Bushed

10 September 2013 Bushes

I go all the way around the park round the park listening to the Navy Lark
Our heroes are in trouble Leslie gets annoyed because everyone says he is a bad navigator, and manages to get Troutbridge into harbor without hitting anything just for once. Priceless.
See Joan pay June, trim bushes, Shona comes, and get rid of speaker.
We watch Dads army v good.
Scrabble today Mary wins and get under 400. perhaps I might win tomorrow.

Obituary:

Lord Hayhoe
Lord Hayhoe, who has died aged 88, was an amiable and sensitive middle-ranking minister under Margaret Thatcher; after his dismissal in 1986 he became one of her most severe critics.

Lord Hayhoe 
6:15PM BST 09 Sep 2013
Barney Hayhoe came under increasing fire from the Right for not defending more vigorously the Conservatives’ stewardship of the NHS. But after being dropped, he campaigned for higher spending to ease a “crisis” in the service and led rebellions against the ending of free dental check-ups and eye tests.
“Lovable but luckless”, in the words of one commentator, Hayhoe was well to the Left of his party, a long-standing member of “Nick’s diner”, the informal group of ultra-moderates chaired by his friend Nicholas Scott.
He was an unflinching supporter of Edward Heath on Europe, trade union legislation and the proposed Maplin airport (the constituency he represented for 22 years was close to Heathrow). Yet Mrs Thatcher appreciated his energy in exposing union abuses of power and made him a junior defence minister. Promotion followed, but Hayhoe himself would not have expected to reach the Cabinet.
Bernard John Hayhoe was born in suburban Surrey on August 8 1925. He left Stanley Technical School, South Norwood, at 16 to become a toolroom apprentice, studied at Borough Polytechnic and in 1944 joined the armaments design department of the Ministry of Supply; he moved on in 1954 to the Inspectorate of Armaments.
Hayhoe was elected the Young Conservatives’ national chairman in 1952. He gave up his civil service job to fight Lewisham South in 1964, but saw Labour’s majority there double. Joining the Conservative Research Department as Heath took up the leadership, he did not contest the 1966 election, then played a central role in producing a manifesto for the next.
On the eve of the 1970 election, Hayhoe was selected to fight Heston & Isleworth under bizarre circumstances. The sitting Tory, Richard Reader Harris, had been on trial for months on fraud charges connected with the collapse of John Bloom’s Rolls Razor enterprise.
The constituency association chose Hayhoe to take his place, but less than three weeks before Harris was cleared of all charges and drove straight to the adoption meeting. After stormy exchanges, Hayhoe defeated Harris by 242 votes to 176; he went on to increase the Conservative majority as Heath came to power.
With Heath introducing his Industrial Relations Bill, Hayhoe, as secretary of the Conservative backbench Employment Committee, rallied support. He described the measure as “sensible, fair, moderate and relevant”, even when its enactment prompted an upsurge in strikes. In 1973 when James Prior, Leader of the House, made Hayhoe his PPS, he was also appointed — as Britain joined the EC — vice-chairman of the Conservative Group for Europe.
Hayhoe just managed to retain his seat in the two general elections of 1974 . Heath appointed him a spokesman on employment . When Mrs Thatcher ousted Heath, she kept Hayhoe at Employment, under Prior. Controversial Labour Bills on employment protection, dock work and the press kept him busy.
Hayhoe’s appointment in 1979 as Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Army was logical for a professional weapons engineer. He took a special interest in the quality of equipment for the troops both at the MoD and later on the Defence Select Committee.
He attracted most attention, however, when he executed a parachute jump for the Airey Neave Memorial Trust. In 1981 he moved to the Civil Service Department as Minister of State .
Hayhoe faced heated opposition to Mrs Thatcher’s efforts to curb, then ban, trade union activity at GCHQ. He announced that lie detector tests for staff at Cheltenham would go ahead, then warned them they would be sacked unless they tore up their union cards. He offered a £1,000 “sweetener” to those who complied, but a few dozen stuck to their guns.
Appointed a privy councillor in June 1985, Hayhoe went on holiday to France that September, leaving with the Treasury the telephone number of the apartment block where he was staying.
When a call came from No 10, the concierge’s response (according to Mrs Thatcher’s emissary) was “rude and unhelpful”. In heroically Gallic spirit, she declared herself only able to take one, emergency, message: “C’est tout.” She refused to let Hayhoe return the call; he eventually heard of his appointment as Health Minister from a neighbour.
His priority as Norman Fowler’s deputy was rolling out the stark public information campaign on the dangers of Aids.
In September 1986 Mrs Thatcher dropped Hayhoe and nine other sub-Cabinet ministers to give her government an edge. He joined the Defence Select Committee and was knighted.
After a year’s silence Hayhoe went on the attack — urging Nigel Lawson to forgo a tax cut in his next Budget and give the money to the NHS, and Mrs Thatcher to listen to the medical institutions’ demand for action. When the poll tax was introduced, he declared himself “sorry and ashamed” that it should have been introduced by the Conservatives.
In 1980 Hayhoe castigated as “batty, ill-prepared, politically inept and half-baked” proposals for means-testing the State pension that the Chancellor had reportedly floated with journalists. A furious Lawson told Hayhoe he should have first ascertained that the reports were accurate; Hayhoe replied that it had taken Lawson a surprisingly long time to deny them.
Before Sir Anthony Meyer challenged Mrs Thatcher for the leadership that autumn, Hayhoe had to deny that he would be a “stalking-horse”. But when Michael Heseltine forced her out a year later, Hayhoe was among his staunchest supporters, declaring: “It is increasingly difficult to envisage how the party could truly unite behind Margaret Thatcher, although I am absolutely convinced that unity will be achieved under a new leader.” That leader would be John Major.
Hayhoe left the Commons in 1992. He was created a life peer, and served on the Select Committee on the Public Service. From 1993 to 1995 he chaired the Guy’s & St Thomas’s NHS Trust.
Barney Hayhoe married, in 1962, Anne Thornton, with whom he had two sons and a daughter.
Lord Hayhoe, born August 8 1925, died September 7 2013

