LettersIn Brief

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The Independent Culture
Sir: I disagree with your leading article (20 April) that the failure of Italy's referendum on abolishing proportional representation is a blow to referenda. This referendum worked perfectly as a defence against politicians trying to lead the electorate where they did not want to go. If the majority of those eligible to vote were not in favour, the democratic process had to ensure that the proposal was rejected.

Sir: Having a Liverpool accent, I've had to learn to cope with my "disability". This has meant not speaking whilst using my credit cards (to avoid delays whilst they're checked against the list of stolen ones) and always being prepared to "take a joke" about Merseyside, its people, my family, my history and myself. Well, not any more. Jack Straw's comments, though offensive, were not unusual ("Straw says sorry for Liverpool insult", 21 April). I am convinced that no matter how well qualified I am or what community-minded role I undertake, I'll always be disadvantaged in Britain.

Sir: It will be necessary to redefine the role of the House of Lords before the method of selection can be seriously debated. Its present role is as a revising chamber for all legislation passed by the House of Commons.

The devolution of some legislative powers to Scotland and Wales will create a democratically unbalanced situation in which devolved legislation will not be subject to revision by the Lords; whereas legislation pertaining to England would be. If it is desirable to have a second revising Chamber why only for UK and English legislation?