathan Freedland (9 July) gets half-way to pinpointing a undeniable fact of contemporary UK sporting success: the Celtic “fringes”, non-whites and “plastic Brits” have disproportionately contributed to success in the Olympics, rugby (10 out 15 Lions in Saturday’s thrashing of the Australians were Welsh), golf and now tennis, and the psychological reason is obvious: being outside Middle England you have to scrap for everything you achieve in life. Nice, white Middle England (personified by Tim Henman) has it too easy, or still thinks it’s un-English to approach training and sport with rigorous professionalism. It’s not for nothing Ukip supporters expect failure – many of them hold derogatory views of the Scots, Welsh and anyone who doesn’t conform to an idea of 1950s England. Long live new Britain, with its glorious mixture of nations and cultures, which is taking us to the pinnacle of international sporting success.
Tom Brown
• As a woman living and working in Scotland since the early 1970s, I have followed Andy Murray’s focused and brilliant career over the years – fantastic, heart-stopping on Sunday. I didn’t hear John Inverdale’s comments on Marion Bartoli. But as a woman living in modern Britain, I assume he no longer has a job? Or has the BBC learned nothing?
Jane Brettle
• Shame on you Guardian! Granted it’s an important event for a British male to win the Wimbledon after 77 years – but there were three pages devoted to it in the main paper (8 July) and six and four-fifths pages in the Sports section. The remaining fifth of the page was dedicated to the Women’s Singles triumph of Marion Bartoli. Hey ho … still a long way to go towards equality.
Janet Turner
Llanon, Ceredigion
• John Inverdale seems to mistake himself for a celebrity, without realising that his achievements are minimal compared with those whose trains and coat tails he rides upon.
Charles Becker
• Re your summary of Great British sporting successes (8 July): how about Celtic’s victory in the 1967 European Cup Final? A team made up of 11 Scots took on and beat the best in Europe at their first time of asking. The first British team to win the European Cup. Or is Celtic’s achievement simply to be regarded as a great Scottish success?
Michael Martin
• May I add a health and safety postscript. Will someone please install a set of steps up to the players’ box before some future champion falls and breaks their neck in the now customary post-match scramble to reach their dear ones?
Martin Jeeves
• What greater accolade for Andy Murray? Congratulations were sent by “the Queen, the prime minister and David Beckham”.
Mike Johnson
Cardigan, Ceredigion
• So after 77 years, Andy Murray wins on 7/7.
Chris McDonnell
Little Haywood, Staffordshire

Plans to transform the national curriculum for state schools in England (New curriculum to introduce fractions to five-year-olds, 8 July) lack clarity, we at the Institution of Engineering and Technology believe. We are pleased to see there is a commitment to providing a relevant and aspirational curriculum and that an effort is being made to change the perception of ICT in schools.
However, the government has not followed recommendations made by us and others to relaunch the subject as “computing and communications systems”. Computers don’t operate in isolation and in the majority of cases rely on communications systems of one form or another to connect to the user or other remote systems, such as the internet.
Understanding how computers communicate across fixed or mobile networks is an important consideration in the modern interconnected world. It is unclear whether communications will be a major component of the new computing curriculum despite these concerns. There are also unanswered questions around where all the teachers will come from to teach this new subject. There is a severe shortage of teaching staff with the necessary knowledge and practical expertise which will hinder its successful implementation. This must be addressed urgently.
Paul Davies
Institution of Engineering and Technology
• You are right to point out the enormous pressures on teachers, schools and the industry that supports them under the new national curriculum timetable (Rules for some, 9 July). A parallel can be found in the major reforms known as “Curriculum 2000”, which resulted in textbooks rushed into print that contained factual errors. As an examiner for one of the awarding bodies, I was told that we had to accept those errors if pupils reproduced these in an examination, as it “wasn’t the pupils’ fault”. So much for rigour. I wonder if the same accommodation will be made from September 2014?
Neil Roskilly
Fowlmere, Hertfordshire
• Your editorial answers a question many of your readers might have been wondering about. Why have the secretary of state’s proposals not met opposition from an alliance of rightwing libertarian conservatives and old-fashioned liberals? Answer: because many of the former have children in independent schools or in academies where the so-called “national” curriculum does not hold.
Professor Colin Richards
Spark Bridge, Cumbria
• So Michael Gove is determined to have every 11- to 14-year-old dragooned through two Shakespeare plays, at the probable cost of many of them being for ever alienated from our greatest writer. Has he never learned that Shakespeare was more popular across all ages and all classes in the 19th century when the plays were more likely to be banned from the classroom than promoted in it?
By all means let teachers introduce Shakespeare to young children, freely and sensitively whenever the time seems propitious, but there is no value in joyless exposure to these difficult and complex texts. There are libraries of more suitable material for promoting a love of literature among the young.
Andrew Hilton
Artistic director, Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory, Bristol
• As many are focusing on the national curriculum changes, spare a thought for religious education. While it was great to hear a recent admission by Michael Gove that RE has suffered during his tenure and that he has not done enough, it is concerning to note that he believes a solution to be an increase in discriminatory faith schools. What is needed instead is more specialists trained to be able to enhance this academic, culturally rich and religiously diverse subject in institutions that are open to and tolerant of a variety of different worldviews.
Richard Cooper
Head of religious studies, Bournemouth School
• The need for young children to learn multiples of 12 (Letters, 9 July) will continue as long as the Royal Mail sells postage stamps in books of six, and they want two books. Or maybe there’s an easier way.
John Jepson
Driffield, East Yorkshire

