Ties and books

22 July 2013 ties and books

I go all the way around the park round the park listening to the Navy Lark nice to hear Pertwee again. Its the one where Troutbridge has been automated. Leslie manages to damage the new computer and all is well as everyone retains their jobs. Priceless
Coolertoay I give away some ties and collect some books on Freecycle not bad
We watch Are you being served not bad
Scrabble today Mary wins but gets under 400 perhaps I will get my revenge tomorrow?


Helen Thomas
Helen Thomas, who has died aged 92, was one of the feistiest and most controversial figures in the White House press corps and a trailblazer for women in journalism.

Helen Thomas Photo: REUTERS
5:31PM BST 21 Jul 2013
As a correspondent for the American news agency United Press International (UPI), she cross-questioned 10 presidents — often badgering them to the point of rudeness — and her refusal to conceal her strong personal opinions while doing so often discomfited her colleagues.
So did her public hostility towards Israel, which in 2010 finally put an end to a career that had spanned nearly 70 years. On a videotape circulated on the internet, Helen Thomas, whose parents were Lebanese immigrants, said Israelis should “get the hell out of Palestine” and “go home” to Germany, Poland or the United States. The remark earned her widespread opprobrium and the controversy put paid to her career in the national media.
Over the years she became ineradicably associated with the ritual that concludes every White House news conference, invariably being the journalist to deliver the hallowed closing words: “Thank you, Mr President”.
But such courtly formality belied Helen Thomas’s disdain for White House secrecy and evasiveness which dated back to her days as a young reporter covering the presidency of John F Kennedy in the early 1960s. Since then she had become a self-appointed president-watcher, reporting on the public and private activities of every leader of the free world for some 40 years. In 2006, however, the Bush administration marginalised her, after she had challenged President George W Bush to his face over the Iraq war and declared him to be the worst president in history.
In her heyday Helen Thomas had been in the vanguard of women’s achievements in American journalism. She was one of the first female reporters to break free from the White House “women’s beat” — soft stories about presidents’ children, wives, tea parties and hairdos — and cover the hard news on an equal footing with men.
When UPI appointed her in 1974 she became the first woman to head a White House bureau for any American news agency. She used her position to campaign for a more open presidency, resisting all moves by a succession of administrations to restrict press access. She even accosted a startled Bill Clinton, emerging from the undergrowth in the White House grounds to spring a question during his presidential morning jog.
Not everyone was an admirer. One colleague claimed that Helen Thomas’s aggressive questioning of Ronald Reagan had destroyed the tradition of presidents visiting the press section of Air Force One, while one of Gerald Ford’s press aides accused her of oversimplifying complex issues. On the other hand, there were many who applauded her for pushing presidents to explain their policies.
The seventh of nine children of Lebanese immigrants, Helen Amelia Thomas was born on August 4 1920 in Winchester, Kentucky. When she was four her parents moved to Detroit and, after a spell working on the student newspaper at the city’s Eastern High School, she determined to become a reporter.
On graduating from Wayne University, Detroit (now Wayne State University) with a degree in English in 1942, Helen Thomas landed a job as a copy girl, fetching coffee and doughnuts for editors at the now-defunct Washington Daily News. United Press — later United Press International — took her on to write local news stories for its radio wire service, although her assignments were initially restricted to women’s news, society paragraphs and celebrity profiles.
Her big break came when Kennedy won the 1960 presidential election, and she was sent to Palm Beach, Florida, to cover the president-elect and his family on holiday. She proved adept at grubbing about for gossip, interviewing Jacqueline Kennedy’s hairdresser and staff from the company that supplied nappies for the infant John Kennedy Jr.
She cultivated such an impressive array of contacts in White House circles that Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon Johnson, complained that he learned of his daughter Luci’s engagement from a Helen Thomas story.
In 1972, she accompanied President Richard Nixon’s historic trip to China. Later that year, when the Watergate scandal began to engulf the Nixon White House, Martha Mitchell, the notoriously indiscreet wife of the US attorney general, would telephone her late at night to unburden her frustrations at what she saw as the betrayal of her husband, John, by the president’s men.
A political liberal, Helen Thomas also was critical of the American-led invasion of Iraq, asserting that the deaths of innocent people should weigh heavily on President George W Bush’s conscience. In 2006 she confronted Bush with the proposition that “your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis” and that every justification for the attack had proved false.
“Why did you really want to go to war?” she demanded.
When Bush began explaining his rationale, she interjected: “They didn’t do anything to you, or to our country.”
“Excuse me for a second,” Bush replied. “They did. The Taliban provided safe haven for al-Qaida. That’s where al-Qaida trained.”
“I’m talking about Iraq,” she said.
For all her misgivings, Helen Thomas relished the presidential beat. “I love being in the White House,” she said, “and having an orchestra seat on history. It’s a thrill and will remain one for so long as I feel the great contribution a reporter can make is to keep an eye on the presidency. For in doing so, she is helping to keep an eye on democracy — to keep it alive.”
When her strong personal opinions finally ended her national media career in 2010, following her controversial comments on Israel — which President Obama’s White House spokesman called “offensive and reprehensible” — she worked as a columnist for a free weekly newspaper in Washington, DC.
Helen Thomas married, in 1971, Douglas Cornell, chief White House correspondent for UPI’s arch-rival, the Associated Press. He died in 1982.
Helen Thomas, born August 4 1920, died July 20 2013


