15 July 2013 shop

No Navy lark today too ill to go round the park
Warmer today manage to get tshop to buy milk cream in tea is awful. Read Dr Who all day too tired to move.
We watch Up the Creek its not bad,
No Scrabble today

Kay Matheson
Kay Matheson, who has died aged 84, was one of four students who, on Christmas Day 1950, “reclaimed” from Westminster Abbey the Stone of Destiny (also called the Stone of Scone), on which the ancient kings of Scotland were crowned.

Kay Matheson with the Stone of Scone at Edinburgh Castle in November 1996 Photo: PA
5:41PM BST 14 Jul 2013
Weighing about 152 kilograms, the block of red sandstone had been forcibly removed in 1296 from its seat in the monastery of Scone, a few miles north of Perth, by Edward I as a spoil of war. It had since resided under the royal throne in the Abbey, emphasising the role of English kings as overlords of Scotland.
But the election of a Scottish Nationalist MP in 1945 had sparked renewed interest in the Stone’s ideological significance. In 1949 the Scottish Convention, a broad-based movement of Scottish nationalists, had led a petition to reform the constitution of Scotland and establish a home rule parliament, gaining two million signatories within a year.
It was against this political background that Ian Hamilton, a 25-year-old student at Glasgow University, recruited Kay, then a 22-year-old domestic science teacher, and two other nationalist students, Gavin Vernon and Alan Stuart, to retrieve the Stone in the name of Scottish independence.
Hamilton planned to conceal himself in the Abbey at closing time and admit his accomplices under cover of darkness , forcing open the door of Poets’ Corner. They would then carry the Stone to Kay, waiting in one of the two getaway cars, and make their escape to Dartmoor .
A first attempt, on the evening of December 23, ended abruptly when a watchman discovered Hamilton and ejected him. The next day Kay was taken ill with influenza, so Hamilton arranged for her to stay at a nearby hotel until the crew needed her. Then, just after 4am on Christmas Day, they entered the Abbey while Kay remained outside.
As they prised the Stone loose, about a quarter of it split off. Hamilton ran to the car with the smaller piece and returned to help the other two lift the rest. Then Kay started the engine, raising the alarm. A policeman had spotted the car and come to investigate. Hamilton dashed back to the front seat, and the pair posed as lovers to allay suspicion.
Touched by this amorous display, the policeman warmed to them, and despite the lateness of the hour he stopped to chat. Scraping noises emerged from the Abbey, but Kay and Hamilton overlaid them with loud merriment at their companion’s jokes, holding his attention until the danger had passed.
It was then decided that Kay should take the smaller fragment of the Stone to Oxford, where she had a friend who she thought might take them in. Hamilton returned to the Abbey and the second car, where he lighted upon Vernon and Stuart, who had fled when the policeman arrived on the scene.
Vernon departed for Warwickshire while the other two headed on with the rest of the Stone — their car springs now sagging badly under its weight. They buried it in a woodland embankment about two miles from Rochester and began the long drive to Scotland.
Meanwhile, Kay Matheson struggled to negotiate the unfamiliar route to Oxford, being forced to stop for directions several times. Eventually she realised that her repeated inquiries would leave a trail for the authorities to follow, and struck out instead for the house of an English friend in Birmingham. The journey was long, at one point stalling altogether when the car boot swung open and her piece of the Stone fell out. On arrival she left the car and its contents at the friend’s house and made her way to Scotland by train.
The theft of the Stone launched a nationwide police hunt, during which the border between England and Scotland was closed for the first time in nearly 400 years.
Although the police issued a description of Kay’s Ford Anglia, the Stone vanished from public view for the next four months. In the interim Hamilton arranged for the two parts to be reunited, and on April 11 1951 the authorities discovered it, draped in a Saltire, on the altar of Arbroath Abbey, Forfarshire. The police subsequently detained all four perpetrators, but no charges were brought, and they were soon free to pursue their individual careers .
Ian Hamilton became a QC; Gavin Vernon emigrated to Canada and died in 2004; while Alan Stuart, the youngest, retreated into anonymity. Resuming her career a teacher, Kay Matheson’s political resolve never left her, and she bore a permanent and personal reminder of their endeavours: during one of the lifting operations, the Stone had fallen on her foot, breaking two toes.
Kay Matheson was born on December 7 1928 at Inverasdale, on the western shore of Loch Ewe in what is now Wester Ross. The daughter of a crofter, she was an ardent nationalist from a young age. She trained as a teacher in Glasgow, where she met Hamilton.
Planning the break-in, Hamilton was keen to have a woman involved, on the ground that a female presence would make them appear more innocuous. Kay fitted the bill — not least because, by her own account, “there were only two girls in the Nationalist Movement mad enough to take part in the raid”.
Back in Scotland after her detention by police, she taught home economics at Gairloch High School and was a travelling teacher of Gaelic at numerous primary schools in Wester Ross. She was an active member of the Scottish National Party, and in 1983 stood against the future leader of the Liberal Democrats Charles Kennedy in his first local elections.
For the last 20 years of her life Kay Matheson lived in a nursing home at Aultbea, on the shores of Loch Ewe. She claimed to have no regrets about her part in the theft — “apart from losing my toes, but I’m managing all right without them”.
On November 30 1996, 700 years after its removal, the Stone of Scone was returned to Scotland, in a ceremony presided over by Prince Andrew at Edinburgh Castle. Kay Matheson was the only one of the four to attend, watching the Stone as it made its way along the esplanade, borne on a Land Rover and flanked by members of the Royal Archers. “It was all worth it,” she said. “If we hadn’t done it we would not be here today.’’
She was unmarried.
Kay Matheson, born December 7 1928, died July 6 2013


