Monday's Letters: We need quality, not quantity, of elected representatives

RECENTLY, there have been a few letters discussing the number of Members of Parliament that this country is saddled with.

There are far too many of them, as is evidenced by the number of days they take as holidays, which, I understand, has increased by two days this year, due to the lack of parliamentary work. Obviously the economic crisis is not of sufficient importance for them to forgo any of their hols.

Now that Gordon Brown has surrendered to Europe, all our MPs have to do is to ratify the laws that emanate from Brussels, and most of these seem to go through "on the nod".

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The Press reports that there are more than 100 MPs retiring at the next election, nothing to do with the expenses scandal of course – just co-incidence.

Surely this would be a good time to cut down on the numbers by not replacing any of them, just re-jigging the electoral boundaries. This tactic could be repeated every time an MP vacancy occurs, until we are down to 300 or so MPs, which would certainly be enough to cope with the workload of the present 646.

Apart from removing a lot of dead wood from the Houses of Parliament, this would save considerable funds in administration and on-going salaries with associated allowances and benefits.

In any case, it is time that the boundaries were altered to democratic sizes. The present boundaries are heavily biased in favour of the Labour party, which is not democratic.

The coming election will be fought over the economy, which is in a very fragile condition. We should not forget who got us into this mess and who has spent billions more of our children's and grandchildren's money trying to get us out of it. Yes, it is Gordon Brown and he's trying to make a virtue of being the worst Chancellor in history.

The sheer size of the amount is hard to grasp, but if I had a billion pounds to spend and spent 1 per second, or 86,400 per day, it would take me almost 32 years to spend 1bn. Remember that when reading about the hundreds of billions Brown has given to the banks.

The best that he can come up with now is to cut the deficit by a half in four years – that's cut the borrowing that his failed policies have burdened this country with. So, in four years time, we'll still be spending 50-60bn more than we are producing.

There's a real risk that UK plc could go bankrupt. Thanks Gordon.

From: Geoff Sweeting, Station Road, Wressle, Selby.

From: George Senior, Spa Well Lane, West Cowick, Goole.

MAY I suggest what I believe to be the best way out of the recession. Get rid of all the political parties and politicians, replacing them all with independent MPs. I can hear the howls: "You have got to have an Opposition."

You can! With 600 independent MPs, you can have 599 in opposition. An independent government is the only one which will truly represent the country and the electorate after an election because they are no longer tied to the coat tails of the party.

It allows them to vote with their conscience. If this country had continued with party politics during the Second World War, we would have lost it. Today's party politics have lost us everything. Especially red, white and blue.

Faces from the past stir memories

From: Colin Jackson, Castle View, Wakefield.

HOW nice to see a picture of Dr Eric Treacy, ("From the Archives", Yorkshire Post, January 14) and to be reminded of what a lovely man he was.

In the early 1960s, when he became suffragan Bishop of Pontefract, I was a local policeman and often bumped into him on his almost daily walks around the Sandal district where he lived. Always without an overcoat, no matter what the weather, and with his heavy walking stick, but always with time to stop and pass the time of day with you.

I recall an occasion when I was dealing with a traffic accident in the evening rush- hour when a car pulled up alongside of me and a voice asked: "Could you do with some help, officer?"

On seeing that it was Dr Treacy, I thought if I say yes, he will ring the police station for me from his home, but no, he parked his car and went out into the road and started directing traffic, allowing me to start taking driver's details and getting the scene cleared. That was Eric Treacy.

From: Colin Newsome, Crescent Grange, Leeds.

YOUR photograph (Yorkshire Post, January 7) of the barber Tom Winterbottom brought back memories. I well remember his little wooden shop at the bottom of Webster Hill in Dewsbury. In fact, Tom cut my hair in the 1950s and '60s. His shop was an Aladdin's Cave. The walls were covered in pictures and mementos. He was a real gentleman barber.

I also remember the shop next door, Ferraries, where I used to take 30 pairs of rag sorters' shears for sharpening, wrapped in canvas and balanced on my bike handle bars, from Henry Day's in Savile Town.

Thanks for the memories

From: RJ Babington, Greenshaw Lane, Patrington.

I WAS interested to see the picture (Yorkshire Post, January 15) showing members of the West Yorkshire Fire Service who attended 300th anniversary of the Great Fire of London.

I also attended this event when a member of the Auxiliary Fire Service attached to Loughborough Fire Station in Leicestershire. The object of the exercise, organised by the Home Office, was to get 300 water jets to work into the docks, one jet for each of the 300 years.

