IoS letters, emails & online postings (24 October 2010)

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It's no surprise that the Severn barrage will not be built, given that the Government is wedded to nuclear power ("Severn barrage tidal power plan axed", 17 October). The costs of nuclear were always going to freeze out other technologies, and emerging renewables were always going to be in a weak position to fend off the huge political machine that the nuclear industry still musters.

As a former Labour MP and chair of the all-party parliamentary climate change group, I regret to say this would probably have been equally true under a Labour government. What we need to see now from this government is a costed, year-by-year plan showing how the UK is to meet its legally binding carbon targets by 2020. If it dares to publish such a plan, we will see very clearly how little new nuclear or "clean coal" will contribute to Britain's low carbon future in the next 10 years.

Colin Challen

Scarborough, North Yorkshire

Janet Street-Porter (17 October) is right about ways to save money, but you have to consider the people who make and sell the frocks she would no longer buy, who might end up out of work.

The answer is to cut the number of people who are paid a lot of money. In hard times, it is better to limit the number of people on only basic wages or benefits, and to provide subsidies, if necessary, to keep people in employment. Then a limit should be set on individuals' salaries and expenses. It should be enough for frocks, but not enough for diamonds.

This would have to apply to everyone paid out of taxpayers' money, from local government to the Royal Family, and most particularly members of both houses of Parliament. Then we would believe in the Big Society, which at present is just hot air.


Posted online

Another day, another broken Liberal Democrat promise. Lib Dem MPs recently voted overwhelmingly against an amendment to enfranchise 16- and 17-year-olds for next May's AV referendum. This is despite the fact that lowering the voting age from 18 to 16 has been Lib Dem policy for years. Such a move comes just days after the party abandoned its policy on tuition fees for students in England and Wales. Lib Dem claims to represent the interests of young people have been quietly forgotten as they weigh in with support for their new Tory friends.

Alex Orr


A simple and effective way of increasing liquidity in small businesses would be to allow them to take a capital holiday on loan repayments for between 12 and 18 months ("Cable puts the thumb screws on tight-fisted banks", 17 October). Banks could charge 1 per cent per annum extra interest for a 12-month holiday rising to 1.5 per cent for an 18-month holiday. The business would have to have conducted their account in order for the past 12 months. The value of the capital holiday should not exceed 10 per cent of the original loan. Easy to administer, profitable for the banks, this would put cash into many small businesses quickly.

David Brierley

London NW3

Rupert Cornwell suggests that the US's infrastructure is crumbling (17 October). I drove 22,000 miles on US roads from 2007-9 and found them wonderful compared with the UK's. I have just returned from a trip to eight European countries, from Croatia to Sweden, mostly on minor roads. These were far better than those here. Are we condemned to another five years' deterioration?

Dr Colin Byfleet

Umberleigh, Devon

Simon Schama can't do it. Our Prime Minister and his deputy can only do it occasionally, and most of their benighted Cabinet are unable to do it. On a Radio 4 recently, a headteacher, a teacher of English and a speech therapist were clearly unable to do it. No one on BBC2's ghastly Culture Show can do it. Yet my late mother, who spent most of her adult life pulling pints in and throwing drunks out of a rough Black Country pub did it beautifully. I left school with four O-levels in the Fifties, and can do it with ease. So why has it become so hard for so many to pronounce the letter T? The glottal stop has triumphed, spreading unchecked throughout the English- speaking world and adding to the degradation of our greatest national asset.

John Bird

London SW11

Cher Lloyd is 17. I was stick-thin at 16 ("Stick-thin women on TV need health warning..." 17 October). I grew like a weed and no amount of eating could keep up. In those days it was thought normal. Nobody bugged me about being clinically underweight. Then I stopped growing and kept on eating. Sigh.

Martje Ross

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