28 July 2013 Sharland

I go all the way around the park round the park listening to the Navy Lark Troutbridge is host to Captain and Mrs Povey’s anniversary they have been married 15 years, But whats this the Sea Captain who married then made a navigational error inside the 3 mile limit and they are not married and have not been for 15 years. Priceless
Warmer today, sweep the path, Sharland pays a visit.
We watch Ark in Space
Scrabble today Mary wins but under 400. perhaps I might wind tomorrow.


Sir Bernard Schreier
Sir Bernard Schreier, who has died aged 95, left his native Austria for Palestine to avoid the Nazi threat before coming to England to become an industrial entrepreneur and hotelier.

Sir Bernard Schreier 
7:24PM BST 25 Jul 2013
Having made his early career as a road-building engineer, Schreier established a thriving British business in buying, overhauling and reselling second-hand heavy equipment, notably earthmovers made by the American firm Caterpillar.
In 1977 he acquired another business specialising in opencast mining, which became the largest contractor in that field for British Coal. He often found himself in a position to take over failed competitors who had bid too low against him on contract work, and gradually built a substantial industrial conglomerate, CP Holdings, based at Watford.
After the collapse of communism in central Europe, Schreier took the opportunity to acquire the Caterpillar dealership for Hungary. He became a passionate enthusiast for the country — whose current prime minister, Viktor Orban, called him “a true friend of the Hungarian people” — and went on in 1995 to purchase a stake in the Danubius group of hotels, of which he eventually owned 83 per cent. Over the following decade he expanded the Danubius brand across the Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia, and finally brought it to London.
The son of a textile trader, Bernhard (later Bernard) Dov Schreier was born on March 28 1918 at the farming village of Goesting, now a suburb of the Austrian city of Graz. In the economic turmoil of the 1920s his father’s business collapsed and the bailiffs came to call — a memory which shaped Schreier’s cautious approach to financial risk in later life.
After the Anschluss, the family set about finding escape routes. Bernhard’s two older sisters secured permits to work as domestics in Britain; Bernhard and his younger sister were transported to Palestine in 1939 by the Youth Aliyah organisation, and were later joined by their parents. Before their arrival Bernhard lodged with another Austrian-Jewish family, the Geckts — and in 1943 he married the family’s middle daughter, Lilly.
During the Second World War he served as a volunteer in the British Army, and on the formation of the Israeli Defence Forces in 1948 he became a founding captain in the Engineering Corps and fought in the first Arab-Israeli War. He remained an army reservist while building a civilian career as a mechanical engineer in road construction, and in due course starting his own contracting business, which built Israel’s first dam.
Ahead of the Suez crisis in 1956 he was recalled to military service — and when his tour of duty was completed he decided to take up an offer to join an engineering firm in England. The family settled in London, and four years later he established the business that became CP Holdings.
He maintained his interest in Israel through hotel investments, a controlling shareholding in the official Caterpillar dealership there, and a stake in Bank Leumi’s British subsidiary, of which he was deputy chairman until 2011. He also acquired control of the African trading arm of the Israeli conglomerate Koors Industries, and built a new business distributing agricultural and other equipment across Sub-Saharan Africa.
Bernard Schreier was knighted for his services to trade between Britain and Hungary in 2000. Publicity-shy and intensely hard-working, but possessed of a fund of jokes for all occasions, he remained fully engaged in his businesses until the end of his life. He was also an active philanthropist, and was particularly generous to University College London, which named a wing of the Law faculty after his son and business partner Gideon, who died in 1998. The family fortune was estimated to be £265 million.
In 2004 Schreier bought a hotel opposite Lord’s Cricket Ground in London and changed its name to Danubius Regents Park, flying the Hungarian and Union flags side by side. In his last years he moved from his north London home to live in the hotel, and it was there that he died. He is survived by his wife and daughter.
Sir Bernard Schreier, born March 28 1918, died June 1 2013