For all those who promulgate the mantra of the nanny state this does not tally with the ever increasing rate of chronic ill health from alcohol in the UK (Report, 13 July). I have been looking after older people with mental health problems for over 15 years; sadly, many more of these problems now include alcohol misuse. Which is preferable, a nanny state or an unsustainable NHS?
Dr Tony Rao
Chair, Royal College of Psychiatrists older persons’ substance misuse working party
• Why is the answer to road congestion more roads and the answer to congested A&E departments to close A&E departments?
Roger Steer
Gravesend, Kent
• The NHS is reported to need £30bn in savings over eight years (Cuts alone will mean more Staffords, 11 July) and replacing Trident will cost at least £20bn. Never mind about a referendum on leaving the EU. What about a campaign for a referendum as to which people want to keep, the NHS or Trident?
Dr David Griffith
• You report (Greenpeace activists scale Shard, 11 July) that Scotland Yard considers aggravated trespass an appropriate charge for the Greenpeace activists who climbed the Shard in protest at the exploitation of the Arctic. With what offence would Doctor Who have been charged in his struggle against the Spoonheads last March, when he rode a motorbike up the same building?
Stephen Musgrave
Chelmsford, Essex

I have identified some inconsistencies in the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) proposals on MPs’ remuneration (Editorial, 12 July), based on my experience of making presentations to public sector pay review bodies and my current position as a pension fund trustee.
When the coalition initiated a reform of public sector pension schemes by making members pay more for lower pensions, ministers always stated that the MPs’ scheme would also be reformed. Now it appears that this reform is being “traded” for a significant hike in the salary when public sector workers have suffered a virtual pay freeze.
Further, most MPs never make a ministerial position and therefore calculating their pensions on a career average will not cut costs. On the contrary, in a final salary scheme, pension costs for the majority of MPs will increase with the salary rise. The only way to cut the cost of MPs’ pensions is to bring the rate of accrual into line with other public sector schemes.
Colin Adkins
•  The starting point of successive governments’ pay policy for the public sector is to pay what is necessary to recruit and retain staff. Ipsa claims that because of an absence of recruitment and retention data for MPs, that criteria cannot be used (Report, 12 July). This is wrong, for we do have a full set of data. Clearly there is no difficulty in recruiting MPs – every Westminster constituency election is contested. And we see few MPs resigning because of insufficient remuneration.
Neil Hornsby
•  Of course MPs deserve a salary rise – and much, much more. The huge majority of women and men in the Commons are hard-working, devoted, patient, committed, informed, intelligent and responsive. They have the guts to stand for office – which few of their degraders would dare attempt – and many are there only precariously till a later election. In my own constituency we have an MP who takes his duties every bit as seriously as a GP or a fire-fighter. There are hundreds more like him. Those, of all parties, who are willing to give chunks of their lives to our interests, deserve praise and even higher salaries than those recommended.
Ian Flintoff
•  I have no problem with the proposed pay rise for MPs as long as it is their only source of income. Representing a constituency should be a full-time job, like being a head teacher, a senior civil servant, a police superintendent or a hospital administrator. As the rise will not take place until after the next election, those who put themselves forward for election will be able to resign from directorships and consultancies, or choose not to stand.
Nicky Campbell
Macclesfield, Cheshire
•  Elections can be seen as a free market where sellers (candidates) compete for our vote. Why not let the market make the choice? Let each candidate in their manifesto declare the salary they are prepared to take from the public purse, so we buyers can compare them on value for money. We may prefer aspects of candidate A’s policies but vote for candidate B because their package is offered at a knock-down price. And we could introduce other market paraphernalia. Best before dates come to mind.
Peter Keeble
•  Given the rules regarding earnings for benefit claimants, would it not be appropriate to reduce MPs’ income by, say, £1 for every £2 of outside income? Alternatively, given the market forces credo of the government, would it not be sensible to reduce the salary to a point where there are fewer applicants for the job?
Tony Thomson
West Kirby, Wirral
•  MPs’ salaries should be raised immediately to £100,000 pa. Being an MP is a benefit both to the community and to the holder of the office. By applying means-testing the government could actually reduce the cost of our MPs, since many who are already remunerated for outside work would become ineligible for a full parliamentary salary.
Dr Bob Aron
Ilkley, West Yorkshire
•  Why does Ipsa propose linking MPs’ pay to average salaries? Surely it would be far more effective to link it to the minimum wage, or to the actual earnings of the bottom 10% or 20%. This would provide at least some incentive to MPs to seek to reverse the appalling wealth gap – and go a small way towards reducing their detachment from the high-inflation-no-(or low)-pay-rise world in which most of us live.
Peter Milligan
Exeter, Devon
•  Select any date when MPs’ salaries were deemed reasonable. Divide the salary by the then national minimum wage. Use the resultant multiplier to determine an MP’s salary.
Roger Sigrist
Maastricht, The Netherlands
•  Tie MPs’ pay to the civil service grade that rises to a £70,000 maximum after, say, 10 years. They will achieve the grade maximum if and when annual increments are resumed. Being new civil servants they will of course start at the bottom of the scale after each election.
David Monkman
Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire
•  Recommendations from the Vickers report, designed to reduce the risk of future financial meltdown which would impact on millions? Watered down and kicked into the long grass. Recommendations from the Leveson inquiry, designed to protect the general public from criminal press intrusion? Ditto. I may be proved wrong, but already it’s hard to see the Ipsa recommendations on MPs’ pay suffering the same fate.  
Colin Montgomery