Guardian:

Further to your article (Bangladeshi union chief brings living wage campaign to London Fashion Week, 6 September) we also need to make sure that public bodies source their goods ethically. I was honoured to welcome Amirul Amin, president of the National Garment Workers’ Federation in Bangladesh, to London’s City Hall. We spoke about the key importance of getting British retailers signed up to the IndustriALL accord on improving fire and building safety. In July we passed a motion in the London assembly calling on the mayor to only use suppliers signed up to the accord. When you consider the buying power of Transport for London, the Metropolitan Police and the other bodies making up the Greater London Authority, it is clear that the mayor needs to sign up.
The tragedy at Rana Plaza has shown the world how important it is to be aware of the consequences of what we buy and where we buy it. This devastating event has thrown the spotlight on to British clothing and retail companies to ensure people making their clothes are able to do so in safety and dignity. Amirul Amin’s visit helped to highlight the pressure of consumer and political opinion which can help to influence progress in these areas.
Amin Amirul and the NGWF are leading the struggle against sweatshop conditions and for the rights of garment workers. We must all stand together and make sure that the clothes we buy ourselves, and that are bought using our taxpayers’ money, are not made in squalid conditions that force people to risk their lives. We wouldn’t put up with it, so why should we expect others to?
John Biggs AM
Labour, City and East London

One would not guess from Ian Birrell’s piece (UN paralysis must end, 9 September) that for almost 30 years (since 1984) the leading wielder of the veto in the UN security council has been the United States (43 times, mostly explained by the Middle East), with the UK second (10 times) and Russia third (four times). It is true that if one includes the early years of the cold war (pre-1965) the overall Russian score of vetoes to date is much larger (123). But, there again, over the same period the US, the UK and France between them exceeded the Russian total, with 139 vetoes. Chinese use of the veto is minimal.
During the mid-1990s there were serious informal discussions in New York, based on a good proposal by the Malaysian president of the UN general assembly, about reforming and enlarging the makeup of the security council and about the future status of the veto. These foundered in the end, to my recollection, because the US permanent representative was told by Washington they should not be pursued.
Meanwhile we are stuck with our obligations under the UN charter, which we largely drafted. Birrell’s call to “strengthen UN authority through reform of the security council” will not be achieved by ignoring these in the present crisis.
John Weston
UK permanent representative to the UN, 1995-98
• Niall Ferguson (The left’s blind spot, 7 September) decries the left’s reluctance to acknowledge that US military power can be a force for good, and warns that “inaction is a policy that also has consequences measurable in terms of human life”. Ferguson should acknowledge that many of the west’s and local populations’ problems in the Middle East and further east are due to the financial and military support given to Islamic fundamentalists in Pakistan and Afghanistan by US and UK conservative governments in the 1980s. Maybe that human life consequence is the right’s blind spot?
Professor Mark Blagrove
Swansea

“Osborne will say that the best way of safeguarding living standards is growth” (Miliband vows to get tough on zero-hours jobs, 9 September, 2013). However, the details of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research forecast (UK economy is expanding at the same rate as when coalition came to power, 7 September) show that, despite real GDP being 6% higher, real personal disposable income will be about 1% lower in 2015 than in 2010. The difference is partly explained by the UK’s population growth, but the key point is that GDP is not the same as household income – which is what matters for living standards. Headlines should reflect what is happening to household real incomes, rather than the usually quoted GDP figures.
Professor Tony Atkinson
Oxford
• On 9 September you published a number of pieces discussing new economic data indicating the possibility of recovery, and that this would only be a true recovery once wages started to rise.
My experience, through undertaking a great deal of market research throughout the recession, shows that most households are looking for an economic recovery to provide greater job security and certainty of income. This allows people to contemplate new expenditure, as they feel confident that there will be the money to pay for it. So, while extra money would obviously be good, this isn’t the first priority.
Meanwhile, businesses are reluctant to engage in wage rises as high employment costs irrevocably increase a business’s cost base to the detriment of corporate manoeuvrability – when times become tough then the only option becomes layoffs or closure. Instead, bonuses and other rewards are in place to share in the success of the employer, which can be varied in line with performance.
Given this. I find your underlying editorial assumption that wages must rise to demonstrate economic recovery shockingly naive, if not a bit old-fashioned. Germany has demonstrated that economic strength and sustainability come, in part, from wage restraint: wages there have fallen in real terms every year since reunification.
Today’s reality is that if you want to earn more you must seek new skills or job progression, not expect more money for doing the same.
Simon Rowland
London
• Karel Williams (Comment, 9 September) is right: our unbalanced economy means that London’s continued good fortune does not represent a national recovery. There are persistent regional inequalities. As he says, labels are important. It’s a shame therefore that he doesn’t explicitly refer to other ways in which our economy could be perceived as “unbalanced”, such as the size of financial services in relation to other sectors. Not only are these other meanings important in their own right for our understanding of the economy, we also need to be vigilant to political discourse on our “unbalanced economy” and proposals to “rebalance” it, such as HS2 (a project not referred to by Williams).
If HS2 really can help “rebalance” our economy (Letters, 9 September), it’s essential that the public understands exactly how our current economy is “unbalanced”. Politicians should not hide behind ambiguity.
Dr Alex May
Manchester
• Polly Toynbee, as always, hits the nail on the head, when she writes: “If competition over living standards for low and middle earners becomes the next battleground, it’s cause for celebration” (Whose recovery is this?, Comment, 7 September). The Labour party conference should be a real opportunity to promote policy measures that will reduce income inequality and to demonstrate the political commitment to implement such policy measures. The living wage needs to be an expectation, zero-hours contracts should be outlawed (unless it is a personal choice). What is needed is to stop the race to the bottom for wages and living standards of those already poor, and the race to the top for those living in the ‘wealth bubble’. Maybe Labour’s rallying cry should be: “No ifs, no buts, we are committed to paying the living wage, and that’s a fact!”
Christina Kadir
Chair, Sussex Equality Group