The new face of global protest (28 June) rightly connects uprisings from Brazil to Turkey to Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring. Yet explanations flit from bus-fare rises in Brazilian cities to a public park loss in Istanbul to a general distrust of politicians. The underlying common cause remains hidden from view.
Consider Brazil. The mass resistance to billions of dollars of public money spent on a football spectacle is a positive development because it leads the world in spurring constructive government response – massive new public investments in public transport and education.
On the other side of the globe, clashes between police and protestors over a public park in Istanbul are endlessly reported, but not the neo-liberal programme of the state under whose rule inequality has multiplied and average wages have fallen by a fifth.
The underlying global issues and policy choices, however, remain blinkered out. Instead, the claim of the world’s largest PR corporation that the driver of all the protests is “distrust of government” is featured, although this claim itself is another symptom of deeper disorder. Governments are distrusted because they have become creatures of private corporate powers funding the politicians, demonising opposition forces and systematically looting public purses and natural resources across continents.
Thus the great disorder multiplies – enriching the top, dispossessing the poor and turning the Earth into waste. While protests keep breaking out against misrule, the common cause remains heretical to discuss.
John McMurtry
Guelph, Ontario, Canada
German green-washing
You illustrated your cover feature about Germany’s economic success (7 June) with a picture showing BMW bonnet badges.
I would agree that Germany’s Mittelstand (medium-sized companies) are a special thing and I have worked in companies here where the eyes of the employees (from the youngest through to the oldest) still sparkle with pride as they watch the finished product roll out of the workshops. But I have many friends who feel that the realignment of Germany’s employment market is turning what used to be a secure, fulfilling environment into a seriously unsettling and at times underpaid “hire-and-fire” culture which is taking its toll both on psychological wellbeing and the general quality of life.
But, more than all this, we need to note Angela Merkel’s resistance to EU emissions laws, with it becoming clear that Germany will block strict limits on CO2 emissions in order to protect its prestige car industry.
It makes me wonder why Germany is building all those wind-turbines and implementing various other environmental measures? German car manufacturers build some of the most oversized and overpowered vehicles on the market, and Merkel’s move to protect the production of these obscene status-symbols simply negates all the supposedly green policies which Germany purports to champion.
But I shouldn’t be surprised because commercial interest and “green-washing” are the order of the day, aren’t they?
Alan Mitcham
Cologne, Germany
False modification
I have just read a piece on a scientific study of pigs fed a diet of genetically modified corn and soy and the negative impacts on the pigs stomach, uterus and general health. Your leader comment (Modify the argument, 28 June) states those pushing genetic modification of food plants ignore the substantive difference between hybridisation and introducing alien genes. They sure do, and have been making this false claim of similarity for decades.
My reading of the literature points to a growing problem, not any kind of food revolution.
I Strewe
Sydney, NSW, Australia
• I have always felt that the response in Britain to the introduction of GM food had more to do with BSE than GM. Many people learned from the BSE scandal that we cannot rely on the food industry to make human health and wellbeing its priority, and we cannot rely on our government to make sure they do so. Profit trumps all.
In responsible hands, GM foods could probably be of great benefit to humankind, and risks could be eliminated. But where are the responsible hands? If we ever get a better organised and more sane society, the whole concept might get a better reaction, and then we might recognise the value. I’m waiting.
Kate Begley
North Shields, UK
Applause for clapping
Charles Nevin’s column on clapping (4 July) deserves a round of applause for covering a subject we take for granted and rarely consider. It made me think of the phenomenon Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn relates in The Gulag Archipelago of the hagiographical mass meetings held in Stalinist times. Everyone was encouraged to clap ceaselessly for minutes at a time, with nobody wishing to be the first to stop lest a lack of zeal be noted. Sure enough, in one instance the director of a paper factory became the first to stop and was duly sentenced to 10 years in the gulag. Gives the idea of being clapped in jail a whole different meaning.
Barrie Sargeant
Otaki Beach, New Zealand
Rice and randomness
I would like to suggest a friendly correction to Michael Blastland and David Spiegelhalter’s piece, How to place a bet on the statistics (21 June). They assert that, when throwing many grains of rice out onto a calendar laid on the floor, “one thing we can predict for sure is that the rice grains will not space themselves evenly”. Actually, the grains might space themselves evenly (although that is a low probability event). As I discuss with my undergraduate statistics students, random does not necessarily mean uneven. This is another aspect of statistics and probability that people are often confused about. Numbers do “go up and down”, as the authors state, but sometimes they stay the same.
Catherine Ortner
Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada
• A quick note to commend Gary Younge on his article Meet a New Generation of Patriotic Americans (21 June). It is courageously willing to recognise idealism, and his interpretation of the whistle blowers’ actions is very convincing. The US could redeem its reputation in the eyes of the world by treating these so-called traitors in a humane and even respectful way.
V Baseley
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
• Supporters of the former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard (5 July) are out to fashion history in a good light for her, but the women in working-class suburbs visited this year by Gillard called her “a back stabber”, referring to her role in the removal of Kevin Rudd when she was deputy. And the polls show Labor voters are glad Rudd fought back and retook the leadership.
John Fair Dobinson
Balwyn, Victoria, Australia
• I have just read Heather Stewart on The economy Carney leaves behind (21 June). I have lived in Calgary for 47 years and I’m darned if I can find anywhere the “eight-lane highways which are clogged with oversized pick-up trucks”.
Jane Todd
Calgary, Canada
• “Adaptions”? Could Arachne (14 June, 10 across) be alerted to the convention of using actual words in a crossword?
Alan Watterson
Brunswick Heads, NSW, Australia
• I hope to reassure Annie Didcott of her concern over MRI scanning of mail (Reply, 28 June). We are safe from MRI snoopers as standard MRI only detects water, so the old type of envelope seal may be detected, but not the contents. However, on the downside, I always understood that the reason why postage costs in many western countries are so much higher than Singapore and why the mail is so much slower is because the police took so long to read it.
Dr David Stringer
• Edward Snowden snowed ’em.
R M Fransson
Denver, Colorado, US


