Letters: Perspectives on the royal finances

Related Topics

Queen deserves proper justice

The appalling injustice with which the Queen has been treated should be made clear ("Government has wrested control of Palace finances from monarchy", 23 September).

Since 1760, the annual surplus of the hereditary Crown estate has been surrendered by monarchs to Parliament in return for a Civil List and for the Government to meet other official expenditure in support of the sovereign, a bargain renewed at the start of every reign.

But while the Crown estate revenue rose steadily, peaking at £226.5m last year, Her Majesty's Civil List has been frozen at £7.9m for more than 20 years and is now worth only a quarter of its 1990 value.

What does the Government do with the bulk of this Crown estate money; where are the accounts? For years, Palace accounts have been published, and with far greater transparency than the financial dealings of politicians. Do we really want them to have even more power over the nation's finances?

What an abysmal return for the Queen's long years of service to this country which now may only deserve in a head of state the reckless expenditure of the republican presidents of France and Italy.

Jennifer Miller, London SW15

Chopping the head off our Monarch

Is it correct to say it has taken 400 years to wrest control of Royal expenses? I thought Cromwell did it immediately by chopping the King's head off, with disastrous results.

No one liked Britain without a monarch, and by turning the monarchy into another government department we are slowly chopping its head off again.

A total of £15m to maintain the Royal palaces is a fiddling sum compared with other budgets and bank chiefs' earnings. I am not a raving monarchist, but I feel we run the risk of forgetting we are talking about the Monarch.

William Thomas, Totnes, Devon

Before the rise of Cromwell

It's hard to take seriously a historical survey of royal financial rights which commences with a historical howler.

Charles I did indeed order soldiers into the House of Commons to arrest five members, but Oliver Cromwell was not among the five: at that stage, he was merely another obscure country MP.

Gillian Ball, Coventry

Cable, bankers and capitalism

Lord Turner, the chairman of the Financial Services Authority, defends bankers by saying there was a need to "move beyond the demonisation of overpaid traders". Instead, he points to regulation which had failed to recognise and address the dangers in the financial system.

That defence is akin to blaming department stores for encouraging shoplifters by first having goods on display, then by not employing enough security staff.

Simon G Gosden, Rayleigh, Essex

Business Secretary Vince Cable calls bankers "spivs and gamblers". Coming from a British MP, a body of people who have brought shame on the whole country, that is chutzpah, par excellence.

Dai Woosnam, Grimsby

The Business Secretary's comment about the "murky world of corporate behaviour" has led to cries of indignation from private sector leaders and a backlash from industry, but many businesses will welcome more of a debate about market ethics.

Richard Lambert of the CBI is reported to have said it will be interesting to hear Mr Cable's ideas for an alternative to capitalism. We are already out here. A total of 75 per cent of the people say they see co-operative businesses as behaving fairly, three times the level of trust in PLCs.

The past two years have been tough. But co-operatives across the UK are in rude health. Our latest figures show that co-operative businesses have pushed up their combined turnover by some 15.8 per cent to almost £34bn; during the same period, UK GDP decreased by 4.9 per cent.

Ed Mayo, Secretary General, Co-operatives UK, Manchester

Vince Cable's thesis that free competition is a virtue is accepted too readily. Unfashionable they may be, but both monopoly capitalism and nationalisation have benefits for us, both as workers and consumers. Self-exploitation is the name of the game in many a corner shop, where the wages are low, the hours long and the choice poor. Deregulation of buses ruined public transport in several of our cities for decades.

Countries try to manage transport, health and education with a view to equal, national provision. Monopoly capitalism is second best, but give me a good-quality supermarket over that corner shop any day. Mr Cable has a quaint, romantic vision. In reality, what we need is more, not less, monopoly.

Dr Quentin Deakin, Bingley, West Yorkshire

Vince Cable's anti-capitalist credentials remain less than fully burnished, his conference speech notwithstanding. He thinks, speaks and writes as an economist – his original trade – and this shows in his recent book, The Storm.

It is infinitely preferable to be civilised rather than rich. When viewed against a sufficiently long perspective, it is clear that capitalism is a transitional phenomenon between absolute scarcity, when group survival depends on altruism, and a potential future of effectively limitless material availability when means of exchange will become otiose.