I must take issue with the comments made by Philip Clarke in his interview with Jay Rayner about the reasons why food prices will inevitably rise (“Cheap food, poor farms, bogofs … what now for our supermarkets?”, In Focus).
I have worked in the coffee industry for more than 20 years. Over that time, there has been huge price volatility. In the past, the reason for collapse or rise was down to either oversupply or environmental issues. In early 2011, however, with a clear oversupply of coffee, world prices were at record highs, as was the case for so many other commodities. This made absolutely no sense, yet commentators were quick to blame rising demand from countries such as China, India and Brazil.
As it transpired, that was rubbish. What had happened was that, due to falling returns on traditional stock markets, pension funds and their kind had quietly developed financial instruments that enabled them to invest in commodities in much the same way that one might invest in shares.
Large institutions clearly took the view that commodities looked cheap and overnight piled into the commodity market. It had absolutely nothing to do with the supply or demand of the physical product. The bit that no one seems to be picking up on is the implication that this has on the price of food on our shelves. It’s one thing for weather conditions to affect supply; it’s a whole new game when financial institutions start playing dice with our staple foods.
David Warr
St Helier
Teachers need proper training
Six weeks’ intensive training and, as if by magic, you are ready for your career (“Graduates flock to Teach First and ignore lure of City careers”, News)! I know that if this incentive stretched to any other career, such as the medical or legal professions, there would be outrage. This poses the question: why is teaching deemed to be a profession that anyone can walk into with such scant training?
To me, it is a reflection of our “own it now” culture. The belief that anyone can be an excellent teacher, without any real training, is an insult to the teaching profession.
Too often, I’ve heard poorly informed opinions such as: “Surely it isn’t difficult to pick up a career in which you spend most of your time on holiday and work a leisurely day of 9am to 3pm”; who can blame them for jumping on the bandwagon?
I believe that disadvantaged schools and pupils deserve teachers who are as experienced, motivated and well-trained as any other.
Jenny Rendall
The poor struggle to eat well
I was extremely pleased to see the item “How to eat on £10 a week” (Observer Food Monthly). I am part of a chain for a food bank under the auspices of the Chichester Diocesan Council for Family Support Work, where we have a basket in church to put food in for families struggling under the circumstances described in your article. People are very generous. I then pass the food on to one of our support workers, who usually tells me she has already distributed all the food I have given her during the three weeks between our meetings.
Your article is so helpful because it illustrates that having to get by on an extremely tight budget can suddenly be the lot of any of us and just how very careful the budgeting has to be.
Mary McPherson
Fairtrade is tackling tea wages
The gap between wage levels for tea pluckers in Assam, India, and what would be considered a living wage, sufficient to lift workers out of poverty, is a serious concern that Fairtrade Foundation is grappling with (“How poverty wages for tea pickers fuel India’s trade in child slavery”, In Focus,).
In order to lift wage levels and prices, the whole tea sector needs to take serious action. That’s why we are working collaboratively with other certifiers, leading tea companies and industry bodies, NGOs, trade unions, civil society and governments to advocate improved wages for workers on tea estates. Joint collaboration could facilitate a new approach to setting tea industry wage benchmarks and the promotion of wage bargaining, so that better wages become a commitment of everyone along the tea supply chain.
In the meantime, workers on Fairtrade certified tea estates must have permanent written contracts, written pay slips, regulated working hours, paid overtime and entitlement to holiday and sick pay, maternity leave and pension provision and these entitlements are independently audited. Fairtrade premiums of US$0.50 extra per kilo are also paid for workers to invest in programmes to improve their own lives.
Barbara Crowther, director of policy and public affairs, Fairtrade Foundation
London EC3
Do mind the dress code, chaps
Never mind an attack dog for the Today programme (Peter Preston, Media), how about someone to go for those who start these columns discussing Mishal Husain’s beauty (it’s a radio programme) and feel the need to illustrate the story with a picture of her in an evening dress?
Hannah Quirk

Here are some more issues that the archbishop of York’s low pay commission should seriously consider in the next 12 months (“‘The scale of low pay in Britain is a national scandal’, says Sentamu”, News). Sixteen-year-olds being paid £4 an hour to be skivvies at seafront cafes here in Weymouth and Portland; 18-year-olds on such low wages in catering that after their rent and food they have to cadge and borrow the bus fare to get into work; young people working without contracts and no guaranteed hours going into work on the daily whim of employers.
What makes the situation even more scandalous is the million-pound bonuses that bankers continue to get for their failure to manage casino capitalism and the consequent global meltdown of financial institutions in 2008. All three mainstream political parties have allowed Britain’s unacceptable gap between rich and poor to increase alarmingly.
No wonder then that young people have become so disengaged from ballot-box politics when they can see so little difference between the political parties. The political class shouldn’t be complacent. The current voter shyness of young people can so easily turn into the anger of despair that will ultimately threaten the very existence of our failing political system.
Cllr Richard Denton-White, youth portfolio holder, Portland town council
The archbishop of York’s intervention regarding the national scandal of low pay must be welcomed. However, the living wage commission’s narrow remit will not solve the problem of poverty in the country.
The articles in last week’s Observer failed to mention the major root cause of the ever increasing wealth gap between the rich and working poor, which can be connected to the decline of workplace collective bargaining. Previously, for more than 60 years, the state policy through the Whitley report of 1918 and the Donovan commission report of 1968 encouraged collective bargaining through industrial relations.
Consequently, trade unions were able to negotiate pay deals with employers on behalf of workers. This resulted in the wealth gap between workers and senior management being at the most equal level during the 1970s. Such a great moral, economic and social achievement of the trade union movement remains ignored by journalists and the political class.
In 1979, 78% of UK workers were covered by collective bargaining, which has declined to less than half that number today. The Thatcher governments ended the state policy and collective bargaining also declined during Labour’s time in government. Hostility to collective bargaining is peculiar to the UK, as most European nations support the concept and have much higher rates of coverage.
Bryan Davies
South Wales
John Sentamu has failed to grasp the problem of low pay in this country. Faced with a choice of sacking employees or reducing their salary to below the living wage, I’m sure many employers would prefer the latter to the former and so too would the people who worked for them. I hope at the very least his low pay commission will address this terrible dilemma that business bosses round the country face on a daily basis.
Ethan Greenwood
London NW2
Privatisation is promoted on grounds of being “more efficient” and therefore cheaper. Analysis of most organisations shows 70%-80% of costs are labour. The rest are fixed and hard to reduce. So the only way that the private sector can make things cheaper is to reduce labour costs – ie the same work done by fewer people on lower wages, pensions, benefits, no sick pay and low job security, while the bosses’ pay reaches obscene levels.
That is why Sentamu finds that “the scale of low pay in Britain is a national scandal”.
SJ Closs