PDonald Macintyre is right (Voices, 9 July): state-funded political parties are the solution. There are eternal truths and this is one of them: “If a political donor gives £100,000 it’s likely that he (almost never she) wants something; if he gives you £1m it’s likely that he will demand something.”
Having founded the Labour Party’s 1,000 Club with Jon Norton, I quoted this adage to the then General Secretary, Margaret McDonough, as the reason for my resignation from the Club after Michael Levy was recruited by his tennis partner Tony Blair to concentrate on “high-level donors”.
There is a direct line to be drawn through political funding to popular disenchantment with politics and, therefore, to low turnouts at elections. A poll commissioned by the BBC some years ago to canvass public opinion on political funding revealed a  paradox: it found that 87 per cent of people were concerned about the potentially corrupting effects of fund-raising yet 68 per cent did not want state funding.
Most of our European neighbours have state funding and so do we, in the form of “Short Money”, which supports opposition parties; it comes to around £6m a year and is awarded according to the support generated by each party.
Echoing the principle behind the 1,000 Club, even the former Tory treasurer Lord Ashcroft has said the ideal is to raise £15m from 15 million people, not £1m each from 15 people. Now, as President Obama has almost shown, that is possible through digital media, the internet and “political crowd funding”.
We are privileged to live in a democratic regime and we should be prepared to protect its independence by paying for the maintenance and promotion of our political parties. The cost could be awarded by, say, giving each party a fixed sum, say £1, for every vote recorded in a general election. We should combine that with limiting the contribution by any individual to, say, £1,000.     
State funding could be supplemented by small-donor funding, now that internet and digital media have combined to make that funding much easier. Small-donor funding not only inhibits corruption, it also forces the political parties to take notice of their supporters. It should be encouraged and it might make sense for such funding to be tax-deductible.
Brian Basham, Crowhurst, East Sussex
In his column on 8 July Owen Jones wrote: “Parliament has increasingly become the preserve of well-connected Westminster insiders, while the barriers to anyone with a vaguely normal background have become ever more insurmountable”.
This moves me to suggest that no one should be allowed to stand for Parliament who has held a House of Commons library pass during the immediately preceding five years. This would break the gravy-train route of Oxbridge, internship, researcher or assistant to an MP, party list, and finally party-supported “parachuting” into a safe seat.
Radical though this suggestion may be, it or something similar may be the only way to ensure that MPs have at least some experience of “real life”.
J Russell, Church Crookham, Hampshire
So are Tories ready to put up with torture?
The Government should be patting itself on the back that it followed a lawful, albeit long drawn-out process to have Abu Qatada Othman deported to face justice in Jordan. 
Instead, and to avoid such silly inconveniences, we have remarks from the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, that the Tory party will advocate withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights. Does this suggest that he and his neo-conservative colleagues are now content to have suspects tried and convicted on the basis of evidence obtained under torture? I think we should be told.
Peter Coghlan, Broadstone, Dorset
It is depressing that some politicians are using the Abu Qatada case to denigrate our system for protecting human rights, when we should be thankful that it has shown the high value it places on justice and acceptance that use of evidence procured by torture is a denial of justice.
In forcing a reluctant government to achieve its objective of deportation consistently with upholding this value, the system works exactly as it should. One would have thought that a Secretary of State who holds the brief for justice would praise and defend it against critics who complain that it makes it more difficult for governments to take executive action that they deem most convenient. Shockingly, he has done the opposite.
John Eekelaar, Oxford
Too busy to talk to the likes of me
I am an 18-year-old sixth-form student with a part-time job at a well-known fast-food chain and would like to point out to disgruntled customers (letters, 6 July) that while they are able to leave the shop after dealing with “sloppy” checkout operators, the staff cannot leave after a sloppy customer and must be smiling again regardless every time they say: “Next please.”
My personal favourites are the customers who are too important to reply to a “Hello, how are you?” or, God forbid, actually place the money into your hand. It would seem to some that jangling the keys to a Mercedes and talking business loudly on the phone is more likely to make me hurry than actually having a conversation with me. 
I am lucky enough to be giving up my job for university in September, but I would ask those who are quick to tut or sigh to spare a thought next time you’re at a till for the people who do not have that luxury. These people are paid a minimum wage to do difficult and demanding jobs, only to receive little or no thanks from a saddening number of the general public.
Isaac Atwal, Wolverhampton
Humphrys punch misses target
I stopped listening to the Today programme years ago because I found John Humphrys’ hectoring of interviewees distasteful and unproductive (“BBC heavyweights told to stop beating up interviewees”, 4 July). The occasional coup he and others like him deliver is far outweighed by the many missed opportunities for interesting and informative discussion because of obsessive pursuit of a single storyline and the killer thrust.
More to the point, this approach to interviewing has proved counterproductive in terms of providing useful information to the public. Interviewees, especially politicians, are now coached to repel questions rather than answer them, so the public comes out none the wiser.
The public’s engagement with politicians tends to be only via the media these days, and the hectoring and negative approach to interviewing, and the stonewall replies, have contributed to the public’s growing disenchantment with politics.
In addition, I am willing to bet that the pool of potential interviewees is much reduced, as people take the view that they do not need to put themselves through such an experience. We are left the poorer in terms of discussion and knowledge.
Ken Kemp, Durham
Gove nostalgia is an English disease
The headline on your first leading article (9 July) makes a mistake. It is not “Britain’s” teachers who are in dispute with the dreadful Gove. Luckily, the children of Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland are spared the ridiculous excesses of this egotistical and ambitious person. That being said, I fear for the future of English children, having to grow up with the effects of his narrow, blinkered and inaccurately nostalgic approach to education.
But then, despite the protestations of Cameron and Gove, these reforms will not affect all English schoolchildren. Those being forced into the Tories’ pet academies and free schools are to be spared the pre-decimal and nonsensical demands of the new curriculum.
I can only assume this is a ploy to persuade more schools to apply for academy status.
Steve Clarke, Portree, Isle of Skye
Here is a suggestion Matthew Norman missed (“Michael Gove, the Pol Pot of education”, 3 July), combining education, heath and climate-change benefits. Sell off school playing fields, but fund the introduction of treadmills so pupils can be taught while keeping fit and generating electricity.
Bob Kindred, Ipswich
The memory of a son who died
I was much moved by Paul Clabburn’s article on the sudden death of his teenage son (9 July). Some 25 years ago, my 30-year-old son, Michael, died because of a brain tumour. I still think of him often and your article is but one trigger to my memory.
The young Rabbi who conducted his funeral put it very succinctly when he said that in the scheme of things we are supposed to bury our parents, not our children. Mr Clabburn should know that the memories will get easier, if no less frequent.
Robert L Bratman, Llwydcoed, Aberdare
Silly over Murray
I remember football grounds in London where I watched matches in the Seventies and early Eighties.The cries of “We won the cup” lasted there for 20 years. We are reliably poor at sport and respond to the eccentricity of the England side then and Andy Murray now, by getting silly about them. A generation of bores has been equipped for the foreseeable future.
Edward Pearce, Thormanby, York
All in a row
British rowers raised their sport to unprecedented public awareness by their Olympic triumphs. Since then they’ve been ignored, with The Independent a notable offender. We’ve had the usual mega-coverage of Ascot, Epsom and Wimbledon. Yet the world’s top rowers yearn to compete at Henley Royal Regatta. So how about a teensy bit of coverage of  this unique British sporting event next year?
Richard Humble, Exeter
Sound idea
Are there not sufficient channels now to offer Wimbledon with the sounds that one would hear court-side but without the inane commentary?
Mike Brayshaw, Worthing
Art and nature
The Inverdale-Bartoli affair highlights just how far-fetched Alan Partridge is as a comedy character. Quite remarkable!
Angelo Micciche, St Erth, Cornwall
Boris gaffe
Boris Johnson seems to be accusing women who go to university of putting the heart before the course.
Nick Pritchard, Southampton


