The Government would be very foolish to introduce electric cars without first upgrading the UK's electricity generating and supply network to cope with the increased demand ("Brown's electric dream for Britain", 8 April).
A family saloon has an engine of about 100bhp (76kW). As we won't be doing 70mph all day in a small two-seat electric car, an engine of 20bhp (15kW) will be OK and should cruise at about 50mph. In two hours it will do 100 miles. But before that, we will need to charge its batteries. To do 100 miles will need 30kW hours of electricity. A normal household electrical circuit provides up to 3kW before fuses start to blow. It will take 10 hours before the car is ready to drive 100 miles, or 20 hours if the car is going to get back home.
If just one million small electric cars in the UK want to do 100 miles a day, the extra draw on the electricity supply the night before will be 3,000MW for 10 hours. A giant power station produces 2,000MW and burns about 800 tonnes of coal an hour. To charge one-million electric cars overnight will take the total output of one-and-a-half giant power stations and 12,000 tonnes of coal. In addition to generating capacity, the Government must also upgrade the National Grid and local distribution networks.
Our electricity supply system only just managed to get through last winter without serious blackouts. Add electric cars to the equation and see where that leaves us. Massive investment is needed very swiftly in the UK's electricity infrastructure if Gordon's dream has any chance of reaching reality.
Would it be possible to have an electric car that doesn't look like it was designed for Postman Pat?
Police thuggery must be stopped
In the early 1970s I was a police officer with Sussex Police. It was made perfectly clear by senior officers that we were as subject to the law of the land as anyone, and that we only had to step out of line once to feel the full weight of both the law and our own disciplinary system.
I am appalled at the violence and thuggery we seem to witness, almost weekly, by the very people that ordinary folk are supposed to look to for protection. The Home Secretary has an absolute duty to the public to ensure that all allegations of brutality by the police are properly investigated, and that offending officers are prosecuted and punished in accordance with the law. No cover-ups or stories of lost and mislaid evidence should be tolerated. The Government has to act appropriately now before our police get totally out of control.
The officer responsible for assaulting Ian Tomlinson should be prosecuted for just that – assault. And in the event of evidence coming to light that the attack on Mr Tomlinson brought about his untimely death, then nothing less that a charge of manslaughter would be appropriate.
Paul R Barrett
Stoke St Michael, Somerset
If Ian Tomlinson had not died in such sad circumstances, yet again the behaviour of the police towards those on the periphery of violent protest would have gone unremarked. Having covered many demonstrations over 20 years as a press photographer, I have witnessed numerous criminal assaults committed by the police on people who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. It happens all the time.
While the police have an extraordinarily difficult job, they are not above the law, and yet they very often behave as if they were. The real surprise is that MPs and the Independent Police Complaints Commission have expressed surprise. Have they been asleep, or have they just been caught condoning the unacceptable hidden face of UK policing?
I imagine it must be obvious by now to many people that the excessive use of force by police against demonstrators has a political aim: to stifle lawful protest by intimidating would-be protesters.
Clearly the hope is that if the police warn in advance that demonstrations will be violent and use tactics that increase the likelihood of violence, many people who are feeling unhappy about things and are plucking up the courage to come out and say so publicly, perhaps for the first time, will think again.
I am not sure that blaming the police is the point. But whoever gains from this strategy, if we want to keep, or return to, genuine democracy, it becomes even more important that people put aside their fears and take a stand.
May I save the IPCC time and money in its inquiry into the death of Ian Tomlinson by providing in advance a summary of the police evidence?
1. The officers policing the G20 summit were operating under conditions of great stress.
2. By avoiding eye contact with the officers, Mr Tomlinson acted in a suspicious manner.
3. The fact that Mr Tomlinson's hands were in his pockets suggested that he was texting other protesters concerning police operations and/or concealing weapons.
4. The fact that Mr Tomlinson was walking away from the officers caused them to fear that he might suddenly turn and attack them with the concealed weapons.
5. Throughout, the police acted in good faith.
6. What happened is deeply regretted.
7. Lessons have been learned.
Copt Hewick, North Yorkshire
Mystery portrait of Shakespeare
Jeremy Crick (letter, 30 March), in his kindly concern for my standards of scholarship, draws my attention to a blatant piece of anti-Stratfordian propaganda by Charles Wisner Barrell.
May I in turn, and in no less helpful a spirit, draw his attention to William L Pressly's refutation of this article in his catalogue of the Folger Shakespeare Library's paintings, where he says that "No evidence I have seen supports a date of 1590, and despite the assertion [of another Oxfordian] that the 1590 date is confirmed by the Tudor rose design of the lace collar, the style of the sitter's dress in fact argues for a later date."
