Paul Vallely is right to object to immigrants becoming scapegoats for all the country's ills ("Foreigners – great scapegoats, and so cheap", 3 July). But to say "most migrants work hard in jobs that Britons are either not willing or not able to do" is disrespectful to both immigrants and the indigenous workforce. Some jobs that require qualifications that are in short supply here are filled by well-qualified immigrants.
But many migrants work for poverty wages and often live in unacceptable conditions. It is no slur on British workers if they are not willing to do those jobs. If they have a family, a mortgage or high rent to pay for their homes, they could not survive on the low wages some immigrants are prepared to work for. It should not be seen as a virtue to work for poverty wages. Rather, it should be recognised that immigrants are being exploited, as well as, in some cases, undercutting British workers who have struggled for hundreds of years for decent wages and conditions.
The problem needs addressing from the other end, by tackling the employers who pay such low wages. It should be illegal for immigrants to be paid a lower rate than the normal rate for the job, so that whoever does the job, Briton or immigrant, they are paid a decent living wage. Then you can employ whoever does the job best, not cheapest.
You reported last week on the tens of thousands of starving refugees trekking for weeks in the Horn of Africa in search of food. Meanwhile, page 8 predicted that by 2050, over 60 per cent of children in the UK will be overweight. The pictures alone were enough to produce tears, but to cap it all, page 3 revealed that a record £154m was up for grabs in the EuroMillions jackpot.
The article "Drug firms' freebies for NHS staff" questions the provision by industry of hospitality for health professionals (3 July). Subsistence such as food, travel and accommodation is only provided in association with scientific or promotional meetings, and scientific congresses or training, and is strictly regulated by the ABPI Code of Practice. The outcome of industry investment in education, training and meetings is better patient care. Led by the belief that patients benefit from industry and medics working together, the profession and industry are making good progress in ensuring our relationship is transparent, ethical and appropriate. The industry and medical profession support the Bribery Act which provides further protection against impropriety. The companies named in the article have all played a part in the evolution of our robust framework of regulation. Commitment to a transparent, ethical relationship has been made loud and clear.
Chief executive, Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry
Harry Mount reminds us that a badger is a "supersized weasel". So are otters and pine martens. All are native mammals, unlike the domestic cow, or even the majority of humans. It is this which makes the idea of a cull so morally repugnant to most of us. We, not badgers, are the interlopers, and it is our behaviour that has most in common with Kenneth Grahame's weasels.
Janet Street-Porter's enthusiasm for online shopping forgets the fact that many people don't have home internet access ("I'd rather shop with my mouse..." 3 July). This is particularly true of the elderly and disadvantaged. And how many newspapers are bought other that at a local shopping outlet? JSP may be cooking her own goose.
It is not true that there are no charges for car parking at Scottish hospitals ("England vs Scotland", 3 July). At Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, which I attend regularly, car park fees are always charged.
Professor Elizabeth Meeyhan
West Linton, Peeblesshire
Like Katharine Sanderson, I had my bike stolen, but, wonderfully, it has been returned (Letters, 3 July). The purchaser had qualms of conscience about the "bargain" he had bought from a stranger. He contacted the original retailer, whose label was still on the frame, who notified me. If every buyer were as honest, there would be no trade in stolen bikes.
Waltham Abbey, Essex
A character captioned "Unknown" in the feature on Walter Joseph's photographs was Prince Monolulu, the racing tipster, whose mantra was "I've got a horse", as written on his coat (The New Review, 10 July). He brightened up London, and as a child in the 1940s, I was always thrilled to see him.
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