Hedge

29 July 2013 Hedge

I go all the way around the park round the park listening to the Navy Lark Troutbridge is host to Sir Tiddley Wibbley Wobbley Brown who is negotiating with the Russian trade minister aboard a Russian frigate. Priceless
Warmer today, sweep the path and Trim the Russian vine
We watch Yes Minister not bad
Scrabble today Mary wins but under 400. perhaps I might win tomorrow.

Obituary:

Jon Leyne
Jon Leyne, who has died aged 55, was a BBC foreign correspondent noted in recent years for his reports from conflict zones throughout the Middle East.

Jon Leyne Photo: AFP/GETTY
5:47PM BST 28 Jul 2013
In 2004 Leyne was appointed the Corporation’s correspondent in Jordan. He covered the 2006 war between Israel and the Lebanese paramilitary group Hizbollah and the influx into Jordan of Iraqi refugees, as well as the more general political and economic problems facing Jordan and the wider region.
While working in Iran during the 2009 elections there, he was given only 24 hours to leave the country after being accused by the authorities of “meddling” in the nation’s internal affairs. The day before there had been street protests in Tehran in which at least 10 people were said to have been killed.
The son of a solicitor, Jonathan Jeremy Caradoc Leyne was born on February 28 1958 and educated at Winchester and Exeter University, where he read History. He then went on to Oxford to take an MPhil on the subject of global terrorism. In 1985 he joined the BBC, and his early roles included a spell in Belfast during the Troubles, and commentating on the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race and the rowing at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics .
From 1992 to 1994 Leyne was the BBC’s correspondent at the United Nations in New York. He was then posted to Europe and the Middle East before returning to the United States in 2001 as US State Department correspondent in Washington, DC. He was on his way to his office in the Pentagon when the building was attacked on 9/11. In Washington, Leyne covered the build-up to the Iraq war of 2003 and accompanied the US Secretary of State Colin Powell on many overseas trips.
More recently, Leyne had been a familiar figure on television screens as he reported on the Arab Spring. He covered the Libyan uprising against Col Muammar Gaddafi, being one of the first Western journalists into Benghazi, and was in Cairo to witness the Egyptian revolution that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.
He was still in Egypt in late 2012, reporting on the growing unrest under President Morsi, when he was forced to return to Britain to seek treatment for persistent severe headaches. An incurable brain tumour was diagnosed.
Leyne loved the BBC, and was always conscientious and hard-working. In his spare time he was a keen runner, rower and pianist. He was also accomplished on the bassoon, taking the instrument wherever he was in the world; while in Jordan he played bassoon with one of the country’s leading orchestras, performing in the Roman amphitheatre at Jerash.
Jon Leyne is survived by his wife, the award-winning broadcasting journalist Maire Devine, and two stepchildren.
Jon Leyne, born February 28 1958, died July 27 2013

Guardian:

At the age of 48 I began a PhD at the University of Sheffield – having got a master’s while working full-time but having no first degree. In spite of this and in spite of my age, the university awarded me a studentship allowing me to study for my doctorate full-time. In 2011 as I came to the end of my studies, I got a teaching job at Sheffield (aged 52) and then my first research post at Lancaster University (at 54). Both Sheffield and Lancaster were utterly indifferent (in the best possible kind of way) to my age.
Polly Toynbee (Comment, 26 July) rightly deplores the discrimination and invidious treatment that older women face across the media and a range of private sector organisations. Disproportionately thrown out of public sector jobs by coalition cuts, unemployment rates of 30% compared with 5% in the wider population and ghettoised into part-time and low-paid work – the picture is bleak. And the shameful refusal of Maria Miller to implement the Equalities Act “dual discrimination” clause to protect older women, indicates only too clearly this government’s real views, whatever platitudes they mouth about older women on TV etc.
But it is also worth shining a light on some of the places that have, at least in part, got it right. The Russell Group universities (Sheffield is one) come in for a fair amount of deserved flak for their limited success in widening participation – particularly for those from the least affluent parts of the country. I was born and still live in the sort of postcode that would have a “top” university salivating with delight were I to have been 18 rather than 48 when I started my studies. I am proud of Sheffield – of those who taught me and of my colleagues, including several women over 50 – proud to have worked and studied in a place without blinkers, stereotyping or narrow assumptions.
Were it not for this opportunity I could have easily been one of those unemployed former public sector workers, desperately struggling for an job against unequal odds. Instead I have been lucky enough to do something that has genuinely changed my life and do it unencumbered by prejudice. What applies to me should apply equally to others. The media and private sector organisations that throw away talent and ability in older women need to look to the universities and learn. Oh – and Sheffield did not put me up to writing this. That’s one of the great things about academia – it teaches you to think for yourself.
Dr Marian Peacock
Honorary research fellow in public health, University of Sheffield

I have mixed feelings about the archbishop of Canterbury’s initiative (Thank God we have an archbishop who views Wonga’s loans as modern slavery, Giles Fraser, 27 July). If it enables credit unions to help people in poverty by charging less outrageous interest rates than the likes of Wonga, it will obviously be welcomed by those forced to seek loans. However, it’s only papering over the cracks of inequality. If it also succeeds in focusing on the reasons why many people have to seek loans – low pay, high unemployment, high rents and benefit cuts – and the discussion leads to a mobilisation of policies to address inequality, it will have achieved a political end which benefits society. I will be looking for a lead from the Labour. They shouldn’t simply welcome the archbishop’s intervention. Effective communication with enough voters will be necessary to show it can only ever be a short-term measure and that the structural reasons for inequality need also to be addressed.
Michael Somerton
Hull
• Every community has a story to tell about people trapped by the spiralling interest rates payday lenders charge. Over the past 18 months, we have been working with a wide variety of civil society groups to tackle this scourge. Trade unions, credit unions, CAB activists and local churches have been working collectively to win changes at a local level.
At a Movement for Change event in Newcastle last week we heard Chris’s story of how she was harassed day and night on the phone, by email and at her office by these companies demanding repayment. It made life for her and her family intolerable. Churches and residents’ associations pledged to open credit union accounts, helping capitalise the local credit union, and even the Newcastle United fanzine has offered free fair credit advertising. The archbishop’s pledge to place the resources of the Church of England at the forefront of this fight is welcome. The need for people and their local institutions to get organised has never been more urgent.
Mike Kane
Acting CEO, Movement for Change
• The support of Justin Welby for credit unions, and especially the offer of the use of church premises, is a positive and timely response to the increasing problem of debt. Unlike in Ireland, where credit unions have long enjoyed the support of the Catholic church, and in Poland, where trade union support is substantial, the network of credit unions in Britain is a tiny section of the economy, highly regulated and in need of reform of both its professional management and governance.
In Yorkshire support for credit unions is increasing among trade unions and faith groups and the bishop of Ripon and Leeds, John Packer, a member and saver with Leeds City Credit Union, has described credit unions as “among the unsung heroes of this generation in helping to deal with the problem of debt”.
Michael McGowan
Former president, Leeds City Credit Union
• Archbishop Welby is to be congratulated on his efforts to support credit union to counter the appalling payday lenders, whose business is worth £2bn. Surely all churches should follow the C of E’s lead. If the Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Congregational and other churches were to allow their facilities to be used by credit unions too, payday lenders would become a thing of the past.
Patrick Glass
St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex
• Church adviser Gavin Oldman says it’s completely unrealistic to “expect the church to disinvest from big British companies despite unethical behaviour” (Church of England’s other investments, 27 July). What sort of two-faced church are we talking about? It would be a superb opportunity to actively demonstrate what is right, if the church were to gradually withdraw from unethical companies and reinvest in a future for ordinary people. Green energy and housing come to mind.
Christine Hood
Richmond, North Yorkshire
• The archbishop of Canterbury is to be congratulated for his campaign against the inordinate interest rates of the payday loan industry. Yet because it depends on private equity firms for part of its investment returns, the church continues to invest indirectly in a variety of industries which many would consider unethical. Perhaps the archbishop should wield the might of the church’s £5.5bn funds to find alternative, ethical, ways to provide reasonable returns on its investments, even if at somewhat lower interest rates. There are many people, followers and non-followers alike, who would welcome a lead from the church in developing truly ethical investment schemes. As such, they would be happy to avoid dependency both on private equity, and on some of the industries in which they invest. Among them, one hopes, are the Wellcome Trust and the Universities Superannuation Scheme.
John Yudkin
Emeritus professor of medicine, University College London
• Rather than people like Vince Cable faintly praising the C of E for trying to compete against payday lenders, why doesn’t the coalition just have the guts to draft a bill banning any lender from charging APRs over 50%?
Norman Miller
Brighton
• Perhaps the answer to the church’s ethical investment group’s “tricky” dilemma might be to ask: “What would Jesus do?” Not quite an exact parallel, but the spirit of Matthew 21.12 (cleansing the temple of money lenders) might offer the benighted clerics some guidance.
Bryn Jones
Bath
• This archbishop is in danger of giving the church a good name.
Marie Johnstone
Loughborough, Leicestershire
How many holidays does a prime minister need or even deserve? Like David Cameron I’m 46 but there the similarities end. I’m a postman with a further two part-time jobs, struggling to support two children. My modest child tax credits were removed post-2010 and I have no inheritance to fall back on when my job at a post-privatisation Royal Mail either vanishes or is offered back to me with reduced terms, conditions and wages. Even in these heady pre-privatisation days our sole annual family holiday is a week in the UK (and this year I have barely been able to afford it). And yet the front page of Saturday’s Guardian (27 July) reports that Mr Cameron is enjoying another continental break. The phrase “We’re all in this together” sounded hollow at the time; right now it seems breathtakingly cynical and its originator proof that disparities in opportunity, equality and wealth are happily flourishing in 21st-century Britain.
Adam Jones
London
• Privacy for politicians on holiday (Editorial, 27 July)? I thought that myself, when I saw Sam and Cam buying fish on the front page. Or did this come from Central Office as a package with the eight photos of George Osborne on pages 8-9?
David Allen
Robertsbridge, East Sussex
• ”Salmon, Dave?” “Sole, man”, surely.
Mike Hine
Kingston on Thames, Surrey
•  Personally, I can’t wait for Gove’s labour’s lost (Letters, 27 July).
Simon Hunter
Brookmans Park, Hertfordshire