Jeremy Hunt’s first public statement as secretary of state for health was to say the abortion limit should be reduced to 12 weeks – a hardline anti-abortion stance. His decision to question the Crown Prosecution Service’s decision not to prosecute the two doctors caught by the Daily Telegraph sting in February 2012 is perverse (Report, 5 September). The CPS has to make a decision about the chance of winning a prosecution, which on the basis of the doctor’s recorded statements seems unlikely. It is not in the public interest to refer doctors for a criminal trial when they are merely trying to help women and both have been banned from performing abortions by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service after referral from the GMC. What Mr Hunt should be doing is reviewing the relevance of an 1861 statute which puts doctors at risk or criminal prosecution in the 21st century. I hope the attorney general supports the CPS – and the women and doctors in this country.
Wendy Savage
Doctors for a Woman’s Choice on Abortion

Like most people in broadcasting, I am utterly shocked and ashamed at the level of BBC payoffs (Former BBC chairman contradicts Thompson in £1m payout row, 6 September). They were made not from profits but from the television licence fees of individual households. It took 6,500 licence fees (a small town) to cover just one of these severance payments. What is particularly galling is that I have worked with many of the people involved, some of whom are my friends. They have served the BBC with distinction over many years. But I hope they understand that the outrage comes not just from the BBC’s enemies but from its friends.
The offence caused to production teams struggling to work within ever-shrinking programme budgets is bad enough. But far worse is the risk of long-term damage to the BBC’s role as a public service broadcaster and the justification for the licence fee. However difficult their departure may have been, it’s not too late, even now, for the beneficiaries of this largesse to return (as Roly Keating has done) money in excess of contractual entitlement, which was already more than generous. This is the quickest and most honourable way to lance this festering boil and restore the BBC’s reputation.
John Bridcut
Crux Productions, Liss, Hampshire
• Whatever the outcome of the public accounts committee, there is already one potential benefit to the corporation. That is, the widely approved proposal to abolish the BBC Trust. The trust was conceived in a kneejerk reaction to events of almost 10 years ago to replace the board of governors. It has never succeeded in fulfilling its role as the regulator of BBC management and, simultaneously, acting as the representative of the audience. Perhaps no mechanism could.
It’s been suggested that the regulatory function be assumed by Ofcom. This is not a good idea. The BBC’s unique position requires regulation by other means. The most valuable suggestion that I’ve heard is for the BBC to have a board of directors, executive and non-executive, to which the board of management, shorn of non-executives, reports. Audience views can be got, directly, by various means. So, no need for the trust’s equally dysfunctional “audience councils”.
John McAleer
JPM Consultancy, Glasgow
• No matter how unedifying the disagreement between the BBC and the BBC Trust, proposals to put the BBC in the hands of Ofcom would sound the death knell for public service broadcasting. Two former managing directors of BBC Television put the reasons succinctly. Huw Wheldon said of public service broadcasting that it exists ”to make good programmes popular, and popular programmes good”; and Bill Cotton in reference to US broadcasting said, “the difference between our system and yours is that you make programmes to make money, and we get money to make programmes”.
Neither of the above aphorisms would conceivably fit within Ofcom’s regulatory remit as the competition authority for the UK communications industries. If the day ever dawns when ever a government is brave enough, or foolish enough, to do away with the licence fee, the role of the BBC Trust could conceivably be subsumed into Ofcom. But that is a day whose time is not yet come and certainly will not during the tenure of the present coalition.
Hugh Sheppard
Odiham, Hampshire

Philip Larkin, in his poem Here, described the citizens of Hull as “A cut-price crowd, urban yet simple, dwelling / Where only salesmen and relations come”. Cometh the hour, cometh the salesman of New Labour (Can Prince of Darkness spread sweetness and light?, 9 September).
Ivor Morgan
Lincoln
• In her review of The Invisible Woman (Review, 6 September), Catherine Shoard seems to believe that the director, Ralph Fiennes, wants to make a purely metaphorical point by having Dickens build a wall between himself and his wife in the bedroom. Dickens actually did this, to create a separate bedroom, and this was the first sign to his wife that he wished to separate from her. Perhaps the modern equivalent to texting your partner that you are breaking up.
Dr CL Corton
Cambridge
• Your correspondent (Letters, 9 September) is wrong to criticise Marin Alsop for saying: “You cannot underestimate the power of music.” There is a use of the word “can” in the negative that has the same meaning as “should not”, as in “You cannot eat too much chocolate.” It gives rise to a nice ambiguity, as in “You cannot make too many sandwiches (because they will go to waste)”/”You cannot make too many sandwiches (because they will all get eaten however many there are)”. All I can say is that you cannot underestimate the subtlety of the English language, except at your own risk.
Harold Somers
Professor (emeritus) of language engineering, University of Manchester
• Who are these faceless anglers in Patrick Barkham’s article (Farewell Ratty, 6 September) who “accuse the resurgent otter population for the water vole’s decline”? I work for an angling organisation that recognises the value of the otter’s intolerance towards the non-native mink and the subsequent benefit to Ratty’s cause.
Stuart McTeare
Salisbury, Wiltshire
• If the weather forecasters get it right (Letters, 9 September), they should Crow about it.
Cyril Duff
London

Independent:

Times:

The music, spectacle and fans at this year’s Proms have brought in a large and varied postbag, with views from right across the country
Sir, I missed some of the traditional content of the Last Night of the Proms but I thought that Nigel Kennedy, in particular, was superb. For young and old alike to see that playing the violin can be fun and also provide opportunity for lots of mischief must be inspirational to all.
E. Paul Tuddenham
Felixstowe, Suffolk

Sir, How pleasing to see the large TV screens behind the orchestra mounted near the organ. I wonder if the BBC could make them permanent for most Proms. Few in the hall can see the soloists’ hands or fingers and the individual playing in the orchestra goes for nothing.
The concert at which the blind pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii memorably played Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concert was really witnessed by only about a third of the audience. Large screens would have increased the enjoyment hugely.
Alasdair Steven
London W6

