Letters: How to avoid the mansion tax

These letters appear in the 27 October issue of The Independent

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Janet Street-Porter is of course correct (The Independent, 25 October) that any mansion tax could hit hard those people who bought a house that has risen greatly in value many years ago, but who do not have a large income.  This could in its way be as cruel as the “bedroom tax” in forcing people to move. However there is a way of dealing with this by basing the tax on the price when the house was last purchased. This figure should be readily available from the Land Registry and would save a vast exercise to try and identify and  value homes in the mansion tax bracket.

By using older prices the revenue coming in would be lower unless the price threshold is lowered. This could, at least in part, be made up by introducing a capital gains tax surcharge on the sale of homes  that are not a primary residence. This would also be useful in discouraging the keeping of empty homes, or rarely used second homes, simply as an investment. Indeed the threat of the introduction of such a tax at a future date would be enough to generate a large number  of properties for sale lowering prices for new buyers particularly in holiday areas.

N J T Long


Taking action against domestic crime

I was pleased to be able to help contribute to the recent article in The Independent about  dowry-related violence.

Further to that, I would like to reassure victims that the police take their plight very seriously.

Although dowry-related violence does not have a separate category in police databases and is, for various reasons, something of a hidden crime in our communities, I am keen that the police service does all it can to help those caught in its grip.

All domestic violence is wrong – whatever the reason – and the police will brook no cultural sensitivities in pursuing perpetrators.

The best route to finding out the true scale of  dowry-related violence is for victims to feel confident to report it. However you can, please come forward and let us help you. You will be believed, your complaint will be investigated thoroughly and, where we have enough evidence to satisfy the CPS, we will prosecute your abuser to the fullest extent of the law.

I will, in the coming months, be approaching colleagues around the country to inquire as to whether they have noted any cases of dowry-related violence and to look at ways of addressing it as part of the national honour-based violence strategy which  I have the honour of leading on behalf of the police service.

My message is very clear: where this pernicious form of violence infiltrates our homes – which should be the safest spaces in our lives – we will act with all the powers open to us to protect victims.

Commander Mak Chishty

National Policing Lead on Honour-Based Violence

Recreation and the issue of health

Robert Tuck (letter, 25 October) suggests that people who deliberately risk damaging their health should be charged for all medical treatment they receive. I assume he also includes those who indulge in potentially hazardous activities such as skiing, climbing, horse riding, parachuting and many more “middle class” pastimes which carry risk.

It is easy to blame other people for damaging their health by doing things that one does not do oneself, but one man’s recreation is another man’s vice.

Patrick Cleary

Honiton, Devon

I spent many years starving myself in a useless attempt to stop gaining weight. Realising I was ill I would try to get a diagnosis only to be told that all that was wrong was that I was overweight. I had to give up work, I couldn’t think and I became more and more depressed. I began to  think I was actually going mad and was eating  without knowing I was doing it. Knowing that Robert Tuck (letters, 25 October) would regard  me as morally deficient didn’t help.

After about 20 years a severe metabolic illness  was diagnosed, and at last  I got the treatment I needed. But it was not before my career and many relationships had been destroyed. If Mr Tuck had had his way I would have been made to pay a  financial penalty in  addition to my loss of income. People do not  often become obese from living an “idiotic lifestyle”

Sara Neill

Tunbridge Wells, Kent

Keeping Farage in a safe place

John Dakin is puzzled as to why The Independent gives Nigel Farage a weekly column (letter, 25 October). I sympathise, but – if I may be allowed a leap to this great organ’s defence – it is a long-standing newspaper tradition to employ a columnist or two whose opinions are teasingly at variance with editorial policy and readers’ likely views, to spice up the mixture and encourage lively responses to the Letters page.

Moreover, consider this: Mr Farage won’t win many converts among Independent readers. His efforts are far more likely  to be counterproductive, since they will doubtless  be met mostly with scorn and derision. If, however, he were to resume his regular column in the  Daily Express, he would  be far more dangerous. Contracted to  The Independent places  him where he can do the least harm.

Bob Gilmurray

Ely, Cambridgeshire

The legality of police relationships

In her article (25 October), Alice Jones writes that  for a man to get a woman  to have sex with him by “trickery” is tantamount  to abuse.

Unless legislation has removed it from the definition, it is rape if a man gets a woman to have sex with him by “force, fear or fraud”. It would be an interesting legal discussion as to whether police officers who pass themselves off to women as sharing their views and activities in pursuit of a particular issue and form a sexual relationship with them can be tried for rape.

One assumes that a defence would argue that the sex was consensual but if that consent was obtained by the kind of “trickery” to which Alice Jones refers, surely that is, in fact, fraud.

Over to you DPP/CPS.

John Crocker


European Commission is deaf to pleas for reform

David Cameron has angrily denounced the European Commission for demanding an extra £1.7bn contribution from British taxpayers. Last year, the UK’s net contribution to this undemocratic organisation was £8.5bn.

The UK is now being penalised because its economy has performed better than expected while countries like France and Germany, whose economies have under-performed, will receive multimillion-pound rebates. France will receive €1bn and former industrial power-house Germany will get €779m.

The Brussels behemoth and its gravy train thunders along immune to austerity and deaf to pleas for reform.

Staff are far too numerous, overpaid with gold-plated pensions, led by unaccountable mandarins who send out directives like confetti and who are about as useful. This unelected, unaccountable, overstaffed organisation has never had its accounts signed off by the auditors.

Cameron must act decisively and freeze further payments especially with Ukip now a force to be reckoned with.

Clark Cross

Linlithgow, West Lothian

If Mr Cameron is not going to pay this £1.7bn EU demand, why not take the political initiative and make a desperately needed gesture to the Ebola catastrophe and divert these very funds, on behalf of both the UK and EU, to this tragedy. This really would leave the European Commission shame-faced if anyone dare raise an objection. 

Peter Gibson

Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire

If the non-binding pledges announced by European governments in Brussels on Friday morning are an indication of the global response to climate change, the world and its inhabitants are in big,  big trouble.

Members of the European Commission and European Council championed the commitments for emission reductions, energy conservation, and the increase of renewable power sources that were contained in the agreement, but the targets simply are not strong enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the rate demanded by the science of climate change.

To describe 40 per cent emissions cuts as adequate or ambitious, as EU leaders are doing, is dangerously irresponsible. 40 per cent is off the radar of climate science. This deal does nothing to end Europe’s dependency on fossil fuels or to speed up our transition to a clean energy future. It’s a deal that puts dirty industry interests ahead of citizens and the planet.

Alan Hinnrichs


Groucho Marx (1895-1977) once said: “Please accept my resignation. I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member.”

Our Prime Minister David Cameron could well say the same of the EU in an angry response to the shoddy treatment being handed out by a club that  is now in many ways far  too expensive to be a member of.

Dennis Forbes Grattan

Bucksburn, Aberdeen