Letters: Tories' hissy fit demeans Parliament

The following letters appear in the 29 October edition of the Independent

Independent Voices@IndyVoices
Wednesday 28 October 2015 18:22
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The Tories are behaving with extraordinary petulance and bad temper over the vote in the Lords against their plans for cuts in tax credits.

Before the election they were continually asked about where exactly the cuts would fall and they refused to elucidate. They then produced a manifesto which did not detail this particular target, tax credits, and now they complain when the House of Lords does its job and requires that the proposed legislation is further scrutinised.

The ridiculous hissy fit that has ensued demeans the parliamentary process and makes David Cameron and George Osborne appear either incompetent or dishonest. Either way its scary that these people are running the country.

Angela Peyton

Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

It was surely clear that the use of a Statutory Instrument for such a major change to benefits arrangements ran a high risk of being challenged, statutory instruments being one of the few areas where the Lords do still have their rights under the constitution to delay or suggest amendments.

Osborne and Cameron no doubt thought they were being clever by trying to sneak this major change through without full scrutiny within the House of Commons. What is the House of Lords for in this day and age if not to safeguard us from overweening politicians?

It would no doubt suit the present government, in their drive to emasculate the opposition, to remove yet another check or balance from our unwritten constitution. Just think of the outcry if this had happened under a Labour government.

If the opinion polls are to be believed, more than 60 per cent of the electorate approve of what the Lords did on Monday. They made the most of their limited remit under our constitution and stood up for the less fortunate in our society. Well done, your Lordships!

Neil Kobish

Barnet, Hertfordshire

There is no constitutional crisis because of the actions of the Lords. There is however a crisis of democracy.

David Cameron gained election votes by concealing his party’s true intentions. There was no inkling of Osborne’s planned savage attacks on hard-working lower-paid and middle-income people. The huge losses have been clearly explained in The Independent’s articles, but never by George Osborne. Cameron’s public statements during the election just offered honeyed words about welfare reform.

Fraud includes “making a false representation dishonestly knowing that the representation was or might be untrue or misleading with intent to make a gain for himself or another”.

Peter Brooker

West Wickham, Kent

The political composition of the House of Lords is more representative of the result of the last election, than the political composition of the House of Commons, where the Conservatives have a clear majority of the seats on a vote of just 36.9 per cent. Labour, with the Liberal Democrats, Greens and SNP, achieved 46.8 per cent.

I would say that, on this basis, democracy has prevailed.

John Read

Saffron Walden, Essex

We have a House of Lords to stop absolute power corrupting the House of Commons and a monarch to stop absolute power corrupting a prime minister. If occasionally they assert themselves it is confirming the presence of a safeguard and should be welcomed. Waiting five years for a popular vote without any intermediate safeguards would not be wise.

The veto on tax credits was an appropriate response to a dogmatic policy that had not been thought through. The appropriate response is to think policies through, not remove the safeguard.

Jon Hawksley

London EC1

Court charges punish a rape victim

The Government’s “tax on justice” strikes again as a rape victim is denied compensation (report, 28 October). How is this fair?

The Independent deserves credit for highlighting the unintended consequences of punitive court charges. Surely justice is not best served by depriving sexual abuse victims of reparations, penalising minor offenders with unaffordable bills or compelling innocent defendants to plead guilty.

Possible breaches of human rights aside, allowing judges no discretion over the charges only compounds the unfairness of this levy. At least 50 magistrates have already resigned. More are likely to follow.

While principles of social justice and fairness may have underlined the Government’s court charge policy, the outcome is neither just not fair. Time to change.

Dr Christina Julios

London SW10

The Tory government’s defence of the oppressive mandatory criminal court charge and the exorbitant civil court fees, is that the justice system should be paid for by the users, not the taxpayer. In terms of their classical economic analysis “justice” is a commodity in the same category as clothing or vegetables and should be treated accordingly.

This is a profound mistake. All citizens, even those who never go to court, have an interest in their state having a fair and well regarded justice system, accessible to all. It is the bedrock of the rule of law and civil order. It is a classical example of what Adam Smith categorised as a “public good”, to be paid for out of general taxation.

Only a Tory blinded by a doctrinaire adherence to misunderstood economic theory could be stupid enough to mistake a public good for a commodity.

Tony Somers

London SW5

Nothing will ever satisfy Blair critics

If Tony Blair was to don a hair shirt and work barefoot from London to Rome, this would not be enough to silence his critics (letters, 27 October). Although the invasion of Iraq was a terrible error, he thought he was saving the people of Iraq from a ghastly dictator who was busy killing his own people.

The reason that, above all the mistakes made by successive British governments since 1945, this one still resonates is because he has never been forgiven for not creating the socialist paradise that the hard left longed for, despite his two sessions as Prime Minister. The fact that he became wealthy just compounds his betrayal.

Perhaps every future Prime Minister should have on his desk a notice saying: “Don’t Interfere in the Middle East unless it presents a real threat to this country”

Lyn Brooks

Ongar, Essex

There are no words that Tony Blair could use to apologise adequately. Perhaps if were to spend his days on the beach of Lesbos assisting the increasingly desperate refugees, with his millions sequestered to help create decent reception centres, that might be a fitting and honourable response to his situation.

Brian G Mitchell

Cambridge

Should the BBC be funding orchestras?

The prospect of funding cuts to the BBC puts the Corporation in line with other public broadcasters. In Australia’s case, the ABC’s decision to divest itself of six symphony orchestras (which were funded jointly with state governments and city councils) several years ago gave the orchestras and the music scene a vital lifeline.

State government funding became more generous, federal funding took over from the ABC contribution and the orchestras, freed from the constraints of Broadcasting House became local, self-managed and able to access corporate sponsorship which had not existed before, whilst the ABC was able to retain broadcasting rights.

For the BBC to divest itself of its orchestras would not necessarily constitute the end of the musical world (letter, 23 October).

Similarly, Britons might ask exactly why the Corporation should be the funding body for the annual Proms season, which is an immense benefit to London but not much of one to Birmingham, Cardiff or Manchester. Birmingham City Council is expected to subsidise its symphony orchestra (and does). Wealthy London reaps the benefit of the Proms without any financial contribution from its local government.

Michael Rolfe

Brighton

Travelling exhibition?

I hope that those wishing to visit the Ai Weiwei exhibition at the Royal Academy are not lured by your article on the “rancorous roots of the Royal Academy” (28 October), which states that the RA “opened at Somerset House, where it remains to this day”. When I last passed it, the RA was at Burlington House in Piccadilly.

John Crocker

Cheltenham

It’s only human to eat meat

Emily Stevens makes the surprising assertion that it is “wrong” to “kill animals” (letter, 28 October). Is it? Surely humans are omnivores.

Michael O’Hare

Northwood, Middlesex

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