Thursday's Letters: Government's job is to propose, then Parliament debates

MARK Stuart had an article (Yorkshire Post, November 15) on the subject of MPs' loyalty to the Conservative Party or the Liberal Democrats Party. He thought that this might wreck David Cameron's coalition.

We have been conditioned to think that the power of a party to enforce the loyalty of its members is a good thing and a sign of stable government. It is no such thing.

Everyone seems to forget that it is the job of government to propose, and then to ensure proper debate to test the proposition. It is the job of the Opposition to make sure that the proposals are subject to proper scrutiny. After proper debate, if a vote is required, it should be a free vote.

What we have now are Government proposals on tuition fees, for example, which are no such thing. They are decisions, and it is a test of a Government's hold on power whether Ministers can force these decisions through Parliament. This makes a complete mockery of the democratic process, and is the prime reason why the public at large are so disgusted with it all.

The debates which we should be having, never occur. We have ritualistic sessions in Parliament, and whispering campaigns by both sides. Totally pointless, worse than useless, and counter-productive. The real test facing this coalition is not its ability to force MPs' compliance, but to encourage discussion; to expect that MPs have opinions, and should be free to express them. The coalition should stress that its proposals are just proposals, and lead the debate to test the suitability of those proposals. If they are found to be wanting, then further proposals are made.

Political commentators like Mark Stuart should applaud this, and say that it shows the strength of government, instead of saying that it shows weakness, or dithering. We are not a dictatorship. Power should be with Parliament, not with the party.

From: JW Buckley, Aketon, Pontefract.

From: Terry Palmer, South Lea Avenue, Hoyland, Barnsley.

I AM getting sick to death of reading how sorry the supporters of the Lib Dems are now that they have the taste of power of government in this one-way Con-Dem bandwagon.

Nick Clegg, Vince Cable, Danny Alexander and others made pledges in their manifesto, just as the Tories did before the election, and then simply broke them when voted in.

At least Dick Turpin wore a mask when he was out and about robbing but this lot are too barefaced to even cover their faces up.

East Coast staff's hard work in snow

From: Karen Boswell, managing director, East Coast.

I AM writing in response to Tom Richmond's column (Yorkshire Post, December 4) in which he recounted two recent journeys on East Coast trains between Leeds and London.

First of all, the headline, "A bit of snow, and service goes off the rails", was unfortunate: we have been contending with record-breaking severe weather conditions, including substantial and persistent snowfall, and sub-zero temperatures down to between -10C and -20C on many parts of the 920-mile East Coast route.

We have not been able to operate services north and west of Edinburgh since last week as a result of the atrocious conditions in Scotland, while we have had to operate at a reduced speed to protect trains from blocks of ice and snow on the track, as well as for safety reasons. This reduction has now been lifted for trains from Yorkshire to the capital.

Our staff have been working extremely hard alongside colleagues at infrastructure partners Network Rail in order to keep more than two thirds of our services running during this difficult period. This has included operating a broadly hourly service between Edinburgh and London as we have responded to a 34 to 41 per cent surge in demand caused partly as a result of airports being closed or severely restricted, and some major roads rendered impassable.

We have slightly reduced the number of Leeds-London services to accommodate this surge in passenger demand, but also to help give us an opportunity to continue to maintain and protect our fleet.

Regrettably, we have had to cancel some trains at short notice for which we do offer our sincere apologies for any inconvenience caused.

From: GR Allen, Hough Side Lane, Pudsey, Leeds.

FROM my experience this week, it would seem that the residents of Pudsey and some areas of Leeds are getting a second class service with regard to gritting and snow clearing.

On Monday morning, I visited the Spire hospital in Roundhay. Travelling up Roundhay Road, it was clear that no efforts had been made to grit or clear the snow from the pavements or the side of the roads in front of the shops running up to the park. Once up Old Park Road, I found the pavements were being gritted in front of the large private houses.

On Tuesday, I found myself in Pudsey and the car park behind the baths was like an arctic wilderness, no attempt had been made to grit this very busy car park although there was evidence of gritting around the new bus station.

Over the past week, we have seen the gritting wagon travel up our lane in Pudsey on three occasions, only once was it actually spreading grit, I have purchased and spread more grit than the council.

It is time we received better value for our council tax.

From: Barbara Harrison, Parkside Avenue, Queensbury, Bradford.

YOU report (Yorkshire Post, December 7) that Bradford has only used 3,500 tonnes out of a stockpile of 26,000 tonnes of salt. This is not difficult to believe when viewing the state of the pavements and many roads on large estates in the Queensbury area of Bradford (at a height of 1,200 feet) that are completely untreated.