Publishing surgeon-specific results will promote competition between individuals and could be potentially divisive
Sir, Although I am very supportive of greater transparency over the performance of surgical units, I fear that the requirement to display individual results is misguided. In the interests of patient safety it is desperately important that specialties work as teams. Publishing surgeon-specific results will instead promote competition between individuals and is potentially divisive.
The aviation industry has provided valuable lessons from which many of the recent improvements in patient safety have been drawn. Interestingly, it does not publish the performance figures for each of its pilots, nor do passengers get to choose which pilot flies the plane. But we do get to choose the airline. Much recent good work could be undone by this rather misguided approach to transparency.
Denis Wilkins, FRCS
Pengover, Cornwall
Sir, “Death-rate tables ‘are not best way to identify bad surgeons’ ” (July 5). Indeed not. Any more than “crash-rate” tables would identify the best airlines.
Sir Bruce Keogh, the NHS medical director, is reported to want consultants to devise ways of publicly measuring their performance — an extraordinarily difficult task, which I am not surprised that he is delegating. The major problem is that although the surgeon is the nominal head of the team, he is surrounded by factors increasingly beyond his control.
For example, the number of heart attacks on the operating table will be substantially related to the anaesthetist, and the number of post-operative wound infections related to nursing care, a patient’s alcohol history, diet, etc.
Sir Bruce is right to say that the public should be assured of good performance by the NHS, but wrong to adopt the pseudo-science of crude surgical statistics.
Dr J. A. Lack
Coombe Bissett, Wilts
Sir, Recently the Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt, requested that a named consultant should be above the bed of every patient in hospital. Also, the Government is now having our individual outcomes as surgeons published online.
While we work as teams, I agree that the final responsibility for any patient admitted under my name is mine. However, during the 20 years that I have been a consultant surgeon — and despite every government’s pledge that the running of the health service should be returned to the hands of the clinician — my ability and that of my colleagues to change or influence decision-making within hospitals has reduced markedly.
We retain control over direct medical care, but we are no longer able to change other factors in the hospital which may influence the outcome for our patients. For instance, high infection rates after surgery are more likely to be due to hospital equipment and processes rather than to an individual consultant’s skill or influence.
The management structures of the health service have become more weighted towards fulfilling government diktats. In the hospital setting, however, the priority should be good administration that allows us to work to our maximum quality, safety and efficiency.
This can only be achieved if we can take more part in the management process. Until then maybe it should be the hospital’s name or the Minister of State’s over the bed, rather than ours.
Jonathan Compson, FRCS ORTH
London SW15


The football and cricket leagues are huge assets for the UK, as well as other countries such as India, and worth a fortune in their attraction
Sir, Matthew Syed is only half right that Andy Murray’s Wimbledon triumph won’t yield much genuine “soft power” for the UK (July 8). Beyond individual performance, sport really can influence a country’s standing on the world stage.
Look no further than English Premier League football and Indian Premier League cricket. These are huge assets for the UK and India — worth a fortune in economic terms, but just as valuable for their power of attraction.
The appeal of these great brands doesn’t necessarily come from the performance of the Brits or Indians on their respective pitches. It’s the fact that they are truly international stages on which the world’s finest come to perform. The excitement and excellence generate fan bases in countries from Afghanistan to Zambia.
And with the right leadership, sport can change lives too. The Premier Skills programme that the British Council runs with the Premier League uses its brand and football to teach young people English worldwide and tackle social issues from the favelas of Brazil to the playing fields of Kabul.
So, in the well-deserved volley of praise for Andy Murray, let’s not forget the UK’s other world champions — our great leagues and tournaments which attract the world’s best and return a whole lot back.
John Worne
Director of Strategy, British Council

Pope Gregory should not be given the credit for sending the first missionaries to this country — St Ninian was here two centuries earlier
Sir, Your report on the Lindisfarne Gospels (“Dazzling pages straight from history”, July 6) is excellent, but is mistaken in crediting Pope Gregory with sending the first missionaries to these our islands. Two centuries before St Augustine’s arrival in Kent, Christianity was established among the Southern Picts, allegedly by St Ninian.
Dr Thomas E. Dickson

While GPs are important, there is a whole host of other skilled and specialist staff who provide contact for patients within the NHS
Sir, I am disappointed that Dr Clare Gerada, of the Royal College of General Practitioners (letter, July 8) considers that “90 per cent of NHS contacts each year are conducted by GPs”. This appears to ignore the huge number of NHS contacts provided by dentists, opticians, physiotherapists, nurses, midwives, speech therapists, district nurses, health visitors and a host of other professionals.
The GPs’ cause is not helped by a view which implies that they alone provide healthcare.
Christopher Bird

In a strange piece of luck, a piece of accidental damage to a model locomotive undergoing testing became standard in the new design
Sir, The success of Sir Nigel Gresley’s iconic design did not come entirely from foreign jiggery-pokery (“Le Mallard”, letter, July 8). A fortuitous British thumbprint also made an essential contribution. When undergoing wind tunnel testing, the model locomotive was accidentally damaged by a technician who left an impression just behind the chimney. When retested, the modified model demonstrated that the streamlined design had been perfected by being able to aerodynamically lift away drifting exhaust steam that otherwise would have obscured the enginemen’s view of the road ahead.
Charles M. Wrigley
Leafield, Oxon

SIR – On last Friday’s BBC Two programme QI, Clare Balding said that all British thoroughbred horses are descended from one of three stallions: the Godolphin Arabian, the Darley Arabian and the Byerley Turk.
However, in a June 1978 issue of Horse and Hound magazine, research showed that there is another contender – the Curwen’s Bay Barb.
This stallion has an intriguing history. Originally a gift from Muley Ismael, King of Morocco, to Louis XIV of France, it was bought by Henry Curwen of Workington Hall in Cumberland through the offices of Count Byram, Louis’s illegitimate son and Master of the Horse.
Henry Curwen had fled to France when James II was deposed in 1688. As a Catholic, Curwen was banned by law from owning a horse worth more than £5, so on his return to England he kept it at the stables of his friend Charles Pelham in Lincolnshire.
There it sired many progeny, mainly to mares belonging to Curwen and Pelham.