The steady pornification of culture that Zoe Williams addresses (‘Wherever we take our kids, they’ve got to look at all these images’, G2, 17 July) is offensive enough, but I find the proliferation of lurid “true-life stories” magazines at checkouts at least as offensive. Just as I don’t want them surrounded by casual porn, I don’t particularly feel the need to have my daughters presented with cover headlines like “Raped by five men and left for dead” the moment they can read either.
Ian Simmons
Monkseaton, Tyne and Wear
• I would agree with everything Brendan O’Brien writes were it not for one selfish thing (Letters, 19 July). If the embargo were to be ended, we would not be able to enjoy Cuba so much, as it would be flooded by US pleasure-seekers, one of the reasons why the Castros and Guevara overthrew Batista 50-odd years ago!
Mike Hawkins
Faversham, Kent
• Jacques Tati’s farewell telegram to the director of the Edinburgh film festival in 1948 after he had been entertained at the military march spectacular is a masterpiece of brevity: “Ta ta, tatoo, Tati.”
Robin MacPherson
• There was another Robert Johnson who was a blues singer (Letters, 19 July). Born 1916, recorded by George Mitchell in 1969, he was later embraced by the church: “The Lord can’t get no glory out of you when you play the blues.”
Robert Jones

Under apartheid, South Africa’s gold mining industry failed to protect black workers adequately against exposure to dust, which it knew was causing them to contract silicosis in droves. Tens of thousands are now suffering from silicosis, a preventable and incurable disease which makes sufferers much more susceptible, for life, to tuberculosis, a disease which is endemic in rural areas where drug-resistant TB cases are soaring.
Thousands of ex-miners have died uncompensated. Communities in the former migrant labour-sending regions have been left impoverished. Yet for decades the industry has stood by, apparently ignoring their plight. A claim for compensation by 24 ex-miners against Anglo American South Africa (AASA), owned by London-headquartered multinational Anglo American plc, has been ongoing in the South African courts since 2004. Seven of the claimants have died since the case began. The longer compensation is delayed, the more silicosis victims will die and the smaller will be the amount that the industry ultimately has to pay.
The high court is expected to decide shortly whether 3,000 gold miners’ claims for compensation against AASA can be heard in England, which the company disputes. We urge the gold mining industry to cease the legal arguments, the procrastination and delays. Justice delayed is justice denied. They should respond to the calls of NUM South Africa and others, accept moral responsibility and announce their willingness to pay decent compensation and healthcare to ex-gold miners suffering from silicosis now.
Ian Lavery MP Lab, Wansbeck, Nicky Wilson NUM, Frances O’Grady TUC, Tony Dykes Action for Southern Africa

In the eighth paragraph of Alan Travis’s report is the crucial fact of the whole debate about the relationship between police numbers and crime levels: “Home Office statisticians say the evidence for a clear link between crime figures and police officer numbers is contested.” (Crime falls to lowest level since survey began in 1981, 19 July). For contested, read “no evidence for”. As Travis reported earlier this year (Report, 31 January): “The criminologists have always argued that there is no simple direct link between police numbers and crime rates… there has been a sustained fall in crime in England and Wales of more than 40% since the mid-90s. It looks increasingly likely that it is going to take more than a cut in police numbers – however deep – to bring it to an immediate juddering halt.”
Ian Sinclair
• I see that “the official figures show a further 9% fall in the crime rate despite the loss of 14,000 police officers”. Every time that crime figures fall the home secretary of the day commends government policies and the excellent work of the police; I’m not aware of the converse ever happening.
However, given your graphic on page 11, perhaps the current home secretary would like to thank the previous government, which was clearly responsible for the bulk of the drop in crime and perhaps she, or the prime minister, would like to apologise to the nation for the policies of a previous Tory administration that was clearly responsible, with or without the assistance of poor policing, for their rise in the first place.
Jim Cook
Reading, Berkshire

The Department of Health has published yet more proposals (Revolution in care to cut cost for elderly, 18 July) following Andrew Dilnot’s original recommendations two years ago to reform the care system. In that time, nothing seems to have changed. Although there now seems to be the political will to change a system which is currently incredibly complicated, the new proposals seem to recommend a system which, if anything, will be even more incomprehensible. Relatives wishing to investigate the costs of a care home for a loved one will need expert guidance to explain how the funding will work.
These proposals are also incredibly misleading. Although the cost of care will be capped at the proposed £72,000, this amount will only pay for someone’s care, and not take into consideration the hidden “hotel costs” for bed and board, which will be as much as £15,000 a year. Who is going to pay this? Meanwhile, it has been suggested that payment for care will be deferred and taken from someone’s estate. With local authorities facing a squeeze on their income, how will they pay for the care of older people in their area? We must take heart from this latest move by the government, but unfortunately the sheer number of broken promises I’ve seen during the 40 years I’ve worked in the social care sector means I’ll believe it when I see it.
Leon Smith
Chief executive, Nightingale Hammerson
• Randeep Ramesh is incorrect when he repeats the widespread notion that pensioners in care homes with capital below £14,250 receive free care. All residents in care homes are required to contribute towards their board charges unless placed under the Mental Health Act. The Department of Health issues the Charging for Residential Accommodation Guide annually and local authorities in England undertake a means-tested financial assessment in accordance with the national assistance (assessment of resources) regulations 1992.  This sets a weekly amount of “pocket money”, or personal expenditure allowance, that is deemed sufficient for a resident in care to live on after their contribution towards their board charges has been assessed. The figure for 2013 is £23.50 per week.
A pensioner receiving pension credit of £145.40 will be required to contribute £121.90 weekly for board charges (£145.60 less £23.50). A pensioner with a standard weekly state pension of £110.15 and an occupational pension of £78 per week would contribute £164.65 per week towards their board charges (£110.65+£78-£23.50). A tariff on capital at the rate of £1 per £250 is also charged between the thresholds of £14,250 and £23,500. A fundamental review of funding from the top down is required to ensure transparency and equal treatment is now required for all residents, with or without property. Instead of increasing the availability of deferred payments offered by local authorities, a study of the average length of a person’s stay in care needs to be determined and a benchmark cost established.My experience as a former local authority employee is that in west London the average cost of deferred payments was £78,000 but the average property value was £400,000. Therefore additional ways to raise finance are a better alternative than forcing the sale of the property, perhaps through family assistance or by equity release.
Gerard Friel
Twickenham, Middlesex
• How much simpler it would be to offer entitlement to universal good standard home and residential care through a “national insurance” scheme paid for through progressive taxation and provided by local authorities. Anyone who wanted to “go private” would be free to do so but would have to top up any extra costs themselves. Claims that we can no longer afford to pay for the care of an expanding elderly population and need complex financial systems to cope, are merely ways of shifting responsibility from the state to the individual. Good for the wealthy and the financial services industry, bad for rest of us.
Derek Heptinstall
Broadstairs, Kent
• The cap on care costs is particularly misleading. Very few older people will live long enough to reach the £72,000 cap and, even then, they would be faced with further care and other costs. Families will still have to sell their home to pay these massive bills. And there is no evidence that the insurance industry is developing financial products to help older people pay for care. The report highlights that it will be years after 2016 before the few winners, mainly wealthy families, see any financial gains. By then many more older people will have experienced the severely underfunded care system.
Stephen Burke
Director, United for All Ages