The Government’s plan to offer computer users Internet Service Provider (ISP) filters against pornography is a wired solution in a wireless world. Take the laptop to a friend’s house, or on holiday, and the filters may no longer apply. Also, communal filters can only block well-known sites; they cannot offer the same level of protection as content restriction settings and locally installed web filters. Local filters give parents control over the sites their children can visit, and allow parents to unblock “false positives” as and when they are encountered. This ability to easily correct mistakes means the filters can be far more aggressive and paranoid by default.
No filter is perfect, but locally installed filters combined with content restrictions come the closest by a country mile. The ISPs can offer education, advice and software, but they can’t – with the best will in the world – offer protection comparable to a responsible parent. And it is dangerous to think they can. Too many parents give their kids the latest phones, tablets and consoles, without bothering to glance at the instruction booklet. As computer scientists are prone to quip, “they need to RTFM!” (Read The ******* Manual) – their kids won’t be protected until they do.
Simon Morris
Joan Smith (“Convictions for FGM. France 100. UK: Nil”, 21 July) highlights the tension at the heart of eliminating female genital mutilation, between needing to be “politically correct” and not to be seen as encouraging “racist curtain-twitching” to catch the cutters. The solution must surely be helping the communities where FGM occurs to see that this practice is unnecessary, unpleasant and unhelpful. Once the communities change, the cutters will be outed and convictions will rise. How we help the communities to see the need for change is a sensitive issue.
Kartar Uppal
West Bromwich, West Midlands
Alan Hubbard says “Olympic euphoria certainly has not bequeathed goodwill to a host of local councils, who often, under the guise of Government cuts, make shameful decisions harmful to participation sports” (“Minister ‘delighted’ – but facilities are still closing”, 21 July).
But local authorities in the provinces didn’t benefit from the £9.3bn squandered on London 2012, indeed have been forced to make spending cuts because they are getting less from central government. And there are greater priorities than sport, especially that of the elite variety which causes their participants to become rich and famous.
Tim Mickleburgh,
Grimsby, Lincolnshire
The reasons for opposition from Sheffield and its people to the Leeds Arena has not been properly presented (“Battle lines drawn in Yorkshire over vast venues”, 21 July).
When the World Student Games took place in 1991, Sheffield was offered no assistance in paying for the facilities. All costs were met and are still being met by the citizens of Sheffield.
Now that the richest city in the county has been moaning about not having an arena, public money has been provided to assist Leeds. The Sheffield peoples’ line is clear: “We paid for ours, you should pay for yours.”
David Battye
Sheffield, South Yorkshire
In his piece on parents cheating to gain school places for their children (21 July), Brian Brady states that “the list also included parents wrongly claiming their children had been baptised in order to get them into church schools”. Here it is the system that is wrong: baptism should not be a requirement for entry into a state school, and the state should not be in the position of depriving children of school places on those grounds.
John Dakin
Dunstable, Bedfordshire
In Louise Saunders’ reply to a question about flagging belief in The New Review (Help desk, 21 July) she implied that a non-Muslim woman needs to convert to Islam if she marries a Muslim. In fact, if the woman’s religion is of “The Book”– either a Christian or a Jew – there is no such requirement. There are enough misconceptions about Islam. Please don’t add another!
Margaret McPherson
Exeter, Devon
Have your say


Trade without red tape: our life outside the EU
BRITAIN does need to discuss exiting the EU, but in a way that is not alarmist (“We need to talk about leaving Europe”, Editorial, and “In/out, in/out, the Brexit battle is shaking us all about”, News Review, last week).
Jobs depend on trade, not on EU membership, and as the UK is the EU’s single largest customer, it is in the EU’s interests to have a trading agreement with us. However, a trade relationship without membership could get rid of unwanted regulations.
Rory Broomfield, Deputy Director, The Freedom Association; Director, Better Off Out, London EC4

Business nonsense
The Japanese claim that if Britain left the EU we would suffer job losses from tariffs is plainly silly (“Japan warns UK not to leave Europe”, News, last week). This is from a country that does not have a trade deal with the EU — and it is still the world’s third-largest economy.
David Campbell Bannerman, Conservative Member of the European Parliament for the East of England

Vote of no confidence
Referendums just provide an opportunity to put two fingers up to the government — how many voters are going to read “18 detailed and authoritative studies” on the merits of EU membership? It is much better to set up a public inquiry with the final decision taken by a jury of citizens. This worked well in 4th-century BC Athens, the birthplace of democracy.
Keith Sutherland, Department of Politics, University of Exeter

