IoS letters, emails & online postings (27 October 2013)

DJ Taylor seems to feel that the 19th century was full of people with high morals whereas in the 21st century mammon is firmly in charge (20 October). In between he has a pop at trade unions who he seems to feel are only concerned with wages, suggesting an unfamiliarity with the work of the TUC bordering on total ignorance.

No doubt there are many in positions of authority today whose moral compass is either broken or never existed. On the other hand Victorian society quite happily – at the top – put up with the Workhouse. Perhaps we might reflect that a society whose dominant values are taken from market economics is always likely to struggle with high moral principles.

Keith Flett

London N17

I agree with Nick Clegg, that free schools and academies should only employ qualified teachers ("Clegg draws a line in the sand against Tories on schooling", 20 October). But I also hope that in the Lib Dem election manifesto there is a pledge to require independent schools to employ only qualified teachers, and that all schools spend a certain percentage of their budget supporting professional development.

Kartar Uppal

West Bromwich, West Midlands

Your report about our licensing exam for general practice ("Trainee doctors held back by racism, warns expert", 13 October) ignored the fact that the recent independent and official review of our exam commissioned by the General Medical Council made no finding of discrimination.

There are indeed differences in the pass rates between doctors from white ethnic backgrounds and those from minority ethnic backgrounds. The College has been very open about the differential pass rates for many years, and has commissioned and supported research to try and identify what the cause, or causes, may be.

As an organisation committed to equality and diversity, we take multiple steps to ensure our exam is fair, including making sure that all of our examiners and role players receive equality and diversity training. We have also ensured that there is a diversity of ethnicity and gender in our examiners and role players.

The College welcomed the recent GMC review and collaborated with those carrying out the work by sharing data and inviting them to observe our exam processes. It is our job to ensure that, through a fair process, all of the doctors who qualify as GPs meet the requisite standards for ensuring safe patient care. That is what the public expects of us, and that is what we deliver.

Dr Clare Gerada

Chair, Royal College of General Practitioners

London NW1

Privatisation of defence procurement ("MoD staff not properly consulted over semi-privatisation plan", 20 Octobber) will do little to prevent the calamitous cost overruns that have become synonymous with big UK defence projects. It has been shown time and again that the private sector is unable and unwilling to stomach the financial risk associated with defence procurement. If the government wants to sort out its poor track record on defence procurement, a better place to start would be to improve speed and quality of decision-making within the Ministry of Defence, which means fewer jobs for the boys, fewer "special advisers", an end to military officers running projects and more widespread use of truly independent consultants and industry experts.

Dr Mark Campbell-Roddis

Dunblane, Perthshire

Birmingham is NOT Britain's second city ("What's in a name?" 20 October). That's Glasgow. Birmingham is England's second city. No wonder the Scots want independence.

Ian K Watson

Carlisle, Cumbria

It's ironic that female descendants of peers want modern ideas of equality applied to the inheritance of aristocratic titles ("The hares take on the heirs in Parliament", 20 October). These titles are the product of medieval patronage and official favouritism. Fairness was never the intention. If they don't like the system, these would-be heirs should campaign for social equality and justice, not for the perks of a privileged few.

Ian McKenzie


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