Letter: No such thing as a free education

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YOU ASK in your leader where the money is coming from to tackle this year's pounds 50bn deficit on public spending ('Who feeds the wolf?', 23 May).

Two big areas of public spending should come under the Portillo axe. The annual cost of unemployment is pounds 27bn. Britain's military budget is pounds 24bn a year. It takes 4 per cent of our gross domestic product, compared with 2.6, 3.5 and 2 per cent respectively in Germany, France and Italy.

Maastricht implies harmonising with EC nations. Why should Britain's military spending not be reduced to the West European average? This could release about pounds 8bn a year for spending on public services and strengthening our civilian industries.

You are right to urge Labour to press this as an alternative to the destruction of the welfare state. Many opinion polls reveal a big percentage desire welfare, not warfare, to guide Britain's public spending priorities.

Frank Allaun and Ron Huzzard

Labour Action for Peace

Orpington, Kent