I, too, have several photographs taken on this memorable day.

Legal facts and figures

From: Anthony Sugar, Sugar & Co Solicitors, Park Square, Leeds.

THE general public may be misled by the implications of new measures introduced by the Legal Services Commission (Yorkshire Post, January 11) in relation to legal aid.

The article gives the impression that until these new measures were brought in by the Legal Services Commission, people got legal aid irrespective of their means.

In fact legal aid, even before these new measures, was means tested. Provided the case merited legal aid and you were either on benefits or earning under 12,475 then you got free legal aid, and if you earned between 12,475 and 23,325 then provided you could satisfy a complicated process, again you would obtain legal aid but once you exceeded 23,325 in annual income you were not entitled to legal aid in the magistrates court and at crown court it was open to the judge at the conclusion of a case, where the defendant was convicted, to make him pay a contribution towards his defence.

Therefore, to suggest that there was no means testing prior to January 11 would not be true.

Public need before profit

From: Coun Graham Kyte, South Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority.

I AGREE absolutely with your Editorial comment "On the buses" (Yorkshire Post, January 8). Over recent years, the travelling public in Yorkshire has paid a heavy price for the short-sighted policies of Thatcher governments on de-regulation of our bus services. As you say, they have not worked.

For a long time now Integrated Transport Authorities across the country have been seeking more regulation and we eventually got the 2008 Transport Act which provides a platform for real progress to be made to

this end.

Both South and West Yorkshire ITAs would like to agree quality contracts, providing guaranteed levels of services, times, and fare levels etc., with the major operators, but their response, so far, has been lukewarm

at best.

Worryingly, when this legislation was going through Parliament, Conservative Party spokespersons suggested on more than one occasion that a Tory Government would repeal this legislation if elected. One can only hope that Thatcherite policies are still not lurking below the surface of the "new" Conservative Party being offered by David Cameron.

These policies are discredited. What we need is a return to a transport environment that puts public needs before company profits, and the sooner the better.

Fair labelling is vital to supporting our local farmers

From: Colin Foster, Scalby Beck Road, Scalby, Scarborough.

AS a prime example of urban man, I have little knowledge of rural affairs, but it concerns me where my food comes from, and I like to purchase local produce.

Two articles (Yorkshire Post, January 9 and 12) have raised the plight of our dairy farmers and their difficulty in making a living, especially under pressure from the big supermarkets to keep their prices down.

It saddens me to read about dedicated farmers going out of business because of this and I would willingly pay a few pence more for my pint of milk if I knew that it would benefit the farmers directly. I also agree with the comment that there should be more accurate branding of dairy produce to show where it comes from. The problem is, taking the example of another product, could we trust this?

I am told by the manager of my local store that some of the products labelled as "Yorkshire Bacon" could actually come from pigs reared abroad, but can carry this branding on its label because it is processed over here. This is misleading. We need firm legislation to ensure that all foodstuffs show their exact places of origin, so that only locally-produced items could carry a British marking.

This will enable consumers to be selective in their purchases and support home-grown products. Only then will our

hard-pressed farmers benefit from our support.

Selective with the facts

From: Rachel Maister, Priest Lane, Ripon.

I REFER to your report (Yorkshire Post, January 13) in which it is stated that the head of Ripon Grammar School, Mr Pearman said: "Selective schools have won critics over."

I wonder what evidence he had for this. Nobody I have spoken to about the problem in Ripon seems to have changed their views about the iniquitous situation here – only two secondary schools, one of which is selective.

I am not ignorant about education, having worked for many years as an educational psychologist, and I will continue to assert that the situation is very bad for those who cannot afford the fare to go to one of the excellent Harrogate comprehensive schools.

Forecast failure

From: Don Alexander, Knab End, Sheffield.

THE big freeze is referred to by experts on TV as an "event" (as opposed to their forecast of a barbecue summer, which was a non-event).

I have a Yorkshire Post article somewhere, which my father saved, giving the opinion of experts that the 1947 winter could be the start of a decade of such winters with cool summers – a mini ice age – a scorching summer followed the 1947 event! Experts. Statisticians. Plus a change ...

From: Janet E Brook, New Road, Middlestown, Wakefield.

ALL the recent problems on the roads could surely have been resolved by taking a leaf out of Scarborough's solution to the problem.

In Scarborough, people used their initiative and sprinkled sand and salt from their beaches. Couldn't other coastal areas do the same? This is not rocket science.