Another of your correspondents, Dr Paul Barlow (31 March), referring to attempts to identify the sitter as Sir Thomas Overbury, says – perhaps a little vaguely – that "art historians have been saying this for years". I should be interested to hear if any of these historians has produced fresh evidence for the claim since David Piper made it in publications of 1964 and 1982 where, as a letter that appeared recently over several signatures, including mine, in The Times Literary Supplement shows, he was mistaken in the evidence on which he drew.
Professor Stanley Wells
Chairman, The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warkwickshire
Plight of African migrants in Libya
Ian Birrell's comment regarding the miserable destiny facing African migrants crossing the sea to Europe (1 April) is out of focus. He ignored the simple geographic fact that the huge Libyan desert open borders make it impossible for Libya to control on its own. This reason made Libya repeatedly appeal for help to the EU countries.
Mr Birrell also ignores the EU's repeated failure to fulfil its commitments, which were agreed upon during the second Euro-African Summit in Lisbon. During the EU summit in Spain, 2002, Brother Leader Colonel Qaddafi warned the heads of EU states that security options on their own would not provide a practical solution to illegal African migration to EU countries. He pointed out that creating job opportunities in poor African countries is the realistic and practical solution that encourages Africans not to risk their lives, and to stay in their countries.
Mr Birrell lacked the intention to inform his readers on the economic pressures inflicted by African immigrants on Libyan resources, and the formidable health hazards that Libyan people are exposed to for years because of this problem.
Omar R Jelban
Charge d'affaires, Libyan People's Bureau, London SW1
Cut the fuss about MPs' expenses
May I suggest that an enterprising company offers the facility of something like a John Lewis wedding list for all our MPs and ministers. They can then select items of their choice, and generous taxpayers could volunteer to pay. The items would be directly delivered to the politicians concerned.
The prohibitive cost of processing these expenses through Whitehall in order to claim refunds later would be saved.
There has been much criticism of Jacqui Smith for claiming for "adult" films on her expenses. I find it even more offensive that, at a time when the evidence for disastrous climate change becomes ever clearer, she has spent taxpayers' money on that ludicrous CO2-belching object, a patio heater.
Bradford on Avon,
Blair's advice for the Pope
Tony Blair says the Catholic Church should change its teaching on gay rights and that most ordinary Catholics think the same. Mr Blair is not representative of any ordinary Catholic I know. Ordinary Catholics have the habit of looking closely at the whole of what the Pope has said and reflecting on it with wisdom, humility and obedience.
Mr Blair believes he will cause controversy within the Church, but actually he is nothing new – merely a follower of centuries of anti-clerical blusterers.
The late Cardinal Hume said that Catholicism was not an "a la carte" religion. Tony Blair must have known this when he made his very public conversion. Mr Blair's advocacy of equal rights for homosexuals is admirable, but why on earth did he choose to join a Church with which he fundamentally disagrees on this topic, and indeed many others?
Antony R Young
As a lay person with regard to economics, I would be grateful to be corrected by one of your expert readers, but the way I see it is this. My savings attract a mere tenth of what they did a few months back by way of interest. So my income has been devastated. My bank is reported as reluctant to lend any money. So am I justified in thinking that they are lining their pockets at my expense, and is it OK to hate their guts for that?
Sophie Morris can relax. ("Sexual pleasure is not offensive (unlike this ad)", 9 April.) The advertising codes are in many respects a good deal stricter than the rules governing programme content or films. The Advertising Standards Authority decision on the Durex commercial was very far from allowing it to be shown in prime time. The ASA judged that the ad was not irresponsibly scheduled by Channel 4 at 10.05pm around a Certificate 15 film with an adult theme.
Advertising Standards Authority, LONDON WC1
School for jargon
Obfuscatory education jargon (Letters, 7 April) extends to school building design. My favourite spouting was by our local education authority, at a public meeting about its ill-conceived proposals to rebuild a secondary school. The new site is so small that the building must be of five storeys; its only playground for the 1,600 pupils will be little larger than a tennis court – on the roof. The authority's deputy director explained: "We don't talk about playgrounds nowadays, we have socialisation spaces. The new school has wide corridors, so there will be plenty of socialisation space."
In Jay Merrick's comment piece "The empty vision of Prince Charles" (8 April), he states that the latest submission for Chelsea Barracks will include twice as many living units as the 350 proposed initially. I would like to clarify that the latest submission proposes 552 living units of which 276 are affordable, a 50:50 split, compliant with the Mayor's plan. This is a reduction from the 638 units proposed in the original scheme. In addition, the public open space has increased from two acres to six acres.
Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners
Reading of the obstructive and dismissive behaviour of immigration and visa officials on the one hand, and the sleaze of MPs' expense claims on the other, I wonder if the solution may lie in a job swap. Perhaps we should transfer the sympathetic and understanding staff who check MPs' expense claims to our embassies, while the expense claims could be checked by the most obstructive and unhelpful staff from the Borders Agency.
West Lydford, Somerset