Horrors of open-house viewings
I AM trying to buy a house in a lovely suburb of east London and every Saturday is spent fighting my way through crowds of househunters, as so aptly described in Helen Davies’s article “Mob mentality” (Home, July 14).
My boyfriend and I had to fight through a scrum at four of the many properties we saw last weekend. At one stage I counted 35-plus babies in a three-bedroom home. Fourteen people put in an offer on one home and 21 on another; people were literally making bids as they viewed the place.
Reading the article made us feel a tiny bit better, as we know we aren’t alone in hating open-house viewings and estate agents just handing out the leaflets and not knowing anything about the home.
I am keeping my fingers and toes and everything else crossed that my property miracle occurs soon. I hope your writer and her sister find the perfect flat as well (without being squished).
Chloe Warren, London E11

Capital bane
What an excellent piece about the super-rich taking over central London (“It’s the middle class’s empty quarter”, News Review, last week). I worked in the capital nearly 20 years ago and recently spent two weeks staying there while on a course. Your description “dead zone” absolutely nails it.
Two things struck me. First, that central London is now so cosmopolitan that it has lost much of the very character that made it desirable in the first place, and second, that its super-rich, super-odd inhabitants exhibit no discernible joy in having reached what is presumably the apogee of their financial desires.
I love London but I was relieved to visit normal, middle-class friends in the south of the city for dinner and even more so to get home to rural Scotland.
Jane Hutchison, Kippen, Stirlingshire

Safe weekend NHS care campaign a welcome tonic for concerned public
LONG may The Sunday Times continue campaigns such as your pursuit of something more humane in the NHS (“Don’t fall ill at the weekend”, Focus, and “Roll up your sleeve, doc, this jab of patient power will make the NHS better”, Comment, last week).
I have followed them all since I was a young mother who’d taken thalidomide (but not for long, and not with the tragic consequences of others).
Shirley Rayment, London N6

Medicinal purposes
The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges was pleased to see the launch of the newspaper’s campaign for safe weekend care and the progress of your better school food initiative. These are both good examples where we believe the medical profession has been at the forefront of promoting change.
Our December 2012 report Seven Day Consultant Present Care made it absolutely clear that patients should expect the same standard of urgent care irrespective of what day of the week they are admitted to hospital. It was supported by all the medical royal colleges.
In relation to school meals, one of 10 recommendations in our January 2013 report was that food and nutrient-based standards should be applied to all schools, including free schools, and that all should provide cooking skills.
Professor Terence Stephenson, Chairman, Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, London EC1

Reality check-up
We accept that all efforts should be made to improve services at weekends but the proposals by Sir Bruce Keogh, medical director of the NHS in England, are too crude and are a case of “want, not need”. They fail to take into account the resources, investment and flexibility that will be required to achieve this.
All consultants provide on- call cover outside the standard Monday-to-Friday working week, and at a minimal outlay to the NHS — it would cost more to get a plumber out of bed. And the majority of acute specialities already undertake seven-day-a-week shift work.
Pouring more money in may not be the solution, but ministers’ own duty of candour must surely require them to engage with professionals, be transparent with the public and stop politicising the NHS.
Dr Kailash Chand OBE, Chairman, Healthwatch, Tameside and Dr JS Bamrah, Consultant Psychiatrist, North Manchester General

Prescribed remedy
Could David Cameron make David Dalton (chief executive of the Salford Royal NHS Foundation) head of the NHS as soon as possible? His commonsense approach to keeping services going seven days a week, and the resultant patient care — and savings — should be adopted nationwide, for the benefit of us all.
Barbara Mills, Harpenden, Hertfordshire

Paying for the privilege
Camilla Cavendish twice stated the importance of treatment being “free at the point of use”. For most British citizens it isn’t and never has been. I began paying for the NHS when I started work and have done so every week for 40 years, whether I have used it or not. When people wake up to this, they will demand that they have the same chance of surviving a heart attack on Sunday as they do on Monday.
Joe Pattinson, Norwich

Staff assessment
Dr Robin Berry (“Emergency services”, Letters, last week) states that seven-day working “would require an expansion in the numbers of doctors, nurses and allied healthcare professionals”. If everyone were put on a fair rota, then there would be no need for any extra staffing whatsoever.
Stephen Matthews, Woking, Surrey

Frequent flyers
Airline captains and crews work 24/7 all year round. How would NHS consultants and managers react next time they went on holiday to be told that pilots and cabin staff didn’t work weekends?
Jan Sitkowski, Ascot, Berkshire

Wrong track
The government needs to reconsider the cost of the HS2 white elephant and invest the £50bn in NHS2.
Mike Taylor, Twyford, Buckinghamshire