Independent:

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The Coalition should not leave our struggling churches to vainly tackle Britain’s payday lenders. In the US such firms are either banned outright or held – as in other advanced nations – to a usury limit (usually 40 per cent) instead  of our free-for-all.
Citizens Advice protests that the off-shoots of these international outfits which operate here ensnare teenagers, the mentally disabled and applicants who were clearly drunk.
They drain money from low-income communities, menace struggling borrowers and leech funds from personal bank accounts using a “continuous payment authority”.
Vulnerable people are even hounded for loans they have not taken out and lenders are known to take more than they are owed and to refuse to refund their helpless victims. The debt charity calls for high-street banks to offer “micro-loans” and this is surely a safer option than having the churches breenge in where angels rightly fear to tread.
Dr John Cameron, St Andrews
Your leading article “The Church should keep to matters spiritual” (27 July) was shocking. The fact that interest rates of payday lenders spiral to 4,000 per cent and one third of borrowers end up in worse financial straits apparently is no business of the Church of England. But if the CofE cannot comment on social matters such as this who can?
There have been so many criticisms of Wonga. Abusive tweets to Stella Creasey MP from a Wonga employee, Wonga taking money from accounts of over 350 people who weren’t their customers, albeit accidentally (BBC Watchdog), usurious interest charges (in their Independent advertisement Wonga said, ‘We don’t charge thousands of per cent interest. Ever’ and yet their website shows representative APR of 5,853 per cent), the Children’s Society talking of vulnerable families being driven “into the arms of legal loan sharks”.
I do hope that Archbishop Welby can use the influence and facilities of the Church of England to kickstart credit unions into competing with Wonga and its like. With interest rates of 5,853 per cent, it certainly shouldn’t be difficult to undercut them.
Robin Anderson, Bath
“The Church should keep to matters spiritual” – what a load of codswallop. Next you’ll be telling us newspapers should keep to just reporting news.
Carl Sims, London SW19
If the Archbishop of Canterbury puts Wonga out of business, will the Church of England take over the sponsorship of Newcastle United?
Frank Hubert, Stevenage, Hertfordshire
Our expectations of the NHS are out of date
With regard to the NHS, what is required above everything else is a fundamental change of attitude on the part of the electorate (Letters, 22 July). What needs to be preserved is not “the NHS” as an institution, but the principle underlying its creation: that no one should lack essential healthcare through absence of financial means. The particular model for giving practical effect to this principle, which was brilliantly devised in 1944, is now demonstrably obsolete as a result of demographic changes, vast improvements in the standard of living and expectations of the majority of the population,  and stunning – and in some cases stunningly expensive – medical advances.
A radically different model for delivering essential healthcare is now required. This will involve, among other things, identifying what is to be regarded as essential care and finding an acceptable way of funding the provision of this care through a combination of general taxation and private funding. Those who would describe this as creeping privatisation or breaking up the NHS by stealth need to recognise that the financing of essential healthcare through taxation alone is no longer a viable option.
Given the present state of public finances, it seems inconceivable that politicians of any party will be prepared to commit themselves to raising an extra £30bn in taxation annually by 2020 to meet increased expenditure on the NHS, and past experience suggests that this figure will prove to be a conservative one. In the absence of the injection of private funding, the NHS will not in any event survive in an acceptable form.
Rodney Stewart Smith
London NW1
The latest crisis affecting A&E departments is inevitable given the increased demands of the public on healthcare resources and the static levels of funding available. Isn’t it time the Government started to downgrade the public’s expectations of what the NHS can deliver?
Dr Jonathan Cullis
Coombe Bissett, Wiltshire
Our expectations of the NHS are out of date
The problem with the NHS was made clear by a comedian on the Light Programme on BBC radio shortly after its inception in 1947, and nothing much has changed. He spoke of two ladies who used to meet every Thursday in the doctors’ surgery. One Thursday, one of the ladies did not attend, and the following week, the other asked where she had been. “Oh!” She said, “I didn’t feel very well.”
Colin Hunt, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset
A solution to the housing crisis
In some physically small tax  havens, the housing market is  split in two: there is an open  market of houses that anyone  can buy; and there is a closed  market where only local people  can buy. Such arrangements respond to the pressure created when rich foreigners are allowed to buy into a very small housing stock. This model could and should be applied to London which is where our most serious housing problems are to be found, partly because London is a tax haven.
The simplest method would be to use the existing distribution of ownership as a base. Properties currently owned by people without UK passports or companies registered outside the UK would remain in the open market. All other properties would fall into a closed market where only UK passport holders and UK companies (paying UK taxes) could buy. At the same time, new developments would have to be designated as open or closed. If a very heavy tax was applied to planning permissions for new open market building, the money raised could be used to fund social housing.
Such a targeted approach might have more merits than Mr Osborne’s schemes which seem designed simply to create a pre-election housing bubble.
Trevor Pateman, Brighton
Obama could lead the way in Syria
“However remote, the only solution to [the Syrian] conflict… is diplomatic” (Leading article, 25 July). A diplomatic possibility seldom discussed is for Obama to be much more active, to take a lead in this ongoing disaster and call for direct talks involving himself, Putin, Assad, rebel leaders and others. If rebel leaders refused to attend someone could be nominated to represent their interests as best possible and talks should go ahead. Such is the power of the US that these talks could succeed. No harm would be done in the attempt, unlike the case with weapons transfers.
Sir Malcolm Rifkind calls this idea “fantasy” but I am sure he would agree that if Obama wanted it these talks could take place quite soon. Of course Obama shows no sign of moving in that direction but if our government used its considerable influence with the US, and stood up and called clearly for these talks to take place, he would have to listen.
Dr Brendan O’Brien  London N21
The hyphen is  alive and well
Will Dean’s sad report about the demise of the humble hyphen (22 July) prompts me to assure him that all is not lost. Over the past few years I have noticed a rash of newly formed hyphenated words. I nearly wrote “newly-formed” there, such is the infection. Technology is awash with coinages such as “add-ons”, and there is a whole raft of misplaced hyphens to be found in the press: “must-haves” may be fine grammatically (if not in any other way), but “things you must-have” is surely not, though I have seen several such aberrations recently. The humble hyphen is holding its own, by fair means or foul.
Linda Skilton, Forest Row, East Sussex
Faversham,  heart of darkness
It is entirely appropriate that Faversham is the setting of a crime series (report, 27 July), because it was in Faversham that the notorious murder of Thomas Arden took place in 1551. Arden, a former mayor of the town, was killed by his wife Alice and her lover, for which deed they paid the price. The story was immortalised in the Elizabethan domestic tragedy Arden of Faversham, a play published in 1592 and still performed today. Some people have attributed the play to Shakespeare and other dramatists of the time, but in fact the author remains unknown.
Andrew Belsey, Whitstable, Kent
Let’s see the real Jane Austen
It is regrettable that, while rightly honouring Jane Austen on our currency, the Bank of England should be promoting a design for the new £10 note derived essentially from the crudely saccharine portrait commissioned by the author’s descendants some 50 years after her death. This prettified the only properly authenticated image surviving from her own lifetime.
Much better to return to her sister Cassandra’s original – even  if it does seem to depict Jane as having just consumed a plate of sour plums.
Michael Biddiss, Alton, Hampshire
Foreign workers
The latest attempt to steal Ukip’s thunder by the Tories is interesting (“Firms have a ‘social duty’ to hire British workers, says Conservative minister Matthew Hancock”, 26 July). Does that dictum also apply to English football clubs? Should they be obliged to employ local footballers and managers too?
John Edgar, Cupar, Fife
Olympic legacy
Surely if they were such an inspiration to take up sport, we would not be asking the question “A year on from London 2012, what is the real legacy of the Olympics?” (26 July). No one would have the time!
John Wyllie, Carlisle
Geller’s powers
Why should the man who used his psychic powers to foil Egyptian radar in the raid on Entebbe need high-tech security at his Berkshire home? (“Did Uri Geller really win the battle of Entebbe for Israel?”, 26 July).
Robert Edwards
Hornchurch, Essex