Capitalism is not the final solution; it has not "won", but it is a source of immense suffering, inequality, greed and a cornucopia of other undesirable things while we are subject to its uncivilising influence.

Politicians should deal with capitalism in a utilitarian rather than supine manner. Who rules? Paper and its manipulators or the people through their elected representatives?

Steven Ford, Haydon Bridge, Northumberland

Am I alone in noticing Vince Cable's remarkable transformation from Mr Bean to Stalin?

Simon Clegg, Leeds

Freedom for local councils

We wholeheartedly agree with calls by the 2020 Public Services Trust to decentralise power and enable communities to commission services locally ("Coalition's cuts will not remove need for tax rises, says study", 14 September). We have long argued that local solutions are more efficient than national ones and can deliver significant savings to local taxpayers.

For example, the first and only port of call for anyone claiming benefits should be the local council, with housing, social care and employment services all under one roof. If implemented nationally we believe this would generate around £4bn worth of efficiency savings across the UK. Equally, councils should provide all community care instead of the multiple organisations that currently offer health and social services. By stripping out waste and duplication, we estimate national savings here would be more than £5bn.

To achieve this we have called on the Coalition Government to agree to the creation of "Foundation Councils", a concept that has been jointly developed by ourselves, Hammersmith and Fulham and Wandsworth.

Free from the stranglehold that civil servants have on local authority spending, as a Foundation Council we would have new powers to trade and share services, set business rates and introduce by-laws. We would also be exempt from centrally imposed inspection regimes such as Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission.

These may seem like small and obvious steps, but they are key in rolling back the lumbering juggernaut of the central state in favour of nimble and targeted local services.

Councillor Colin Barrow, Leader, Westminster City Council, London SW1

We're still in hock to PFI

The Treasury has come up with a remarkable new definition of value for money. Since the credit crunch, the cost of private finance for public infrastructure has become even more expensive; but rather than reviewing PFI projects the Treasury has judged them "value for money in the context of stimulating the economy".

Government is pushing ahead with a massive increase in these projects, particularly for waste, and has allocated £2bn to seed dozens of (mostly) giant waste incinerators. The National Audit Office reported in July that the costs of the Greater Manchester Waste PFI will increase by 12 per cent per year under the new regime. These extra costs will be met by local taxpayers and will be classed as "off balance-sheet" debt. In a separate report to a House of Lords inquiry last March, the NAO warned that rigid long-term PFI contracts "could have an adverse impact on the budgets available to public authorities for other, non-PFI, expenditure", and that "essential public services in future years [must not be] unduly constrained or jeopardised by such commitments".

It seems the government has learnt nothing from the £65bn PFI hospital debt but are still in hock to the idea of "debt-propelled" economic growth.

Jane Green, Coventry

Real fatherof wi-fi

In "Wandering Wirelessly" (Comment, 14 September) Mary Dejevsky said she did not know who invented wi-fi. There is an excellent article on this in the journal, Physics World (vol 23, no 7, July 2010).

John O'Sullivan, a radio astronomer, is the person who can be credited with its discovery and development, although it has been blighted by legal battles and controversy.

O'Sullivan worked in the field of aperture synthesis, a means of combining the signals from several radio telescopes to create a much larger virtual "dish" to allow radio astronomers to synthesise images of discrete radio sources. The aperture synthesis radio telescope was developed by Professor Sir Martin Ryle over 40 years ago, for which he got the Nobel Prize in 1974.

O'Sullivan worked on the electronic implementation of microelectronics to implement the mathematics of fast Fourier transforms needed in this instrumentation. He took out his first patent in 1992, and from this we now have wi-fi.

Forgive the technicalities, but I feel that it is yet another illustration of how "pure" research, which to many had no relevance, can produce applications which most now regard as essential to modern living. Another relevant lesson when government is again considering savage cuts in pure research.

Don Pomfret, York

BASBO these naughty animals

A badger anti-social behaviour order? Or perhaps Stuart Allen (Letters, 23 September) could try marking his territory as he complains the badgers do? I really can't think what else to suggest to help poor, besieged Mr Allen deal with the invasion of his suburban idyll by these vandals.

Causing criminal damage to his fencing and building new setts without any regard to local planning regulations, they undermine not only the foundations of his patio and greenhouse but the very foundations of decent society by their actions. What can one do when these delinquents don't even respect a wall that is Grade II-listed?