Andrew Grice is right that mud-slinging won’t help the National Health Service (20 July). Neither will breaking it up by stealth. Oddly one thing all parties agree on is giving the “best-performing hospitals” Foundation status and, with it, more freedom from, central control. Worryingly, nine of the 14 hospitals on Sir Bruce Keogh’s hit list had achieved the coveted Foundation status and were well on their way to independence from the NHS!
We are reaching a tipping point. If all parts of the NHS are not subject to similar oversight, with common standards and effective monitoring, then our NHS will slip away. And by the time we realise what we’ve lost, it will be too late. There are ways to make the NHS viable without breaking it up under the guise of improving quality. We need to pursue them before we throw away the thing that makes us British and keeps us alive.
Marlene Winfield, London NW5
Insiders (my daughter and son-in-law) and users (myself) are not surprised to read (6 July) that NHS England is “about to run out of cash in a very serious fashion”. This year the service costs £109bn – serious money – and yet will need at least £30bn more by 2020. On the very point of his departure Sir David Nicholson (highly paid chief executive of NHS England) warns of a choice between “managed decline” and a “radical new strategy”.
It should now be obvious to public, politicians and press alike that our beloved NHS has become unmanageable, insatiable and unsafe. As “managed decline” is hardly an option, three reforms far more radical than any in current circulation are essential.
The first is to break NHS England up into manageable, human-scale units answerable, say to county councils; highly specialised services, such as child heart surgery and treatment for rare cancers would be organised on a regional or central basis.
Second, to avoid heavy tax rises, significant new money must be brought in through payment for many non-emergency services (e.g. GP appointments, hospital hotel charges, IVF, cosmetic surgery, treatment of non-citizens).
Third, NHS management should be returned entirely to professionals with first-hand experience of the job, as was the case in pre-NHS days; furthermore, all who work in hospitals should be NHS employees under direct supervision of the management.
David Smith, Clyro, Powys
While attending a hospital appointment yesterday I became unwell (I have MS –not at all heat friendly). At my request my appointment was cancelled with no fuss or recrimination and I went home to cool down. Within three hours I was contacted by the hospital trust appointment service who rescheduled my appointment into August and made it for an earlier time “when it might be cooler”. All this happened in the much maligned Morecambe Bay Hospitals Trust. By all means draw attention to, and put right mistakes and ill-thoughtout practices but don’t assume that all our hospital staff are uncaring ill-trained robots.
Brenda Lynton-Escreet, Crag Bank, Lancashire
Fracking destroys one man’s dream
I’m afraid David Winter will be disappointed in his dream of high-speed water from the north coming down to the south via a pipeline alongside the HS2 line (letter, 18 July). Any spare water will be used in the north in the shale-gas fracking process which will extract huge volumes of gas, thus ending the “energy crisis”, and it therefore will take priority.
Charlie Coultas, Wokingham, Surrey
As the G20 announces a global crackdown on tax-dodging multinationals and Mr Cameron insists that such firms in the UK must pay their fair share, his Chancellor announces huge tax concessions for the benefit of companies involved in fracking.
Robert Bottamley, Hedon, East Yorkshire
Just what has Rowling suffered?
It might be a nice legal question for the Solicitors Regulation Authority to decide how “disappointed and angry” JK Rowling (report, 19 July) could be compensated for her solicitor’s indiscretion, given that she has “suffered” a substantial financial benefit in terms of increased sales of The Cuckoo’s Calling, without any damage to  her reputation.
Ken Cohen, London NW6
Funny education
Your cartoon of a child being tested on her first steps (20 July) reminded me of the educator Herbert Kohl’s claim (facetious but effective) that if schools taught walking and talking we’d have as many children struggling with those skills as we have with reading and writing. Now it just feels prescient.
Sue Clapham, Huntly, Aberdeenshire
Biden’s bid
If Joe Biden is worried about having enough energy to run for election in 2016, then perhaps he should copy the British way and stand for election instead.
Nick Pritchard, Southampton
Heated question
You report that a “thermal event” in a lithium battery was behind the recent Boeing 787 Dreamliner fire at Heathrow (19 July). Should we now refer to the serious conflagration of 1666 as The Great Thermal Event of London?
C Sladen, Woodstock, Oxfordshire
Transport ideas need to be less London-centric
I am astonished to read your ill-informed criticism of the HS2 project (leading article, 20 July).The premise underlying your whole argument, namely that we can have either new airport capacity or a new railway, is misconceived at the outset. This country requires infrastructure to meet expected future needs, which must include both. 
Applications to start new services on West Coast Main Line from Euston have just been turned down – because the route lacks the spare capacity needed to accommodate them. There comes a point where it is futile to go on attempting to upgrade 19th-century infrastructure for 21st-century conditions. Better to start from scratch. That’s what countries in Asia, Europe and Africa are doing.
“Boris Island” is in the wrong place for a national hub airport. What a shame the people in positions of power are incapable of thinking in any terms other than London-centric. Birmingham, at the country’s geographical heart, is keen to expand its airport into a hub to rival Heathrow, Schipol, Dubai, etc. The necessary expansion could be done in under 10 years if the will were there.
Dave Kruger, Nantwich, Cheshire
I cannot think of another major advanced economy where activity is so concentrated in one location. What is Germany or the US’s equivalent of London?
Manchester saw off competition from the Millennium Dome to host the first super-casino. This was rejected in the House of Lords. Our national football stadium could have been built at a central location in Birmingham for a fraction of the cost. Lord Adonis suggested that the House of Lords should be relocated to Salford. My point is not that none of these things have happened, but that the London-centric decision makers really do regard these ideas as too ludicrous to contemplate.
I am surprised you are so willing to abandon long-term political thinking in the face of a short- term (new runway for London) economic dilemma.
Brian Carratt, Cheadle, Cheshire
Your suggestion that the rail network should continue to make do with incremental upgrades while proposing a major airport replacement is hypocritical. The “third runway” solution is good enough for the trains, but not for Heathrow? And why should the cost of the new airport not spiral in the same way that that of HS2 has?
Furthermore, suggesting that HS2 be abandoned in favour of a replacement of Heathrow with a new airport in the Thames estuary fails to account for the impact this plan has on the rest of the country. Heathrow has many users outside  the M25 and its location close to the M4/M40 makes it highly accessible from much of the country.
Finally, could somebody explain how the prediction that passenger numbers will treble has been arrived at? In an era of dwindling oil reserves, increasing fuel prices and global warming this strikes me as a fantasy.
Tim Williams, Birmingham
Demonisation of the poorest
Yasmin Alibhai Brown has – yet again – found the words to express the feelings that I, and doubtless millions more, have about this wretched Government (15 July).
My wife and I are volunteers for Norwich Foodbank, and we have been moved to tears by the plight of local people for whom the food bank is all that stands between them and destitution. We have listened as well-off friends have dismissed our efforts as merely giving to scroungers, and wished that those friends could stand with us as we hear the desperate stories of those for whom the food bank is literally a life-saver.
This uncaring Government has achieved a remarkable piece of propaganda. It has somehow convinced the “average working man and woman” that the problems confronting our nation are due to the greed of “benefit scroungers”. I seldom hear ordinary people talking about the disgraceful tax-avoidance and evasion of big companies, and the super-rich – whose tax contributions, if fairly paid, would dwarf benefit “scrounging” – probably by a factor of more than 20.
W P Moore, Norwich
A suitable remedy for greedy bankers
In the light of recent promises of action by the Government against the future frolics of errant bankers, I find that case law already exists for dealing with people who damage our financial structure.
One has only to scan the Anglo Saxon Chronicle for the end of the year 1125 when King Henry “bade that all the mint-men that were in England should be mutilated in their limbs and each should lose their right hand and testicles”. Apparently they “had undone all the land with the great quantity of base coin that they all bought”.
They were all invited to Winchester after Christmas on Twelfth Night, no doubt thinking they were up for a jolly, and returned home slightly lighter after the King’s instruction had been carried out.
I am positive the same deterrent would improve banking practices.
Graeme Hastie, Edinburgh


