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Letters to the Editor


PLEASE send your letters (as short as you like) to and mark them ‘Letter to the Editor’. We need your name and a county address, eg Yorkshire or London. Letters may be shortened. There is no guarantee of publication.


VAT on private school fees . . .

Dear Editor

With regards to VAT on private school fees, why is it being suggested that parents who pay for funded education have been taking advantage of a tax loophole all this time?

Matthew Holden 



is . . .

Dear Editor

Why is Labour penalising parents who pay for education twice?

Sally Wright



a bad idea

 Dear Editor

I’m afraid applying VAT on private tuition is a big mistake. Why is ‘going private’ for dentistry and healthcare deemed fine, and yet when it comes to education, we must be penalised for giving our youngsters the best kind of education?

Peter Williams

North Somerset


Lower the voting age? No, raise it!

Dear Editor

Far from reducing the voting age to 16 as proposed by the Labour Party, it should be increased to at least 30, and further restricted to those who can demonstrate a working knowledge of economics and world affairs.

Prospective MPs should also be required to pass a series of examinations before offering themselves for election.

By these simple means, we might improve our lot, and restore the confidence of a disillusioned electorate.

Malcolm Parkin



Green zealots need to get real

Dear Editor

Politicians, the green brigade and those with ‘Climate’ in their lucrative job description dictate what we must do to reduce UK greenhouse gases but completely ignore the exorbitant cost to taxpayers. They steadfastly ignore the world situation. If the UK cuts out oil and gas and replaces this with inefficient heat pumps, electric vehicles and more wind turbines it will make Net Zero difference to the planet. The world has 1.73trillion barrels of proven reserves of oil, enough for 47 years. There are proven reserves of coal for 133 years and between 6.9 and 7.3trillion cubic feet of proven reserves of gas, enough for 52 years. There are also unproven reserves. China has 1,142 coal-fired power plants with more being permitted at the equivalent of about two per week. Their 3,000 steel blast furnaces need coking coal. Worldwide electricity generation from coal hit a record high in 2023. Coal accounts for 40 per cent of the world’s electricity production and is increasing rapidly. Cheap coal produces cheap electricity and cheap electricity produces cheap manufactured goods which rapidly sell in world markets. Do the green brigade honestly believe that China and other countries will not continue to exploit fossil fuels?

Clark Cross



Papua New Guinea disaster was not due to climate change

Dear Editor

The recent disaster in the Enga Province of Papua New Guinea (PNG), when an estimated 2,000 died in a landslide following heavy rainfall, unfortunately provides many examples of what has gone wrong to lead to it. I spent four years (1984-88) working for the PNG Bureau of Water Resources, so I have first-hand experience of natural and social conditions in that country, and I am not about to blame climate change and take a quick, easy cop-out. 

The Highlands of Papua New Guinea are prone to frequent earthquakes and, combined with the steep slopes developed on often unconsolidated deposits, to major and minor earth-slips. Being a mountainous area in a tropical zone, heavy rainfall events are common and add to the propensity for landslides. These are incontrovertible facts, and I have seen with my own eyes, from a light aircraft or helicopter when travelling across the vast tracts of mountain forest.

In such areas of steep slopes, methods of land use are a problem. Local practices of ground preparation, such as slash and burn, and commercial enterprises involving clear felling expose soils to rapid erosion and slope failure. Farming practices are a far cry from the carefully managed terraced fields of nearby parts of south-east Asia. Mining has been suggested as a contributory cause: this is small-scale, largely uncontrolled gold mining and prospecting which has been going on intermittently since the 1930s. This activity entails excavation of slopes and stream beds (perhaps with the aid of illegal dynamite) and is obviously a risky business.

The organisation of society in the area is very basic, with poor transport communications by road (mostly unsurfaced) and scattered population centres which are nevertheless densely peopled. The fact that many live in poorly built native huts has been revealed by the casualty level.

Rescue and relief will present difficulties, as will reconstruction and rehabilitation, not only because of the remoteness of the affected area, but the poor levels of social cohesion and organisation. This part of PNG is very much ‘frontier territory’: it was when I knew it, and by all accounts safety and security have deteriorated over the intervening years. For many years, the Highlands Highway, the only main route from Lae to the main towns of Goroka and Mount Hagen, has been prone to armed robberies, and many people, especially government personnel, now have an armed escort. There are already reports of armed ambushes in the current situation.

The public administration and emergency services in PNG are woefully under-resourced and generally low-calibre. One can only conclude that political and administrative independence was, as in many colonial countries, rushed through and poorly developed.

The conclusions are obvious, and we should not allow ourselves to be beguiled by fashionable blame targets and woke answers.

James Dent


Reform UK candidates bring a fresh approach

Dear Editor

While the traditional parties are churning out election candidates groomed within the corridors of power (with all the implications that has for more uni-party policies) Reform UK stands apart. It has drawn its candidates for this election from all walks of life.

A recent analysis has revealed how stark this contrast is between mainstream party candidates and those representing Reform UK. One-third of traditional party candidates have spent their careers entrenched in politics while a sixth hail from academia or law backgrounds – a formula tailor-made to breed career politicians, dedicated more to party loyalty than the concerns of citizens.

The Reform UK line-up by contrast reads like a cross-section of society, reflecting the true fabric of the nation. A glance at their personal statements reveals a tapestry of professions, from teachers to nurses, salespeople to military veterans. Unlike their counterparts eager to ascend the Westminster ladder and further their political careers, Reform UK candidates lead busy lives outside politics. Yet, driven by a desire for change and disillusionment with the current state of affairs, they have stepped forward to represent their communities. Most importantly as Reform UK MPs they would follow their conviction, difficult to do if bound by party whip and represent the interests of their country and constituents above all else.

In an era where career politicians dominate, the choice seems pretty clear to me – as a declared Reform UK candidate – between more of the status quo or a fresh approach with candidates, like me, who mirror the diversity and struggles of ordinary citizens. 

Darren Selkus

Reform UK prospective parliamentary candidate for Hertsmere and former Army Captain.

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