No wonder Mr Allen complains of the unfairness of legislation that prevents him from getting rid of every one of them; these badgers show no respect whatsoever for the laws that govern our possession of land. Shame really, as otherwise they might wish to enforce some rights against him for his damaging interference with the runs and sett entrances that provide egress and access to their food and shelter. Or perhaps they get satisfaction enough from what they do on his lawn?

Nina Grahame, Tarbock, Cheshire

Jesus answered a trick question

Dominic Lawson ("Pope Benedict, an apology", 21 September) is wrong to suggest that Jesus declared the temporal and the spiritual worlds should be entirely separate.

His hostile opponents were told to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's because he had been asked the trick question, "Should we pay taxes to Caesar or not?" They hoped he would say no so they could arrest him. He disappointed them with an ambiguous answer.

Mathew 25.31 to the end spells out the need to express love, a spiritual experience and value, with action here and now. In the story he told of the sheep and the goats, the sheep were commended because "I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me".

To love your neighbour as your self is a commandment, disobedience to which has uncomfortable consequences for the goats. Such a love is politically effective when it is expressed in just legislation. Unjust legislation is expensive, as we are now discovering. Papal encyclicals have said wise things about the failure of the free market to promote the common good.

The Rev Paul Nicolson, Chairman Zacchaeus 2000 Trust, London SW1

Pop goes his festival tale

Having been too young to go to the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival but having watched Murray Lerner's film, I too raised my eyebrows at Terry Eaton's letter of 20 September. The festivals he describes sound much more like the first two small Glastonbury festivals, which were in 1970 and 1971, with audiences of 1,500 at the first and 12,000 the following year.

The Isle of Wight Festivals started with a relatively small concert in 1968, but by 1969 and 1970, were much larger and headlined respectively by Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix. Attendances were at 150,000 and 500,000. There was no 1971 Isle of Wight Festival.

If Terry thought he was on the Isle of Wight but was actually at Glastonbury then he had clearly either taken a wrong turning or something very strong indeed.

Charles King, St Albans, Hertfordshire

More credit to the Hurricane

I served at the RAF air traffic control centre Gloucester in the mid-Fifties with veteran aircrew of the Second World War, and some were concerned that authors were already trying to rewrite RAF history.

Further to David Foster's letter (15 September) about the Hawker Hurricane, it is worth noting that it was responsible for three-fifths of enemy losses during the Battle of Britain, and this was not only due to greater numbers of Hurricanes available but also because it was a far superior gun platform and more manoeuvrable, the latter of particular importance because most dogfights were fought along horizontal paths.

The fighter pilot Ginger Lacey's observation that "I'd rather fly in a Spitfire but rather fight in a Hurricane" speaks volumes.

Alan Probert, London E6

Speaking the language of love

Joe Bryan's remarks on multilingualism (Letters, 17 September) are endorsed by the experience of my son, whose knowledge of German and French was the key to obtaining a responsible job at the European Bank in Frankfurt.

As a bonus, he met the French girl who became his long-term partner. And they converse together in German, in which each is more fluent than in the other's native tongue.

Bob Heys, Halifax

To excise Hamlet or not to excise

Michael Coveney (22 September) thinks it fine to solve the problem of interpreting the "haunting" (therefore significant) final episode of Hamlet by excising it: to me, this is a defacement.

Where he sees exciting variation among the productions he mentions I see the same old interpretation, based on abnormal darkness or mercuriality in the main character's mind (just what the excised words cause us to question), relentlessly repeated.

The story is about someone caught in and destroyed by a terrible trap defined by politics and religion, just as so many of Shakespeare's contemporaries were and as so many of ours are.

Martin Hughes, Wokingham, Berkshire

Beam me down

In Star Trek 5, Captain Kirk tried to establish the bona fides of someone who appeared to be God (Letters, 23 September). Bones (Dr McCoy) protested: "Jim! You don't ask the Almighty for his ID."

John Richards, St Ives, Cornwall

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Tory MP David Tredinnick arrives at 10 Downing Street  

Astrology wouldn’t just be a boon to the NHS – think how much better it could make MI5

Matthew Norman

Dear Nick: a personal letter to my wonderful husband

Rebecca Armstrong
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?