Candidates submitted a paper setting out their approach to judicial reform with a self-assessment and a selection of their judgments
Sir, Lord Hacking (letter, July 18) is right that the composition of the panel to select the new Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales is set by Parliament through the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 and the Crime and Courts Act 2013. Parliament chose to introduce a lay majority while maintaining senior judicial involvement.
The panel was unanimous that the selection process had to be fair and transparent. Candidates were asked to submit a paper setting out their approach to judicial reform with a self-assessment and a selection of their judgments. We undertook widespread consultation across the senior judiciary and beyond.
All those who applied deserved the opportunity to demonstrate why they should be offered this very important role. The carefully designed selection process, agreed by the panel, gave them just this opportunity.
Christopher Stephens
Chairman of the Judicial Appointments Commission
Lord Neuberger Of Abbotsbury
President of the Supreme Court
Sir, In the selection process, the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) was looking for what was best for the judiciary of England and Wales. Since the devolution statutes of 1998, the holders of the office have adopted the title of Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales. The fact that Sir John Thomas is Welsh and understands the culture and new constitutional landscape of Wales might have outweighed the fact that he is not a woman.
I was Counsel General to the National Assembly for Wales when Sir John Thomas was the Presiding Judge of the Wales circuit. I was the leader of that circuit when he was the Senior Presiding Judge for England and Wales. He is undoubtedly good at writing essays but he is much better at being a judge. His personal qualities and background universally reflected what was best for this appointment.
Winston Roddick, QC
Caernarfon, Gwynedd
Sir, Some comments on the competition for the post of Lord Chief Justice have missed the point. This is that the selection panel has to support the best applicant and include diversity issues as an important aspect of the decision but does not have to be influenced by how their decision would look. The JAC does not have any democratic mandate and is not an agent of social policy.
So an independent panel (and not just a panel of legal insiders) has to make an independent selection. The selection process needs to take judges out of their comfort zone if it is to work well. Public acceptance of the integrity of the selection process is an important aspect of the system.
I know many people who have been appointed as judges over the years and many who have not. I have nothing to gain from praising the system because I am one of those who was not. But I believe that each development of the appointment process in the past ten years has been an improvement on the past.
Each applicant for the post of Lord Chief Justice could have been the best person for the job. The JAC will have been keenly aware of Lady Justice Hallett’s credentials as a successful woman and of its own obligations to the public. But neither Lord Hacking nor I know anything at all about how each of the applicants did in the selection process. So neither he nor I can say that the JAC got it wrong.
Roger McCarthy, QC
London WC1