SIR – After the most fantastic Wimbledon final, David Cameron has called for Andy Murray to be offered a knighthood.
I agree with this, however the honour should be in recognition of his services to British tennis, not just because he has won Wimbledon. The trophy he received should surely be the only reward necessary.
A knighthood should be awarded at the end of a highly successful career (which he will no doubt achieve); then he would be remembered for everything he has done for the sport of tennis, not just one event.
Ralph Anderson
London SW12
SIR – While Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister, was able to bask in the glory of Andy Murray’s inspiring result, one wonders whether more could be done by the Scottish government to embed the long-term legacy of this huge achievement?
Related Articles
Breeders of the modern thoroughbred horse
09 Jul 2013
Scotland is still in the dark ages as far as the provision of high-quality public tennis facilities is concerned. In North Lanarkshire, for example, there are fewer than 10 public courts. As for the provision of high-quality indoor facilities necessary to develop future champions, the picture throughout Scotland is bleak.
Now is the time for Mr Salmond to commit the necessary investment in new and improved facilities to ensure it is not another 117 years until Scotland can boast of having the men’s singles champion at Wimbledon.
Graham Watson
Earlsferry, Fife
SIR – I deplore the way that Alex Salmond who, while a guest in the Royal Box, found himself strategically seated just behind David Cameron, and attempted to wave the Saltire in celebration of Andy Murray’s victory.
This was a cheap, political stunt; it was entirely inappropriate to use this moment to promote his cause.
Paul Strong
Claxby, Lincolnshire
SIR – Andy Murray has done more to strengthen relationships between Scotland and England than any politician could, casting doubt on the premise that Scots may vote to leave the United Kingdom.
Ted Shorter
Tonbridge, Kent
SIR – Andy Murray winning Wimbledon combines things thoroughly British.
Namely, a game invented in 1873 in Wales (Nantclwyd Hall, Ruthin), by an Englishman (Major Walter Wingfield of Birmingham), won by a Scotsman at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (croquet having been invented in Ireland).
Roger Croston
SIR – I was also born in the year of Fred Perry’s success at Wimbledon and would suggest Rev Peters (Letters, July 8) refers to 1936 as the “Year of the three Kings”.
David Andrews
Tenterden, Kent
Snowden not a traitor
SIR – I had always assumed that Charles Moore was a defender of liberty, yet he attacks Edward Snowden on the grounds that his actions show disdain for the rule of national law (Comment, July 6). Why does that make Edward Snowden a traitor?
Surely the whole point of living in a free democracy is that its citizens can show disdain for the rule of law? Otherwise we might as well live in a dictatorship. As a former master of hounds, I am only too aware that a democracy can pass a bad law. While those of us who hunt are always mindful of compliance, we nevertheless feel nothing but disdain for the law that has banned hunting. Does that also make us traitors?
We are now supposed to accept the invasion of our privacy in the name of a greater freedom: freedom from terrorist attack. While I have no difficulty accepting that the state should collect information on suspicious individuals, providing there is legal oversight and possibility of a fair trial, I cannot see how the state can justify extending that to all citizens.
In any case, this tactic of trawling cyberspace has clearly not worked. We still had the Boston bombing and the Woolwich attack. These events are appalling, but they do not warrant wholesale surveillance. On the contrary, failures of intelligence such as these two events are the price we pay for freedom.
Lucy Wyatt
Saxmundham, Suffolk
Qatada’s voluntary exit
SIR – I am appalled by Theresa May, the Home Secretary, claiming that she succeeded in deporting Abu Qatada. As Philip Johnston points out (Comment, July 8), Abu Qatada was not deported. He left voluntarily. The Government would almost certainly never have been able to deport him lawfully. Had he wished to do so, he could have fought for at least another 10 years, and it is unlikely that a British court would ever have sanctioned his removal.
Until we repeal the Human Rights Act, nothing will change and we will be impotent to deport those who come here to do us harm.
Simon Braun
Edgware, Middlesex
Saatchi’s divorce
SIR – The late actress Mrs Patrick Campbell famously remarked: “I don’t mind what people do provided they don’t do it in the street and frighten the horses.”
What Charles Saatchi and his wife do in the privacy of their home is their own concern, but when he humiliates her in public by holding her throat, then reasonably he cannot expect her to defend him publicly (report, July 8).
Noel Rands
Croydon, Surrey
Hung up on bats
SIR – We have come to an agreement with the bats in our old house (Letters, July 5).
While we welcome them, as they do a good job of catching mosquitoes, we have stopped them doing any damage by the provision of bat hammocks, positioned below the oak beams that they roost on.
An attractive piece of material is lined with a piece of plastic and is suspended a few feet below the beams that they hang from. The plastic is easily cleaned, and the droppings make excellent plant food.
Richard Lucy
Ledbury, Herefordshire
SIR – One way of keeping bats out of church is to increase the use of incense.
David Lawrence-March
Haywards Heath, West Sussex
Protecting children
SIR – The Children and Families Bill was given its second reading in the House of Lords on July 2. Parliament must urgently consider an amendment to the Bill to address the dangerous implications for child protection of the recent Supreme Court decision in Re J (Children).
The court ruled that where a child is living with one of two possible perpetrators of significant harm which resulted in the death of another child, that fact alone cannot found a conclusion that the threshold for state intervention is crossed, however serious the risk to the child.
This means that local authorities cannot even obtain a supervision order to make checks on the child’s welfare.
Would anyone be happy for their own children or grandchildren to be left in the care of possible perpetrators of serious harm to another child, without any possibility of monitoring?
Unless Parliament intervenes, the wrongness of this decision will, sadly, be demonstrated by the death of a child.
Stephen Gilmore
Senior Lecturer in Child and Family Law, King’s College London
Rail bottlenecks
SIR – Douglas Oakervee, chairman of HS2, tells us that HS2 is needed to meet capacity requirements (Letters, July 6), but he fails to mention two Network Rail documents.
The first is the London & South-East Route Utilisation Strategy, July 2011, which tells us that Euston (the HS2 terminus) is at just 60 per cent of its capacity, whereas Paddington is at 99 per cent, Waterloo 91 per cent and Liverpool Street 78 per cent.
Furthermore, Network Rail’s New Lines study assumes a 30 per cent premium for high speed line fares, which might indeed leave passengers standing on the platform.
Geoffrey Simms
Lavenham, Suffolk
Whistling tips
SIR – When I was learning how to whistle my nanny told me that: “If you whistle before breakfast, you’ll cry before the night’s out” (Letters, July 5). No doubt, it was her way of silencing me, but I have respected the advice all my life.
Robin Rankine
Quinta do Robalo, Almada, Portugal
SIR – The only thing Winston Churchill and Adolf Hitler had in common was a hatred of whistling.
Tony Millard
Redhill, Surrey
How professionals deal with mobile phone users
SIR – The tendency for people to continue their telephone conversation when dealing with others isn’t just bad manners, it’s downright rude (Letters, July 8).
As a consultant, it wasn’t unusual to find patients on the phone during my ward round. If they didn’t make an effort to end the conversation straight away, I moved to the next patient and didn’t come back.
It was obvious to me that their phone call was more important than a visit by their doctor.
Angela Lishman
South Shields, Co Durham
SIR – In my final years as a solicitor, when my hourly fees translated into approximately £2 per minute, I was always happy to allow clients to conduct mobile telephone conversations in my office during interviews.
Rather than interrupt, I would use the time to give some attention to the cases of more considerate clients, who benefited from such work free of charge, at the expense of the person chatting on the other side of my desk.
Sean Putnam
Wellingborough, Northamptonshire
SIR – Mobile phones have their uses – for launching at one’s husband when he becomes too irritating, for instance, but at a supermarket checkout isn’t one of them.
Why do people on their mobiles in the street stare at the ground and expect everyone to avoid them like the parting of the waves? I for one walk straight as an arrow, preferably armed with an umbrella or large bag, just to soften the blow.
Julia Clements
Blandford Forum, Dorset