Times:

Telegraph:
SIR – Am I the only one who found Lord Coe’s challenge to volunteers as a legacy of the Olympic spirit (report, July 21) very sadly juxtaposed with the article on the pay-offs for Olympic bosses?
We witnessed the very best of this country in the spirit of the Games, and the selfless work of the tens of thousands of volunteers who gave it much of its atmosphere, without pay, and without even a ticket to one event. Yet those with inevitably fixed-term roles were granted permanent contracts under the Labour administration, with substantial cost penalties when the contracts ended.
When will we learn that the good nature and willingness of a great majority of people to work with commitment, humour and professionalism is very much dented by the self-interest of the few, and the incompetence of their administrations?
Gordon Dawes
Ware, Hertfordshire

SIR – Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, tells us HS2’s costs are to be revisited to take into account Treasury requirements (“How HS2 will tear up rural Britain”, report, 21 July). While such a review is welcome, the Treasury’s Green Book specifically states that a full appraisal should be carried out at the initiation of this and other major infrastructure schemes.
Your report focused on phase two of the scheme “from Birmingham to the North”, but the fact that by February 2013 more than £250 million had already been spent on phase one “from London to Birmingham” should not be overlooked.
Why were Treasury requirements not complied with more than three years ago before launching the £42 billion programme?
Marilyn Fletcher
Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire
SIR – When will our Government acknowledge that its promotion of HS2 reflects minimal concern for journey times, employment opportunities and economic transformation, and is driven primarily by wanting to ensure our compliance with the EU’s directive for integration with its Trans-European Transport Network ( TEN-T) policy?
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Volunteers made London Olympics what they were
28 Jul 2013
John Blackburn
Nottingham
SIR – When John Prescott, as deputy prime minister, was promoting his grandiose plan for “eco-towns”, we were told they would provide employment and housing, and boost the economy.
The details of impact on the environment, however, such as use of Green Belt and viable agricultural land, strain on water resources and transport infrastructure, were neglected in Mr Prescott’s missionary zeal.
Could HS2 be the Coalition’s version of an overblown and costly plan to mar the landscape and provide few benefits for the majority who nonetheless forked out hugely to fund it?
Sally Lawton
Kirtlington, Oxfordshire
SIR – The discussion about HS2 should be about capacity, not speed. We need more trains and it is a much cheaper and more straightforward proposition to reopen the Great Central, a superb main line laid out in the 1890s to the continental loading gauge with gradients to match.
Richard Beeching did not want it but with some careful reinstatement where it has been built over it could be up and running within five years.
Peter Jeffery
East Dean, East Sussex
SIR – The proposed HS2 route includes a spur towards York that will cut through our village by means of a monstrous concrete viaduct over a landscape which is utterly flat.
In the meanwhile, the cost of installing the line rises.
I extend an invitation to any Government minister to visit this village and tell us why HS2 is such a good idea.
Anne Spensley
Church Fenton, West Yorkshire
SIR – Britain has to remember that it is at least 20 years behind in development of high-speed train technology. By the forecast completion of HS2 in the 2030s, systems like Maglev, currently used in Germany, China and Japan, will have taken over and our two rail system will be out of date.
Sadly, updating the existing line is our only option at present, unless, of course, we allow the Chinese to build a Maglev line for us.
Duncan Rayner
Sunningdale, Berkshire
SIR – High Speed rail tracks and trains can have no justification unless there is a demand for the transport of heavy freight trains.
Railways are primarily designed for freight such as coal, coke, iron ore, fish, oil and milk, as in the 19th century when they began. Passengers are then subsidised by the tariffs on that freight. No freight, no HS2.
Dr George Yuille Caldwell
Balmoral Park, Singapore
SIR – Before all our money has been spent on HS2 can we taxpayers be offered the alternative of frequent basic services on the existing network at prices we can afford?
David Armstrong
Hipperholme, West Yorkshire
The holes in the David Kelly suicide theory
SIR – Andrew Gilligan is dismissive of those professionals (mostly doctors, or lawyers such myself) who have queried the cause of death of Dr David Kelly (“The great betrayal 10 years on”, Gilligan on Sunday, July 21).
No one with any professional standing has suggested that any one “forced 29 tablets” down Dr Kelly’s throat. The doctors have generally contented themselves with pointing out the many holes in the suicide theory embraced by Lord Hutton and have not gone on to suggest assassination as an alternative explanation.
It is perfectly clear from the stomach contents, and the ratio in the blood of the constituent drugs in Co-Proxamol, that no more than half a tablet was forced down Dr Kelly’s throat, probably broken down into two quarter tablets. Not least since the knife and water bottle were added after the body was first sighted, it is perfectly clear that the empty medicine blister pack was left by the body to create an impression of suicide.
Furthermore, the absence of arterial spray virtually rules out Harrowdown Hill as the site of death – if Dr Kelly did commit suicide, someone had to have taken his body to Harrowdown Hill and suppressed that intelligence from the police.
It is very rare for the bodies of suicides to be moved.
Michael Shrimpton
Wendover, Buckinghamshire
SIR – Andrew Gilligan is entitled to use his journalist access to argue a suicide cause, but in fact only a forensic lawyer in a coroner’s court can pronounce such a verdict.
Prof Alastair Hay recently said that Lord Hutton did not conduct a proper hearing. When Prof Hay notes that Dr Kelly was playing a dangerous game before he was hounded to death, one is tempted to add the question: did the death come from exhaustion of the hunt or the huntsmen?
This is not conspiracy thinking, it is a demand for a proper hearing as has to date occurred in England for 800 years.
Dr D V Rutter
Romsey, Hampshire
SIR – I wish to express my thanks to Andrew Gilligan for being the excellent journalist he is. His integrity and professionalism stand in stark contrast to that of the bully boys who tried to destroy him as they did David Kelly and the reputation of the BBC as an independent news organisation.
True democracy can only exist as the sum of independent expressions of thought and when men in power suppress that independence they are no better than the Saddam Husseins of this world.
Peter Davies
Langport, Somerset
Hereditary peers
SIR – It was a pleasure to read Peter Oborne’s article on the role of the remaining hereditary peers (Opinion, July 21).
The hereditary peerage is based on a lottery of birth, meaning a peer does not owe an allegiance to a political party nor to constituents. They are drawn from the upper echelons of society, knowing they are to sit one day in the Lords, so they study and respect the constitution, tradition and liberty. In addition, such peers normally enter the chamber at an older age and so have life experience, and once there, are there for life, allowing for thoughtful judgment.
Maybe we should take the Lords back to 1999 before it was broken, to counteract the problems that Parliament faces?
James Adam Paton
Billericay, Essex
MPs’ wages
SIR – MPs should be paid far more than they are now. This should, like judges, place them beyond the financial blandishments of companies, foreign powers or even organised crime. I cannot think of any better way to avoid more Joan (claiming for an oven mitt) Ryan and Geoff (taxi for hire) Hoon moments.
Mike Brett
London N13
Immigrant Britain
SIR – Martin Amis (News Review, July 21) talks of Britain becoming “an immigrant society like America” and says “It would do England nothing but good to mix even more.”
But Britain already is an immigrant society. If Mr Amis were to observe the country accurately, he would notice that, except in London and at the edges, different races do not mix.
While the population of Britain is 24 per cent of that of the US, its area is only 2.7 per cent. Even allowing for the probability that a higher proportion of Britain’s area is habitable, the difference is insignificant compared with that discrepancy.
Stanley Eckersley
Pudsey, West Yorkshire
The Mosquito
SIR – Whether or not the phrase “Achtung Spitfeur!” was ever uttered outside the pages of the “Victor” or the “Commando” comic books, Mosquitopanik was a very real part of the German serviceman’s vocabulary (“Is this the greatest warplane of all?”, News Review, July 21).
If you were on the bridge of a U-boat traversing the Bay of Biscay, patrolling the night sky over Germany in a Junker 88, or sitting in the turret of a Panther tank driving towards the Normandy beachhead, it seemed a Mosquito would always find you.
Hadrian Jeffs
Norwich
SIR – The Mosquito still retained its aura long after the war when, as a seven-year-old, I admired the beautiful lines of one flying over the Fife coast in 1960 in its unglamorous role as a target tug.
I later learned that the Germans had imitated the Mosquito’s wooden construction with the ill-starred Focke-Wulf Ta 154 Moskito night-fighter, of which no more than 20 saw operational service.
Peter Myers
Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire
David Cameron will dress up EU deal
SIR – If I understand it correctly, David Cameron’s intention is to attempt to renegotiate as good a deal for this country as possible in Europe, and then put the result to us in an in/out referendum in 2017. Whatever the result of his efforts to change the terms of our membership, Mr Cameron intends to vote and campaign to remain in the EU in that referendum.
Acquis commaunitaire will allow no repatriation of powers to any state, so in 2017 we will be faced with a tinkering around the edges, dressed up by the Prime Minister as a ground-breaking deal which the country cannot afford to reject.
As this depressing scenario unfolds, the expected influx of immigrants from eastern Europe begins next January, and the Conservatives will suffer severe reverses in the 2014 European elections. It would take a brave man to place a bet on Mr Cameron fighting the next election as leader of his party.
Roger Hopkins
Eastbourne, East Sussex
SIR – From 1961 to 1972, as part of a team of key businessmen, I spoke to meetings throughout Britain arguing the case for the United Kingdom to join for trade purposes what was then known as the European Common Market. The case for enjoying the benefits of favourable access to a marketplace of millions of people was overwhelming.
Had Ted Heath, the chief negotiator, told the British people what the long-term political consequences of joining the EU would be, I and my team would never have supported such a policy.
The question to be answered in a referendum should be short and simple: “Stay in the EU for trade purposes only, or leave?”.
John Lidstone
Fleet, Hampshire
Bending the rules
SIR – At school some years ago, a veteran master explained that in cricket, a ball which bounced off the batsman’s hand or arm below the elbow which then was caught meant “out”, but not if it was any higher. Therefore, he suggested, if one were struck and the ball was caught one should rub the upper arm as if the pain was there, even if it was lower.
Rodney Bennett
Richmond, Surrey
Hungry snails
SIR – Terry Wogan says that he did not know there were as many as 20,000 snails in the world (Wogan’s World, July 21).
I do. I think they’re all in my garden eating my hostas!
Janice Spencer
Whitley Bay, Northumberland