With minimum unit pricing irresponsible drinkers pay the price; without it the responsible taxpayer bears the burden of the cost to the NHS
Sir, We are gravely concerned that the Government has failed to honour its commitment to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol. We believe this failure is a big step backwards in our collective attempts to reduce crime.
While crime rates are falling in the three force areas in the North East, the link between cheap alcohol and crime and disorder is undeniable. In the North East more than £316 million was spent in 2010-11 handling an estimated 213,800 alcohol-related crimes — and this picture is repeated elsewhere.
Alcohol also has a profound impact on our frontline officers. A recent study revealed that in the North East more than 80 per cent of officers have been subjected to an alcohol-related assault during their career and one in five has been assaulted six or more times.
Minimum unit pricing is needed, it is wanted, and it works. New research by the University of Sheffield shows that a minimum price of 45p per unit is 50 times more effective than a ban on the sale of alcohol below the price of duty plus VAT, the Government’s chosen measure. In parts of Canada a 10 per cent increase in the minimum price resulted in a 32 per cent fall in wholly alcohol-related deaths.
The suggested alternative, to ban selling alcohol below cost price, will have very little impact. It will affect less than 1 per cent of products sold in shops and off-licences.
The Government has missed a real opportunity. This measure was supported by police, doctors and other health professionals, children’s charities, publicans and most people in the North East — we all want to see a reduction in alcohol harm. We expected more from the Government.
Vera Baird
Barry Coppinger
Ron Hogg
Police and Crime Commissioners of Northumbria, Cleveland and Durham
Sir, In its radical 2011 strategy on alcohol the Government identified ease of access and pricing as major factors in alcohol abuse and the consequential problems for society, particularly the NHS.
With minimum unit pricing irresponsible drinkers pay the price; without it the responsible taxpayer bears the burden of the ever-increasing cost to the NHS from alcohol abuse.
Lord Brooke Of Alverthorpe
Baroness Finlay Of Llandaff
Lord Avebury
Baroness Massey Of Darwen
Baroness Hayter Of Kentish Town
House of Lords

The much-improved security situation for researchers in the UK means that it is now time for the sector to be more open and informative
Sir, Hannah Devlin is right: scientists should be more open talking about animal research (“Don’t let the forces of unreason stop research”, Opinion, July 17). The UK life science community agrees and this is why we are working with more than 60 organisations involved in animal research in the UK to develop a Concordat on Openness on Animal Research, to be published later this year. In the past a climate of fear created by violent acts of animal rights extremism led to a lack of openness. The much-improved security situation in the UK means that it is now time for the sector to be more open. People want and deserve more information about animal research, as there is still much misunderstanding on this issue.
Wendy Jarrett
Understanding Animal Research
Sir, A neglected aspect of the use of animals in medical experimentation is the automatic assumption that we, as a species, have a greater right to a fear and pain-free life than other beasts.
We start part of the way along the philosophical pathway when our collective good is taken as a given regardless of the cost to our fellow creatures. We may in time achieve total health for us all but the destruction of millions of animals along the way should not be downplayed. I will die, and I’d rather die with the knowledge that countless helpless creatures hadn’t been destroyed to prolong my existence.
Robert Smith
Merstham, Surrey

We need a different instrument to acknowledge that wrong was done by the state, rather than a pardon for an act which is no longer a crime
Sir, A pardon for Alan Turing (report, July 20) would involve the royal prerogative of mercy, which would be quite inappropriate for correcting a situation where we now believe the law was wrong, not the accused. The same applies to official “apologies” for the past misdeeds of others. We surely need a different instrument to acknowledge that we now all feel that wrong was done — perhaps a “royal prerogative of regret”, suitably worded to dissociate the State from any vestige of approval for some past event.
Turing should be the first recipient.
John Bithell
Dorchester-on-Thames, Oxon

SIR – Alan Titchmarsh’s reminiscences of presenting the BBC Proms for television (“Bringing ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ into your home”, Lifestyle, July 14) prompted me to question the use of the term “live broadcasting”.
The Friday before last, the first-night concert began at 7.30 pm on Radio 3, but not until 8 pm on BBC2. Admittedly this gave me two chances to hear Stephen Hough but were the close-ups of his fingering really live, or merely postponed?
Dr David Harding
Boningale, Shropshire