The government’s decision not to introduce legislation for standardised packaging of tobacco products is a shameful betrayal of its public health responsibilities (Report, 13 July). There is compelling evidence that children’s perceptions of cigarettes are influenced by branding and that it detracts from the impact of health warnings on packs .
The tobacco industry targets young people because it needs to replace the 100,000 people in this country who are killed each year by smoking related diseases. Every day roughly 570 children aged 11-15, nearly 30 classrooms full, start smoking. Tobacco packaging is designed to manipulate perception of risk. For example, even though terms that dishonestly imply relative safety in cigarettes like “light” and “mild” have been banned, research shows that smokers continue to believe that cigarettes in lighter colour packs are less hazardous.
The government must now either bring forward legislation or allow parliament a free vote on what is an urgent child protection issue.
Dr Nicholas Hopkinson Senior lecturer, respiratory medicine, National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College, London
Professor Ashley Woodcock
Dr Malcolm Brodlie Academic clinical lecturer in paediatric respiratory medicine, Newcastle
Dr Joanna Brown Consultant chest physician, London
Dr Sarah Brown Paediatric respiratory London
Dr Graham Burns Consultant physician, Newcastle
Professor Peter Calverley Professor of respiratory medicine, Liverpool
Dr Ben Creagh-Brown Consultant chest physician, Surrey
Dr Iolo Doull Consultant respiratory paediatrician, Cardiff
Professor Steve Durham Consultant chest physician, London
Dr Sarah Elkin Consultant chest physician, London
Dr Louise Fleming Consultant respiratory paediatrician, London
Dr Ian Forrest Consultant chest physician, Newcastle upon Tyne
Professor Anthony Frew Professor of allergy and respiratory medicine, Brighton
Professor Trisha Greenhalgh Professor of primary care, London
Dr Nicholas Hart Consultant chest physician, London
Dr Matthew Hind Consultant chest physician, London
Dr James Hull Consultant chest physician, London
Dr Philip Ind Consultant chest physician, London
Dr Abigail Jackson Consultant chest physician, West Hertfordshire
Dr Helen Leonard Consultant paediatrician, Middlesbrough
Professor Finbar Martin Professor of medical gerontology, London
Professor Martin McKee Professor of European public health, London
Dr Chris Meadows Consultant in intensive care, London
Dr Andy Menzies-Gow Consultant chest physician, London
Dr Justin Pepperell Consultant chest physician, Taunton
Professor Michael Polkey Consultant chest physician, London
Dr Mark Richardson Consultant chest physician, Newcastle upon Tyne
Dr Elin Roddy Consultant chest physician, Shropshire
Professor Gabriel Scally Professor of public health and planning, University of West of England
Professor John Simpson Professor of respiratory medicine, Newcastle
Dr Suveer Singh Consultant in respiratory and intensive care medicine, London
Dr Myra Stern Consultant chest physician, London
Dr Joanna Szram Consultant chest physician, London
Dr Matthew Thomas Clinical lecturer in paediatric respiratory medicine, Newcastle
Dr Don Urquhart Consultant respiratory paediatrican, Edinburgh
Dr Woolf Walker Paediatric respiratory consultant, Southampton
Professor Robert West Professor of health psychology, London
Dr Patrick White Senior lecturer respiratory medicine, London
Dr Matt Wise Intensive care consultant, Cardiff
Dr Jonathan Wyllie Consultant neonatologist, Middlesbrough