This makes access to main roads a hazardous journey both on foot and certainly by car. Roads that access old people's bungalows have not even been treated.

No doubt most areas within the Bradford Council will have similar stories.

The small use of the salt stock by Bradford Council is nothing to be proud of.

From: E Jenkinson, Hunter House Road, Sheffield.

THANK goodness for the Ian McMillans of this world to lighten our hearts on a snowy day (Yorkshire Post, December 7)!

Thank goodness for the Street Force teams clearing the roads of Sheffield so efficiently that even pedestrians can move up and down our hilly roads.

Thank goodness for our Queen who has kept her vow, made at the age of 21, to serve her country. Even in her 80s, she fitted in a visit to Sheffield and then, two days later, had packed her bags to fly off to Arabia to

fulfil a duty there.

Three instances of stickability – a very British characteristic.

From: Ken Holmes, Cliffe Common, Selby.

ISN'T it marvellous that farmers and their tractors and rural owners of four-wheel drive "Chelsea tractors" have suddenly become everyone's best friend, including councils and those motorists wishing to be dragged out of ditches and snowdrifts?

Patrolling alone

From: Peter Bye, Park Crescent, Addingham.

THE police service is having its spending curtailed like all other public services, but there are ways in which costs may be contained while providing an acceptable service (Yorkshire Post, December 6). Some would say that this in itself would be an improvement.

Police officers patrol with a range of communication and protective weaponry, including stab-proof jackets. Why is it necessary for them to patrol in twos, even in law-abiding areas and during daylight? I am thinking in terms of Ilkley. Two officers in a bread shop buying a cake seems to be a waste of resources. In the days of wooden staffs (truncheons] and whistles, officers patrolled and dealt with matters on their own and didn't feel they needed the extra company. So why not go back to single patrolling which in effect could double the police coverage and perhaps improve the service as well?

I am also confused as to why every officer wears high visibility jackets, any criminal with average eyesight can see them from miles away and clear off.

Early warning on Conservatives' NHS cuts

From: John Healey MP, Shadow Health Secretary, High Street, Wath-upon-Dearne, Rotherham.

YOU report under the headline "Non-urgent operations delayed to save 6m" (Yorkshire Post, December 3) that hospital operations in Sheffield will be delayed to make NHS money last the year.

This is an early warning on the NHS. And it's not what people expected to see when David Cameron promised to "protect the NHS".

It means that many people in Sheffield needing hip or knee replacements, and other operations, will now have to wait well into the spring or summer for their treatment.

Money is tight. But Health Secretary Andrew Lansley is making things much worse by breaking two big promises the Tories made on the NHS. He's cutting not increasing funding for the NHS. And he is wasting 3bn by forcing the NHS through a high-risk reorganisation, which is exactly what the Government promised not to do in its coalition agreement.

No wonder NHS staff are stretched and patient services are being cut. And no wonder managers in NHS Sheffield are cutting where they can, because no-one is sure what's in store for the NHS under the new Government.

After a decade of big investment and improvement, I fear we could start to see the NHS go backwards.

That's why I've launched Labour's NHS winter watch, so local MPs, councillors and patients can check the pressure the Government is putting on their NHS.

Mother's choice on feeding

From: Gillian Paddock, Park Avenue, Hull.

ISN'T it strange? Just like Stephanie Smith (Yorkshire Post, December 1), I also saw Ann Widdecombe commenting on the proposal to compel employers to provide breastfeeding facilities for new mothers.

However, I am in complete agreement with Ann's comments. Stephanie appears to have overlooked one salient factor – these mothers made the decision to have a child, therefore it is their responsibility to provide for them.

Don't get me wrong, I am favour of breastfeeding and applaud the fact it is no longer something that most people are shocked by should a mother need to feed a child when out and about.

What I cannot agree with is expecting an employer to fund someone's choices in this respect.

Quandary over human rights

From: Owen P Nugent, Haworth Court, Yeadon, Leeds.

ALL countries in Europe, including Britain, don't have a clue about the reasoning of human rights.

Tony Blair and Gordon Brown's attack on Iraq destroyed millions of human rights.

It was a bit rich David Cameron going to China and explaining the wonder of human rights in China when he himself destroyed his human rights by not challenging Blair and Brown.

Don't buy Cadbury

From: Robert Reynolds, Dixon Terrace, Harrogate.

THE time has come for the British people to turn on corporate America. If our politicians aren't wise enough to realise that the special relationship exists only to rip off the Brits, then they should look at Cadbury's.

Now owned by the Americans via Kraft, they reneged on a promise not to make UK workers redundant. Now they're moving elements of Cadbury's to Switzerland to avoid paying 200m in taxes to our government.

It's easy to protest this Christmas. Don't buy Cadbury's.