SIR – Christopher Booker is misguided in his belief that those of us working for British withdrawal from the EU are insufficiently aware of the problems that this course will entail (“Even Ukip has no idea how to get us out of the EU trap”, Opinion, July 14). It will not be easy to restore Britain to the status of a self-governing sovereign nation when it has progressed so far down the road to becoming a mere province of a single European state.
However, as Churchill said when planning D-Day, “Don’t argue about difficulties. The difficulties will argue for themselves.” As then, the task will be hard but the results will be worthwhile.
Colin Bullen
Tonbridge, Kent
SIR – Christopher Booker calls Ukip members “children” for their naivety over withdrawal from the EU, but, as he declared himself in his May 11 column, Nigel Farage is the only party leader to have proposed to withdraw by invoking Article 50. Unlike others, Ukip has made it clear that Britain has nothing to fear by leaving the EU and has set out the many benefits that this would bring. Perhaps “children” are more honest about the world around them?
Jonathan Grant Nicholas
Brassington, Derbyshire
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The ‘live’ broadcasts that time-travel from the past
21 Jul 2013
SIR – Christopher Booker rightly points out the practical difficulties of leaving the EU. I think I have the solution. Junk the European Charter of Human Rights and the EU will expel us – as it requires that every member state be signed up to it.
Rev Philip Foster
Hemingford Abbots, Huntingdonshire
SIR – I have never yet seen one advocate of using Article 50 to exit the EU admit that doing so puts the EU in charge of both the procedures and the outcomes of the withdrawal negotiations. By making Britain a supplicant, Article 50 hampers our ability to obtain the best deal from the EU.
Britain can exit the EU, on our own timetable, by repealing the European Communities Act (ECA) – our own constitutional Act by which Parliament enables EU laws to have effect in Britain.
Whichever route is used, in order to have a smooth transition, much parliamentary work will be needed to replace current EU legislation with domestic British laws before the actual exit can occur. The ECA repeal route confirms that our Parliament is sovereign and that no Parliament may bind its successor: two essential tenets of our constitution. It gives our negotiators the best leverage to deal with the EU. On the other hand the Article 50 route is a trap: it enables the EU to spin a web of new rules and conditions that could make leaving almost impossible.
Nick Martinek
Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
SIR – The key difference between British and European liberty is how they were enshrined. The European definition of liberty is found within abstract documents such as the Declarations of the Rights of Man, rationalised by philosophers and imposed in the 18th century in a top-down fashion.
British liberties, however, have arisen in an incremental, bottom-up fashion through political reform, judicial rulings and the upholding of conventions and traditions over a 1,000-year period. What system of liberty has protected freedom more effectively? The answer is pretty obvious.
James Adam Paton
Billericay, Essex
SIR – Of course it is right to get rid of needless European rules that impinge on our traditions and sovereignty. But there are some European rules that are good.
It is only reasonable that we should have common rules for food labelling with allergen declarations in a common format. General food hygiene regulations should be the same so that consumers can be confident about the 40 per cent of food that we import.
We should not give in to the demands of the British MEPs who want expensive and useless additions to these rules.
Bob Salmon
Greetham, Rutland
Failing NHS hospitals can be turned around
SIR – We are writing as the doctors, nurses and leaders of Hinchingbrooke Hospital, the only NHS Trust in the country to be run by the independent sector. The Keogh Review, published last week, showed the true scale of the unacceptable care that has plagued some of our hospitals. The Government must not now duck the solution.
We welcome more comprehensive inspections, but they will not be enough
to tackle the problems. Equally, drawing “hit squads” entirely from the NHS risks looking inward and will not draw on expertise from elsewhere.
A different solution exists. We need clinical leadership, innovation and outside help to create long-term transformation and stop these tragedies from happening in the future.
Two years ago, Hinchingbrooke Hospital faced serious clinical and financial difficulties and imminent closure. In the 18 months since Circle Partnership took over the management of the hospital, serious clinical incidents have been reduced by 50 per cent, A&E has been ranked the fourth best in the country and the hospital has been given a clean bill of health by inspectors for the first time.
Hinchingbrooke’s success proves no hospital need close, no patient need suffer, and the scandals of Mid-Staffs and Cumbria need not be repeated.
Dr Hisham Abdel-Rahman
Chief Executive and Clinical Chairman
Dr Tom Hughes
Clinical Lead for Acute Medicine
Dr Phil Roberts
Clinical Lead for Gastroenterology, General Surgery and Cancer
Dr Sally Bashford
Clinical Lead for Care of the Elderly
Dr Ulf Buhmann
Clinical Lead for Theatres
Dr Tarang Majmudar
Clinical Lead for Women’s Services
Lorraine Szeremeta
Director of Nursing
Dr Arpit Patel
Clinical Lead for Musculoskeletal Services
Dr Catherine Hubbard
Medical Director
Dr Toks Akerele
Clinical Lead for Ophthalmology
Rebecca Vosper
Clinical Lead for Radiology and Support Services
Jenny Raine
Chief Finance Officer
Mark Cammies
Facilities Director
Paul DaGama
Director of HR
Cara Charles-Barks
Chief Operating Officer
Hinchingbrooke Hospital
SIR – Your front-page article (July 14) on Professor Sir Bruce Keogh’s report on the needless deaths occurring in a number of NHS trusts made shocking, if not unexpected reading.
