IoS letters, emails & online postings (12 December 2010)

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The Tories and Lib Dems justify massive cuts to higher education and increases in tuition fees as aids to the economic recovery, achieved via spending cuts.

But will the proposed changes reduce government spending? First, the £9,000 tuition fees will still be covered by student loans, provided by the Government. Second, repayments start on incomes over £21,000. Clearly, none of the loans will be repaid in the first three years. A very optimistic estimate would be that, 15 years after the first batch of graduates, the loan repayments would balance new loans given to students.

However, the coalition aims to address the deficit and get the economy on track (by its own measures) within five years. It is obvious that the new higher education policies will play no role in this. So why does the coalition want to drastically increase tuition fees?

Hendrik Sepp

via email

Nick Clegg says, "I really do think it is quite a liberal government and has got a very strong liberal flavour" ("No apologies. No regrets. No shame", 5 December).

So it is liberal to financially disadvantage the poorest above all others? I refer to the swingeing cuts in housing benefit that will soon arrive, forcing tens of thousands of working and unemployed families to move home.

Is it liberal to treble the fees of English undergraduates while Welsh and Scots students will not suffer any increase? Is it liberal to withdraw child benefit from families while people such as Sir Philip Green's wife Tina benefit from loopholes in UK law to get £1.2bn of share dividends paid to her tax-free?

Sorry, Mr Clegg, but to the poorer voter you are as naked as the emperor in his new clothes, and the naked truth is that your coalition is brazenly Tory.

Henry Page

Newhaven, East Sussex

Janet Street-Porter is a little harsh on the third rail ("If we can travel in space, why are our trains at a standstill?", 5 December). It is old and simple technology, but its installation and maintenance costs are a fraction of the later – and more favoured – overhead wire system, and it is far less visually intrusive. Opting for the third rail allowed the railways of south-east England to be electrified quickly and cheaply during the 20th century, much of this work done before the Second World War.

The system does suffer when there is severe ice and snow, but is generally faultless in other conditions. And the overhead system is not immune. Ice and snow can still cause problems, and the wires are vulnerable in high winds.

Colin Scott-Morton

Alresford, Hampshire

Not only are we now far too reliant on often inadequate mechanical means of snow removal, but zero degrees Celsius is seen as a sign that civilisation as we know it must be temporarily suspended. Thirty-two degrees Fahrenheit never had that effect.

John Eoin Douglas


We have the royal wedding in 2011 and the Olympics in 2012. The homeless, the disabled and addicts could have benefited from the £15m spent on the failed England bid to host the World Cup.

Keith Eastmond

London E9

About four years ago, my then girlfriend came out of Waterloo station at about 9.30am and was knocked unconscious by some stray metalwork; she lay on the ground, passed by innumerable commuters before coming to ("There's more than one way to kick a tramp", 5 December). At about the same time, I came off my bicycle at midnight and crashed on a remote country lane and passed out. A motorist woke me and offered me a lift home.

Maybe the difference is town versus country.

Mike Joseph

Chipperfield, Hertfordshire

Sir Henry Wotton did not say "an ambassador was an honest man sent abroad to lie for his country" ("Don't blame diplomats ...") 5 December). What Sir Henry is supposed to have said is: "An Ambassadour is an honest man sent to lie abroad for the good of his countrey." "To lie abroad" was to be in residence overseas, as opposed to passing through. The pun was intended, as diplomacy is, to be more subtle than cynical.

Colin Standfield

London W7

Tony Hill asks if anyone has tried to square the problems of climate change and overpopulation (Letters, 5 December). Johann Hari did just that in The Independent last month. His answer? Feminism.

Robert Sharp

London SW17

The answer to squaring climate change and overpopulation is to tackle inequality. The poor generally have no safety net for the exigencies of ill health and old age, other than many children.

Carol Wilcox

Christchurch, Dorset

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