IoS letters, emails & online postings (7 July 2013)

Trying to regulate the payday loans industry is to miss the point. It is the need that feeds these vultures that should be addressed, not the means by which they operate (Special report, 30 June).

Desperate people are not interested in the small print, and the brutal truth is that, without the help of relatives or friends, there is currently nowhere else to turn.

Low pay, lack of jobs, rising costs and the new threat of benefit restrictions produce a steady increase in the need for some sort of micro-finance alternative, that enables essentially decent people to survive with dignity and repay on reasonable terms.

The Archbishop of Canterbury's resolution to encourage credit unions is very welcome, but there is no time to waste, as the dramatic rise in the use of food banks demonstrates.

Sierra Hutton-Wilson

Evercreech, Somerset

Am I being naive to suggest that the Government could simply cap the rate of interest chargeable to a fixed and reasonable rate above bank rate (say 10 per cent)? This could be done tomorrow and then the much-vaunted "market forces" would sort out those companies that provide a useful short-term loan service from the blatant usurers who prey on the lower paid.

Patrick Cleary

Honiton, Devon

If the first responsibility of a prime minister is the defence of the realm, the first responsibility of an education secretary is the provision of sufficient school places. Gove is failing on that score. He should resign ("Revealed: the real shortage of school places", 30 June).

Professor Colin Richards

Spark Bridge, Cumbria

In seeking to send his child to a voluntary aided school, perhaps Nicholas Barber might have considered the following ("I believe in education", 30 June). He was depriving a child from a religious family of a place.

Religious denominations that are involved in voluntary aided schools pay a contribution. Voluntary aided schools exist by an Act of Parliament as a consequence of this country being a constitutional democracy.

Fr Ulick Loring

Twickenham, Middlesex

Charles Darwent misunderstands the ethos of Lowry's painting (Critics, 30 June). Lowry was an original and his style was never derivative. The "flat-capped mob" may be always on the move but they knew where they were going; look at the chimneys belching smoke in The Football Match.

They were fired by a mob working hard to create the wealth on which the South of England was built. Lowry represented this with originality and candour. This is even more relevant today as the North tries to come to terms with the loss of industry and attempts to find a new role.

Peter Brookes

Wakefield, West Yorkshire

To claim that grandparents' understanding of nutrition is deficient because of their age infantilises older people ("Grandma doesn't always know best", 30 June). If this prejudiced flannel was based on gender or race it would be actionable.

Michael Dempsey

London E1

Matthew Bell says I have hounded Professor Susan Greenfield over her claims that the internet is changing children's brains, and that I claim she has no evidence (Interview, 30 June).

This is untrue. I make one simple criticism: when a professor of science makes a frightening scientific claim about a matter of potentially huge public health importance, they should ideally do so by presenting their theory in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. In this way, the claims can be stated clearly, without the ambiguity or apparent inconsistency that has been seen around Professor Greenfield's claims. The evidence and arguments can then be subjected to rigorous scrutiny, by academics familiar with the field. This is the normal process of science.

Dr Ben goldacre

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Now that President Obama has been to Robben Island, will he be visiting Shaker Aamer in Guantanamo?

Sally Griffin

Brighton, East Sussex

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