Letters: Lords refuse to play Osborne's game

The following letters appear in the 28 October edition of the Independent

Independent Voices
Tuesday 27 October 2015 18:24 GMT

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


The Conservative declaration of a “constitutional crisis” is disingenuous, and I’m disappointed that a party which normally has respect for the constitution is now disregarding it.

If the Chancellor had included the tax credit cuts in his Budget then the Lords would have been overstepping the bounds of the well-established convention that the Lords does not oppose supply. The tax credit cuts, however, were not a money bill but a Statutory Instrument, which the Lords are entirely within their right and prerogative to reject – indeed, Statutory Instruments are specifically excluded from the 1911 Parliament Act, which governs Public Bills.

A Statutory Instrument which is intended for formal and procedural rate adjustment is being misused to push through a significant and controversial measure with little opportunity for debate.

George Osborne was trying to game the system but the Lords declined to play. The House of Lords is behaving entirely properly and constitutionally, and the Lords are defending democracy by requiring this policy to be scrutinised in full.

Robert Frazer

Salford, Greater Manchester

The Conservatives have only themselves to blame for their difficulties with the House of Lords. Why did they not reform the House of Lords on a mostly elected basis, as had been agreed with the Liberal Democrats under the Coalition Agreement?

Stephen Schlich


However much one may agree with the sentiments behind the Lords’ decision to put tax credit cuts on hold, their interference in a financial matter put forward by the elected government can only be condemned. The fact that the House of Lords is not an elected body does not really make a lot of difference – if the Lords were elected then they would act in just the same way in similar circumstances.

The threat made before the vote that the Tories would create a hundred or more Tory peers is reminiscent of the tactics during the battle over Lloyd George’s budget in 1909. But today that would generate hostility from the public, who are already disenchanted at the large number of political cronies, now peers, who turn up each day to sign the attendance register and claim their £300.

Hopefully the Lords have so incensed the PM and the Chancellor that they will decide at last to abolish the House of Lords altogether, and not a moment too soon.

John Orton


Navy engineers exposed to asbestos

If Service personnel have been exposed to the lethal mineral asbestos, and as a result have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, they, like their civilian counterparts, deserve and are entitled to compensation (report, 24 October).

For the Government to hide behind legislation in order to evade their liability is incomprehensible. The Conservative government needs to do something now in order to repeal the offending 1987 statute, which they introduced simply to make the public perceive they were addressing the disgraceful earlier Act of 1947. They also need to pay a lump sum award now to all those affected by this fatal disease.

Many Royal Navy engineers in particular were being negligently exposed to the substance long after it was known by the MoD that many of them would eventually develop and die from cancer. As an HM dockyard superintendent in the 1950s and 1960s, responsible for engineering maintenance of warships, I know that your report is correct and that affected men are being disadvantaged simply because they chose to wear the uniform of HM the Queen.

We are now in the 21st century; minority discrimination should be a thing of the past. It is not, and The Independent has once again identified that everyone is not equal and often treated differently.

It is apparent that the Service and veteran organisations are getting nowhere in encouraging the Government to deal with this issue, so perhaps the time is long overdue for individual MPs from all sides and Service heads to unite and provide the loyalty and financial support they deserve.

Paul Cox


UK to welcome an enemy of freedom

We are appalled to hear that President Abdelfattah el-Sisi of Egypt is due to visit the UK in early November.

As students, university staff and academics, we condemn the British government’s uncritical support for Sisi’s regime, which is responsible for an unprecedented assault on academic and political freedoms.

According to the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression, last academic year alone 761 Egyptian students were arrested, 89 of whom faced trial in military courts. Academic critics of the regime such as Professor Emad Shahin have been sentenced to death in mass trials condemned by international human rights organisations as farcical.

We call on students, trade unionists and all those who care about freedom of expression and democratic rights in Egypt to protest against Sisi’s visit, and to call on the UK government to end all forms of military and financial support for the Egyptian regime.

Emeritus Professor Jane Aaron, University of South Wales

Professor Nadje Al-Ali, SOAS

Professor Patrick Ainley, University of Greenwich

Dr Anne Alexander, University of Cambridge

Shelly Asquith Vice President for Welfare, National Union of Students

Professor Ruth Aylett, Heriot-Watt University

Dr Maha Azzam, The British Academy for Social Sciences

Dr Alex Bellem, Durham University

Mr Ahmed El-Bakary, Vice Head of the National Union of Students in Egypt and Head of Al-Azhar University Student Union.

