IoS letters, emails & online postings (4 March 2012)

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The Independent Online

We are aware that members of our respective organisations have been subject to pressure from their employers for criticising the Government's plans to reform the NHS ("Critic of Health Bill claims Lansley 'smear'", 27 February). Public health professionals have the right and duty to speak out on issues which they perceive as threatening the health of the population they serve. This established independence has improved and saved countless lives. Wherever employed, they must be confident that they retain the professional freedom to voice their concerns, propose solutions and use their skills and training to keep their communities safe and healthy.

Professor Lindsey Davies

President, Faculty of Public Health

Frank Atherton

President, Association of Directors of Public Health

London NW1

As soon as forms of renewable energy start taking off in a big way, their subsidies are immediately cut ("Battle against emissions gives nuclear a new chance", 26 February). This happened to solar energy and wind energy, limiting their potential growth. Nuclear energy, on the other hand, may benefit from "price support" and a "carbon floor price". There is still time to create new renewable industries in this country, even if the chance to be at the forefront has largely disappeared, thanks to years of prevarication and a powerful nuclear lobby.

John Baxter

Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire

I knew Ian Charleson, and he told me how he prepared for his part as Eric Liddell in Chariots of Fire (The New Review, 26 February). He met Liddell's family and discovered, to his surprise, an empathy and respect for Liddell's beliefs. He knew Liddell's priority was to serve as a missionary while recognising his God-given talent for speed as a runner, a gift he was prepared to use to the full. Ian had been a runner at school, and he told me that the cast trained for months so that the running was for real. In the aftermath of the film, he dropped out of a US promotional tour because the whole Hollywood industry thing wasn't for him. Perhaps Ian Charleson was more like Eric Liddell than he had imagined.

John McNairn


That female clergy are being held back in favour of male colleagues' promotion has a wearyingly familiar ring, but let's not despair ("Even outstanding women struggle to rise in the CofE", 26 February). In the 20 years since the acceptance of women priests – for centuries, unthinkable – some of the first female ordinands have risen to dean or archdeacon. Others have discovered that they prefer parish work and have chosen not go for more prestigious jobs, even when urged to do so. Compared with some professions, women in the priesthood have made rapid strides. And in no time at all they will be bishops too, whatever the dissenters say. Then the CofE will preach with more authority on equality and on using talents wisely.

Margaret Carter


On the subject of childcare, you argue that "a universal system makes economic sense" ("Parents paying an unsustainable price for care", 26 February). But why should those without children automatically subsidise those with offspring, regardless of their financial circumstances? It is, after all, a choice whether or not to have children.

Tim Mickleburgh

Grimsby, Lincolnshire

John Rentoul should know that by promoting academies and "free schools", Michael Gove is depriving mainstream state education of its proper funding ("There's more to come from Gove", 26 February). Also, Gove's policy takes education out of local democratic control and of the safeguards this provides. That is why parents and teachers are protesting against them.

Jenny Bushell

London SW19

To celebrate the anniversary of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, the Woodland Trust is helping millions of people across the UK to plant six million trees. A royal oak sapling can be purchased from the Woodland Trust for £30. At 20-40cm in height, the Jubilee royal oak saplings are grown from an acorn gathered from one of the royal estates around the country. For non-royalists, fruit trees, maples and many other types of saplings are available.

Trees support wildlife and give food. Children who live in tree-lined streets have lower rates of asthma. Trees could replace costly planters in pedestrianised zones. I appeal to councillors everywhere to plant trees, for our children's health, and to remember what could be our last queen.

Nigel Bywater

Morley, Leeds

I suggest a Queen's Diamond Jubilee Honours List of those whose careers have lasted as long as this reign. My choice for inclusion would be comedy genius Eric Sykes, whose life and work reflect the best of the UK. "Arise Sir Eric"?

Norman Duff


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