IoS letters, emails and online postings (6 September 2015)


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The Independent Online

While there is much about the House of Lords that can be mocked, John Rentoul was wrong to say the House “serves no good purpose except as a more thoughtful version of Question Time” (“Peerages: birthright to baubles is not progress”, 30 August).

Speaking as a former senior civil servant who piloted several substantial Bills through Parliament, the House of Commons is poor at properly testing legislative proposals: the “payroll vote” and the timidity of those hoping for preferment mean that ministers almost always get their way. Indeed, fierce timetabling arrangements for controversial Bills can mean that some parts never get even cursory examination.

There are no timetabling arrangements in the Lords, in which even those taking a party whip care deeply about getting things right. It comes as a real shock to ministers to find that they cannot bully things through there, and have actually to win the argument. It will be a sorry day for our governance if this “awkward squad” is neutralised.

Roger Morgan

Epsom, Surrey

I note that John Rentoul agrees with Jeremy Corbyn on abolishing the legislative powers of the House of Lords. It is the first chink. Next comes the Rentoul beard.

Keith Flett

London N17

It is puzzling that the migrant “navy” leaving north African and Turkish waters is not being turned back as the boats set out.

Why have the ships of the seven  navies of Britain (because of our Gibraltar presence), Spain, France, Italy, Malta, Greece and Turkey not been tasked to stop and turn back the mostly decrepit shipping and inflatable dinghies? 

In conjunction, there would need to be funding for the setting up of camps with long-term facilities in some north African countries and oil rich monarchies to take in the disappointed boat people.

It is a problem of Middle East and north African countries loaded on to European Union states. Commendably, two of the poorest Middle East countries, Lebanon and Jordan, are swollen with refugees. How about other richer regional states?

Leo Chapman

London EC1

Congratulations to Chloë Hamilton on her informative article regarding testicles (30 August) including the vulgar name for penis while curiously no mention of the vulgar term for female genitalia. Surely not a case of sexist sensitivity?

Quelle delicatesse!

Robert Vincent

Wildhern, Hampshire

Your story about self-declaration for fitness to drive misses the point (“Test centres and motoring agencies of Tories’ hit list” 30 August). The problem is not the age limit but the self-declaration.

Anyone over a given age should have to have a medical before renewal of their licence. I learnt this with my late father who signed a self-declaration when his eyesight should have had him banned. All I could do was refuse to get in the car, but he carried on driving regardless.

Rob Edwards

Harrogate, North Yorkshire

I’m unhappy the Government is proposing to raise the self-declaration age for being fit to drive from 70 to 75, especially in the light of RAC research which shows that “one in 10 of elderly motorists are not fit to drive”. I’d rather see an introduction of limited licences that take into account that some older drivers only feel safe in their cars during the day, while others are best driving in either the town or country.

Tim Mickleburgh

Grimsby, Lincolnshire

For the second week running Michael Calvin has heaped his bile on the simplest, most widespread, greatest and, incidentally, most tested of all sports (“Legacy of doping means clean wins meet with distrust”, 30 August). His cynical arguments can be negated by just three names – Jessica Ennis-Hill, Greg Rutherford, Mo Farah.

Jan Wiczkowski

Prestwich, Manchester