Irish Times:
Sir, – The abortion Bill before the Oireachtas is a concoction of the Cabinet, embellished with a false sense of urgency.
The unbending parliamentary process applied to the Bill is causing crises in the political parties and in society; crises that could have been avoided had we a more flexible process.
In 1911 GK Chesterton pointed to the flaw in the old British process; the one the Cabinet here is now enforcing. Chesterton wrote,“Our representatives accept designs and desires almost entirely from the Cabinet class above them; and practically not at all from the constituents below them. I say the people does not wield a Parliament which wields a Cabinet. I say the Cabinet bullies a timid Parliament which bullies a bewildered people . . . If you ask me why we have thus lost democracy, I say from two causes (a) the omnipotence of an unelected body, the Cabinet; (b) the Party system, which turns all politics into a game like the Boat Race.”
The British parliament has wisely made its procedures more flexible since 1911, for instance allowing for a free vote on major issues.
The promotion of abortion by the Government, being concerned with life and death, involving the most fundamental of all human decisions, demands that the Irish people be directly consulted in a referendum. Or at least, that their representatives be given a free vote.
The Cabinet’s refusal to do either makes a mockery of its claim to be reforming the political process. – Yours, etc,
Uam Var Avenue,
Bishopstown, Cork.
Sir, — The minimalist provision for conscientious objection in section 17 of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill is little more than a box-ticking exercise. Doctors, nurses and midwives (but no other health service workers) will be allowed to exercise their conscientious objection to carrying out or assisting in carrying out an abortion. This right, however, is seriously diluted by the obligation the section imposes on these healthcare professionals to transfer the “care of the pregnant woman” to colleagues who do not share their conscientious objection to abortion.
The provision is, moreover, elitist in that it is only doctors nurses and midwives who will be allowed to have a conscientious objection to assisting in the carrying out of an abortion. There are many other workers in the health services who may have serious objections to being ordered to carry out tasks that assist directly or indirectly in abortion.
The State has no right to lay down in law who may be allowed to have a conscience and who may not. Not all radiographers will be happy that their work is to be used to facilitate the deliberate, intentional killing of an innocent human life. Many pharmacists will not wish their professional expertise to be abused by asking them to dispense the drugs and medicines to be used in the conduct of abortions.

Sir, – I’m enjoying Ruadhán Mac Cormaic’s week-long series of articles on the Supreme Court, particularly the one published on Saturday (“One court: eight voices” Weekend Review, July 6th).
I would like too see more women on that bench and a few younger voices too. I acknowledge the objection that we might be stuck with a 35-year-old justice for a very long time indeed, but perhaps term limits might be the remedy to that.
In any event, it is worth remembering that the Supreme Court has on many occasions been all that has stood between citizens and a legislature that, either through arrogance or timidity, lost sight of where its duty lay. – Yours, etc,
Stamer Street,
Dublin 8.
Sir, – Chief Justice Susan Denham has proposed that ethics must be emphasised in the boardroom (Home News, July 9th).
Indeed it will when the courts start to insist on such.
Common law affords justices considerable discretion in interpretation and application of general legal principles on issues such as good faith and absence of duress in business dealings for commercial contracts and the obligations of agents to improve governance. In the absence of legal sanction that threatens corporate and personal ambition, no progress may be expected.
I suggest that this ball is in the court of the chief justice and her colleagues. – Yours, etc,

