Britain, for all its faults, remains one of the fairest and most tolerant societies in the world ("The row over migrants to Britain", 30 December). But there is a polarisation of opinion, one side saying all immigration is a good thing and the other saying all immigration is bad. Unfortunately, this has stifled any proper debate, with knee-jerk cries of "racism" coming from one side and nasty anti-foreigner prejudice coming from the other side.
Most people I know are tolerant and fair towards immigrants, but I am becoming more and more aware of a general anxiety, at best, and anger, at worst, among normally decent people who feel there is no acknowledgement of the problems. In difficult economic times, these anxieties increase. By not having a proper, open and sensible debate, we risk driving people towards extreme positions.
My 28-year-old son has a first-class degree from Edinburgh University, taught English for four years and then used all his considerable savings to re-train as a chef. His first restaurant job paid such illegally low wages that, according to the new immigration rules since July, he would have to have held £64,000 in savings for six months to permit a spousal visa for his new American wife, a highly qualified professional. To live together they are obliged to work abroad. The current immigration law is an excessively blunt instrument that not only denies entry to people of value, but also expels UK citizens who want normal married lives in the country of their birth with non-EU spouses. The loss to the UK is two-fold.
Professor Sarah Randolph
There is no abuse involved in either raising a child within or outside a religious tradition (Letters, 30 December). Atheist parents have as much right to share their beliefs and values as do believers. Along with their gratuitous insistence on the non-existence of God and of the application of criteria of proof appropriate for scientific inquiry to the larger questions of human meaning, humanist atheists will also, no doubt, seek to share their less controversial values of human decency and social justice. They may even wish to bring their children up to show tolerance to religious believers who claim a firmer basis for these same values, to refrain from caricature and polemic, and to work together with all people of goodwill for a better world.
The Rev Duncan Macpherson
The year that Jane Merrick was born, the national press reported horrific details of the murder of a child called Maria Colwell in her own home. Since then, there have been many more reports, but not as many as the reports of child murder by a stranger (which is very rare) or paedophile assaults (often not a stranger, but in the child's own home). I have lost count of how many squillions have been spent in setting up linked computerised records across public agencies, but what is if the perpetrators use different names, or dates of birth, or addresses? Ask any police officer about the difficulties this can pose if a juvenile is taken into custody.
So much legislation, so few prosecutions.
Sonia Gandhi correctly identifies India's "shameful social attitudes and mindset that allow men to rape and molest women and girls with such an impunity" ("Rape victim's death sparks lockdown", 30 December). But I worry that as a country it is concentrating on punishing and humiliating rapists, rather than dealing with the cause of the problem, which is the segregation of men and women, which has meant men grow up with little respect for women and women are embarrassed by male provocation.
West Bromwich, West Midlands
Paralympians need not be disappointed ("Double standards in sport honours, say Paralympians", 30 December). All nations have some sort of honours system, but ours has no place in modern society. It's an outdated system from an age that no longer exists.
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