Your article “This can’t go on: NHS chiefs urge new debate”, and commentary  by Oliver Wright (11 July) argue that the NHS is facing a black hole in its finances, and that hospital reconfigurations are a necessary response. I believe it is dangerous to make this link.
While some hospital reconfigurations for complex, specialised problems such as major trauma or cardiac surgery do make sense, the British Medical Association at its annual conference last month voted: “that this meeting opposes any reconfiguration that is driven purely by financial considerations; insists reconfiguration should only be considered if there is sound evidence of benefits to patients”.
It is not true that the medical profession supports the closure of district general hospitals in favour of larger units. District general hospitals do a different job from highly specialised units, and there is still a great need for local hospital services working closely with GPs, particularly in the care of people with long-term conditions, and for maternity and paediatric care.
Our ageing population and medical advances do mean that the NHS will cost more. Where there is a will there is a way. The nation needs  a comprehensive National Health Service and must find the means to pay.
Dr Pamela Martin MRCGP, London SE14
The recent announcement by Jeremy Hunt that non-EU foreigners will have to pay to see a GP is particularly curious given the recent media attention on the strain placed on struggling A&E departments.
Inappropriate attendances, which would be better handled in primary care, are already a serious issue facing A&E units, and the threat of charges will only force people into an already straining emergency system, in order to avoid paying.
As the cost of an A&E admission far outweighs that of an appointment in primary care, this decision leaves the impression of a Government less concerned with the actual issues facing the health service than with focusing on an easy scapegoat for the NHS’s complex problems.
Dr William Nevin, Birmingham
The Government’s proposed NHS charge for migrants is a politicised response to the misperception that “health tourism” is rampant in the UK.
Less than 1.5 per cent of patients at our clinic in east London left their country of origin for health reasons; on average, they had been living in the UK for three years before seeking a doctor’s help. The majority have come to this country to work, or to seek safety from persecution, not to get medical care.
Around 0.03 per cent of the NHS’s annual budget of £97bn went toward healthcare for migrants. A levy on GP access is unnecessary, and will exclude vulnerable people from medical care they are entitled to.  
Leigh Daynes, Executive Director, Doctors of the World UK, London E14
No hope for democracy in religious states
Michael Gove’s reform of the school syllabus has come too late to benefit those of our ministers who make speeches about democracy in the Middle East and other regions where religion is a powerful force.
For many centuries in England those who did not accept the state’s Christianity were hounded to death or into exile: the Jews, the Lollards, the Henrician deviants (both Roman and Protestant), the Marian Martyrs, Elizabethan Puritans and Catholics.
A limited pluralism came into existence under Oliver Cromwell and the de jure Anglican monopoly of power which existed from 1660 to the early 19th century was increasingly moderated by a de facto acceptance of the existence of religious dissent. But fierce and bloody sectarianism could break out, as in the Gordon riots and anti-Catholic hysteria in the 1850s, and could continue in Northern Ireland until much later. The biblically based discrimination against women only began to wane in the 20th century.
I suggest that the historical record shows that “democratic” government can only come into being when religious people cease to believe they have the sole prescription from God and therefore cease to persecute each other; when religious people are fully tolerant of those of other religions; and when the political community is able to accept that people who have no religious beliefs can live without being discriminated against.
Except perhaps in Turkey, nowhere in the Middle East do these conditions apply. So for our Foreign Secretary to expect “democracy” to appear in Egypt, Libya, Syria or elsewhere in the foreseeable future is to show that a clever mind and fluency of expression are no substitute for historical knowledge. I hope he does not stay long enough in office to send British troops on another Afghan-Iraqi nonsense mission.
T H C Noon, Cadeleigh, Devon
It was impressive to hear Malala Yousafzai speak at the UN. She seems to be a born orator and, yes, her message is clear and correct and we should be promoting the rights of girls. But wouldn’t it be easier to promote those rights if we weren’t buzzing those villages with drones and letting loose a guided missile every now and again?
Anyone being bombed by a foreign power resents those attacks and instinctively rejects all that the foreign power stands for, regardless of the worth of those (foreign) values. So surely we should accept that the West is part of the problem?
The first step to take would be to stop our aggression. This would reduce hostility and radicalisation and then the money saved (by missiles which remain unfired) could be spent on schools and hospitals for those regions. Indeed, I wonder how many schools or how many thousands of text-books could be bought for the value of one unfired missile?
Alan Mitcham, Cologne, Germany
Paymasters of the parties
Both unions and wealthy contributors to the Tory party argue that it is fair for both wings of society to fund those parties whose main concern is to look after their supporters’ interests. So, who is there to look after the interests of the vast majority of us who are neither union members or wealthy?
Perhaps this void at the heart of society explains why so few electors, who have no vested interest in either side and so feel disenfranchised, find any party worth voting for. The only sensible route to solving this dilemma is the funding of political parties by all the electorate in a democratic society – that is, state funding.
Mark S Bretscher, Swaffham Bulbeck, Cambridgeshire
Broad defies the spirit of cricket
The only defence that I have seen of Stuart Broad’s outrageous refusal to “walk” when palpably out is that “the Australians do it too”. Two or more wrongs do not make a right.
Broad’s behaviour is contrary to the very spirit of cricket, and a terrible example to players of the game at all levels. Let us hope that there will be condemnation from cricket’s governing bodies.
John Gibbs, Mexico City
I have arranged to be in Australia for the Adelaide and Melbourne Ashes Tests. I am sure the genteel folk of Adelaide will abstain from comment, but Stuart Broad’s decision not to walk after an atrocious umpiring mistake will certainly prompt the more boisterous Melbourne crowd to welcome him to the crease with a chant of “Cheat! Cheat! Cheat!”
I might even be joining in.
Brian Burbage, London SE20
South American postal service
Mark Steel (12 July) is not being funny when he asks “Are you ready to deliver your own letters?”. Visit Venezuela, where there are no post-boxes. Letters must be taken to the central post office for posting (there are no other POs).
To receive letters you must rent a box at the same PO and pick them up yourself. This obviously is “more efficient” for the post office, as labour costs are the biggest expense in a letter service. For us, it’s not just the Outer Hebrides who will suffer from Royal Mail privatisation – we are all in this together.
John Day, Port Solent,  Hampshire
Trayvon a victim of US gun laws
A month ago a burglar tried to break into my house. He couldn’t, and climbed the wall, smashed my neighbour’s window, and went in. But another neighbour saw all this and phoned the police, and by the time the burglar emerged six police were waiting to arrest him.
Irrespective of whether the burglar was black, white or Hispanic, neither I nor my neighbours needed a gun. Nor did the police. So isn’t the shooting of Trayvon Martin at least as much about gun control as about race?
David L Gosling, Cambridge
You learn what you eat
Do the debates on school dinners and the curriculum offer an opportunity to “join things up”?
Imagine what might happen if school dinners were cooked by the (older?) students, using ingredients bought by (younger?) students in the local market, to a budget, with everyone writing something appropriate afterwards – so integrating cookery, nutrition, maths, business studies, economics, biology, geography and English, as well as chemistry and physics (what happens during cooking).
Dennis Sherwood, Exton, Rutland
The tax you know
I note the Lib Dem plans for a mansion tax. Can anyone explain the substantive difference between council tax and mansion tax, apart from who sets and collects it (Treasury or local council)? If there is no substantive difference, wouldn’t it be cheaper to tweak the existing council tax rather than introduce all the new procedures required to manage a new tax?
H Trevor Jones, Guildford
Gas danger
A government committee says that farmers face a severe water shortage that could lead in the near future to much greater reliance on imported food (report, 10 July). A little while ago it was reported that fracking requires huge quantities of water.
Peter Salway, Stanton Harcourt, Oxfordshire
One wonders if Damien Hirst would look so happy if the severed head with which he posed for a photograph (13 July) had been that of his mother or father.
Peter Fonth, Keighley, West Yorkshire


There is never a good time to set MPs’ pay to rights, but giving resposibility for it to an independent body was a good idea
Sir, Sir Ian Kennedy and his colleagues at the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority are much to be congratulated for the intelligence, judgment and objectivity of their intentions as regards MPs’ pay, pensions and expenses (leading article, July 12).
For the past three decades, politicians carried the ultimate responsibility for determining their remuneration package and, with a stomach-churning combination of funk and hypocrisy, rejected consistent advice from the Senior Salaries Review Body and others for dealing with the lax expenses regime and getting MPs’ pay right, along the lines that IPSA has unveiled. Instead, they preferred to curry media and populist favour by rejecting proposed pay increases for MPs while conniving in the continuing exploitation of an expenses system they knew was obscene. Those of us in the know were not surprised when that approach blew up.
As a result of the attention on expenses, and with the excellent work already largely completed by IPSA, we can have some confidence now that the expenses scandal is behind us, and we should acknowledge that IPSA has thereby already saved the tax payers tens of millions of pounds. But it was always part of the deal in successive proposals for addressing MPs’ pay and expenses that, when the expenses stable had been swept clean, the steady erosion in the value of MPs’ pay should be rectified. There is no perfect number as to what an MP’s pay should be, but the IPSA proposals have about them the feel of sound thinking and good judgment, well positioned as they are between some MPs’ own excessive demands for £100,000-plus and the flat-earth thinking of people with little understanding of the real work done by MPs, who, in my experience, mostly work hard and for very long hours.
There is never a good time in political terms to set MPs’ pay to rights. That is why taking the responsibility away from politicians and giving it to an independent body was absolutely right. Politicians of all parties should resist the knee-jerk temptation to legislate and grab the matter back, which would make a bad situation much, much worse.
Sir Ian may well need broad shoulders and a thick skin in the coming days. But it would be nice to think that calmer voices would recognise the lasting value of what he is doing and give IPSA’s proposals the endorsement they deserve.
Sir John Baker
Past chairman, Senior Salaries Review Body,
Weybridge, Surrey
Sir, MPs are perfectly adequately paid, and the vast majority of their constituents would be delighted to earn half their pay (without all the perks and extra income). Being an MP is, or should be, a vocation; there are dozens of applicants for every vacant seat, and only rarely does a sitting member vacate a seat voluntarily. An 11.5 per cent pay increase would be a gross insult to all other public servants, and to most employees in the private sector; IPSA is remarkably insensitive not to realise this.
Peter Kottler
Brixworth, Northants
Sir, The unpopularity of MPs is surely due not so much to their salaries, as paid and as proposed, which are in line with those paid to senior public sector employees, as to the additional sources of income they receive. Quite apart from the disreputable practices revealed from time to time by the press, their expenses, even now, and their perks and pension rights are way beyond anything that the Tax authorities or private sector employers would consider appropriate for others.
Even more inappropriate are the payments so many receive as “consultants” to organisations and special interest groups.If they are to do their jobs properly MPs should not also be working part-time for others. Surely the increased salary now proposed for MPs should be accompanied by a prohibition of other payment to them by third parties deriving from their role as MPs.
Richard Olsen
London N5 1