A tale of five kitties and the city
TOO much damage has already been done by breeders creating cats (and dogs) that are not only less attractive than the natural breed but have health problems (“City stress leaves cats on a hot tin roof”, News, last week).
I have had five cats, none of which has been a killer. Two when they were young liked to chase prey but never killed it. The others were never interested. As humans kill millions of animals for food, sport, fun and money, it ill behoves any person to criticise another species on these grounds.
The bond between animal and human can be stronger than between two humans. Even cats damaged by previous bad experiences will respond to kindness. No interference by breeders is necessary.
Philippa Gibson, London SW15

Plan digital future for universities
WE SHOULD welcome moves to better invest the 40% subsidy on every student loan, making up more than half of government spending on higher education (“Students on high-flyer courses face increase in fees”, News, last week).
However, proposals to reward universities or courses that lead to high-earning careers risk reinforcing recruitment to City-based firms when we need to build a more dynamic economy such as in the creative and digital industries. A study last week found the UK digital economy was 40% bigger than estimated, with at least 270,000 digital companies.
We should be looking to create a diverse university sector that provides firms with the capacity they need in a competitive global arena.
Libby Hackett, Chief Executive, University Alliance, London SW1
Fighting infection
All parties within the chicken production supply chain are working together to reduce the amount of campylobacter in poultry (“Contaminated chicken kills 140 a year”, News, last week). While there is no silver bullet, there is a significant amount of research being carried out. Farmers are also taking steps to reduce infection levels, and chicken processors are looking at new techniques for use in slaughterhouses. However, the Food Standards Agency should make advice available to consumers on safely handling and cooking poultry meat.
Michael Bailey, Vice-Chairman, NFU Poultry Board and member of the Joint Working Group on Campylobacter

Poultry disaster
Campylobacter is Britain’s main cause of food poisoning, costing the country more than £1bn a year, and the reported number of deaths linked to it in poultry is a conservative estimate. If any of this chicken contained a trace of horse DNA it would be instantly withdrawn.
Paul Freestone, Oxford

A leaf out of his book
David Headley of Goldsboro Books (“Bookseller’s golden gift to fans of JK Rowling”, News, last week) is a true bibliophile, more interested in books than money. How wonderful. Civilisation lives yet.
Vuyelwa Carlin, Craven Arms, Shropshire

Barging in
We sometimes have to fight for towpath space with cyclists when mooring our narrowboat for locks (“Free wheeling”, Letters, last week). Boaters are the only canal users who have to pay licence fees and insurance; cyclists and walkers enjoy the waterways for free.
Freda Bennett, Rugby

Corrections and clarifications
Hank Roberts: An article about Furness Primary School in north London (“Teachers’ leader in row over job ‘deal’”, News, April 29, 2012) reported an allegation that Hank Roberts, president of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, had “persuaded the school to give a pay rise to a union representative — and helped it get rid of two teachers in return”. The allegation was subsequently raised in employment tribunal proceedings brought by one of the two teachers. The tribunal found that there was an agreement between the head teacher and the teacher who replaced him as executive head to seek to get rid of its two oldest teachers. However, there was no finding that Hank Roberts was involved in such an agreement or sought a pay rise for the union representative.
In a news story on June 30 (“Divorce wrangle sours friendship for TV’s Alice Beer”) it was reported that Alice Beer and her partner were involved in a legal dispute with a former friend. She has informed us that she had no direct involvement in the financial arrangement between her partner and the friend, nor was she a party to the legal action. We are happy to clarify this point.
In “Ship sunk by Nazis gives up record £20m haul of silver” (News, last week) we stated that the SS Mantola was sunk by a “Nazi U-boat” in 1917. This should have been “German U-boat” as the Nazis did not exist then. We apologise for the error, which occurred during the editing process.
In our report “Irn-Bru wants to swallow Lucozade and Ribena” (Business, July 14) we stated that Lucozade was invented by the chemist Thomas Beecham. It was actually developed in 1927 by a Newcastle pharmacist before the product was sold on to the Beecham Group. This later merged with what is now Glaxo Smith Kline. We apologise for the error.

Elizabeth Berkley, actress, 41; Bill Bradley, basketball player and politician, 70; Michael Carrick, footballer, 32; Beverley Craven, singer-songwriter, 50; Alberto Fujimori, former president of Peru, 75;  Cher Lloyd, singer, 20; Ian McCaskill, weatherman, 75; Riccardo Muti, conductor, 72; Jacob Oram, cricketer, 35; Sir Garry Sobers, cricketer, 77; Charles Townes, Nobel prize-winning physicist, 98

1540 execution of Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s chief minister; 1794 Maximilien de Robespierre, French revolutionary leader, guillotined; 1945 a US B-25 bomber crashes into the Empire State Building, killing 14; 1976 earthquake in Tangshan, China, kills 242,000 people; 2001 Ian Thorpe becomes the first swimmer to win six gold medals at a single world championship; 2005 IRA formally calls an end to its armed campaign

SIR – My daughter would heartily disagree with Caroline Crabbe (Letters, July 25), who says there is nothing that children like more than their parents singing to them, even if they sing a bit out of tune.
Her first stringing together of words was “No, Mummy. No,” – her response to my singing in the car.
Sandra Miles-Taylor
St Albans, Hertfordshire
SIR – My baby granddaughter’s favourite rhyme is Row, Row, Row the Boat. I sing a variety of songs, but she asks for this one continually by rocking back and forth and saying “row row” – her first words.