Sir, – One could be forgiven for getting a tad confused by the frequent urgings of Ibec on matters to do with tax – until that is the penny drops as to what may lie behind its frantic lobbying. Its latest pre-budget submission (“Employers seek lighter budget adjustment”, Business, July 8th) implores the Government not to increase taxation – in the interest of the economy, don’t you know.
A quick look at their last outing a few months ago and we find the same Ibec urging the Government to double the planned property tax to bring it up to €800 per annum at least – no problems here at all it seems with taxation levels.
But then a moment’s pondering irons out this conundrum; Ibec has no problems at all with tax, unless of course, it is targeted at those with huge incomes and pensions.
The fact is that the economy desperately needs tax increases where they can be afforded and do least damage to spending power on high-end incomes, with the returns used to reduce the burden on those at the lower end of the scale. Ibec will find that should the Government do that, there would be an instant boost to the local economy as those with little would spend the windfall.
Ibec appears to be less of a business and more a club for those on high incomes determined to keep what they have – regardless of how that impacts on the rest of us. – Yours, etc,

Sir, – I am delighted to hear that David Drumm has said he will no longer allow himself to be a scapegoat for the banking crisis (Home News, July 8th).
He will find every town and parish hall open to him to hear his side of events and explain the banking collapse to the people of Ireland on his return from America.
He could also attend the Oireachtas inquiry. We are having one, aren’t we? – Yours, etc,
Caragh Green,
Co Kildare.
Sir, – How astonishing to read that former Anglo Irish Bank chief executive David Drumm criticises the “drip, drip, drip” release of phone recordings of conversations held by senior Anglo executives in 2008 and declares that he “will no longer allow [himself] to be made the scapegoat by politicians, politically connected former bankers and politically protected senior public servants who don’t want their role in the crisis to be highlighted”.
The drip, drip of the phone recordings of Mr Drumm’s conversations demonstrates that Ireland cannot afford any longer to be run by so many moralists who are ignorant of finance, and so many financiers who are ignorant of morals. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – If Mr Drumm is so concerned about his good name then he should return to face his critics instead of issuing long-distance bulletins from his safe haven in the United States. He fled the country to avoid bankruptcy and investigation: while he can hardly redeem his reputation, he could do something to contribute to a rigorous public inquiry of the banking crisis. Otherwise citizens who have suffered due to the recklessness and arrogance of a banking elite are entitled to draw their own conclusions about Mr Drumm’s self-imposed exile in the United States. – Yours, etc,
Dublin 15.
Sir, – As the saga of the Anglo tapes continues to dominate the headlines, we have heard the governor of the Central Bank say that they are embarrassing for this country (Home News, July 8th). In reality, they are not embarrassing, as they are only highlighting the greed and disregard that pertained at the time in such financial institutions towards the general public and the light-touch regulation that allowed it all to happen.
Most of the blame game is focused on the banking institutions, but it could be said that they only did what they were allowed to do. We elected the people who appointed strings of advisers and “ regulators” to look after the proper governance of this country. Future generations will be paying a heavy price for their failure.
Why are many of those who were involved in the banking collapse still holding high-ranking positions? – Yours, etc,

Sir, – I refer to the article by Christian Zaschke, first published in the Süddeutsche Zeitung and reprinted in The Irish Times (Weekend Review, July 6th). As far as the section on oil and gas is concerned, it would be tedious to dissect the article line by line. Just two points, then.
Firstly, simplistic comparisons of headline tax rates lead to wrong conclusions. For example, a well (the only one this year) is currently being drilled off the Irish west coast, reportedly at a cost of some €200 million. If the well is dry, every cent is lost. In the same circumstances in Norway, the Norwegian government would refund around €156 million to the partners. This fact is rarely mentioned by those applauding the Norwegian tax system.
Neither do they refer to the fact that Norway allows a write-off of 130 per cent of the capital cost of a development project as against just 100 per cent in Ireland, or that up to this year Norwegian companies were allowed to write off losses incurred anywhere in the world against revenue in Norway, which is not allowed in the Irish system, or that your chances of making a commercial find in Norway are at least five times better than in Ireland.
Secondly, if the Irish system is such a giveaway, why isn’t there a queue for licences? Drilling in Irish waters has been running at one or two wells a year for the last decade, as opposed to perhaps 80 or 90 a year in the North Sea. A recent licensing round in the UK resulted in the award of 167 licences. Our most recent round produced just 13 licensing options. The Irish round before that attracted only two applications, both for the same acreage, so just one licence was awarded. It seems that the oil industry just doesn’t recognise a bargain when it sees one!
We welcome debate, but let it be dispassionate and informed, rather than emotional and ill-informed. – Yours, etc,
Irish Offshore Operators’
Fitzwilliam Business Centre,
Upper Pembroke Street,
Dublin 2 .
Sir, – Andrew Doyle TD (July 9th) might do well to take note of how much tax multinational companies actually pay in this country. Conned? Yes! – Yours, etc,
South Ballina,
Sir, – Further to Brian O’Connell’s article (“Time to clear the air on cannabis”, Health & Family, July 6th), I would like to point out that if health outcomes determined drug laws instead of Anglo-American cultural norms, cannabis would be legal.
Unlike alcohol, cannabis has never been shown to cause an overdose death, nor does it share the addictive properties of tobacco. Like any drug, cannabis can be harmful if abused, but jail cells are inappropriate as health interventions and ineffective as deterrents.
Cannabis prohibition has clearly failed as a deterrent. The US now has higher rates of marijuana use than the Netherlands where cannabis is legally available.
The only winners in the war on cannabis are drug gangs and shameless tough-on-drugs politicians who’ve built careers confusing the drug war’s tremendous collateral damage with a comparatively harmless plant. – Yours, etc,

Sir, – Contrary to the impression given by the report of June 19th (“Dublin Airport to close T1 car park for upgrade”, Home News), the car park at Terminal 1 will remain open throughout the improvement works.
About 400 of the 2,000 spaces in the car park will be out of service at any given time as part of the project, but the facility will remain open throughout. There will be short-term spaces available at the T1 car park throughout the summer period and customers will not be redirected to long-term parking, as the report stated. The claim that the works will add 20 minutes to the time it currently takes users of the T1 car park to access the terminal building was incorrect.
The “drive-up” gate price for the first hour of short-term parking at Dublin Airport is currently €3 and not €4.50 as reported. Online rates for daily parking start at less than €9.95 per day, and not €25 as reported.
The car park upgrade work is taking place during the summer season, as the Terminal 1 short-term car park generates the majority of its custom from business travellers. – Yours, etc,
Dublin Airport Authority,