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,
EIMER
PHILBIN BOWMAN,
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,
FRANK E BANNISTER,

First published: Sat, Jul 27, 2013, 01:10

   
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,
MÁIRE NÍ FHÉINNE
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,
PATRICK TALTY,
Knockjames,
Tulla, Co Clare.
Sir, – I can see Clerys now the rain has gone. – Yours, etc,
PAUL DELANEY,
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,
MARGARET QUINLAN,
Rock Road,
Booterstown, Co Dublin.

Irish Independent:
Madam – Having read Brendan O’Connor’s article in relation to Down syndrome, (Sunday Independent, July 21), 2013), I can only say how much I totally agree. I read with interest a couple of years ago his story about little Mary and all I could think, based on my limited experience, was that he has literally been blessed. You see I had an aunt who passed away peacefully in 1995 at the age of 63 who had Down syndrome. She had a hole in her heart and my grandparents were told that she would be lucky to see 20 years of age. Her name was Rosaleen and growing up as kids she was simply Auntie Rosaleen. She was not only an aunt but more an older sister.
Also in this section
Colonists hated our culture
CIE applied rules for procurement
No respect shown
A person that was, even as you got older, impossible to beat at Scrabble or many other board games. She always kept herself busy whether it was with playing the piano, knitting or listening to music.
She was never idle and she had great talents that many of of us would have loved to have had. She was smart, extremely witty and was very, very loving. But most of all she brought all of the wider family together. Everyone loved Rosaleen and why wouldn’t they?
One of my great memories was when at our wedding in Dublin, I gave a special mention to her while she sat just a few yards away from me. She had no idea this was coming and I can still see her smile today. After the first dance who was waiting to grab my hand for the second? She was so happy, so proud and the happiness that still gives me to this day will be hard to beat.
With all my memories of Rosaleen would I really have wanted to change her? Quite frankly, no. As you say Mary is Mary and Rosaleen was Rosaleen. I can understand that my grandparents, when they found out initially, must have asked “why?” and so many parents who are in a similar position today must ask the same question. But I do believe there is a reason for everything and from my limited experience of Down syndrome I do believe she brought so much happiness to her parents, siblings and her wider family and friends.
When I saw Brendan’s article a couple of years ago I thought how long until Brendan will experience what I have seen. It seems my answer has now come.
Every time I see a person or adult with Down syndrome, I see positive energy, love and for me, many happy memories.
David Kelso,
Donabate, Co Dublin
Sunday Independent

Madam – So, Ruth Dudley Edwards feels that Ireland was an “introverted little island” saved from its own cultural mediocrity by an influx of compassionate British colonists.
Also in this section
Brendan truly blessed
CIE applied rules for procurement
No respect shown
This is little more than Kipling’s “white man’s burden” applied to art.
In fact, it was the British who knocked the stuffing out of Irish cultural confidence in the first place. From the Statutes of Kilkenny to the Penal Laws, British policy in Ireland was as much about explicit cultural domination as it was about economic domination.
Edmund Spenser was at least being candid when he noted that it had “…ever been the use of the conqueror to despise the language of the conquered and to force him by all means to learn his”. Predictably, Edwards gives no recognition of how Ireland’s “introverted” monastic and religious communities played a major role in the preservation of learning in Western Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire and she is silent on the numerous links between Gaelic chieftains and mainland Europe.
Someday, possibly, we may be good enough for Ruth. Meantime, to make sure we get the point, Edwards describes herself as “British-Irish!”
Sean MacCann,
Foxrock, Dublin 18
Sunday Independent
Madam – A number of years ago, Shane Ross was critical of us for procurement weaknesses, which we had identified and have worked to address. But now, his rant against us is for following EU and Irish procurement laws in the award of a contract for the Operation and Maintenance of on-track machines! While such hypocrisy is hardly surprising from a former Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide cheerleader, who has rebranded himself as a lifelong critic of casino banking, it remains breathtaking to see it in action.
The most recent invitation to tender for the on-track machinery operation and maintenance contract was advertised internationally, as is best practice. Two potential suppliers expressed interest and both met the pre-qualifying criteria. One subsequently withdrew after a member of the consortium bidding pulled out.
In negotiating a contract with the remaining bidder – Balfour Beatty – Iarnrod Eireann verified that savings would be generated over the current contract which covers more limited activity, and over the operation and maintenance of the machinery in-house.
On safety, the contract requires that Balfour Beatty must be independently certified by the Railway Safety Commission – they will not operate on our network without this certification. It is simply untrue to say that Balfour Beatty will “take charge of track maintenance and safety”. They will not – they will operate their specific contract, just one element of extensive safety and maintenance activity, under our supervision and to our standards. All safety and track maintenance responsibility remains with Iarnrod Eireann, up to chief executive level.
Mr Ross ignores the substantive matters discussed at the Joint Oireachtas Committee in favour of misrepresentation: savings of €133m in operating costs in four years across the Group; the commitment to continuing cost reduction, required under our new banking facilities, are deemed unworthy of comment.
There was no “patting (ourselves) on the back.” There was explicit acknowledgement that the financial crisis for the Group is not yet over, but that working with stakeholders there is a path to recovery.
But then, when it comes to Iarnrod Eireann and CIE, Shane Ross has proven to be utterly disinterested in facts. He prefers instead to shoehorn any situation and any information to fit the fake indignation he had already decided upon, treating his readers with contempt as he blithely misleads them time and time again.
Barry Kenny, Iarnrod Eireann, Connolly Station, Dublin 1
Sunday Independent

29 July 2013 Hedge

I go all the way around the park round the park listening to the Navy Lark Troutbridge is host to Sir Tiddley Wibbley Wobbley Brown who is negotiating with the Russian trade minister aboard a Russian frigate. Priceless
Warmer today, sweep the path and Trim the Russian vine
We watch Yes Minister not bad
Scrabble today Mary wins but under 400. perhaps I might win tomorrow.