Professor Paul Blackledge, Leeds Beckett University and UCU National Executive

Professor Bob Brecher, University of Brighton

Dr Francesca Burke, University of Brighton

Professor Ray Bush, University of Leeds

Dr John Chalcraft, London School of Economics

Professor David Colquhoun, University College London

Dr Simon Cross, Nottingham Trent University

Dr Rowland Curtis, Queen Mary University of London

Johnny Darlington, SOAS UCU

Professor Jonathan Davies, De Monfort University

Dr Benjamin Dawson, Queen Mary University of London

Professor James Dickins, University of Leeds

Dr Mehmet Ali Dikerdem, Middlesex University

Ruth Dineen, Cardiff University

Professor Brian Doherty, Keele University

Professor Naomi Eilan, University of Warwick

Dr Christian Emery, University of Plymouth

Martyn Everett, Independent scholar

Dr Cristina Flesher Fominaya, University of Aberdeen

Dr Priyamvada Gopal, University of Cambridge

Professor Emeritus Timothy Gorringe, University of Exeter

Dr Hugo Gorringe, University of Edinburgh

Dr Toni Haastrup, University of Kent

Dr Adam Hanieh, SOAS

Dr Kate Hardy, University of Leeds

Dr Graeme Hayes, Aston University

Dr Marion Hersh, University of Glasgow and UCU NEC

Dr Tom Hickey, University of Brighton

Professor Lynn Jamieson, University of Edinburgh

Dr Carole Jones, University of Edinburgh

Dr Lee Jones, Queen Mary University of London

Emeritus Professor Ken Jones, Goldsmiths

Oula Kadhum, University of Warwick

Professor Laleh Khalili, SOAS

Professor Alex Law, Abertay University

Dr Yann Lebeau, University of East Anglia

Professor Michael Loughlin, MMU Cheshire

Dr Suhail Malik, Goldsmiths

Dr Nathan Manning University of York

Professor Tim May, University of Durham

Jo McNeill President, University of Liverpool UCU and UCU NEC

Dr Saladin Meckled-Garcia, University College London

Gabriel Newfield Fellow (retired Pro-Director), University of Hertfordshire

Sandy Nicoll SOAS Unison

Professor Samir Okasha Bristol University

Associate Professor Goldie Osuri University of Warwick

Emeritus Professor William Outhwaite University of Newcastle

Dr Owen Parker University of Sheffield

Professor Adrian Piper APRA Foundation Berlin

Professor Malcolm Povey University of Leeds

Dr Laura Povoledo University of the West of England

Dr Nicola Pratt University of Warwick

Mostafa Rajaai International Students Officer, National Union of Students

Dr Keith Reader University of London Institute in Paris

Steve Rooney University of Leicester

Dr Chris Rossdale University of Warwick

Dr Sally Ruane De Monfort University

Professor Raphael Salkie University of Brighton

Dr Julian Saurin University of Sussex

Dr Rasha Soliman University of Leeds

Dr James Sprittles University of Warwick

Harry Stopes University College London

Sibel Taylor Oxford Brookes University

Lisa Tilley University of Warwick

John Wadsworth Goldsmiths

Sean Wallis University College London and UCU National Executive Committee

Saira Weiner Liverpool John Moore’s Uni, UCU NEC, Chair of Women’s Committee

Dr Elisa Wynne-Hughes Cardiff University

Rugby in the middle of the night

I’m Australian; and having spent the last fortnight in the UK attending two Wallaby games at Twickenham I’m now back home and planning my weekend around watching the Wallabies take on the All Blacks in the Rugby World Cup final.

Part and parcel of being from the Southern Hemisphere is that much of your sport viewing is going to happen in the middle of the night. It’s a normal part of antipodean life: Ashes, Wimbledon, rugby (either code), London Olympics, the annual three-week bout of sleep deprivation that is the Tour de France. Everyone can, and will, get up in the middle of the night to watch whatever it is that’s happening in daylight on the other side of the world.

So I’ll be up on Sunday morning to watch. A 4pm Twickenham kick-off means 3am kick-off here. It couldn’t be a worse time difference, but the alarm will be set and it’s a small price to pay. Go Wallabies; and Advance Australia Fair... Especially in the wee small hours.

Dr Liz Mackson

Edgecliff, New South Wales, Australia

A star with her feet on the ground

The excellent interview (27 October) by Simmy Richman reminds me of some years ago when I stood behind Charlotte Church in a queue for the checkout in IKEA in Cardiff.

I was struck by how polite and pleasant she was with a starstruck girl on the till. I wish more celebs were as down-to-earth and honest in their views, and could see beyond their PR machine to the messed-up society they thrive on and perpetuate. The interview also reminds me that your paper is a refuge from the hideous right-wing press.

Rob Heale

Carmarthen, Dyfed

Bacon survivor still alive at 116

What are we to make of the juxtaposition of articles (27 October) about the World Heath Organisation’s categorisation of preserved meat as “definitely carcinogenic”, and the longevity of 116-year-old Susannah Mushatt, which she attributes to a daily breakfast of, inter alia, bacon?

Pork pies, damned pork pies, and statistics.

Jeremy Redman

London SE6

Surely the fact that cancer is linked to eating animals is irrelevant. The reason we should not eat animal products is that it’s wrong to harm and kill animals. Animals used in the dairy and egg industry live longer and are treated just as badly as their “meat” counterparts. They also end up in the same slaughterhouse to become meat.

Emily Stevens


Lucky to be able to work hard

“We haven’t been lucky ... we’ve worked bloody hard,” writes Janet Street-Porter of herself and her college contemporaries (24 October).

Janet, if you haven’t suffered a disabling illness, or other circumstance that limited your chance in life, you’ve been lucky.

Dave Archer

Barnsley, South Yorkshire

Monte Carlo’s great British sportsman

David Tremayne (27 October) says of Lewis Hamilton that Britain “should just be proud of one of its greatest sportsmen”. I’d be prouder if he wasn’t a tax exile domiciled in Monte Carlo.

Dr Alex May


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