Sir, As the camera panned around the Albert Hall, and then visited Glasgow, Hyde Park and Belfast, where simultaneous events and viewings were being broadcast, few coloured faces were to be seen. Is this evidence that our multiculture system is not working, that knowledge of our nation’s history and feelings of national identity are not shared across our population?
Mac Rutherford
Kedington, Suffolk
Sir, Judging by the Last Night of the Proms, many people do not know how to fly the Union flag. Perhaps you could devote a page to explaining how it should be flown.
Christopher Lyster
London W14

Sir, I enjoyed watching the Last Night of the Proms. I can confirm that of all the world’s flags being waved by the audiences in the various venues throughout the UK there was not a single EU Ring of Stars to be seen.
This must surely be a gentle hint to our politicians that the EU is not as popular as they would have us believe.
James Carver
Nayland, Suffolk

Sir, I saw no shots of the crowd in Glasgow during the playing of Rule Britannia and Jerusalem at the Last Night of the Proms. Had the crowd gone home or was the sight of Union flag-waving Scots thought to be too provocative for the SNP?
Jane Calvert-Lee
London WC1

John Birt introduced the internal market and market forces at the BBC during his tenure as DG, and the latest furore is the natural conclusion
Sir, The furore over “goodbye payments” to managers at the BBC is the natural conclusion of the internal market and market forces that John Birt introduced in his tenure as DG in the early 1990s.
He set about deconstructing an organisation that in essence was manned and managed by individuals who believed in the ethos of public service broadcasting, to inform, educate and entertain, rather than chasing high ratings and big salaries.
Such individuals were replaced by others who were motivated more by money and ratings. As one staff director said to me at the time, “We have stopped making programmes and now make a product.” Filthy lucre was in the ascendant and its lure was contagious. Witness these same individuals now rewarding themselves with the top-heavy redundancy packages which you so rightly condemn.
Would the likes of Alasdair Milne, Sir Bill Cotton or Sir Huw Wheldon be party to such dealings? I think not.
Lionel Bailey
(retired BBC staff)
Shanklin, Isle of Wight

Sir, How encouraging to hear the observations from Libby Purves (Opinion, Sept 9).
The constant obfuscation and justification of less-than-acceptable behaviour from the BBC senior management is surely only to be expected.
I often recall listening to the justification of questionable actions from various managers over the years on Feedback and similar when criticism of a particular programme or issue was never considered viable or acceptable, self-justification being the order of the day; take the recent case of Barack Obama’s speech in Belfast being interrupted for a report about the Duke of Edinburgh leaving hospital and how the producer justified such a decision.
Having followed and admired Chris Patten’s career over the years and the seeming breath of fresh air with Tony Hall being appointed, I was hoping for a new realistic attitude.
Neil Woodley
Dewsbury, W Yorks

2013

If we decide to go to war or to bomb other countries we need to make our purpose clear to Parliament, the British public and the wider world
Sir, Since 1918, with the possible exception of Korea, war has always involved civilians — including innocent women and children. It is because we appear to have forgotten this that perhaps we have also forgotten the reasons for which the UK might send its soldiers to die or to bomb foreign countries, however surgically. There is only ever one reason: the defence of the UK’s interests or in some cases those of our allies.
It is not our role to interfere in civil war in other countries unless there is a key UK interest, no matter how bad the images that cross our TV screens.
War is a cruel, evil business, and I wonder how the British public would have felt if there had been a BBC camera crew in Hamburg, Dresden, Nagasaki or Hiroshima in 1944-45. As an innocent child, is it better to be burnt alive or gassed? That is not an attempt to vilify Churchill or Bomber Command. We deemed those actions necessary at the time to win the war.
In 1939 we went to war because Hitler invaded the Sudetenland, Austria and Poland. If he hadn’t invaded any of them but it had been widely known that he was “merely” gassing millions of Jews, would we have gone to war? I doubt it, simply because the political leaders of the day had known the horrors of war at first hand. Our aim should be to lessen those horrors — never, however unwittingly, to make them worse.
If we decide to go to war or to bomb other countries we need to make our purpose clear to Parliament, the British public and the wider world, and they also need to understand what we intend to do after we taken action.
Mark Tennant
Elgin, Moray

Sir, Your report that Dartmoor prison is to be closed (Sept 5) showed a picture and reference to Frank Mitchell, the “Mad Axeman” of the Kray era, but the picture was surely of “Mad” Frankie Fraser.
He was in my cab once!
Derek Brickley
Eastbourne

Telegraph:
SIR – David Blair paints an incomplete picture of Britain’s profile overseas (telegraph.co.uk, September 6). Our international influence has far more to it than the Government’s spending on defence, aid, and diplomacy alone.
Britain’s “soft power” – the power of attraction rather than coercion – comes from our people, institutions and icons, as well as our Government. Our language, our world-class education system, and our strength in arts, sports, music and drama all attract people to visit, study and live in Britain. They build trust, friendship and relationships, including trading relationships. The British Council’s research has shown that people who have a cultural interaction with Britain, especially through education, are far more likely to do business with it.
The Government already supports businesses and creative entrepreneurs in seeking out opportunities overseas. But its support for museums, universities, theatres, galleries, sporting institutions, the BBC and creative industries is vital for our global standing, as is teaching the next generation to be better at foreign languages. David Blair may classify this as “domestic” spending, but it shapes much British potential in the world.
A survey from the Institute for Government recently placed Britain at the top of the global table for “soft power”. Just last week Ipsos Mori placed London as the number two global city (number one in Europe). In tough times we need to look out as a nation, not in. We need to see the big picture, not feel small.
John Worne
The British Council
London SW1
SIR – David Cameron would have cut less of “a forlorn figure” at the G20 meeting (Comment, September 7) if he had added to “our defeat of slavery and fascism” our unique creation of the Commonwealth.
We were the only Empire that created a Commonwealth of 54 independent nations sharing much of our Christianity, democracy, justice and language.
As for the “American politician who said that we have lost an Empire but had yet to find a role”, this was no accidental loss. It was deliberate and we continue to have an outward and mutually beneficial role working with our Commonwealth friends.
Alan Forward
Sherborne, Dorset
SIR – In responding to the slur on Britain’s place in the world, David Cameron could have added that we contribute over 5 per cent of the budget of the United Nations – more than double Russia’s contribution.
Dr John Doherty
Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire
SIR – This small island seems awfully attractive to wealthy Russians shopping for prime property, not to mention the odd football team.
Sally Lawton
Kirtlington, Oxfordshire
Paying for care
SIR – I entirely agree with Reginald Dixon (Letters, September 5) that there is a growing belief among middle-aged “children” that it is their right to inherit their parents’ house. This perceived right is one of the causes of bed-blocking in hospitals. While the elderly are in hospital, no longer needing treatment but needing care, they are not costing their family anything. So why move them into an expensive home?
Care-home costs should be met by selling the no-longer-needed house. An empty house is not a home; it is a wasting asset and the money raised from the sale should be used for the benefit of the owner, not mothballed for greedy children.
Sue Webb
Winchester, Hampshire
SIR – The inevitable conclusion to draw from Reginald Dixon’s comments is that those who save and invest (whether in their homes or elsewhere) during their working lives do not merit financial assistance in old age, whereas those who squander all they earn (or receive from state benefits) prior to retirement will be supported by the state. This attitude is perverse; the more one attempts to be prudent and make provision for financial security in later life, the more one is penalised. If we all adopted this approach, the social security system would be unable to cope.
Steve Proud
Loughor, Glamorgan
SIR – It is unreasonable for a diminishing workforce to be asked to pay the care fees of a rapidly increasing number of elderly folk, many of whom will live into their late nineties or beyond.
My mother recently died at the age of 100. When she needed help and support for daily living, we took it for granted that her house would be sold. She paid the full cost of her care until she needed nursing care, when she got a grant from the local authority. When she died there was only the statutory remainder for me to inherit.
We must all make provision for our own old age.
Linda Hopgood
Chandlers Ford, Hampshire
Thou or you?
SIR – Allison Pearson’s ideas about how Shakespeare would write Downton Abbey (Features, September 5) were ingenious and amusing, but included a common misunderstanding: she has Carson address Lord Grantham as “thou”.
Thou in Shakespeare is a bit like tu in modern French. Romeo and Juliet, for instance, address one another as you at first. We think of thou as a way to address God because that is the form in the 1552 Book of Common Prayer. However, the decision to address God as a father, rather than as a Lord, was not taken lightly. It was a matter of intense controversy at the time.
Philip Roe
St. Albans, Hertfordshire
The war against cliché
SIR – Rob Hutton (Comment, September 6) can add shift to his collection of lazy clichés. It seems that in all reporting nothing these days is ever moved or changed, merely shifted.
Revd Christopher Roberts
Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire
SIR – What are all Catholics? Devout. What are all Protestants? Staunch. What are all atheists? Either militant or aggressive. What does everyone do on a nude beach? They either frolic or cavort. How do WI members on a calendar photo shoot place their buns and fruit? Strategically.
John Stretch
Knutsford, Cheshire
HS2 check-in time
SIR – Has it not occurred to supporters of HS2 (leading article, September 3) that the lengthy minimum check-in period will wipe out much of the saving in journey times?
Passengers can board conventional inter-city High Speed Train services within minutes, or even seconds, of departure. By contrast, Eurostar’s HS1 service from St Pancras to Europe requires “standard travellers” to check in “at least 30 minutes” before departure, not only because there are so many more people to board (766 passengers, compared with 450-500 on conventional trains), but also because of the baggage scanning and personal security checks.
We are told that HS2 from London to Birmingham will take 49 minutes instead of the current 84. But if a 30-minute minimum check-in time is applied, as with HS1, that will increase the journey time to 79 minutes, a saving of only five minutes. Furthermore, as HS2 trains will be much longer than conventional trains, passengers at the rear will face a longer walk at their destination, reducing the overall saving to only three or four minutes. That seems to me like £70 billion badly spent.
Michael Imeson
Broadway, Worcestershire
Exam changes
SIR – In the light of the possible postponement of revised GCSEs and
A-levels, might I suggest that the changes to the two sets of examinations be linked and that changes to A-levels be introduced two years after the corresponding changes to GCSEs?
That way, children will see a seamless change, rather than one cohort taking the new A-level after the old GCSE. The examination boards will then be able to define A-level syllabuses that follow naturally from the revised GCSE.
Professor Michael Collins
University College, Oxford
Just not cricket
SIR – As a child I lived in Plaistow in the East End of London (“Neighbours object to sound of the Med”, report, September 7).
A common summertime evening sound was the very loud chirruping of many crickets in the street. We kids stealthily hunted them in the dark but always without success. Even the nightly visits of the Luftwaffe failed to diminish their ardour.
David Hall
Banstead, Surrey
Professional discipline for abortion doctors
SIR – It appears that the decision not to prosecute the doctors allegedly prepared to carry out unlawful abortions is based largely on the fact that they may be disciplined by their professional body. Does this mean that solicitors who misappropriate their clients’ funds can expect to escape prosecution on the basis that they, too, may face professional disciplinary proceedings?
Martin Collier
St Ives, Huntingdonshire
SIR – Faced with a sensitive cultural issue, failure to prosecute demonstrates unacceptable weakness by the Crown Prosecution Service.
Even when adequate evidence is available, have we lost the will to pursue crimes against humanity, even in our own country?
Nigel Dyson
Kings Somborne, Hampshire
SIR – I worked for 20 years as a consultant NHS gynaecologist and never in that time did I encounter a woman specifically requesting abortion because of the baby’s sex (except sex-linked genetic conditions).
Women do not have to be specific about their reasons for wanting an abortion. Most women simply say they “could not cope”. The wording of the 1967 Abortion Act can be interpreted very flexibly, especially with regard to a woman’s mental health. This has allowed abortion to evolve into a de facto “on demand” service. The two doctors caught in this sting realised this.
They did not seek specific reasons for termination, they only wanted to establish whether the woman really wanted the termination – whether to continue with the pregnancy might put her mental health at risk. They have been made scapegoats and have been punished enough.
Angela Ferguson
Manchester

Irish Times:
Sir – Eamon Delaney (September 9th) attacks Eamon Ryan and the Green Party for their suggestions on Seanad reform (Opinion, September 5th), calling them “woolly and dangerous”.  Mr Ryan and his party can speak for themselves.  But for Mr Delaney and his “One House” group to attack reform proposals because they will not preserve the “integrity” of our legislature, is truly risible.
  The Government and the organisation for which Mr Delaney speaks, have themselves set out to smash the integrity of our legislature, based on nothing more than an urgent need by Enda Kenny in 2009 to keep his job as party leader and (according to reports at the weekend) a throwaway suggestion from a former Goldman Sachs banker.  Hardly a good basis on which to trust them with the most fundamental rearranging of our constitutional safeguards since 1937. – Yours, etc,
HUGH TREACY,
Democracy Matters,
Creagh, Gorey,
Co Wexford.
A chara, – I notice that, on some of the Fine Gael referendum posters, we are urged to vote Yes so that there will be “fewer politicians”. The original idea of the Seanad as I understand it was that there would be few, if any, politicians in the Seanad. It was to be composed of people with no particular political axe to grind but representatives of the arts, education, sciences, etc, who would cast a cold eye on proposed legislation free of the constraints of political party obligations.
What the Seanad needs is reformation not abolition so that policies cease to be political footballs and the electorate have access to wider intellectual considerations and interpretations on important issues. – Is mise,
MAIRIN de BURCA,
Upper Fairview Avenue,
Dublin 3.
Sir, – William Butler Yeats, probably Ireland’s most distinguished Senator ever, would have felt prophetically horrified by the argument that the Senate should be abolished to save €20 million per annum. Allowing for inflation, that line of accounting is fully in keeping with Yeats’s verse in September 1913:
“What need you, being come to sense, But fumble in a greasy till And add the ha’pence to the pence And prayer to shivering prayer, until You have dried the marrow from the bone; For men were born to pray and save?, Romantic Ireland is dead and gone, It’s with O’Leary in the grave.” – Yours, etc,
MAURICE BIGGAR,
Fairwood,
Tinahely,
Co Wicklow.
Sir, – Seamus McKenna (September 6th) describes the Senate as neither republican nor democratic, fossilised, both assuredly and happily redundant, having absolutely no power and decidedly unrepresentative. The idea of it having any positive value for the State or its people he therefore finds laughable. Then he goes on to eulogise “the impressive commentators of our relatively unfettered press”, which he deems “valuable as an organ of the State”.
Ha! Ha ha! Ha ha ha ha! Ah ha ha . . .! – Yours, etc,
FRANK FARRELL,
Lakelands Close,
Stillorgan, Co Dublin.
Sir, – Now, when thousands of our citizens will soon be told they must get rid of the second car, get a smaller house and, maybe, even cut down their food intake from three to two meals a day, we certainly do not require a second houseful of politicians. The Seanad retainers are offering the classic Irish solution to an Irish problem. If the first house isn’t working, we need a second one, they say. Whereas we all know, the proper answer is to fix the first one.
They talk of the need to have a bicameral political set-up. But what they are really looking for is a tricameral government. Conveniently, they forget that we already elect MEPs to a third chamber in Europe where a lot of the governance now occurs and will, increasingly, in the future.
Throughout the country, with despair, we see the closing down of rows of shops. This is no time for retaining talking shops. – Yours, etc,
LIAM MURRAY,
Kelston,
Foxrock,
Dublin 18.

Sir, – Following recent articles in many newspapers and a fine Editorial in The Irish Times (September 6th), concussion has finally come into the public arena. It has been the hottest topic in sports medicine in America for 10 years, yet on this side of the Atlantic its major significance in recreational and competitive sports has received faint recognition, with some exceptions.
It behoves all sporting bodies in this country to put in place procedures in accordance with the Consensus statement on concussion in sport, published in April 2013, following the fourth international meeting on concussion in sports, Zurich November 2012. In simple terms, an athlete with a suspected concussion should not be assessed for a minimum of 15 minutes. A standard protocol is in place (SCAT 3) to guide this assessment which will take 10-15 minutes. Only then can a diagnosis be made as to whether or not the athlete is concussed. Sporting bodies must also allow adequate medical/paramedical staff to be along the sideline to detect these possible concussions. In the light of the tragic death of 14-year-old Benjamin Robinson, perhaps it is time for our legislators to introduce legislation in line with the Zach Lysted Law, introduced in the state of Washington in 2009, to protect young athletes from the life-threatening or potentially life-threatening consequences of returning too soon after a concussion. To-date similar legislation has been passed by the majority of US states. Let Ireland lead from the front on this most critical topic in sports medicine. – Yours, etc,
Dr ADRIAN Mc GOLDRICK,
Senior Medical Officer,
The Turf Club,
The Curragh, Co Kildare.
A chara, – The Minister for Education’s assertion that the Irish education system is far from perfect is probably not too far off the mark. With his own background in private education, he knows the investment required of a system which can best cultivate the reasoning and learning skills required by this State and economy (Home News, September 6th).
A report released by the OECD in June 2013 highlights the dramatic decline in government spending on education in Ireland due to the continued policy of austerity. 9.4 per cent of government spending in Ireland in 2011 was allocated to education compared to 13.7 per cent in 2000.
Mr Quinn should be the first to recognise that a high-quality education system requires substantial investment, particularly in human capital. He can start by addressing the “staffing issue” which has seen this country’s classrooms remain the second most crowded in the EU at 24 pupils per class compared to an EU average of 20 per class. More than one quarter of primary school children in Co Meath are taught in classes of 30 or more pupils.
The Minister will get an opportunity to address this problem in next month’s budget. – Is mise,
COLIN QUIGLEY,
Steeple Manor,