Obituary:

Jon Leyne
Jon Leyne, who has died aged 55, was a BBC foreign correspondent noted in recent years for his reports from conflict zones throughout the Middle East.

Jon Leyne Photo: AFP/GETTY
5:47PM BST 28 Jul 2013
In 2004 Leyne was appointed the Corporation’s correspondent in Jordan. He covered the 2006 war between Israel and the Lebanese paramilitary group Hizbollah and the influx into Jordan of Iraqi refugees, as well as the more general political and economic problems facing Jordan and the wider region.
While working in Iran during the 2009 elections there, he was given only 24 hours to leave the country after being accused by the authorities of “meddling” in the nation’s internal affairs. The day before there had been street protests in Tehran in which at least 10 people were said to have been killed.
The son of a solicitor, Jonathan Jeremy Caradoc Leyne was born on February 28 1958 and educated at Winchester and Exeter University, where he read History. He then went on to Oxford to take an MPhil on the subject of global terrorism. In 1985 he joined the BBC, and his early roles included a spell in Belfast during the Troubles, and commentating on the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race and the rowing at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics .
From 1992 to 1994 Leyne was the BBC’s correspondent at the United Nations in New York. He was then posted to Europe and the Middle East before returning to the United States in 2001 as US State Department correspondent in Washington, DC. He was on his way to his office in the Pentagon when the building was attacked on 9/11. In Washington, Leyne covered the build-up to the Iraq war of 2003 and accompanied the US Secretary of State Colin Powell on many overseas trips.
More recently, Leyne had been a familiar figure on television screens as he reported on the Arab Spring. He covered the Libyan uprising against Col Muammar Gaddafi, being one of the first Western journalists into Benghazi, and was in Cairo to witness the Egyptian revolution that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.
He was still in Egypt in late 2012, reporting on the growing unrest under President Morsi, when he was forced to return to Britain to seek treatment for persistent severe headaches. An incurable brain tumour was diagnosed.
Leyne loved the BBC, and was always conscientious and hard-working. In his spare time he was a keen runner, rower and pianist. He was also accomplished on the bassoon, taking the instrument wherever he was in the world; while in Jordan he played bassoon with one of the country’s leading orchestras, performing in the Roman amphitheatre at Jerash.
Jon Leyne is survived by his wife, the award-winning broadcasting journalist Maire Devine, and two stepchildren.
Jon Leyne, born February 28 1958, died July 27 2013

Guardian:

At the age of 48 I began a PhD at the University of Sheffield – having got a master’s while working full-time but having no first degree. In spite of this and in spite of my age, the university awarded me a studentship allowing me to study for my doctorate full-time. In 2011 as I came to the end of my studies, I got a teaching job at Sheffield (aged 52) and then my first research post at Lancaster University (at 54). Both Sheffield and Lancaster were utterly indifferent (in the best possible kind of way) to my age.
Polly Toynbee (Comment, 26 July) rightly deplores the discrimination and invidious treatment that older women face across the media and a range of private sector organisations. Disproportionately thrown out of public sector jobs by coalition cuts, unemployment rates of 30% compared with 5% in the wider population and ghettoised into part-time and low-paid work – the picture is bleak. And the shameful refusal of Maria Miller to implement the Equalities Act “dual discrimination” clause to protect older women, indicates only too clearly this government’s real views, whatever platitudes they mouth about older women on TV etc.
But it is also worth shining a light on some of the places that have, at least in part, got it right. The Russell Group universities (Sheffield is one) come in for a fair amount of deserved flak for their limited success in widening participation – particularly for those from the least affluent parts of the country. I was born and still live in the sort of postcode that would have a “top” university salivating with delight were I to have been 18 rather than 48 when I started my studies. I am proud of Sheffield – of those who taught me and of my colleagues, including several women over 50 – proud to have worked and studied in a place without blinkers, stereotyping or narrow assumptions.
Were it not for this opportunity I could have easily been one of those unemployed former public sector workers, desperately struggling for an job against unequal odds. Instead I have been lucky enough to do something that has genuinely changed my life and do it unencumbered by prejudice. What applies to me should apply equally to others. The media and private sector organisations that throw away talent and ability in older women need to look to the universities and learn. Oh – and Sheffield did not put me up to writing this. That’s one of the great things about academia – it teaches you to think for yourself.
Dr Marian Peacock
Honorary research fellow in public health, University of Sheffield

I have mixed feelings about the archbishop of Canterbury’s initiative (Thank God we have an archbishop who views Wonga’s loans as modern slavery, Giles Fraser, 27 July). If it enables credit unions to help people in poverty by charging less outrageous interest rates than the likes of Wonga, it will obviously be welcomed by those forced to seek loans. However, it’s only papering over the cracks of inequality. If it also succeeds in focusing on the reasons why many people have to seek loans – low pay, high unemployment, high rents and benefit cuts – and the discussion leads to a mobilisation of policies to address inequality, it will have achieved a political end which benefits society. I will be looking for a lead from the Labour. They shouldn’t simply welcome the archbishop’s intervention. Effective communication with enough voters will be necessary to show it can only ever be a short-term measure and that the structural reasons for inequality need also to be addressed.
Michael Somerton
Hull
• Every community has a story to tell about people trapped by the spiralling interest rates payday lenders charge. Over the past 18 months, we have been working with a wide variety of civil society groups to tackle this scourge. Trade unions, credit unions, CAB activists and local churches have been working collectively to win changes at a local level.
At a Movement for Change event in Newcastle last week we heard Chris’s story of how she was harassed day and night on the phone, by email and at her office by these companies demanding repayment. It made life for her and her family intolerable. Churches and residents’ associations pledged to open credit union accounts, helping capitalise the local credit union, and even the Newcastle United fanzine has offered free fair credit advertising. The archbishop’s pledge to place the resources of the Church of England at the forefront of this fight is welcome. The need for people and their local institutions to get organised has never been more urgent.
Mike Kane
Acting CEO, Movement for Change
• The support of Justin Welby for credit unions, and especially the offer of the use of church premises, is a positive and timely response to the increasing problem of debt. Unlike in Ireland, where credit unions have long enjoyed the support of the Catholic church, and in Poland, where trade union support is substantial, the network of credit unions in Britain is a tiny section of the economy, highly regulated and in need of reform of both its professional management and governance.
In Yorkshire support for credit unions is increasing among trade unions and faith groups and the bishop of Ripon and Leeds, John Packer, a member and saver with Leeds City Credit Union, has described credit unions as “among the unsung heroes of this generation in helping to deal with the problem of debt”.
Michael McGowan
Former president, Leeds City Credit Union
• Archbishop Welby is to be congratulated on his efforts to support credit union to counter the appalling payday lenders, whose business is worth £2bn. Surely all churches should follow the C of E’s lead. If the Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Congregational and other churches were to allow their facilities to be used by credit unions too, payday lenders would become a thing of the past.
Patrick Glass
St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex
• Church adviser Gavin Oldman says it’s completely unrealistic to “expect the church to disinvest from big British companies despite unethical behaviour” (Church of England’s other investments, 27 July). What sort of two-faced church are we talking about? It would be a superb opportunity to actively demonstrate what is right, if the church were to gradually withdraw from unethical companies and reinvest in a future for ordinary people. Green energy and housing come to mind.
Christine Hood
Richmond, North Yorkshire
• The archbishop of Canterbury is to be congratulated for his campaign against the inordinate interest rates of the payday loan industry. Yet because it depends on private equity firms for part of its investment returns, the church continues to invest indirectly in a variety of industries which many would consider unethical. Perhaps the archbishop should wield the might of the church’s £5.5bn funds to find alternative, ethical, ways to provide reasonable returns on its investments, even if at somewhat lower interest rates. There are many people, followers and non-followers alike, who would welcome a lead from the church in developing truly ethical investment schemes. As such, they would be happy to avoid dependency both on private equity, and on some of the industries in which they invest. Among them, one hopes, are the Wellcome Trust and the Universities Superannuation Scheme.
John Yudkin
Emeritus professor of medicine, University College London
• Rather than people like Vince Cable faintly praising the C of E for trying to compete against payday lenders, why doesn’t the coalition just have the guts to draft a bill banning any lender from charging APRs over 50%?
Norman Miller
Brighton
• Perhaps the answer to the church’s ethical investment group’s “tricky” dilemma might be to ask: “What would Jesus do?” Not quite an exact parallel, but the spirit of Matthew 21.12 (cleansing the temple of money lenders) might offer the benighted clerics some guidance.
Bryn Jones
Bath
• This archbishop is in danger of giving the church a good name.
Marie Johnstone
Loughborough, Leicestershire
How many holidays does a prime minister need or even deserve? Like David Cameron I’m 46 but there the similarities end. I’m a postman with a further two part-time jobs, struggling to support two children. My modest child tax credits were removed post-2010 and I have no inheritance to fall back on when my job at a post-privatisation Royal Mail either vanishes or is offered back to me with reduced terms, conditions and wages. Even in these heady pre-privatisation days our sole annual family holiday is a week in the UK (and this year I have barely been able to afford it). And yet the front page of Saturday’s Guardian (27 July) reports that Mr Cameron is enjoying another continental break. The phrase “We’re all in this together” sounded hollow at the time; right now it seems breathtakingly cynical and its originator proof that disparities in opportunity, equality and wealth are happily flourishing in 21st-century Britain.
Adam Jones
London
• Privacy for politicians on holiday (Editorial, 27 July)? I thought that myself, when I saw Sam and Cam buying fish on the front page. Or did this come from Central Office as a package with the eight photos of George Osborne on pages 8-9?
David Allen
Robertsbridge, East Sussex
• ”Salmon, Dave?” “Sole, man”, surely.
Mike Hine
Kingston on Thames, Surrey
•  Personally, I can’t wait for Gove’s labour’s lost (Letters, 27 July).
Simon Hunter
Brookmans Park, Hertfordshire

Independent:

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The Coalition should not leave our struggling churches to vainly tackle Britain’s payday lenders. In the US such firms are either banned outright or held – as in other advanced nations – to a usury limit (usually 40 per cent) instead  of our free-for-all.
Citizens Advice protests that the off-shoots of these international outfits which operate here ensnare teenagers, the mentally disabled and applicants who were clearly drunk.
They drain money from low-income communities, menace struggling borrowers and leech funds from personal bank accounts using a “continuous payment authority”.
Vulnerable people are even hounded for loans they have not taken out and lenders are known to take more than they are owed and to refuse to refund their helpless victims. The debt charity calls for high-street banks to offer “micro-loans” and this is surely a safer option than having the churches breenge in where angels rightly fear to tread.
Dr John Cameron, St Andrews
Your leading article “The Church should keep to matters spiritual” (27 July) was shocking. The fact that interest rates of payday lenders spiral to 4,000 per cent and one third of borrowers end up in worse financial straits apparently is no business of the Church of England. But if the CofE cannot comment on social matters such as this who can?
There have been so many criticisms of Wonga. Abusive tweets to Stella Creasey MP from a Wonga employee, Wonga taking money from accounts of over 350 people who weren’t their customers, albeit accidentally (BBC Watchdog), usurious interest charges (in their Independent advertisement Wonga said, ‘We don’t charge thousands of per cent interest. Ever’ and yet their website shows representative APR of 5,853 per cent), the Children’s Society talking of vulnerable families being driven “into the arms of legal loan sharks”.
I do hope that Archbishop Welby can use the influence and facilities of the Church of England to kickstart credit unions into competing with Wonga and its like. With interest rates of 5,853 per cent, it certainly shouldn’t be difficult to undercut them.
Robin Anderson, Bath
“The Church should keep to matters spiritual” – what a load of codswallop. Next you’ll be telling us newspapers should keep to just reporting news.
Carl Sims, London SW19
If the Archbishop of Canterbury puts Wonga out of business, will the Church of England take over the sponsorship of Newcastle United?
Frank Hubert, Stevenage, Hertfordshire
Our expectations of the NHS are out of date
With regard to the NHS, what is required above everything else is a fundamental change of attitude on the part of the electorate (Letters, 22 July). What needs to be preserved is not “the NHS” as an institution, but the principle underlying its creation: that no one should lack essential healthcare through absence of financial means. The particular model for giving practical effect to this principle, which was brilliantly devised in 1944, is now demonstrably obsolete as a result of demographic changes, vast improvements in the standard of living and expectations of the majority of the population,  and stunning – and in some cases stunningly expensive – medical advances.
A radically different model for delivering essential healthcare is now required. This will involve, among other things, identifying what is to be regarded as essential care and finding an acceptable way of funding the provision of this care through a combination of general taxation and private funding. Those who would describe this as creeping privatisation or breaking up the NHS by stealth need to recognise that the financing of essential healthcare through taxation alone is no longer a viable option.
Given the present state of public finances, it seems inconceivable that politicians of any party will be prepared to commit themselves to raising an extra £30bn in taxation annually by 2020 to meet increased expenditure on the NHS, and past experience suggests that this figure will prove to be a conservative one. In the absence of the injection of private funding, the NHS will not in any event survive in an acceptable form.
Rodney Stewart Smith
London NW1
The latest crisis affecting A&E departments is inevitable given the increased demands of the public on healthcare resources and the static levels of funding available. Isn’t it time the Government started to downgrade the public’s expectations of what the NHS can deliver?
Dr Jonathan Cullis
Coombe Bissett, Wiltshire
Our expectations of the NHS are out of date
The problem with the NHS was made clear by a comedian on the Light Programme on BBC radio shortly after its inception in 1947, and nothing much has changed. He spoke of two ladies who used to meet every Thursday in the doctors’ surgery. One Thursday, one of the ladies did not attend, and the following week, the other asked where she had been. “Oh!” She said, “I didn’t feel very well.”
Colin Hunt, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset
A solution to the housing crisis
In some physically small tax  havens, the housing market is  split in two: there is an open  market of houses that anyone  can buy; and there is a closed  market where only local people  can buy. Such arrangements respond to the pressure created when rich foreigners are allowed to buy into a very small housing stock. This model could and should be applied to London which is where our most serious housing problems are to be found, partly because London is a tax haven.
The simplest method would be to use the existing distribution of ownership as a base. Properties currently owned by people without UK passports or companies registered outside the UK would remain in the open market. All other properties would fall into a closed market where only UK passport holders and UK companies (paying UK taxes) could buy. At the same time, new developments would have to be designated as open or closed. If a very heavy tax was applied to planning permissions for new open market building, the money raised could be used to fund social housing.
Such a targeted approach might have more merits than Mr Osborne’s schemes which seem designed simply to create a pre-election housing bubble.
Trevor Pateman, Brighton
Obama could lead the way in Syria
“However remote, the only solution to [the Syrian] conflict… is diplomatic” (Leading article, 25 July). A diplomatic possibility seldom discussed is for Obama to be much more active, to take a lead in this ongoing disaster and call for direct talks involving himself, Putin, Assad, rebel leaders and others. If rebel leaders refused to attend someone could be nominated to represent their interests as best possible and talks should go ahead. Such is the power of the US that these talks could succeed. No harm would be done in the attempt, unlike the case with weapons transfers.
Sir Malcolm Rifkind calls this idea “fantasy” but I am sure he would agree that if Obama wanted it these talks could take place quite soon. Of course Obama shows no sign of moving in that direction but if our government used its considerable influence with the US, and stood up and called clearly for these talks to take place, he would have to listen.
Dr Brendan O’Brien  London N21
The hyphen is  alive and well
Will Dean’s sad report about the demise of the humble hyphen (22 July) prompts me to assure him that all is not lost. Over the past few years I have noticed a rash of newly formed hyphenated words. I nearly wrote “newly-formed” there, such is the infection. Technology is awash with coinages such as “add-ons”, and there is a whole raft of misplaced hyphens to be found in the press: “must-haves” may be fine grammatically (if not in any other way), but “things you must-have” is surely not, though I have seen several such aberrations recently. The humble hyphen is holding its own, by fair means or foul.
Linda Skilton, Forest Row, East Sussex
Faversham,  heart of darkness
It is entirely appropriate that Faversham is the setting of a crime series (report, 27 July), because it was in Faversham that the notorious murder of Thomas Arden took place in 1551. Arden, a former mayor of the town, was killed by his wife Alice and her lover, for which deed they paid the price. The story was immortalised in the Elizabethan domestic tragedy Arden of Faversham, a play published in 1592 and still performed today. Some people have attributed the play to Shakespeare and other dramatists of the time, but in fact the author remains unknown.
Andrew Belsey, Whitstable, Kent
Let’s see the real Jane Austen
It is regrettable that, while rightly honouring Jane Austen on our currency, the Bank of England should be promoting a design for the new £10 note derived essentially from the crudely saccharine portrait commissioned by the author’s descendants some 50 years after her death. This prettified the only properly authenticated image surviving from her own lifetime.
Much better to return to her sister Cassandra’s original – even  if it does seem to depict Jane as having just consumed a plate of sour plums.
Michael Biddiss, Alton, Hampshire
Foreign workers
The latest attempt to steal Ukip’s thunder by the Tories is interesting (“Firms have a ‘social duty’ to hire British workers, says Conservative minister Matthew Hancock”, 26 July). Does that dictum also apply to English football clubs? Should they be obliged to employ local footballers and managers too?
John Edgar, Cupar, Fife
Olympic legacy
Surely if they were such an inspiration to take up sport, we would not be asking the question “A year on from London 2012, what is the real legacy of the Olympics?” (26 July). No one would have the time!
John Wyllie, Carlisle
Geller’s powers
Why should the man who used his psychic powers to foil Egyptian radar in the raid on Entebbe need high-tech security at his Berkshire home? (“Did Uri Geller really win the battle of Entebbe for Israel?”, 26 July).
Robert Edwards
Hornchurch, Essex

Times:

Telegraph:
SIR – Am I the only one who found Lord Coe’s challenge to volunteers as a legacy of the Olympic spirit (report, July 21) very sadly juxtaposed with the article on the pay-offs for Olympic bosses?
We witnessed the very best of this country in the spirit of the Games, and the selfless work of the tens of thousands of volunteers who gave it much of its atmosphere, without pay, and without even a ticket to one event. Yet those with inevitably fixed-term roles were granted permanent contracts under the Labour administration, with substantial cost penalties when the contracts ended.
When will we learn that the good nature and willingness of a great majority of people to work with commitment, humour and professionalism is very much dented by the self-interest of the few, and the incompetence of their administrations?
Gordon Dawes
Ware, Hertfordshire

SIR – Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, tells us HS2’s costs are to be revisited to take into account Treasury requirements (“How HS2 will tear up rural Britain”, report, 21 July). While such a review is welcome, the Treasury’s Green Book specifically states that a full appraisal should be carried out at the initiation of this and other major infrastructure schemes.
Your report focused on phase two of the scheme “from Birmingham to the North”, but the fact that by February 2013 more than £250 million had already been spent on phase one “from London to Birmingham” should not be overlooked.
Why were Treasury requirements not complied with more than three years ago before launching the £42 billion programme?
Marilyn Fletcher
Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire
SIR – When will our Government acknowledge that its promotion of HS2 reflects minimal concern for journey times, employment opportunities and economic transformation, and is driven primarily by wanting to ensure our compliance with the EU’s directive for integration with its Trans-European Transport Network ( TEN-T) policy?
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28 Jul 2013
John Blackburn
Nottingham
SIR – When John Prescott, as deputy prime minister, was promoting his grandiose plan for “eco-towns”, we were told they would provide employment and housing, and boost the economy.
The details of impact on the environment, however, such as use of Green Belt and viable agricultural land, strain on water resources and transport infrastructure, were neglected in Mr Prescott’s missionary zeal.
Could HS2 be the Coalition’s version of an overblown and costly plan to mar the landscape and provide few benefits for the majority who nonetheless forked out hugely to fund it?
Sally Lawton
Kirtlington, Oxfordshire
SIR – The discussion about HS2 should be about capacity, not speed. We need more trains and it is a much cheaper and more straightforward proposition to reopen the Great Central, a superb main line laid out in the 1890s to the continental loading gauge with gradients to match.
Richard Beeching did not want it but with some careful reinstatement where it has been built over it could be up and running within five years.
Peter Jeffery
East Dean, East Sussex
SIR – The proposed HS2 route includes a spur towards York that will cut through our village by means of a monstrous concrete viaduct over a landscape which is utterly flat.
In the meanwhile, the cost of installing the line rises.
I extend an invitation to any Government minister to visit this village and tell us why HS2 is such a good idea.
Anne Spensley
Church Fenton, West Yorkshire
SIR – Britain has to remember that it is at least 20 years behind in development of high-speed train technology. By the forecast completion of HS2 in the 2030s, systems like Maglev, currently used in Germany, China and Japan, will have taken over and our two rail system will be out of date.
Sadly, updating the existing line is our only option at present, unless, of course, we allow the Chinese to build a Maglev line for us.
Duncan Rayner
Sunningdale, Berkshire
SIR – High Speed rail tracks and trains can have no justification unless there is a demand for the transport of heavy freight trains.
Railways are primarily designed for freight such as coal, coke, iron ore, fish, oil and milk, as in the 19th century when they began. Passengers are then subsidised by the tariffs on that freight. No freight, no HS2.
Dr George Yuille Caldwell
Balmoral Park, Singapore
SIR – Before all our money has been spent on HS2 can we taxpayers be offered the alternative of frequent basic services on the existing network at prices we can afford?
David Armstrong
Hipperholme, West Yorkshire
The holes in the David Kelly suicide theory
SIR – Andrew Gilligan is dismissive of those professionals (mostly doctors, or lawyers such myself) who have queried the cause of death of Dr David Kelly (“The great betrayal 10 years on”, Gilligan on Sunday, July 21).
No one with any professional standing has suggested that any one “forced 29 tablets” down Dr Kelly’s throat. The doctors have generally contented themselves with pointing out the many holes in the suicide theory embraced by Lord Hutton and have not gone on to suggest assassination as an alternative explanation.
It is perfectly clear from the stomach contents, and the ratio in the blood of the constituent drugs in Co-Proxamol, that no more than half a tablet was forced down Dr Kelly’s throat, probably broken down into two quarter tablets. Not least since the knife and water bottle were added after the body was first sighted, it is perfectly clear that the empty medicine blister pack was left by the body to create an impression of suicide.
Furthermore, the absence of arterial spray virtually rules out Harrowdown Hill as the site of death – if Dr Kelly did commit suicide, someone had to have taken his body to Harrowdown Hill and suppressed that intelligence from the police.
It is very rare for the bodies of suicides to be moved.
Michael Shrimpton
Wendover, Buckinghamshire
SIR – Andrew Gilligan is entitled to use his journalist access to argue a suicide cause, but in fact only a forensic lawyer in a coroner’s court can pronounce such a verdict.
Prof Alastair Hay recently said that Lord Hutton did not conduct a proper hearing. When Prof Hay notes that Dr Kelly was playing a dangerous game before he was hounded to death, one is tempted to add the question: did the death come from exhaustion of the hunt or the huntsmen?
This is not conspiracy thinking, it is a demand for a proper hearing as has to date occurred in England for 800 years.
Dr D V Rutter
Romsey, Hampshire
SIR – I wish to express my thanks to Andrew Gilligan for being the excellent journalist he is. His integrity and professionalism stand in stark contrast to that of the bully boys who tried to destroy him as they did David Kelly and the reputation of the BBC as an independent news organisation.
True democracy can only exist as the sum of independent expressions of thought and when men in power suppress that independence they are no better than the Saddam Husseins of this world.
Peter Davies
Langport, Somerset
Hereditary peers
SIR – It was a pleasure to read Peter Oborne’s article on the role of the remaining hereditary peers (Opinion, July 21).
The hereditary peerage is based on a lottery of birth, meaning a peer does not owe an allegiance to a political party nor to constituents. They are drawn from the upper echelons of society, knowing they are to sit one day in the Lords, so they study and respect the constitution, tradition and liberty. In addition, such peers normally enter the chamber at an older age and so have life experience, and once there, are there for life, allowing for thoughtful judgment.
Maybe we should take the Lords back to 1999 before it was broken, to counteract the problems that Parliament faces?
James Adam Paton
Billericay, Essex
MPs’ wages
SIR – MPs should be paid far more than they are now. This should, like judges, place them beyond the financial blandishments of companies, foreign powers or even organised crime. I cannot think of any better way to avoid more Joan (claiming for an oven mitt) Ryan and Geoff (taxi for hire) Hoon moments.
Mike Brett
London N13
Immigrant Britain
SIR – Martin Amis (News Review, July 21) talks of Britain becoming “an immigrant society like America” and says “It would do England nothing but good to mix even more.”
But Britain already is an immigrant society. If Mr Amis were to observe the country accurately, he would notice that, except in London and at the edges, different races do not mix.
While the population of Britain is 24 per cent of that of the US, its area is only 2.7 per cent. Even allowing for the probability that a higher proportion of Britain’s area is habitable, the difference is insignificant compared with that discrepancy.
Stanley Eckersley
Pudsey, West Yorkshire
The Mosquito
SIR – Whether or not the phrase “Achtung Spitfeur!” was ever uttered outside the pages of the “Victor” or the “Commando” comic books, Mosquitopanik was a very real part of the German serviceman’s vocabulary (“Is this the greatest warplane of all?”, News Review, July 21).
If you were on the bridge of a U-boat traversing the Bay of Biscay, patrolling the night sky over Germany in a Junker 88, or sitting in the turret of a Panther tank driving towards the Normandy beachhead, it seemed a Mosquito would always find you.
Hadrian Jeffs
Norwich
SIR – The Mosquito still retained its aura long after the war when, as a seven-year-old, I admired the beautiful lines of one flying over the Fife coast in 1960 in its unglamorous role as a target tug.
I later learned that the Germans had imitated the Mosquito’s wooden construction with the ill-starred Focke-Wulf Ta 154 Moskito night-fighter, of which no more than 20 saw operational service.
Peter Myers
Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire
David Cameron will dress up EU deal
SIR – If I understand it correctly, David Cameron’s intention is to attempt to renegotiate as good a deal for this country as possible in Europe, and then put the result to us in an in/out referendum in 2017. Whatever the result of his efforts to change the terms of our membership, Mr Cameron intends to vote and campaign to remain in the EU in that referendum.
Acquis commaunitaire will allow no repatriation of powers to any state, so in 2017 we will be faced with a tinkering around the edges, dressed up by the Prime Minister as a ground-breaking deal which the country cannot afford to reject.
As this depressing scenario unfolds, the expected influx of immigrants from eastern Europe begins next January, and the Conservatives will suffer severe reverses in the 2014 European elections. It would take a brave man to place a bet on Mr Cameron fighting the next election as leader of his party.
Roger Hopkins
Eastbourne, East Sussex
SIR – From 1961 to 1972, as part of a team of key businessmen, I spoke to meetings throughout Britain arguing the case for the United Kingdom to join for trade purposes what was then known as the European Common Market. The case for enjoying the benefits of favourable access to a marketplace of millions of people was overwhelming.
Had Ted Heath, the chief negotiator, told the British people what the long-term political consequences of joining the EU would be, I and my team would never have supported such a policy.
The question to be answered in a referendum should be short and simple: “Stay in the EU for trade purposes only, or leave?”.
John Lidstone
Fleet, Hampshire
Bending the rules
SIR – At school some years ago, a veteran master explained that in cricket, a ball which bounced off the batsman’s hand or arm below the elbow which then was caught meant “out”, but not if it was any higher. Therefore, he suggested, if one were struck and the ball was caught one should rub the upper arm as if the pain was there, even if it was lower.
Rodney Bennett
Richmond, Surrey
Hungry snails
SIR – Terry Wogan says that he did not know there were as many as 20,000 snails in the world (Wogan’s World, July 21).
I do. I think they’re all in my garden eating my hostas!
Janice Spencer
Whitley Bay, Northumberland