The old NHS was cheap — there were no transactions and all monies were spent on clinical care; now too much is spent on administration
Sir, May I remind everybody that in the days before the ludicrous “internal market” of John Major (1990), the NHS cost less than 7 per cent of GDP yet turned in morbidity and mortality figures that rivalled any health system in the world (“NHS faces £30bn shortfall and needs radical reform, say chiefs”, July 11).
Now it costs about 10 per cent of GDP per annum and has fallen radically behind in all measures. All of this money has gone on bureaucracy. The old NHS was cheap because there were no transactions and all monies were spent on clinical care. It is true that there were long waits but priorities were decided by clinical need which is surely how it should be.
Dr Caroline Bonwitt
Todenham, Glos
Sir, Financial analysis of two failed hospital trusts came to the same conclusion in each — their problems were largely caused by an unaffordable PFI debt. Your report states that NHS debt is approaching £30bn. Two years ago the debt was estimated at £20bn so despite debt reduction measures over the last two years things are worse.
Extrapolating from the analyses at South London Healthcare Trust and Peterborough & Stamford, the majority of current debt nationwide is attributable to PFI. Widespread hospital closure is not possible as PFI hospitals are “locked in” for the duration of their contract — usually 25-35 years. Closures can only occur of non-PFI hospitals which by definition are financially more stable.
The failure of government to abandon, and/or buy out the PFIs, can only be explained by its wish to see the NHS fail, so that it may be replaced by private sector “efficiency”. The report on GP services in the South-West, which you printed adjacent to the debt crisis article, does not lead to any sense of confidence that involvement of private enterprise is either reasonable or safe.
Dr Andrew Bamji
Rye, E Sussex

What about equivalents of death-rate tables in other professions — barristers’ effectiveness could be measured by the number of cases won
Sir, Your correspondence on surgical death-rate tables has parallels in other professions, including the Bar (letters, July 10). It has been suggested from time to time that a barrister’s measure of success should be how many cases are won in court. This is as naïve as the thinking behind the death-rate tables. For a barrister, it ignores the difficulty of the case and says nothing about matters like the quality of the argument and whether litigation could have been avoided.
The best litigator keeps a client out of court by pre-emptive advice or by negotiating a good settlement. The parallel for a surgeon is having excellence both in surgery and as a physician to know when surgery is necessary. If avoiding surgery is successful, does that qualify for a 0 per cent success rate (because it does not count) or a 100 per cent?
Nikhil Mehta
London WC1
Sir, Consultant surgeon Jonathan Compson rightly admits (letter, July 10) that final responsibility for any patient admitted under his name is his, so it is not then seemly for him to suggest that 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 consultant’s role appears more akin to that of the flight engineer than the pilot (Denis Wilkins, letter June 10): though an expert on the aircraft and dealing with functional difficulties, it is the pilot who is solely responsible for its safe landing. Pilots, while certainly reliant on processes, would not dream of taking off without some visual and procedural checks of their own. As ever with the NHS: who is prepared to take full responsibility?
Malcolm Watson
Welford, Berks

We shouldn’t be shy about saying that lengthy or complicated cases are better listed before a district judge rather than a magistrate
Sir, D. E. Downs (letter, July 10) suggests that greater use of the magistracy would save money. In 2011 the Ministry of Justice commissioned research which concluded that the cost difference between a district judge and three magistrates was negligible.
We shouldn’t be shy about saying that lengthy or complicated cases are better listed before a district judge. What cannot be reliably measured is the time (and consequent cost) saving where complex legal argument is heard before a legally trained judge instead of volunteer magistrates.
Jon Mack
London EC4

Surely it cannot be for the good of cricket for our top players to encourage behaviour that goes against the spirit of the game?
Sir, I don’t think cricketers like Stuart Broad and your cricket correspondent Mike Atherton appreciate the damage that “non-walkers” are doing to grass roots cricket (“Modern game responsible for Broad’s reluctance”, July 13). Young cricketers are very likely to copy the example of their heroes. Therefore, when someone like Kevin Pietersen defends not walking and says “we play hard, we play fair” local league umpires are going to be faced with an increase of such behaviour, which can very quickly sour the atmosphere.
Surely it cannot be for the good of the game for our top players to actively encourage behaviour that goes against the spirit of the game?
Peter Shreyhane

SIR – Will David Cameron be asking for a knighthood for Justin Rose should he win the Open Golf Championship at Muirfield as he previously won the American Open?
John Brierley
Stockport, Cheshire

