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I have just read part of your article on the rape of elderly women (Real Life, 23 January). You have opened up a pit of depravity which was beyond my imagination. Elderly people abused by their carers? Fifty-five per cent of them their sons] Tears are standing in my eyes. What hope is there?

Fiona Lloyd

Sheffield

NEAL ASCHERSON (23 January) quite rightly expressed concern about the deterioration of the art of debate. He mentioned, for instance, the Maastricht issue as an example of where our own House of Commons responded narrowly to a real argument and real options. This may be a true assessment but surely there are weaknesses in our democratic system which will inevitably and inexorably affect the way our collective decisions are made?

The party group system which operates in this country, at both local and central government levels, seems to be here to stay and no one has yet come up with an acceptable alternative. Perhaps what we require in all spheres of knowledge - including politics - is better and improved education for everyone so that those of us who have to argue about the rights and wrongs and make the vital decisions on important issues, do so on the basis of sound and reliable information.

Tom Fulton

Dalrymple, Ayr

It seems that having elected a lot of froth we must now pay for it in out beer. Once again consumer protection is placed a very poor second to the interests of industry. Perhaps this is simply a case of getting one's just beverages.

J M Walsh

Kings Langley

Herts

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