<i>IoS</i> letters & emails, 7 September 2008

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The Independent Online

The report that there is a "secret deal" with the Treasury to guarantee the purchase of two Titian paintings for the National Galleries of Scotland and the National Gallery in London is entirely false ("Secret deal on Titian painting guarantees £50m to wealthy duke", 31 August). There is no secret deal with the Government, and it is not the case that there is "little danger" of the paintings being sold if we fail to raise the necessary funds.

The National Galleries of Scotland and the National Gallery in London have until the end of this year to raise £50m to acquire Diana and Actaeon. This achieved, the two galleries have, until the end of 2012, the option to buy, at a similar price, its pair, Diana and Callisto. There is no "firm understanding" that the two paintings will remain together regardless. If the galleries fail to raise funds for either work, their owner decides what happens next.

As success will depend on support from a range of sources, it is unhelpful to report that some secret guarantee is already in place. Discussions about government funding are ongoing; applications to other bodies will be made in the coming weeks.

Nicholas Penny

Director, National Gallery, London W1

John Leighton

Director-General, National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh

It was good to read Melanie McDonagh, a supporter of faith schools, admitting what everyone knows is true: that many of them operate admissions and employment procedures that discriminate on religious grounds ("Faith schools work. Until you take the faith away", 31 August).

Unfortunately she opposes our new coalition to end this discrimination in state-funded schools. In fact, she supports discrimination because she wrongly assumes that a religious ethos requires it, concluding that equality in the state school system is "a recipe for discord". There are, in fact, successful schools with a religious character that do not discriminate on religious grounds, and no evidence that the academic success enjoyed by some religious schools is connected with the legal right they retain to discriminate.

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain Chair of Accord

London WC1

New Green leader Caroline Lucas wants energy companies to "ensure that some of the poorest people are able to keep warm" ("People will die of cold because of energy firms' greed, say Greens", 31 August). But why is there no campaign to put a zero VAT rate on all energy generating /saving measures or for a Wash barrier that would protect one fifth of our food self-sufficiency? Unless the Greens question Defra's policy of managed retreat, calls for social justice will be seen as blatant electioneering.

Ingo Wagenknecht

Rockland St Mary, Norfolk

Although Toad is bumptious, he is lovable ("Is this the real Mr Toad?, 31 August). Perhaps Kenneth Grahame's row with the bullying bank director Walter Cunliffe is more obliquely reflected in the chase sequences where Toad is pursued by officialdom. If any character in The Wind in the Willows is based on Cunliffe, the most likely candidate is not Toad, but the Chief Weasel.

David Gooderson

London SW18

The real Bhutto clan is the Pakistan People's Party ("Pakistan waits as Bhutto clan trades blows", 31 August). From 1977 to this day, persistent attempts have been made by the quislings, including cousins, uncles and imposter claimants, to hijack or break it. Benazir outsmarted them by nominating Senator Asif Ali Zardari as her successor.

She discussed with me all possible eventualities, and her will. How prophetic her fears were is amply proven in the rise of her sworn enemies.

Wajid Shamsul Hasan

High Commissioner for Pakistan, Chair, Pakistan People's Party

London SW1

Mumtaz Ali Bhutto has no more in common with the party of Benazir Bhutto, the modern Pakistan People's Party, than anyone with the name of Brown would have with Britain's Labour Party.

Farahnaz Ispahani

Pakistan People's Party, Islamabad, Pakistan

Joan Smith last week revealed a ridiculous bias against the Russian nation ("Russian barbarism must be tackled head on", 31 August). The only stable and progressive period we have had in Afghanistan was under a Marxist government, when women were emancipated and schools, hospitals and roads were built. Then the US spent billions recruiting, training and arming Islamic rebels, including Osama bin Laden. The result was the breeding ground for terrorists that Afghanistan became.

Viv Griffiths


We read about innumerate and illiterate school-leavers, but what about the adults, such as Dom Joly, who cannot recognise numbers on road signs ("Yes I was doing 35mph...", 31 August)? Excessive speed is very dangerous, and a very selfish problem.

Rosemary Adams

Maidenhead, berkshire

Beautiful, but out of reach

Independent on Sunday readers who are rushing, as Katy Guest wishes she were, to catch the last train to Brecon are about 45 years too late ("Just bananas about the happiest place in Britain", 31 August).

Brecon, once the hub of an extensive railway network, lost all its four lines under the Beeching axe, isolating the county town of Breconshire, an event that was recognised at the time as vandalism.

John Owen