SIR – If we are serious about having long-term, relatively clean and sustainable energy supplies for the future, we should be developing thorium-based nuclear power, wave (and possibly tidal) power and efficient fuel cells for vehicles.
Thorium is four times as abundant as uranium and produces less waste. It is unsuitable for use as nuclear weapons and a Fukushima-type accident would not occur with a Thorium reactor.
Wave power may not, by itself, meet all our energy requirements but surely, as an island nation, we should be maximising its potential.
Wind turbines are inefficient and unreliable as a large-scale energy resource. Fracking will spoil the countryside, its safety is questionable and shale gas is unlikely to be the panacea its proponents claim. Solar is fine and should be developed, but it will only ever meet a fraction of our energy requirements.
William Cook
Blandford Forum, Dorset
Related Articles
Justin Rose is on par with Murray
14 Jul 2013
SIR – The main objection to nuclear power is the dangerous and expensive way of disposing of waste. However there could be a safe and economic way of overcoming this.
Dr Paul M Brown of Boise, Idaho, perfected it in around 1991. His company built a prototype plant that will bombard the highly radioactive elements with high-energy photon radiation in the form of X-rays produced by a linear accelerator.
This would reduce the cost of generating power to as low as, or even lower than, coal or gas.
Unfortunately Dr Brown died in 2002, but the newly elected directors of his Nasdaq-quoted company, Nuclear Solutions, have promised to develop this technology through to commercial success.
We have to hope that we shall soon know.
R Harding
Barnstaple, Devon
SIR – Building windmills and enforcing the wearing of two layers of woollens will do nothing to deal with global warming. The problem is that we have 65 million people living in these islands — likely to increase to 70 million soon. We must realise that some expenditure of energy is needed just to keep this number of people fed.
Industrialisation, and its spin-offs of more efficient food production and distribution, have resulted in a hugely increased human population. To cure one problem — such as our energy supplies — will simply reveal the next choke-point (probably water availability), while the destruction of other species’ habitats continues.
“Green” policies are applying the right solution to the wrong problem.
W G Sellwood
SIR – I was surprised to read that wind farms cause health problems (Leading article, June 30). Aside from being hit by a disintegrating blade I can’t think of any immediate danger to health.
Dr Matthew Cates
Totnes, Devon
SIR – Perhaps Parliament should set an example with green policies. If every MP worked a treadmill to provide electrical power, the result would be about 48 kilowatts of power (650 MPs times 75 watts per person).
Although that is only about the mechanical energy used by a modest motor car, it puts the value of our MPs into perspective. More seriously, it emphasises that an industrial economy like Britain’s needs large amounts of power, and messing about with this green nonsense is a damaging irrelevance.
Michael Gorman
Guildford, Surrey
SIR – Upon seeing the photograph of the wind turbine at Kessingland (report, June 30) it occurred to me that for wind power to make a worthwhile difference, we should need so many turbines that wherever one looked there would be several of them, within view, all rotating.
At least electricity pylons don’t move.
Dr Michael Barley
Hove, Sussex
Ed Miliband’s political suicide note
SIR – In periods of economic turmoil, ideological vacuums open up, leading to change in political parties’ directions and ambitions. In the Eighties, the Conservative Party shifted to the Right whereas Labour under Michael Foot wrote the “longest suicide note in history” by endorsing Left-wing policies.
Given the economic problems today, the Conservative Party seems at last to be shifting away from the centre ground in respects to Europe, education, health and welfare reform.
The Labour Party, however, is moving in the opposite direction; Ed Miliband was elected by the unions, and Labour’s paymasters are attempting a silent coup d’etat through manipulating selection processes.
This does sound awfully like a re-run of the Eighties and we must hope that Mr Miliband is about to write a suicide note that Foot would have been proud of.
James Adam Paton
Billericay, Essex
SIR – With the Labour Party’s currently fraught relationship with the Unite trade union, Ed Miliband is certainly learning the hard way that he who pays the piper not only calls the tune, but quite often writes the song sheet as well.
Ted Shorter
Tonbridge, Kent
Cheap army
SIR – In response to John Baron’s criticism of our current Defence policy (Opinion, July 7), someone once said that there are few things more expensive than a “cheap” army, still costing a considerable amount, but unable to carry out the tasks for which it was created.
Perhaps we could enter into an arrangement with the Russians for them to supply us with arms and men, as they have President Assad of Syria – although I suspect that the price for that will be even higher.
It is ironic that many of those supporting a reduction in our armed forces would wish us to pursue a more neutral course in the world, without noticing the example of Belgium, neutral at the beginning of both World Wars, and ending up being fought over, in both of them, with little or nothing its people could do about it.
Switzerland, on the other hand, has managed to remain “uninvolved”, but only at the cost of considerable spending on its defences. To quote W H Auden: “History, to the defeated, may say ‘Alas’, but cannot alter or pardon”.
Peter Davey
Bournemouth, Dorset
SIR – Surely the fact is that we no longer can afford to be a global power. The days of Britain’s greatness have long gone. Is it not time for us to take a back seat in world politics?
Barrie Combellack
Penrith, Cumbria
Failing BBC
SIR – Janet Daley (Opinion, July 7) was spot on with her comments about the BBC. Perhaps a member of the BBC Trust would kindly explain to me why I should continue to pay a licence fee so that my money can be spent on excessive salaries, a failed digital media project and excessive redundancy payments?
Malcolm Williams
Southsea, Hampshire
SIR –The BBC’s promotion of such causes as global warming and multiculturalism is an ever present endorsement of Left-wing orthodoxies. Millions of voters rely on the BBC to keep informed. This is therefore a serious threat to democracy.
Geoff Dunnicliffe
Norton Lindsey, Warwickshire
Lister Surgicentre
SIR – The Care Quality Commission (CQC) did not issue a suspension notice because of the deaths of three people following routine surgery at the Lister Surgicentre (report, July 7). The primary care trust’s independent review found that the deaths could not be attributed to the treatment they had received there and that the circumstances were consistent with treatment pathways elsewhere in the NHS.
The CQC’s latest reports relate to routine inspections of ophthalmology services provided by Clinicenta in Hertford, Welwyn and Stevenage on 8, 11 and 14 February, not to patient deaths. They indicate that we achieve the majority of the required standards but need to take further action. We will work hard to ensure we make the required improvements.
Patient records were not lost. The data transfer in 2011 from the NHS and the quality of data input into a new computer system resulted in poor data quality. This has been corrected.
Since Clinicenta started providing clinical services at Lister Surgicentre in September 2011 there have been over 60,000 patient attendances, with high levels of satisfaction and very high levels of positive feedback.
Mike Hobbs
Director for Clinicenta
Stevenage, Hertfordshire
Body politics
SIR – The proposal to consider giving priority to those who have signed up as organ donors, should they need a transplant (, July 11) is very interesting.
I have bequeathed my body to medical science for anatomical examination.
Under the scheme proposed, will I be entitled to a new body, when required?
David Hobbs
Loughton, Essex
British funds were not used for lobbying
SIR – Your front-page story (“The Whitehall ‘plot’ to fund foreign aid campaign”, report, June 30) raised questions about discussions I held with NGOs over this summer’s excellent food and hunger campaign (IF) while I was the International Development Secretary.
I regularly held meetings with several charities, as is typical for any minister who keeps in touch with stakeholders, and of course if a group of NGOs wish to coordinate together to form a campaign then there is nothing unusual about them keeping the Government informed.
I was made aware, and in many cases supported, several campaigns during my time at the Department for International Development. At no point, however, did I consider allowing taxpayer funds to be used to support the IF campaign. Using British funding to lobby the British Government would be a fraud against taxpayers.
Thanks to reforms made by the Coalition Government to British aid spending, money is allocated on a competitive basis with a laser-like focus on results. The idea that any charity, fringe or otherwise, would be told by the Government not to take part in a charity campaign is laughable.
It is clearly important to have a rigorous debate about the spending of British aid as it is essential that taxpayers can be confident that their funds are making a difference, especially in these difficult times.
Let us continue to have that debate on its own terms, not on the basis of a conspiracy theory by a disgruntled and ironically pro-aid activist organisation.
Andrew Mitchell MP (Con)
London SW1
High speed travel
SIR – When the HS2 project was first mentioned the cost was £30 billion, it is now in excess of £42 billion. All this to save 55 minutes from London to Leeds.
That equates to £763 million per minute. If the need to save 55 minutes on a journey is that important, I advise flying.
B E Norton
Royal Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire
Cutting truths
SIR – While I may not agree with the cuts imposed by the Coalition Government, at least it is avoiding obfuscation by calling them “reforms” (Letters, July 7).
The temptation to avoid the unpalatable – another example is calling road works “improvements” – should be resisted. Call a spade a spade, not a load-transferring implement.
Robert Parker

