IoS letters, emails & online postings (9 December 2012)

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The Independent Online

We do not really have a free press in this country, as too many publications are owned by too few people ("The Leveson conundrum", 2 December). Most of the dailies only reflect their owners' views, and it is obvious that the Tories have been got at by the non-elected press barons. Lord Leveson in his report was at pains to point out that his idea of a regulator was a judicial body to keep the bad boys in line if necessary. Perhaps it was unfortunate he likened the new body to Ofcom. The IoS sounded alarmed in its interpretation of the report, but should welcome a judicial body. It will protect you but not some others.

Joan & Vincent Procter

Worthing, West Sussex

I have just sent a Christmas card by air mail to a relative in Canada, a distance of 3,400 miles, at a cost of £1.80. If I send the same card to a relative in the next village five miles away it costs 60p. Delivery costs 12p per mile in Wales or 0.00055p per mile to its destination in Canada. For the card in Wales, the Royal Mail has to empty a postbox, sort the mail and deliver it. For the Canadian card, it has also to take it to an airport and through security, check it in, and fly it to Canada, where it will be subject to revenue checks and further handled by another postal authority before being pushed through the letterbox of my relative.

Is this policy of continual price rises by the Royal Mail designed to make the whole of the postal service more attractive to the private sector? Will it lead to a complete sell-out by this government to its friends in the City who may well make postal workers redundant, replacing them with cheaper labour, poorer working conditions and more profits for the new owners?

Derek Hanlin

Porth, Mid-Glamorgan

Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is tough and will exploit its considerable powers to impose the maximum inconvenience on immoral but legal tax avoiders. It picks its battles carefully and spends taxpayers' money only on cases that it has a realistic prospect of winning. To do otherwise would be madness, and yet Labour MP Margaret Hodge suggested last week that it should challenge more tax cases to demonstrate a ruthless streak, despite having no prospects of winning. If MPs are unhappy, they should change the law to make the corporations pay more tax.

Unlike HMRC staff, MPs today have rarely worked in commerce and so lack commercial common sense. HMRC employees have a lonely and thankless job to do, but they do it well. It is disappointing to see them publicly undermined and criticised in this way.

Richard Jordan

Chichester, West Sussex

Instead of developing fracking ("Osborne to offer tax breaks for shale gas", 2 December), we should use our coal reserves. That would help communities which never really recovered from the collapse of the mining industry a generation ago. I'm sure our scientists could help to minimise any possible environmental damage.

Tim Mickleburgh

Grimsby, Lincolnshire

The overwhelming power of big organisations, whether governmental, institutional or private business, makes many of them largely anti-social. But our political leaders are wedded to big business through kudos or kickbacks. One enjoyable way to beat the big boys is to buy more from genuine individual craft workers, people who put time effort and care into producing goods and work that is well made and unique. Talk to us at a craft show near you. We contribute more in human terms than many big firms.

Peter Cole

Heighington, Lincoln

The Environment Agency strongly objects to any development that creates an unacceptable or increased flood risk to the new development or to existing properties in the area (Letters, 2 December). In 2011/12, 96 per cent of planning applications where we were notified of the outcome were in line with Environment Agency advice.

Pete Fox

Head of Strategy and Investment

Environment Agency

In your section on the Leveson report you describe The New York Times as "Murdoch-owned" (2 December). The title is not owned by Rupert Murdoch, but The Wall Street Journal is.

Craig van Dyck


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