   
A chara, – Further to Rodney Devitt’s “pro-bono” letter (September 2nd), regarding the Sandymount promenade, popular with walkers and cyclists, there seems adequate room for his suggested white line solution. The real problem, however, arises on narrow shared cycle/walkways, as in other parts of south Dublin and elsewhere. Most cyclists are considerate regarding walkers and some cyclists even have bells on their bikes! For safety, however, I would suggest that local authorities afford a priority for walkers – a system I’ve seen working satisfactorily abroad. – Is mise,
SEÁN O’CUINN,
Gleann-na Smol,
An Charaig Dhubh,

Sir, – The new Dublin city centre traffic management proposal drawn up by the National Transport Authority is laudable (Home News, September 9th). City commuters would agree that an amelioration of the current shambolic state of affairs is long overdue. In addition to the measures detailed in the plan, can we also reduce the inordinate amount of traffic-lights in the city – particularly, the red ones? – Yours, etc,
FRANK BYRNE,

Sir, – For the second consecutive week, you have run articles that have in essence mounted a scurrilous attack on the Protestant/loyalist/unionist communities of Northern Ireland (“Loyalists feel sorry for themselves but narrative of oppression doesn’t hold up”, Fionola Meredith, Opinion, August 30th) and “No offence to George Best, but loyalists need another hero” (Donald Clarke, Opinion, September 7th).
There seems to be a perception at large that the rioting of recent weeks – by a minority from within these communities – justifies open season on anyone with the temerity to consider themselves British citizens on the island of Ireland.
The validity of cultural expression is an issue that is emerging as central to the protection and promotion of an enduring peace in “. . . that curious statelet”, as Mr Clarke would have it.
Those aspects of triumphalism inherent within the core of Northern Protestant community affiliation undoubtedly stymie a shared, universally “acceptable” notion of identity.
However, it requires only a small leap of lazy stereotyping to press forward the dangerous premise that there did not exist – neither could there ever exist – any legitimate or worthwhile expression of a valid or meaningful cultural contribution emerging from the Northern Protestant, Ulster unionist or loyalist tradition.
This spurious logic seems to advance the notion that – unlike, say, the great Protestant poets, playwrights and novelists who embellish the literary history of the Republic – no repressive, sectarian or reactionary state could ever produce art or cultural expression of worthwhile or lasting merit. (This analysis seems to comfortably sidestep the realities of a De-Valerian repressive, sectarian and reactionary Republic).
It remains undeniable that certain expressions of Protestant cultural identity rarely escape the constraints and representations of triumphalism.
However, recognising that past Stormont supremacy had a material basis built from the sectarian abuses of a Catholic minority also requires a postscript that many journalists, cultural commentators and artists seem reluctant to allow: that same thwarted cultural development and expression within the Northern Protestant community that renders them the butt of many an easy joke, can also be explained in the collapse of heavy industry, in the breakdown of working class neighbourhoods, in the reaction to a terror campaign waged against them (frequently by their own organisations) and in draconian constitutional, political and legal reforms implemented in Northern Ireland over the past 30 years.
Trying to articulate this experience nationally or internationally has not been an uncomplicated or well received one. The now infamous “flags” protests, form another example perhaps of a misguided and misrepresented attempt to voice legitimate concerns regarding the erosion of political and cultural identity.
Trite opinion pieces such as Donald Clarke’s do little to contribute to this most important of issues.– Yours, etc,
Dr PAUL BURGESS,
Senior Lecturer,

   
Sir, – About six years ago, the running of Dún Laoghaire parking control was handed over to a private company. The town had limited parking. All the streets in the town area were turned into pay and display areas to control all-day parking. Soon it changed from parking control to a revenue-gathering exercise. The private parking company had eight to 10 wardens working the town area each day. Each had a minimum target of 16 tickets per day. At the start there was a “grace period” of 20 minutes to enable people to buy a ticket and at the end of time to get back to the car. The council changed the grace period to 15 minutes. Tickets were being issued left, right and centre and Dún Laoghaire earned the terrible name as the most likely place in Ireland to get a parking fine.
In the past 20-plus years I have been doing business in this town the council has not provided any car parking spaces. John Waters is a regular shopper in Dún Laoghaire and has been well aware that businesses in the town are losing out to Dundrum where parking is €2 for three hours, Carrickmines where there is no parking charge, Cornelscourt, where there is also no charge and other smaller shopping centres within a radius of a couple of miles. John Waters has been very sympathetic to business owners who have lost their businesses and the ones who are struggling to survive. As he said “his favourite shops are disappearing week on week”. Two weeks ago Marks & Spencer closed its doors in the town and 25 people lost their jobs. The town has more than 70 empty premises (offices and shops) in its central area – not counting the many closed units in the old shopping centre. Our retail offer is diminishing and we have a town full of hairdressing establishments, beauty shops and charity shops.
Most councils around the country are happy to have rates revenue. Some towns have free parking for two hours on the streets to try to encourage commerce. Not so Dun Laoghaire, because staff who work at the council have free parking – and never have to look for a space. Between spaces at the Town Hall car park, Harbour Square, Dún Laoghaire Harbour and Bloomfield Shopping Centre, they have more spaces than are available on the streets for the entire town. I see John Waters’s stand as pointing out the injustice of what has happened to a town. I see it as taking a stand on behalf of the community. – Yours, etc,
ANN JOYCE,

   
A chara, – Dr John Doherty argues that the fastest way to financial viability would be to leave the euro, devalue and hence stop the wave of emigration and high employment (September 7th). 
Surely an exit from the euro would jeopardise the investment from all the multinationals that are still investing here despite our economic woes? Lower corporate tax isn’t the only advantage we have over Wales, Scotland and other regions.  In addition, while there may be more Irish living in Australia than Australians living in Ireland, there are still far more Polish living in Ireland than Irish living in Poland. The Celtic tiger is over, but perhaps relatively speaking things are not so bad. – Is mise,
ALEX STAVELEY,

Sir, – A simple way of improving hand hygiene in hospitals and public places is to install foot pedals (commonly seen on the Continent) so that the hands do not touch any taps. An added advantage, in the face of forthcoming water charges, is that less water is used. – Yours,etc,
M HAYES,
Sydney Parade Avenue,
A chara, – Time to saddle up the horse and trap and head for the land of the Von Trapps to see if Trapattoni can get us out of the trap we’re in. Otherwise the trapdoor awaits. – Is mise,
LOMAN O LOINGSIGH,
Kiltipper Road,