Irish Times:
Sir, – John Rainsford’s excellent article about bee losses (Sciene Today, July 11th) may have induced gloom and despondency in your readers, so I am writing to you in the hope of alleviating the situation somewhat. There are so many ways in which bees and other pollinators can be helped.
A bit of untidy gardening, for instance, with tolerance for some weeds, can provide splendid forage for honeybees and bumble bees. Encouraging young people to be interested in bees is a tremendous investment in the future. There is a great opportunity to find out more during the long vacation, when the Irish beekeepers hold their summer course in late July at Gormanston, Co Meath. There are talks about all sorts of unexpected topics, such as using beeswax for art or furniture polish, as well as beekeeping.
People are welcome to attend single lectures, or one day of the week-long course, very inexpensively. I hope this may help to brighten the picture which your article painted of our beloved bees. – Yours, etc,

Sir, – Suddenly we discover that some TDs have discovered that they have consciences when it comes to voting for a piece of legislation in the Dáil. But if they were true both to themselves and the general electorate they would ask themselves: Is it my conscience or my constituency that persuades me to vote against the legal termination of a pregnancy under any circumstances? Is it any wonder that most of the electorate still don’t trust politicians. – Yours, etc,
Hermitage Close,
Dublin 16.
Sir, – Irrespective of any of Lucinda Creighton’s policies, it is a great shame that she was forced from Government due to her having a mind of her own. Her departure is a deep indictment of the whip system, group-think and group-ego. As a person of self-sacrificing principle, whatever that principle may be, her loss diminishes authenticity in Irish political life. I hope that she remains in politics and, whatever policies she might propose, I for one would consider them more favourably in light of her recent self-sacrifice. – Yours, etc,
The Diamond,
Co Cavan.
Sir, – Thankfully we can now expect a welcome break from Lucinda Creighton’s very public struggles with her conscience. In the interlude perhaps she could explain why she had no trouble in axing support for the poor, the disabled,the educationally disadvantaged, the carers and the elderly in community centres. What it is to have such a well disciplined and discriminating conscience. – Yours, etc,
Co Westmeath.
Sir, – I was very surprised that the Dáil debate on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill was adjourned at 5am so that TDs could get some rest before returning to the Dáil at 5pm to continue the debate.
If these TDs were junior doctors working in an Irish hospital looking after sick patients there would have been no one to call a pause in proceedings, no 12-hour rest break, and certainly no open bar.
However, I wasn’t surprised and had some sympathy for Labour TD Michael McNamara’s lapse in concentration . . . mistakes happen when people are tired. – Yours, etc,
Castleforbes Road,
Dublin 1.
Sir, – Lucinda Creighton called for a specific care pathway to be put on a legislative basis for pregnant women suffering mental health issues. She, however, had no issues in standing with her Government on the cuts inflicted upon and the delays experienced by the mental health services over the last number of years.
It would appear that it is only pregnant women that should be entitled to a timely intervention from our mental health service!
I also note that the Minister for Health is to withdraw automatic medical cards for cancer patients. A vicious and cruel attack on those at their most vulnerable.
One can presume there will be no call for legislative care pathways for these patients! – Yours, etc,
Ballycullen View,
Dublin 24.
Sir, – I cannot say I support the stance taken by Lucinda Creighton, but I can now say I have the utmost respect for her.
On the other hand we have Michelle Mulherin, who has long been pirouetting on her soapbox on a range of issues, including abortion. For that TD to then support the Bill in question, just to remain within a party which was opposed to her personal beliefs, is deplorable.
Ms Mulherin may seem to be in a better position within a popular and powerful party, but Ms Creighton can at least pride herself on the power and consistency of her core convictions. – Yours, etc,
Co Offaly.
Sir, – Now that the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill has been passed, it will be interesting to see if the Catholic Church carries out its threat to excommunicate those TDs who voted in favour. – Yours, etc,
Royal Oak Road,
Co Carlow.
Sir, – What type of democracy does this Republic possess when all of those expelled from the Fine Gael and Labour parties over the last two years were people who were sticking to promises made to the electorate? – Yours, etc,
Ballyboggan Road,
Dubllin 11.
A chara, – As attention now switches to the Seanad in respect of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill, one can only hope that its deliberations are as comprehensively reported as the proceedings in the Lower House. Particularly so considering the impending referendum on its survival.
The intellectual rigour and parliamentary value of the Seanad – and the contribution of each member – in the coming week might serve as a useful yardstick in respect of its retention or disposal. – Is mise,
Thomas Davis Street,

