Letter: Affairs of honour

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Affairs of honour

Sir: Your call to "reshape the honours system" (leading article, 31 December) deserves responses. In common with the sentiments of many recipients, Nigel Hawthorne said, "It's an honour for the profession". So why not give honours to the organisation in which a recipient works, not to an individual?

Let the Queen give honours only to those who merit them for voluntary activity. At present CBEs often go to the best paid, OBEs to the fairly well paid and MBEs to the rest. Could this be class-based? Perish the thought under New Labour.

Why do members of the armed services receive honours for unspecified activities? These should be discontinued.

The publicising by Downing Street of the fact that members of the "nationalist community" in Northern Ireland had declined to accept honours sets a useful precedent. All refusals should be publicised and the reasons given. This would helpfully develop the debate over the future of honours.

Why do we still regard honours with amused respect? We should treat with bemused contempt a system which often gives an honour to those already well rewarded. On these and other grounds I refused an OBE in 1993.


Shipley, West Yorkshire