In Luxor I heard Egyptian children singing the same song, over and over. What gives this tune such appeal internationally?
Isobel Greenshields
Billericay, Essex
SIR – My husband enjoyed singing to our baby boy and was mystified when young Will started to make a “chk” sound during his renditions. We eventually worked out that he was making the noise of the tape recorder being turned off.
Sally Goulden
Ashford, Middlesex

SIR – On holiday in France, I made an appointment to see a doctor. Although it was a minor problem, I had a thorough examination, which lasted 30 minutes. I paid 23 euros for the consultation.
Considering that my GP allows 10 minutes’ consultation time, and will only discuss one symptom during the visit, the money was well spent.
Paul Siddall
Leeds, West Yorkshire
SIR – A couple of years ago, I said to a friend who was for many years a senior politician and now sits in the House of Lords, that a solution for the impoverished NHS was to charge £1 each time a person visited the doctor’s surgery. The surgery could keep the money for flowers in the waiting room or for a box of chocolates as a thank-you for the over-worked nurse.
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A critical audience for tuneful nursery rhymes
27 Jul 2013
More importantly, the charge could stop time-wasters and make us all feel we were contributing something in times of need.
The politician listened and then said, rather too witheringly: “It’s not a vote-winner.” I realised where his priorities lay.
John Lloyd Morgan
London SW1
SIR – The NHS should be free at the point of use, with access based on need. The problem is what to do about huge numbers who do not need to see a GP, but who still attend the surgery? Send them to their MP’s surgery?
George Herrick
Pendleton, Lancashire
SIR – The crisis in A&E departments could be ameliorated by letting only genuine accidents or emergencies through the door.
Such was the case 35 years ago when I was a casualty officer. If anyone managed to get past the reception staff with, for example, a sore throat, they were shown the door. It was explained that the department was not an alternative to a GP practice, and that I, as a surgical trainee, was not a GP.
Re-educating the public as to the use of the NHS should form part of the solution.
David Nunn FRCS
London SE3
SIR – You report that a majority of GPs agree that patients should pay “a small fee”. To GPs, £25 may appear to be “a small fee”, but it is a lot of money to many patients. The NHS should be kept free at the point of use, as its founders intended.
Rachel Mason
Seaton, Devon
SIR – Charges might reduce unnecessary demand, and produce savings for the NHS, but there are unintended consequences.
Fee-paying patients could have an enhanced expectation of activity from a GP, leading to the dangers of over-intervention (and increased costs for the NHS). Feeling that “something must be done” can lead doctors to over-intervene.
Dr Alex May
Relying on immigrants
SIR –The Office of Budget Responsibility’s suggestion that we need more immigrants to help cover the cost of rising pension and health-care costs ignores the laws of nature and of compound interest.
Young people grow old and then they need looking after. This will in turn require yet more immigrants to look after them. Indeed, it has been calculated that, if we wish to keep to today’s ratio of workers to dependants, the country will, by 2050, need an additional 27.4 million workers – a 40 per cent increase over the 63 million currently resident in the United Kingdom.
In such circumstances, what are the implications for our quality of life?
Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts
London SW1
SIR – Fraser Nelson (“We have to wean the country off the drug of immigration,” Comment, July 19) claims that foreign-born workers have settled in Britain with “little resentment or social upheaval”.
If Mr Nelson were to travel around the country he would find this is not the case. Tension is common in the life of most British cities. Boston, Lincolnshire, is an obvious case, but even in cities such as Oxford, violence between the host community and foreign workers is a daily event. Most incidents are not recorded because no police are to be seen.
Paul Hornby
SIR – It is morally wrong for Britain to rely on immigration to improve the economy. By doing so, we ignore the problem of providing a proper education for our youth, so that they become unemployable compared with immigrants. We are also depriving the immigrants’ home countries of their talent.
Alan Belk
Leatherhead, Surrey
They won’t be tolled
SIR – The Archbishop of Canterbury has decreed that all bell-ringers (who have no contact with children) should go through the indignity of having a CRB check (report, July 25). If our church bells fall silent we know who to blame.
Peter Edwards
Delabole, Cornwall
SIR – Jesus said to them, “Suffer the little children and let them come to me and forbid them not.” But Peter answered, “Not unless you have been CRB checked.”
Alan Mabey
Hook, Hampshire
Princely pursuits
SIR – How can we be so sure Prince George doesn’t want to pursue an alternative career?
Robert Price
Yes, it’s a no-no
SIR – Various vogue expressions irritate and then disappear (Letters, July 25). Surely the most illogical of all is the current “Yeah no”. What does it mean?
Robert Leven
Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire
SIR – In parts of Northern Ireland we have a wee problem. Yesterday in a supermarket I was asked by the helpful assistant if I wanted a wee bag and a wee hand to pack my groceries. I was then told to put my wee card into the wee machine, type in my wee PIN and then take out my wee card.
When I got home, I needed a wee lie-down.
Russell McLernon
Cookstown, Co Tyrone
Tidying as you go
SIR – In pre-dishwasher days, we had a rule of 29. After Sunday lunch, 29 pieces of crockery (three pieces of cutlery counted as one) had to be either washed, dried or put away by each of the three children, leaving us half an hour to read the papers.
They still resent it to this day!
Hilary Stevenson
Newport, Shropshire
SIR – Like Maggie Herbert’s mother (Letters, July 26), our family, too, used the phrase: “Never leave the dining table empty-handed.” Over the years it’s been shortened to just “EH”.
Geoffrey Adams
Cirencester, Gloucestershire
SIR – Pleas to my daughter to take her detritus with her when she left a room were always met with the rejoinder that she couldn’t because she was “full-handed”.
Dr Nicky Lee
Haslemere, Surrey