Irish Independent:

Madam – With reference to the Anglo Tapes and the scandalous behaviour of our ‘banksters’, it is very important that we realise how our sovereign uses a “debt-based monetary system”. With the inception of the euro in 1999, capital borders quite literally disappeared overnight and we entered into the boom era of European cross-border credit lending. The likes of Anglo Irish grabbed the opportunity and so a manic phase of lending and borrowing occurred. Ironically, at the same time, in 1999, President Bill Clinton lifted the Glass Steagall Act.
Also in this section
Labour has already ‘gone’
Penalising brave TDs is shameful
This Government has no moral authority
This act was created after the Thirties’ Great Depression, to prevent fractional reserve banking – where the lending out of more than real deposits actually deposited in a bank could occur. As well, there was the raising of the Gold Standard in 1971 by President Nixon, where the term Fiat Currency appeared and paper money did not have to be backed by hard assets, ie gold. Our global financial system since then has been built on debt, and based on constant future growth to pay it back. There is now considerably more debt in the system than sound money.
The disastrous decisions made in 2008 by the Government to socialise the banking debt and not let our banks fail, has fully created a system where the wealthy are completely protected and the taxpayer must foot the bill. This was the biggest failure ever to take place in modern democratic history.
Unfortunately, we can all see the Coalition does not understand monetary systems, and so they will continue to go along with the status quo. Will a banking inquiry take place? Of course not. Like everything else, ‘they’ will ride the storm and wait for it to die down, and the rest of us are left to drown.
Olivia Hazell,
Clane, Co Kildare
Bad times and worse language
Madam – There is no excuse for foul language, especially in national newspaper headlines. Give your readers credit for the intelligence to form opinions without the aid of bad language. Shame on you!
E Kelly,
London, England
Stories hidden by curse words
Madam – Is the Sunday Independent gone completely mad using foul language like the ‘F’ word, ‘b*****ds’ and ‘bolloxology’?
Some of the red tops in the UK would not print the language you used on your front page (July 7) in relation to the Anglo Tapes.
This has kept bad news off the front page? For example, 40 garda stations to be sold off. Justice Minister Alan Shatter must think all his Christmases have come at once.
The latest sell-off of garda stations to the highest bidder comes while gardai in some areas are working from Porta-Kabins.
There is still anger in many rural communities about this. Would a few well-chosen expletives from a senior garda officer bring their concerns to the front page?
Bernard Rafter, Berkshire, England
We should thank whistleblowers
Madam – Why are Michael Noonan and others in the Government so keen to find out who released the Anglo Irish bankers’ tapes to the press? It is totally irrelevant and we should thank God for whistleblowers like these. The man or woman should be given a medal for exposing the gurriers that ran our banks.
He accuses people of “mucking about” with garda inquiries. Well, I have a question for Noonan – what has he been doing for the last five years?
Mike Mahon,
Templeogue, Dublin 6W
Protection for bank customers
Madam – I refer to Dr Eugene O’Brien’s letter (Sunday Independent, July 7, 2013) entitled, “Let justice belatedly be done”.
While I agree wholeheartedly with his sentiments and recommendations, I would like to see a protection clause for the ordinary bank customer who could end up paying excessive bank charges to fund the suggested 10 per cent levy!
Eileen Burke Smyth,
Betrayal – or patriotism?
Madam – Charles Moore clearly approves of governmental dishonesty and one has to wonder what his motives are. To state that Snowden betrayed his country is as irrational as saying the Sunday Independent betrayed Ireland by publishing details of the bank tapes. Yes, it could be that both governments will respond by clamping down on us even further, but does that mean people should not even try to have a decent country?
Richard D Barton,
Tinahely, Co Wicklow
Anglo and 1916 monument
Madam – The controversy surrounding the release of the Anglo Irish Bank tapes makes for interesting reading for those of us campaigning for State preservation of the abandoned 1916 National Monument in Moore Street/Moore Lane.
In a contract drawn up in February 2004 between Dublin City Management and developer Joe O’Reilly, there is a extraordinary clause that potentially places Anglo Irish Bank at the centre of the decision-making process on the proposed development of the Carlton site, including the national monument then under the control of the City Council.
Clause 2.9 of that contract states that “in the event that there is a breach of the terms of this contract by the developer, it (The City Council) will allow sufficient time for the developer’s bankers to obtain a further developer to carry on the development before it exercises fully any of its powers under the CPO”.
In other words, Anglo Irish Bank would be, in the event of a breach of contract by the developer, the decision-maker as to what developer would assume control of this prized asset in the heart of our capital.
This begs the question: upon what basis was it decided that Anglo Irish Bank would choose an alternative developer in the event of default?
James Connolly Heron,
Concerned Relatives of the Signatories to the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic,
Ranelagh, Dublin 6
Lucinda to be applauded
Madam – It was no surprise to many of us when Lucinda Creighton voted against the Government on the abortion legislation. We have seen since first elected to the Dail in 2007 that she is a person of principle and integrity.
She voted against the legislation knowing that she would be removed from the Fine Gael party. This was courageous and selfless and I wish her well in the future.
John Bellew,
Dunleer, Co Louth
Irish Independent


Leave a Reply

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

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

Google+ photo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: