Letters: The morality of cash-in-hand


One has to wonder about the intellectual quality of government ministers who cannot distinguish between what is moral and what is legal (report, 24 July).

If I pay my plumber in coin of the realm then I am acting legally; if he subsequently fails to pass on to the government a share of that coin, then he is acting illegally.

Morality is something else. What is immoral is to chain the British population to a system where all their efforts are devoted to concentrating the entire wealth of the country into the hands of a tiny elite of the international super-wealthy who get richer and richer as the real creators of that wealth get poorer and poorer.

Alas, members of that plutocracy also now rule us. The Government could easily simplify the tax system to close all those tax loopholes and accountancy scams which are so useful to its rich patrons.

But it won't do that because the real owners of this country, both home-grown and foreign, will not let it. That is real immorality.

Chris Payne


David Gauke's observations on the morality of paying tradesmen cash for a discount fails to consider the possibility that those involved might be trying their best to minimise their exposure to the doubtful moral standards of the big banks.

I am a retired inspector of taxes who worked for many years in a team investigating tradesmen thought to be providing less than honest information to the Inland Revenue.

Our jobs were universally acknowledged to be hugely cost-effective, the level of tax, interest and penalties recovered dwarfing the costs of our employment.

As a minister in the Treasury, Mr Gauke should know that total staffing levels in HMRC are planned to fall to 56,000 by 2015 from 97,000 in 2005.

I wonder what his moral assessment might be of a government which, to achieve "savings", cuts staff known for productivity at a time when their retention would more than pay for itself and bring a welcome fiscal boost to the Treasury.

Barry Butler


I'm proud to be a small part of the Olympic Games

Thank you for giving us, at last, a good news story about the Olympic Games. I too like those in your article "Here Come the Volunteers" (19 July) have taken annual leave to work as a volunteer on the Meet and Greet Team at Heathrow (where our early shift starts at 5.30am rather than the luxurious time of 6am stated in the article).

I have become increasingly annoyed over the past two weeks with the negativity being portrayed by the media for this amazing event. It is a pleasure and a privilege to be meeting athletes, the media and IOC representatives, ensuring that their first impression of London is one of a country proud to be hosting the biggest sporting event in the world.

Much of the feedback we have received to date from those we have met is extremely positive and I hope our work is fulfilling the words of Seb Coe that we can make this a great Games. I am having the time of my life, definitely the pinnacle of my volunteering career to date.

Julie Lewers

Reading, Berkshire

Lesley Docksey (letters, 17 July) is misinformed about arrangements for the London 2012 Olympic Sailing events in Weymouth and Portland. She claims, "Residents are fenced and walled off from any areas where they might view the sea free of charge". This would be impossible. The sea and our Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site will be visible from many vantage points in Weymouth, Portland and Dorset.

It will be a dramatic backdrop to the Olympic and Paralympic sailing races. There will also be a live site on Weymouth's sandy beach where up to 15,000 people can watch sailing and other Olympic action on two giant screens.

Ms Docksey adds, "Residents are allowed to drive in and out of Weymouth only before 10am and after 10pm". The new £89m road between Weymouth and Dorchester means we stand the best possible chance of getting residents and visitors in and out of the town smoothly at all times. Four park-and-ride sites will transport visitors to the heart of the action.

There are a small number of restrictions in the heart of Weymouth. For most of Weymouth, Portland and Dorset residents, plus the hundreds of thousands of visitors we look forward to welcoming, this promises to be a summer to remember.

Simon Williams

Head of Weymouth & Portland 2012 Operations, Weymouth & Portland Borough Council

On 8 July, I tried to buy two tickets for an Olympic boxing event (BX003) for my son and myself. The official website promised a £6 ticket for my six-year-old son, but I could not buy at that price. I had to buy two full-price (£95 each) tickets. There was an option which said I could pick up in person from the Stratford box-office, which is near me. But try as I might I could not uncheck the "Secure Delivery" option, so I had to pay a further £12 for delivery.

On 12 July, I got a grim text from London2012 that I'd receive an email that day with "critical information" which, if unread, would make me miss my event; I received no email on the day. I would like an apology from Locog (and reimbursement).

Aroup Chatterjee

London E8

Now that Locog and its corporate partners have told me in no uncertain terms which payment card I may use, which T-shirt I may wear and even which corpo-burger I may have chips with, it's only polite to let them know that, post-Games, I will be avoiding Visa, Coca-Cola and McDonald's in favour of their competitors at all times.

