Letters: Floods are a taste of devastation to come

These letters appear in the Thursday 20th February edition of the Independent

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In the midst of the great trauma suffered by people affected by the UK floods, it is a great shame that some commentators are using the crisis to score political points against foreign aid.

The false choice presented by Nigel Farage and the Daily Mail has been quickly and firmly rebutted by many, including, to their credit, the Mayor of London and the Prime Minister. In the face of an often vitriolic campaign, Mr Cameron has shown great resolve in maintaining his commitment to aid, and notable international leadership in pressuring those countries which are not meeting their aid obligations.

The UK’s floods have provided us with a taste of the devastation regularly endured in developing countries, most recently in the Philippines, as a result of increasingly extreme weather related to climate change. The British people and the UK Government have responded generously – but aid alone will not solve the global ecological problems we now face. Climate change represents the greatest threat to global prosperity for this and future generations, in rich and poor countries alike.

So global leadership of the sort that Mr Cameron has shown on aid is urgently required on climate. It is important that he accepts his invitation from the UN Secretary General to attend a special summit on climate change in New York in September. He must also give the same short shrift to climate deniers that he gave to those who favour diverting aid money to pay for the UK’s floods.

Ben Jackson, Chief Executive, Bond, Chris Bain, Chief Executive, Cafod, Christine Allen, Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Christian Aid, Mark Goldring, Chief Executive, Oxfam GB, Anita Tiessen, Deputy Executive Director, Unicef UK, London SE1

In praise of the PMQs

Your article “Bercow attacks PMQs” (18 February) discusses the Hansard Society’s reporting on Prime Minister’s Questions.

PMQs are but a tiny part of overall parliamentary business – a mere 0.01 per cent of all parliamentary activity. It is therefore perplexing that the Hansard Society has given disproportionate time to reporting lengthily, and indeed harshly, on PMQs. That attention is largely po-faced and rather puritanical. Yes, PMQs engender a lot of noise, but they also offer a unique opportunity for the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition succinctly to summarise the differences which divide them in every policy area. PMQs is an excellent institution – long may it continue.

Michael Batchelor, Swansea

The House of Commons Speaker is looking for ways of improving Prime Minister’s Questions.

I cannot be alone in thinking that PMQs is beyond redemption and should be done away with altogether.

Could anything be better calculated to engender a withering contempt for the “democracy” our leaders persist in trying to foist on the rest of the world than the cringingly embarrassing spectacle to which Westminster treats the world every Wednesday?

D Maughan Brown, York

There's no bias at the BBC

Contrary to the claims by Professor Justin Lewis, the BBC Trust did not play down research he believes found a right-wing bias in the sourcing of BBC news content (“BBC accused of political bias – to the right not the left”, 15 February).

Far from it – this research was published, in full, as part of an independent review into the breadth of opinion reflected in BBC output. The review’s author, Stuart Prebble, concluded that in general a wide range of viewpoints were reflected in the BBC’s output over the period in question.

Ensuring the impartiality of the BBC is a key priority for the Trust. This is why we regularly conduct independent impartiality reviews and publish the findings.

David Liddiment, Trustee, BBC Trust,  London W1

Nothing innocent about speeding

Nigel Farage (19 February) suggests the removal of speed limits on motorways. I’m against that, but it is a perfectly respectable idea to put forward. However, he then makes out that cameras and speed traps are somehow sneaky and underhand ways of raising cash from innocent motorists. But speeding is not an innocent activity – it is lawbreaking. Speed limits are laws voted for by Parliament for good reasons. Laws require enforcement, and speed cameras and speed traps are perfectly legitimate ways to catch those who consider that the laws of the land do not apply to them – an all too prevalent attitude among motorists, apparently including Farage. It is disturbing that someone who aspires to be a member of Parliament should be so sympathetic to the breaking of the laws that it has passed.

Bill Linton, London N13

Rooney's wage is perfectly rational

Stephen Westacott (Letters, 19 February) writes of Wayne Rooney’s recent huge pay settlement and the death of Sir Tom Finney and asks how, where and when football went so wrong. Nothing really went wrong. It’s just that football changed into a global game followed by millions, if not billions, of people. Wayne Rooney is a hugely talented player and is simply getting a freely negotiated slice of the  vast revenues the game creates. He’d be a fool to  do otherwise.

William Roberts, Bristol

In the early 1960s, I was a pit deputy working at Treeton colliery near Sheffield. I earned 18 guineas a week, and United and Wednesday footballers got £18 a week. I bet the difference is now somewhat greater, and the other way around.

Pete Wainwright, Goathland, North Yorkshire

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