I wonder whether there will be prosecutions under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act of the executives involved, or sacking without payoffs or pension rights. Although of no comfort to grieving relatives, this might help to refocus the apparent priority of trust boards from saving money (and awarding themselves bonuses for doing so) to improving standards of clinical care.
To my mind, failure to do so would suggest a hidden political agenda, especially given this Government’s desire to blame Labour and Andy Burnham for the failings. What is Sir David Nicholson doing about these latest revelations?
Angus McPherson
Findon, West Sussex
SIR – Nurses have undergone a transformation from patient-centred carers to administrators whose primary requirement is to produce detailed patient care plans and participate in workshops and seminars, leaving them little time to attend to patients’ basic clinical and dietary needs. It is one thing to make a diagnosis but quite another to provide a remedy. In the case of the NHS the disease is inherent in the system.
Dr Max Gammon
London SE16
Aid performance
SIR – We wait with eager anticipation for the results of the “laser-like focus” now being shone on British financial aid, highlighted by Andrew Mitchell, the former head of the Department for International Development (Letters, July 14).
But one wonders how some of these results are going to be analysed. For example, how will the results of the 23.7 million condoms distributed to Ethiopians by the department in 2010 be measured?
Ron Kirby
Dorchester, Dorset
Slippery customer
SIR – Janet Daley and your correspondent Malcolm Williams (Opinion and Letters, July 14) are right to condemn BBC profligacy.
Twenty six years ago, as a minicab driver in London, I was paid £20 for a round trip to convey an £8 fillet of turbot from a market in Edmonton to the Head Chef at TV Centre, White City, to satisfy a single luncheon requirement.
What really galls me is the BBC’s assumed right to plunder taxpayers’ money in this way when it cannot afford to compete with Rupert Murdoch for most of the prestige events in this country’s sporting calendar. Neither does the BBC produce the level of drama programmes which was once its forte.
Barry Egerton
Britain’s still Great
SIR – Britain could sit out the 21st century convinced of its weakness and inadequacy, as Barrie Combellack seems to be suggesting (Letters, July 14). But that would be thoroughly selfish.
Just because we no longer hold dominion over palm and pine, it doesn’t mean that our courage, determination, love of democracy, decency, tolerance and endless creativity and inventiveness have somehow vanished. We have an enormous amount to contribute to the peace and prosperity of the world. For Britain to take a back seat in world politics would be madness.
Stephen Webbe
East Molesey, Surrey
Treasure wreck
SIR – I was intrigued by the report “Searching for Britannia’s sunken treasure” (July 14), in particular with regard to HMS Royal George. My family owns a wooden walking stick with the inscription “part of a beam from the wreck of the Royal George, sunk Aug 29th 1782, recovered 1839”. This suggests that there has been salvage work already, at least to some extent.
Secondly, on the Royal Museums Greenwich website there is a fairly detailed account of the loss of this ship which includes the following: “The remains of Royal George continued to pose a risk to ships passing through Portsmouth harbour until in 1839 Colonel Charles William Pasley successfully implemented the explosion of the remains”. Given this last comment it will be interesting to see how English Heritage’s search progresses!
William Haly
London SW6
Put away your phones, it’s Commons decency
SIR – When viewing the BBC Parliament television channel I have been struck by the number of members of the House of Commons who can be seen texting on their mobile phones during sessions in the chamber.
Surely MPs in attendance should be devoting their undivided attention to listening to and debating the vital issues involved in running the country in these straitened times?
In contrast I have yet to notice any member of the House of Lords texting during debates.
Gerald Fisher
Kettering, Northamptonshire
SIR – I have seen MPs claim they should be paid at the same level as an Army colonel, headmaster or doctor. When I look at an Army colonel, I know he has been trained at Sandhurst, worked his way up past various selection boards, is responsible for a military formation and been put into situations requiring life or death decisions. Can an MP say the same?
Likewise, headmasters and doctors have clearly defined areas of responsibility. What are an MP’s?
Clive Drake
Woking, Surrey
Davey’s bright ideas
SIR – Expensive diesel-driven “generator parks” are the latest ploy by Ed Davey, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, to stop the lights going out when the wind doesn’t blow. I trust these diesel engines are fitted with catalytic converters and hold a current MoT emissions certificate?
Alan Heasman
Bournemouth, Dorset
SIR – You report (July 14) that Ed Davey will announce that wind farm subsidies are to be cut from 20 years to 15 years. Does this have any connection with the mounting evidence that wind turbine efficiency begins to decline after eight years, and that they need to be replaced after 12-15 years?
Michael Jefferson
Melchbourne, Bedfordshire
Bradman not out
SIR – I read the piece about the arrival of Clan Bradman at Lord’s with interest, and a wry smile (News Review, July 14).
In the light of the “Should Broad have walked?” controversy, I recall my father telling me of a match before the war when Bradman was l.b.w. He instantly dropped his bat and clutched his lower abdomen as if the ball had hit him there. He was given “not out”. Finest batsman? Very probably. Finest sportsman? No way!
Peter Clarke
Richmond, North Yorkshire