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,
EIMER
PHILBIN BOWMAN,
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,
FRANK E BANNISTER,

First published: Sat, Jul 27, 2013, 01:10

   
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,
MÁIRE NÍ FHÉINNE
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,
PATRICK TALTY,
Knockjames,
Tulla, Co Clare.
Sir, – I can see Clerys now the rain has gone. – Yours, etc,
PAUL DELANEY,
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,
MARGARET QUINLAN,
Rock Road,
Booterstown, Co Dublin.

Irish Independent:
Madam – Having read Brendan O’Connor’s article in relation to Down syndrome, (Sunday Independent, July 21), 2013), I can only say how much I totally agree. I read with interest a couple of years ago his story about little Mary and all I could think, based on my limited experience, was that he has literally been blessed. You see I had an aunt who passed away peacefully in 1995 at the age of 63 who had Down syndrome. She had a hole in her heart and my grandparents were told that she would be lucky to see 20 years of age. Her name was Rosaleen and growing up as kids she was simply Auntie Rosaleen. She was not only an aunt but more an older sister.
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A person that was, even as you got older, impossible to beat at Scrabble or many other board games. She always kept herself busy whether it was with playing the piano, knitting or listening to music.
She was never idle and she had great talents that many of of us would have loved to have had. She was smart, extremely witty and was very, very loving. But most of all she brought all of the wider family together. Everyone loved Rosaleen and why wouldn’t they?
One of my great memories was when at our wedding in Dublin, I gave a special mention to her while she sat just a few yards away from me. She had no idea this was coming and I can still see her smile today. After the first dance who was waiting to grab my hand for the second? She was so happy, so proud and the happiness that still gives me to this day will be hard to beat.
With all my memories of Rosaleen would I really have wanted to change her? Quite frankly, no. As you say Mary is Mary and Rosaleen was Rosaleen. I can understand that my grandparents, when they found out initially, must have asked “why?” and so many parents who are in a similar position today must ask the same question. But I do believe there is a reason for everything and from my limited experience of Down syndrome I do believe she brought so much happiness to her parents, siblings and her wider family and friends.
When I saw Brendan’s article a couple of years ago I thought how long until Brendan will experience what I have seen. It seems my answer has now come.
Every time I see a person or adult with Down syndrome, I see positive energy, love and for me, many happy memories.
David Kelso,
Donabate, Co Dublin
Sunday Independent

Madam – So, Ruth Dudley Edwards feels that Ireland was an “introverted little island” saved from its own cultural mediocrity by an influx of compassionate British colonists.
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Brendan truly blessed
CIE applied rules for procurement
No respect shown
This is little more than Kipling’s “white man’s burden” applied to art.
In fact, it was the British who knocked the stuffing out of Irish cultural confidence in the first place. From the Statutes of Kilkenny to the Penal Laws, British policy in Ireland was as much about explicit cultural domination as it was about economic domination.
Edmund Spenser was at least being candid when he noted that it had “…ever been the use of the conqueror to despise the language of the conquered and to force him by all means to learn his”. Predictably, Edwards gives no recognition of how Ireland’s “introverted” monastic and religious communities played a major role in the preservation of learning in Western Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire and she is silent on the numerous links between Gaelic chieftains and mainland Europe.
Someday, possibly, we may be good enough for Ruth. Meantime, to make sure we get the point, Edwards describes herself as “British-Irish!”
Sean MacCann,
Foxrock, Dublin 18
Sunday Independent
Madam – A number of years ago, Shane Ross was critical of us for procurement weaknesses, which we had identified and have worked to address. But now, his rant against us is for following EU and Irish procurement laws in the award of a contract for the Operation and Maintenance of on-track machines! While such hypocrisy is hardly surprising from a former Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide cheerleader, who has rebranded himself as a lifelong critic of casino banking, it remains breathtaking to see it in action.
The most recent invitation to tender for the on-track machinery operation and maintenance contract was advertised internationally, as is best practice. Two potential suppliers expressed interest and both met the pre-qualifying criteria. One subsequently withdrew after a member of the consortium bidding pulled out.
In negotiating a contract with the remaining bidder – Balfour Beatty – Iarnrod Eireann verified that savings would be generated over the current contract which covers more limited activity, and over the operation and maintenance of the machinery in-house.
On safety, the contract requires that Balfour Beatty must be independently certified by the Railway Safety Commission – they will not operate on our network without this certification. It is simply untrue to say that Balfour Beatty will “take charge of track maintenance and safety”. They will not – they will operate their specific contract, just one element of extensive safety and maintenance activity, under our supervision and to our standards. All safety and track maintenance responsibility remains with Iarnrod Eireann, up to chief executive level.
Mr Ross ignores the substantive matters discussed at the Joint Oireachtas Committee in favour of misrepresentation: savings of €133m in operating costs in four years across the Group; the commitment to continuing cost reduction, required under our new banking facilities, are deemed unworthy of comment.
There was no “patting (ourselves) on the back.” There was explicit acknowledgement that the financial crisis for the Group is not yet over, but that working with stakeholders there is a path to recovery.
But then, when it comes to Iarnrod Eireann and CIE, Shane Ross has proven to be utterly disinterested in facts. He prefers instead to shoehorn any situation and any information to fit the fake indignation he had already decided upon, treating his readers with contempt as he blithely misleads them time and time again.
Barry Kenny, Iarnrod Eireann, Connolly Station, Dublin 1
Sunday Independent

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