May it please Theresa, I have eyes to see and tongue to speak in this house

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Tuesday 07 February 2017 16:55 GMT
Donald Trump should not address Parliament says House of Commons speaker John Bercow
Donald Trump should not address Parliament says House of Commons speaker John Bercow (PA)

US news outlets carried the vow of John Bercow, the sanctimonious Tory renegade to block Donald Trump from speaking in Parliament.

A man who makes so much of his vaunted neutrality shouldn’t be making controversial political interventions which clearly have no consequences for him but most certainly have for Britain.

John Cameron

St Andrews

Speaker of the House, William Lenthall said in 1642, “May it please your Majesty, I have neither eyes to see, nor tongue to speak in this place.”

What a pity it is that the office of Speaker of the House of Commons has been allowed to deteriorate to the level where the current incumbent feels entitled to give his opinions full rein while the House is sitting.

If he wishes to act like a backbencher he should resign his great office before he does it further damage.

Douglas Sabin


Not so free at the point of service

I was puzzled by your editorial (The NHS requires desperate reform, Tuesday) claiming that nearly half of all Britons would be happy to pay upfront charges for some NHS care, thus apparently breaching the founding principle of the NHS. The reality is that most of us pay at the point of use for dentistry, eye tests and prescriptions. We are constantly urged to reduce the burden on family doctors, with the result that many of us bypass the local surgery and go straight to the pharmacy, where we get prompt advice and buy over-the-counter medicines.

I agree that the nation needs to pay more for its healthcare, but we also need greater transparency about how much we are actually paying, both indirectly and at the point of use.

Sam Boote


An ‘educated’ take on Brexit

Hugh Murray (Letters, 7 February) makes a cogent argument against the EU. However, as arguably an “educated person”, my critical faculties allow me to see the other side of the argument: favourable access to 500 million customers in the single market, legislation which protects the environment, workplace rights (especially for women) and the protection of British business (eg the block on cheap imports of Chinese steel) and the threat of huge financial losses if we leave, predicted by both the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Office for Budget Responsibility.

Furthermore, far from “the devastating effect that unrestricted movement of people has on unskilled workers”, we rely on EU immigrants to do the jobs that British people are unqualified or unwilling to do, eg doctors, nurses and fruit pickers.

Brexiteers would do well to read independent studies (for example by University College London) that show EU immigration brings a net benefit of at least £2bn per year (and 60 per cent are graduates).

Martin Heaton


The Government are making the right noises on housing but significant challenges remain

The Government’s change in language on housing in recent months, culminating in the long-awaited White Paper, reveals a significant shift in policy.

The Government has recognised that we need to build more homes, but crucially that we need to be build “the right number of the right homes”.

This shift away from a sole focus on home ownership is an extremely encouraging one indeed – recognition that owning a home and having access to a home is not the same thing is surely the first step to solving our housing crisis.

The Government has also demonstrated its intent to do just this.

Measures to speed up development, extra investment and more flexibility should all contribute to helping housing organisations get on the road to building the minimum of 250,000 homes we need every year.

But what about the people that Theresa May pledged to support when she took office? What about the people who need housing the most and the mounting number of homeless people in the UK?

Housing is still out of reach for too many people in the UK. And though some of the measures announced in the White Paper signal real intent to build more affordable rented homes, significant challenges still remain for vulnerable people and the organisations that support them.

It is positive the Government has recognised the crucial need to cater for the quarter of the population for whom home ownership is simply not a realistic prospect. But it should now extend that logic to the people who need housing the most by supporting councils to build thousands of new homes and ensuring we build more homes for social rent – truly affordable rents which remain the only viable housing option for many people.

The housing White Paper is a good start but we need so much more to really solve our housing crisis.

Terrie Alafat CBE, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing

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