Sir, – Isn’t it great to have the doom without the gloom for a change. – Yours, etc,
Rusell Court,
Ballykeeffe, Limerick.
Sir, – The hottest day in seven years? Cool! – Yours, etc,
Mill Street,
Westport, Co Mayo.
Sir, – Like hundreds of local people and visitors, we went along to a “Gathering” on the seafront at Dún Laoghaire on Saturday evening last. The evening was warm, the sea was calm and it was wonderful to be present at such a friendly event. From toddlers to parents to grandparents, all joined in as we danced the Siege of Ennis, the Walls of Limerick and two-steps to the music provided by a live band. It was fun.
Congratulations to the organisers.
Let’s hope we can look forward to more evenings like this. – Yours, etc,
Knapton Road,
Dún Laoghaire,

Irish Independent:

* HOW much are we influenced and shaped by the weather? I am convinced that the principal reason Ireland has produced so many great writers, never mind Nobel laureates, is because of the introspection and reflection that being trapped inside, under a lowering sky, instills.
Also in this section
Seasonal invasion of second-home owners
Quantum leap required
Let justice belatedly be done
Patrick Kavanagh, Brendan Behan, James Joyce and Brian O’Nolan honed their craft while sitting in the snugs and smoky booths of the city, taking respite from the damp, all-pervasive gloom outside.
So how will we cope with the forecast 10 days of clear blue skies and serotonin-drenched sunshine?
One thinks of the immortal lines in the movie ‘The Third Man’ spoken by Harry Lime (Orson Welles): “In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”
I can’t imagine the great illuminators in our monasteries would ever have finished the Book of Kells had they been able to head down to the beach for a few cans under a piercing sun.
The lashing rain and biting cold kept them cloistered and confined, chaining them to their task.
How then will we behave in the searing heat when the cows start producing evaporated milk, the chickens start laying hard-boiled eggs and the trees start whistling for the dogs to cool down?
I am planning to cast away my bodhran, go into the kitchen and find my biggest pans and start my own Caribbean steel band.
After all those winter cold fronts, I am going to enjoy a warm back. And if anyone asks me how do I find the weather, I will say it’s easy. I just went outside – and there it was.
KR Killbride
Donnybrook, Dublin
* If a Scottish rugby fan had saved assiduously to follow the Lions to Australia, how much satisfaction would he/she derive from shouting for 10 Welshmen, three Irishmen and two Englishmen in the final decisive test match?
I suggest that an equal number of players be chosen from each of the four countries. National rivalry and one-upmanship would thus be diluted. There would be more allegiance to the Lions jersey.
This system may not produce the very best combination available, but at least it would be more representative and generate less jingoism. Speaking of which, can anybody remember which team defeated Wales in the opening week of this year’s Six Nations championship?
Tony Wallace
Enfield, Co Meath
* By his shrewd team selection, Warren Gatland masterminded a remarkable victory.
The conundrum now is, what do the rugby hacks do with their sharpened knives? Cut humble pie?
Mick Hannon
* I just want to let you know how impressed I am with your coverage of the Anglo tapes. The way in which you are drip-feeding the information is giving us all time to digest. You are making these important issues clear and understandable to all.
You are exposing the continuing serious weaknesses in Irish business, administrative and political governance. I do not believe any inquiry could achieve the good you are doing with your handling of this matter.
When all is said and done, the courts and your newspaper will be seen as among the few honest brokers in this saga.
George Maher
Address with editor
* In 1987, the late anti-EU economist Raymond Crotty made a name for himself by mounting a legal challenge in the Irish Supreme Court against our ratifying the Single European Act.
In 2009, Euro-sceptic entrepreneur Declan Ganley campaigned against the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. Now we have European Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton vehemently dissenting with the proposed legislation on abortion as dictated by her “conscience”.
Are these people trying to go down in history as the heroes who saved Ireland from damnation, or are they just preventing the country from moving on?
I wonder if part of Ms Creighton’s conscience would be the notion that since 1980, 147,881 Irish women have sought abortions in Britain.
Another question for her is if she expected the Government to do nothing following the Savita Halappanavar case.
Then we had politician Eamon O Cuiv stating that if the abortion bill is passed it would open the floodgate to abortion on demand. Perhaps he meant it would open the floodgate to thousands of Irish women who wish to exercise their sacrosanct human right to choice.
Concetto La Malfa
Dublin 4
* Have we the right to destroy a human foetus?
Western society has found and lost many things on its journey towards greater development. With the advances in technology we are now in danger of treating the natural world as a collection of objects to be used and disposed of as we wish.
The human foetus is not an object to be discarded at will. It has the innate intelligence and the blueprint to reach its own potential.
Regardless of the circumstances of its arrival, it has an innate natural and human right to live and contribute its unique gifts to our evolving planet and universe.
How can we embody a law that allows the suicidal ideation of a mother to decide the fate of her unborn child? Simply having the ability and the power through the enactment of a law does not give us a right to take a life.
Rosaleen Hogan
Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin
* There are proposals for legislation that will allow for medical intervention to save the life of a mother during pregnancy. When I was a child, and indeed all through my growing up, I heard the term “she had the baby taken from her” when the life of a mother was threatened because of her pregnancy.
That was a long time ago, when Ireland was under the thumb of Mother Church.
Common sense prevailed, so distressed women were allowed to live and go home to those who loved them. They did not endure the indignity of having strangers wanting a say in their personal lives.
All over Cork there are disgusting posters. There is the suggestion that if a mother is saved and a baby does not survive in hospital, then the word “murder” is used.
Stop and think about the fear these divisive messages spread among the public, especially women, who must be in charge of their own bodies and pregnancy when and if they encounter a life-threatening crisis.
Take down those dreadful pictures which are in bad taste and only seek to glibly criminalise medical practices due to ignorance and fervour.
Robert Sullivan
Bantry, Co Cork
* I appeal to those who will vote on the coming legislation not to go against their conscience, as this will affect their peace of mind and their whole person – mind, body and spirit – for the rest of their lives.
M Gillis
Howth, Dublin
Irish Independent


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