Irish Times:

Irish Independent:

Madam – Prof Ivor Browne has made a welcome intervention on behalf of some people who seek his help for suicidal thoughts accelerated by financial pressures from banking institutions. (Sunday Independent July 7, 2013).

Prof Browne, throughout his career, has shown a deep understanding of the human psyche. With his unconventional thinking he has been somewhat of a thorn in the side of his fellow psychiatrists, disagreeing with their analysis of the origins of so called “mental illnesses.” He disagrees with the labelling of people who have mental health problems, also preferring to call people who seek his help clients as opposed to patients.
He saved me from a “life sentence,” his words, of being caught up in the psychiatric system of daily medication, regular blood tests and unknown hospital admissions, having been diagnosed as manic depressive at the age of 20. On July 4 this year I celebrated 20 years free from all psychiatric medication.
Prof Browne has always been on the side of the underdog and is to be congratulated for his latest intervention. His latest book is called The Writings of Ivor Browne, Steps along the road: the evolution of a slow learner. Going on this title I wonder what he would call the people in the banking profession who brought this country to its knees!
Thomas Roddy,
Lower Salthill, Galway
Irish Independent

Madam – Jody Corcoran’s suggestion (Sunday Independent July 14, 2013) that the six banished TDs should form an alliance with other TDs and senators can’t be taken seriously.
The current alliance of Labour and Fine Gael is a total disaster. The backbone of our Government, Health, Education, Justice, Social Welfare and Finance Departments are in disarray for no other reason than we panicked and elected candidates in the last general and even local elections who had CVs that wouldn’t get you a job picking mushrooms. Every party should declare its intended ministerial cabinet before we elect them and our failure to demand this in the last election is why we have nobody to stand up to the austerity enforcers today.
Instead of stimulating what is left of our economy by announcing a rewarding Budget in December, we will be facing another €3bn-worth of taxes and pay cuts in October. Last week’s business in the Dail was taken up debating the abolition of the senate at a time when county managers of local authorities are retiring with €1.3m golden handshakes along with pensions of €75,899 per annum. Such obscene payments continue to be made while we are forced to pay additional water charges, more cuts in social welfare, and increased property tax. How long before the streets of every town and city become like what we witnessed in Egypt last week – or is that what the ECB wants?
The Anglo Tapes illustrate that, regardless of who was in government at the time of the bank collapse, the endgame would have been the same given the way Brian Lenihan, one of the most honest and hardworking politicians of the time, was treated. Enda Kenny’s repeated portrayal to the ECB that this Government was handed a poisoned chalice by Fianna Fail and that his party is the only one fit to represent us in dealing with the ECB is tiresome. I wonder has the ECB ever asked why there continues to be an extraordinary shortage of yellow jumpsuits and cable ties in Mr Shatter’s department for white-collar criminals?
It would be nice to think that Jody’s idea of a few independents forming an alliance could fix our broken economy. This Government is holding a tinderbox that Jean-Claude Trichet and Angela Merkel presented it with by continuing to force austerity. We need a new government that can tell the EU how close we are to a serious breakdown in law and order, and if that new government has to be led by Micheal Martin he needs to name his team now. To those in total despair I say don’t give up now because now is when we need to start fighting back.
Tom Fennelly,
Firhouse, Dublin 24
Irish Independent
Madam – Seanad abolition or reform should not be done on its own but as part of a comprehensive package of electoral reform, involving both the Dail and the Presidency.
Also in this section
Awareness vital in suicide fight
Saved by Prof Browne
Now is time to fight back
The senselessness of our multi-seat Dail electoral system is epitomised by Co Mayo being represented by five TDs. It might be a better electorally if Mayo was divided into four Dail constituencies, each to return a single TD elected by Single Transferable Vote (STV), quota 50 per cent + 1.
Single-seat Dail constituencies with the straight vote were twice rejected, in 1959 and again in 1968, but they were never proposed using STV voting. If this were done, voting in a general election would be just like what currently happens in a by-election.
The system for electing the President is also in need of reform. The presidential term is too long and should be reduced to four years. Such a change might encourage younger and more vibrant candidates.
Andrew J Moran,
Woodford, Co Galway
Madam – I have to say I fully support the turf-cutters. However, their argument is with our gutless politicians who are cap in hand to Brussels and not with our gardai.
The gardai are under-resourced and under-manned and have better things to do with their time. The Government can find money to do Brussels’s dirty work but cannot find the money to support our hospitals, the handicapped or the poor.
We do need a new political party but not one with the likes of Michael McDowell, Mary Harney or John Gormley in its ranks; we know what the PDs and the Green Party did and we do not want more of the same.
We need a new party that will take us out of Europe and get rid of the begging bowl, and put Ireland first. Take a leaf out of the UK’s book and stand up for your country.
People like Peter Mathews, Shane Ross, David McWilliams, Colm Keaveney, Lucinda Creighton – people with principle, honesty and dedication.
Labour is no longer the Labour Party; that changed with the arrival of Eamon Gilmore, Pat Rabbitte and their sidekicks.
Fine Gael is slowly destroying itself, along with Fianna Fail which also let the country down. The country deserves better than these people. Neither Enda Kenny nor Michael Noonan is qualified enough to deal with the financial crisis.
Our Constitution is slowly becoming irrelevant with the changes that are constantly being pushed on us and the threat of what will happen if we do not accept those changes.
Our democracy gone, our Constitution in tatters, our seas plundered, our oil and gas resources given away and our young people leaving in droves.
How much more can the people take? It is a disgrace what is going on in our banks. Europe and the euro are a joke.
Turf-cutters, stand your ground and the whole country should support you.
S O’Rourke,
Madam – Poor old Michael Lowry, with the news that the mega-casino outside Thurles won’t be going ahead, he must be disappointed.
Like any true-hearted Tipperaryman, he must have been inspired in the whole thing by his Navajo heritage. He must have caught sight of the native Americans who established a gambling industry on their reservations. He must have thought he could do the same thing on his reservation in Tipp.
But poor old Michael Lowry, he didn’t know what the rest of us have known for years: he’s a cowboy, not an Indian.
Chris Kessler,
Essendon, Victoria, Australia
Madam – Would it be true to say that the men who worked under David Drumm when he was Anglo Irish Bank chief can now call themselves Little Drummer Boys?
Eddie Naughton,
The Coombe, Dublin 8
Irish Independent


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