Irish Independent:
* Does anyone know, or has any politician asked, what exactly were the borrowing requirements set out by the banks during the so-called Celtic Tiger? What were the ratio guidelines set down by the banks themselves?
Also in this section
We must create change
Let’s rise from our knees
Legacy of Lockout lost in hypocrisy
Was it two-and-a-half times the first wage and one-and-a-half times the second wage of couples borrowing, and so on?
Once this important information is obtained, each case should be examined to ascertain if the banks breached their own guidelines on lending.
Did they inform the borrowers in writing of these guidelines at the time mortgages were applied for? If they did not, then a case may be made that these mortgages were mis-sold.
Years ago, one had to be saving with the lender and the lender’s criteria was in writing so that the borrower was in no doubt as to the mortgage he/she qualified for.
Did the banks do a comprehensive financial audit of their borrowers’ ability to repay the mortgage they were lending them? If not, the banks are at fault.
If borrowers submitted a full outline of their financial position and it was blatantly insufficient to repay the loan the bank was going to give them, then the bank is at fault for selling that mortgage.
Has anyone in authority bothered to ask these important questions?
We constantly hear that debt forgiveness is not a bank policy, as stated by the banks at the Oireachtas committee last week.
But is it, or was it, bank policy to sell mortgages to borrowers who were obviously not in a financial position to meet their repayments?
Joe Dixon
Ratoath, Co Meath
BUNGA BUNGA
* The FAI should drop Trapattoni and make a bid for Berlusconi. He knows more about scoring and has an impressive record as a defence coach.
Niall Ginty
Co Dublin
SYRIA PARADOX
* Three men are walking in a park, we’ll call them Obama, Cameron, and Hollande. They see two little boys fighting, we’ll call them Basha and Rebel. Basha is wearing a T-shirt with a cat on it, Rebel one with a dog. Obama says to the other two, “I don’t like cats!” and the others agree.
They walk over to where the boys are fighting and kick the hell out of Basha, then turn around and walk away again, very pleased with themselves: “That’s how you bring freedom and democracy to them,” they say.
Can someone explain to me which is the best way to die – shot in a primary school in the US Midwest, having poison injected into you with dozens of people gawking, having a drone drop a bomb on you, being burnt by napalm, having an atomic bomb dropped on your city and slowly dying of radiation poisoning, or being bombed with chemical weapons?
What makes American killers better than Syrian killers? I’m pretty sure there is no distinction noted anywhere in the Bible.
I, for one, don’t believe that killing a whole lot of people to stop them killing a whole lot of people can ever be right.
Kevin Gevers
Address with editor
ABOLISH THE OTHER HOUSE
* The Government’s grand gesture towards political “reform” seems to involve putting the cart before the horse. Before the Irish people are asked to vote on a proposal which, if passed, will greatly increase the power of the Dail, surely we should have a referendum on the abolition of the lower house first?
Richard Scriven
Ballinlough, Co Cork
VOTE NO FOR REAL REFORM
* The failures of our political system were a major contributor to the Irish banking crisis, necessitating the €64bn bailout. That is €13,457 for every man, woman and child in the country. The Government is now at pains to emphasis the €20m of cost savings, or €4.21 per annum for every man woman and child, through closing the Seanad. I believe the people can bear the additional cost until we get proper political reform.
We have a political system with too few politicians focused on national issues; we have a system of local politics, our TDs are in effect social workers, forced due to multi-seat constituencies to ignore national issues like developing the economy and making laws and regulations.
Even ministers and Taoisigh have to commit much of their time to local issues for fear of losing the next election. We want our Taoisigh, ministers and TDs to focus on national issues.
The Government should make a real effort to correct the system that failed us. I do not believe the Seanad is a flawless institution, but I urge voters to force the Government into real reform by voting No in the forthcoming referendum.
John Teahan
London and Sneem, Co Kerry
SHOW GERMS THE DOOR
* As a doctor, I feel that the HIQA team is only tackling half the problem when it comes to hospital hygiene. I agree it is very important to get the staff to wash their hands between patients. But the problem starts earlier – at the front door and not necessarily in the wards.
Anyone can enter any hospital in Ireland and proceed to any part without washing their hands.
Yes, there are signs requesting you to kindly wash your hands but if the HIQA had, like me, sat in reception and watched 33 people entering a hospital front door – I was an in-patient – they would have observed only three wash their hands.
None of the 20 or so staff washed their hands, and then they proceeded on their merry way, touching everything from banisters, tables, lift switches and door handles.
If we were serious about protecting our most vulnerable and sick in hospital, washing hands would be mandatory for everybody, starting at the front door. Admission would be refused to those who refused, as unwashed hands are highly contagious.
To me, as a doctor, it’s a no-brainer but it would be hard to implement. But, if we did, like the smoking ban, we could be world leaders.
Aidan Hampson
Co Dublin
DISASTER CENTENARY
* At the recent Dublin City Council meeting, the news generated by the naming of the new Liffey bridge overshadowed another event that also echoes the Dublin of 1913.
Councillors observed a minute’s silence for the 100th anniversary of the Church Street Disaster, when seven people (including four children) lost their lives when Numbers 66 and 67 Church Street collapsed. Over 30,000 thronged the streets of Dublin after the disaster, and the outcry led to the formation of the Dublin Housing Commission.
As well as the deplorable state of the Dublin tenements, many of which were overcrowded and considered death traps due to typhoid etc, the commission also revealed that three members of Dublin Corporation at that time were the owners of some of the worst slums in the city and were claiming tax rebates on property that the report of the commission subsequently classified as “unfit for human habitation”.
Previously, a tenement owned by one of the three, Alderman O’Reilly, had collapsed “with loss of life and many injured”. And what did his colleagues do? They elected him lord mayor! At least some things have changed in the last 100 years.
Mark Lawler
Liberties Heritage Association,
Carman’s Hall, Dublin 8

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