Irish Times:

Sir, – Would Charles Darwin regard the decision to replace him with Jane Austen on the £10 note (World News, July 25th) as evidence for or against the survival of the fittest? – Yours, etc,
Sir, – I was shocked to read in Ross O’Carroll Kelly’s column (July 20th) that he had been waiting at the “Five items or less” line in Donnybrook Fair.
It should, of course, be “Five items or fewer”.
If Donnybrook Fair cannot get it right, what hope is there for the rest of us? – Yours, etc,
Morehampton Terrace,

A chara, – The solution to Donald Clarke’s hot weather wardrobe woes (“Hot under the collar”, Opinion & Analysis, July 20th) might be a man bag for his listed stuff, and a “mcarf” (male scarf) for his “big red Armagh head”. – Is mise,
An Spidéal,
Co na Gaillimhe.
Sir, – Your editorial of July 20th described Ken Ring as a “weather expert”.
Mr Ring’s predictions have been wrong in the past but anyone who predicts a hot July will get it right sometime.
If weather can be predicted using “moon and tidal activity” then accurate predictions could be made for summer 2113.
I have an old watch in my drawer which is right twice a day. – Yours, etc,
Tulla, Co Clare.
Sir, – I can see Clerys now the rain has gone. – Yours, etc,
Beacon Hill,
Dalkey, Co Dublin.
Sir, – The Leap Card is wonderful and the choice of the frog logo is inspired. Those of us who use Dublin Bus are familiar with the lakeland that occupies the space between pavement and bus lanes in wet weather. One must be frog-like or – as the Leap Card says – hop, skip, jump — to negotiate this wetland while walking to and from bus stops.
A new clause should be added to roadworks contracts to the effect that, before signing off on a job, the contractor, the site engineer and the council roads engineer must walk the entire length of newly surfaced roads on a wet day and in their best frocks. Then maybe, at some future time, the rest of us will not need to be amphibious to move along a Dublin pavement after a shower or two of rain. – Yours, etc,
Rock Road,
Booterstown, Co Dublin.

Sir, – Over time, the State has responded to threats to its existence and to its wellbeing. The Special Criminal Court was and is one such response, the Commercial Court is another. Is it not time to consider a “Special Commercial Criminal Court”? The many difficulties of prosecuting fraud and other complex financial cases are widely acknowledged.
Successful prosecution requires an expert team, appropriately resourced, and tasked with acting rapidly. A non-jury court is used where the security of the State is threatened – no additional argument for its use in the current environment need be advanced.
It seems that any money spent in this area would be better devoted to enhancing and expediting criminal prosecutions, rather than, for example, into an inquiry into banking practices that will neither enjoy the confidence of the population, nor trouble the perpetrators unduly. – Yours, etc,
Deerpark Road,
Mount Merrion,

First published: Sat, Jul 27, 2013, 01:08

Sir, – Over time, the State has responded to threats to its existence and to its wellbeing. The Special Criminal Court was and is one such response, the Commercial Court is another. Is it not time to consider a “Special Commercial Criminal Court”? The many difficulties of prosecuting fraud and other complex financial cases are widely acknowledged.
Successful prosecution requires an expert team, appropriately resourced, and tasked with acting rapidly. A non-jury court is used where the security of the State is threatened – no additional argument for its use in the current environment need be advanced.
It seems that any money spent in this area would be better devoted to enhancing and expediting criminal prosecutions, rather than, for example, into an inquiry into banking practices that will neither enjoy the confidence of the population, nor trouble the perpetrators unduly. – Yours, etc,

Irish Independent:

