IoS letters, emails & online postings (11 May 2014)

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How can the Government countenance the Secretary of State for Justice shutting down an investigation by the Howard League for Penal Reform into sexual violence and harassment in prison? ("Chris Grayling blocks inquiry into sexual assaults inside jails", 4 May). Threatening witnesses who come forward with being in breach of licence conditions (leading to recall) is an atrocious breach of trust and power.

Mr Grayling's keenness to brush a serious problem under the carpet promises to increase victimisation in prison (by less understanding of the problem) and so spell further misery for victims, and for society in general when they are released (as their trauma plays out in violent, sexual or acquisitive offending to cope or react to the ensuing post-traumatic stress).

I wonder if his view on sexual violence in prison comes from a "prison isn't supposed to be nice" attitude, and he thinks that if he spends his time trying to protect future rape victims (who happen to be prisoners) then "prison wouldn't be as much of a deterrent, would it?"

John Zachary

Chertsey, Surrey

New Labour gave the doctors a generous rise and no evening or weekend duty ("Pay doctors extra to help the poor, say Lib Dems" 4 May). Raise the minimum wage and make workers better off – it is better economic conditions and a decent standard of living which will improve people's health. Everyone contributing has a right to health care, and it is the Government's responsibility to provide it.

Jenny Bushell

London SW19

With regard to halal meat, when it comes to showing respect for animals who are raised and killed for food, there is only one label that matters: "vegan".

The slaughter, whether the animal is stunned and then killed or just killed, is only part of the long and cruel process of modern meat production. The vast majority of the one billion animals eaten every year in the UK are raised on factory farms, where they are crammed into windowless sheds, wire cages, crates and other confinement systems – all of which contradict the basic principles of compassion shared by most religions.

Yes, people have a right to know what is in their food, but the simple solution to avoid mystery-meat scandals is to eat plant-based meals, which are kinder to the environment, our bodies and animals, and are also open to all faiths.

Ben Williamson

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta)

London N1

Why is Inheritance Tax "a pernicious tax" (Julian Knight, Money, 4 May)? It only takes money from the well-to-do, and raises revenue from the tax-free wealth gains people have enjoyed thanks to inflation-busting property prices. What's more it is paid by those taking over an estate who haven't done anything to earn it.

Tim Mickleburgh

Grimsby, Lincolnshire

Russell Hobby is right when he says "Don't allow these people to run free schools", (4 May). They shouldn't be allowed. And they aren't. As Mr Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers pointed out, "some free schools are performing highly" and, as the Department for Education has pointed out, they are – based on Ofsted inspections – performing better than many comparable settings.

Expose free schools to journalistic scrutiny, by all means, but in the interests of the hundreds of dedicated professionals endeavouring to deliver new and, in some cases, ground-breaking schools under difficult circumstances, don't resort to headlines that should be the preserve of the red tops.

Alan Swindell

Principal, Steiner Academy Exeter

There is a very simple answer to the lack of high-quality social workers: a reasonable salary and a reasonable work load ("Top graduates wanted to work in mental health," 4 May). But I can't see the idea catching on.

Sylvia rose

Totnes, Devon