Gerard Bell

Ascot, Berkshire

A grim legacy for the Coalition

The overwhelming legacy of this political period will be the destruction of all trust in and respect for the governing classes. The expenses scandal, the Murdoch debacle, the banking disaster, the costly Olympic security pantomime, the threat of even more egregious invasions of individual privacy (which this Government sternly opposed when in oppodition), leave us cynical and totally disillusioned.

Offshore banking accounts are a sophisticated form of theft, as are the Government's plans to open a new tax loophole that could cost poor countries in the region of £4bn a year and this country £1bn, having labelled tax-dodging "repugnant".

What we are witnessing is the imposition of an obstinate ideology overriding honesty, prudence, competence and common sense.

These people fiddle while Rome burns, and will themselves be singed. We will turn to the few politicians with integrity, such as Michael Meacher and Jeremy Corbyn, to build something worthwhile from the ashes of the NHS, our education system, and any pretence at democracy.

Eileen Noakes

Totnes, Devon

Farmers should turn on landlords

I'm glad our hard-pressed dairy farmers are getting an agreement on milk prices after their blockades of milk processors and supermarkets. I have no doubt that it will be we consumers who end up paying more for milk, having been convinced by a very clever PR campaign by the farmers that it will be a higher price worth paying.

No one seems to have mentioned that the average rent per hectare for pasture-land in England and Wales continues to rise every year, increasing in 2010-11 by an average of 17.6 per cent, with landlords in the South-east receiving an eye-watering 39.5 per cent increase. Perhaps our valiant farmers could now blockade the properties of the aristocracy and other landowners to press for lower rents.

Colin Burke


Reasons not to sell to pay care

Sue Thomas (letters, 16 July) says that she and her husband have no children and that they "will have no hesitation in selling their house for any future care required. Why should couples with children be treated differently?"

Leaving aside the arguments that money derived from property should not be the defining factor over who receives what, how different her argument might be if the following words had finished her statement, "... even if those children are unemployed, disabled or otherwise incapable of raising their own income and would thus become a burden on taxpayers like me".

Michael O'Hare

Northwood, Middlesex

Tracey draws a clear picture

I would like to make it categorically clear that at no time in the 20 years that I have known the artist Sarah Lucas have I ever been interested in any kind of sexual relationship with her ("Older British artist", 21 July).

This has nothing to do with sexual orientation. It's just that my relationship and friendship with Sarah at the beginning was based on hard work and creativity.

And as Sarah pointed out in the article, I am extremely dramatic and when I want something I'm not the kind of person to keep it a secret.

Tracey Emin RA

Professor of Drawing, London E1

In brief...

Clara needed no microphone

Your correspondent Peter Connolly asks (letters, 23 July) how to broadcast music to 80,000 people without massive electronic amplification. It's the difference between singing (combining volume with projection and without microphone) and crooning (near-inaudible without artificial amplification). No one in the audience had difficulty hearing Clara Butt when she sang in Hyde Park on British Empire Day in 1927.

Bob Carlisle

London SE8

It's all rubble

Deborah Ross has written again on the evils of creationism (19 July) with still no indication of what Deborah herself believes. Perhaps she goes along with the idea that all matter (and anti-matter) was once contained in a space the size of a pinhead which then exploded and produced everything we see around us? Give me her pink unicorn coughing up rubble any time.

Bob Langley


Name your bank

I was interested to read your correspondent's comments, (letters, 23 July) for not dealing with the Co-op Bank due to its connections with Total. I would be very interested indeed to learn which whiter-than-white bank he now deals with.

John Sharkey


CAP this

In France, the land that owns the EU CAP subsidy, a litre of fresh semi-skimmed milk is about €1.10 to €1.29 per litre in the supermarkets. There is also not much on display, 10 to 15 litres of all varieties. Most French drink UHT, which is a lot cheaper. In fact, the range of cream products for such a culinary nation is woeful.

Colin Stone


Flaming April

Francis Wheen overlooks one reason why living in the countryside is not dull ("The country's not the place for a quiet life", 23 July). You could be one of his neighbours ("Bonfire of the first editions: author loses life's work in garden shed fire", 16 April).

Dr Alex May


Why cap that?

To ramble naked with intent, presumably you need a rucksack large enough to put a tent in (letters, 23 July). But why the hat?

Richard Bryden

Craig-y-don, Llandudno