* ‘Quality in preference to quantity’ and ‘evidence of value for money’ must be the two ‘vitals’ for a reformed new government.
Also in this section
Gender quotas are discriminatory
TDs should join dole queues this summer
Save lives by making swimming safe
The entire Oireachtas are well aware they are top-heavy in numbers and costing the taxpayers a ‘bomb’. Any economies made would be a far more commendable national effort than pressuring requests to cut the dole, medical card services or child benefit – a scandalous intrusion on the needy.
We need an effective, compact and affordable government. Nothing so simple as dropping a suggested eight TDs; only a real, serious refurbishment will justify the cost of a referendum.
For a start, based on international standards, less than 60 TDs are necessary in Ireland. Amending the Constitution to provide one representative for every 30,000 to 40,000 of population from the current 20,000 to 30,000 people could reduce the number of deputies from 164 to an even 100.
This initial move towards reform would cut government expenditure in salaries and expenses alone by about €15m annually.
Rather than get rid of it and despite the fact the Seanad may be a remnant of the old ascendancy House of Lords, it carries a type of prestige that has powerful marketing value in selling the country abroad.
Having said that, its composition and exercise of powers needs complete reform. The number of senators should be reduced to 50, with at least one senator for each county. Those should be people of standing from all walks of life (not based on politics) and directly elected by the people.
Enterprise and employment should be their main portfolio. The Seanad would also play an important role in keeping the main parties from having a field day. The reduction in numbers would save the country another €2m to €3m.
This is something for politicians to consider during their summer recess.
James Gleeson
Thurles, Co Tipperary
* Europe is asking Ireland to make a budget adjustment this year of €3.1bn.
The country has worked tirelessly since 2008 to try and get itself back into the markets and has made every sacrifice possible. More reductions in this year’s Budget are just not feasible. But there is an easier way to achieve this €3.1bn adjustment.
We are a relatively small country, so the European Union could easily afford to set Ireland up before it exits the bailout by transferring its bank debts to the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) and concentrating on employment growth as opposed to austerity.
While Europe keeps promising a decision on this, it really just wants this country to exit the bailout programme and halt the bad press being aimed at Brussels.
Ireland can go back to the markets at the end of this year but will be so laden down by debt that it will take decades for it to recover.
However, if it positions itself as the ‘big break’ Europe needs to get itself out of recession, then a small extra effort made by the EU before year-end could mean that Ireland doesn’t just exit the bailout but, instead, turns into a growing economy.
Imagine, if by Christmas, we were able to report that after leaving the arms of the troika, we had moved from junk status back to ‘AAA’ status, reduced our unemployment from 13pc to 9pc and had become a fast-growing economy – this would be seen as the euro’s first success story and could trigger growth across the entire region.
This could come about if we moved our bank debts across to the ESM and focused hard on job creation.
The majority of the unemployed are from the construction sector, so by investing in capital-building programmes we would automatically bring the rate below the psychological 10pc threshold – which would then reduce the social welfare burden and raise the amount of PAYE tax collected – thus bringing us closer to the €3.1bn adjustment.
Paul Montwill
CEO, Magico, Ennis, Co Clare
* I would like to raise a number of points in relation to an article by Brendan Keenan (‘Politicians treat us like idiots when it comes to bank crisis’, Irish Independent, July 25).
While many valid points are made in relation to the instability of the banking sector and the political considerations around this issue, I must take issue with a statement made in the article that credit unions are a threat to the financial stability of individuals.
This is simply untrue, and if you listened to the voices of the hundreds of members and thousands of families who have depended on them for small affordable loans in the wake of our economic crisis, you would hear a very different story.
As your writer correctly points out, “credit unions have been an invaluable source of credit to individuals”.
Unlike the banks, they were not the cause of the economic collapse nor have they to date needed a taxpayer ‘bailout’.
In fact, they have, over the past five years, been the only financial services providers that have been lending modest sums of money to people who are seriously struggling to deal with the impact of years of austerity.
Yes, credit unions have been impacted by the financial crisis but this impact has been felt across the financial services sector; to suggest otherwise is plainly wrong.
Credit union membership across the island of Ireland has grown by 120,000 in the past three years, an indication of the trust people have in their local branch and further evidence that modest affordable credit supply is not forthcoming from banks.
Many challenges lie ahead for the organisations and our members and we are working with the newly established ReBo (Credit Union Restructuring Board) on restructuring options within the sector to ensure that members continue to enjoy the benefits of their membership well into the future.
Kieron Brennan
CEO Irish League of Credit Unions
* Reading pages 1, 14, 15 and 16 of your paper (Irish Independent, July 25), in relation to the largest political corruption trial in the modern history of the State and its collapse due to the ill-health of star witness Frank Dunlop, reminded me of the 1976 film ‘Network’ and the infamous rant of veteran newsreader Howard Beale, which led to a posthumous Oscar for actor Peter Finch. “I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everyone knows things are bad,” growled Beale.
He then proceeds to a call to arms, which would, I think, be something we could all try, to release the absolute frustration that we feel at a decade’s worth of tribunals that will result in not one single person being convicted of corruption: “So I want you to get up now . . . get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and walk to the window, open it and stick your head out and shout ‘I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more’!”
I’ll be listening.
Mark Lawler
Kilmainham Dublin 8
* Your article (‘Buffett backs Ireland in €700m deal with VHI’, Irish Independent, July 25) indicates that our new benefactor – billionaire businessman Warren Buffett – is known as ‘the Wizard of Omaha’. He is not. He is known as the ‘Sage of Omaha’.
If this man is saving us €90m as you suggest, you should at least get his title correct.
Dr A Geneva
Drishane, West Cork
Irish Independent


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