Letters, Friday, May 31, 2013

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MPs are only ‘in it’ for themselves

THE dust has hardly settled since our MPs, the original authors of “greed is good”, were caught with their hands in the expenses till, but undaunted and ever resilient in matters of career enhancement the Westminster boys and girls are about to vote themselves a £20,000 per year pay rise.

 To promote this austerity busting measure, the very formidable (in his own mind), Speaker of The House of Commons, explained with the wisdom that only those in high office command: “You pay peanuts and you get Monkeys.”

 It is not clear whether Mr Bercow believes that a salary increase will automatically affect a species change for the sitting members or if he intends to lead an en bloc walk out.

 Recent events in Parliament do indeed add credence to the Speaker’s view about the calibre of person in the current pay structure. One must agree with him that Prime Minister’s questions in the House of Commons has the ambiance of Regents Park Zoo at feeding time.

 His proposed remedy, however, is flawed because there is no guarantee that throwing money at the species in question will yield any benefits.

 The Premiership football league is a perfect example of how overpayment can corrupt hitherto reasonably honest people. For example did Charlton, Best, Law and, of course, our own Charlie Hurley or indeed any of their contemporaries, ever dive, harangue the referee or try to have an opponent sent off? No. Now in the £100,000 per week era all this and more is expected. And so it is with the current rabble in Parliament.

 Regardless of the adverse effects to the nation or an individual, MPs have proved that they will do anything to destroy a political opponent, enhance a career or increase their own vote –because they are in it for the money.

 The existing Parliamentary salary starting around £70,000 with an excellent pension and generous expenses is more than adequate, in fact it would be very attractive to good capable people with careers in either commerce or industry, people who have the will to make a difference rather than the need to make a killing.

 Keep the salary scale and get rid of the disgruntled MPs.

Denis Gillon,

Sunderland

Tax – a moral issue

IT is over three months since you pictured the Rev Chris Howson, Sunderland University Chaplain, marking the window of Starbucks in The Bridges on Ash Wednesday with the sign of the cross in a call for them to repent over their tax dodging (Echo, February 14).

 Since then the controversy around tax dodging by multinational companies has grown considerably. Google has been branded as behaving in an “evil” way by Margaret Hodge MP, the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, for the blatant way in which it manipulates the tax rules.

 Remarks by the President of the CBI, Sir Roger Carr, who claimed that “there can be no moral basis to concerns about tax avoidance” beggar belief.

 At a time of growing austerity and with our public services facing massive cuts, tax dodging only serves to exacerbate the problem. Figures produced by the Trades Union Congress show that the sum of money lost to HM Treasury as a result of tax avoidance and evasion and uncollected taxes is akin in scale to all the cuts we are facing.

 Now that’s what I call a moral issue.

Paul Brannen

Shocking behaviour

THE latest horrific murder of the serving soldier in Woolwich is beyond reason to all of us.

 When the murderers attacked, the police, to protect themselves and stop the carnage, shot them, not to kill, but to prevent further killings. As a result, the authorities were obliged to investigate whether the police followed their set instructions in the situation.

 Can you imagine the thoughts of the armed officers involved at that precise moment?

 They could easily be charged with murder themselves, as has happened in the past. The victim could well have been a police officer as happened with the Raoul Moat case, which the victim, after being shot at point blank rage and blinded, later committed suicide.

 I have a friend, a serving police officer, who is instructed to always leave home for work by a different route for security reasons. Who but the brave would volunteer to be a member of the police force?

 When I later read that on the evening after the killing a crowd of people had attacked police at the murder scene with the usual bricks and stones etc, incredulity set in. What was that all about? Because the murderers had been shot and injured, not killed – it makes by blood boil.

 In a way, these attacks are almost as bad as the original crime. I hear the police being criticised all the time, sometimes justifiably, but surely they deserve better.

 As far as the howling mob is concerned, I wonder who they will turn to if they are attacked or burgled?

Alan Wilkinson

Hitting right note

BACK in the 1970s there used to be a group of banjo players that called themselves the Boldon Banjo Boys, who were resident in the Boldon Lad public house.

 I can, honestly, say it was a brilliant night of entertainment, but better than that they also played on a ferry, which had a small bar and refreshments, cruising down the River Tyne with music from beginning to end.

 When we pulled into port a bus was waiting to take everyone to the Round Robin pubic house and they carried on playing there. It was the best night of entertainment I have ever had or will have in my life.

 There is nothing like banjo music to make you forget all your troubles.

 There were four of them, plus a drummer. If I remember rightly the leader of the band was taught by his father and he in turn taught the rest of the band.

 At the time there were often reports of them in the Echo. I would love to know if they are still around or better still if they are still playing?

Mr M Wilson

Millfield

Still waiting to hear

READING the article about Martin’s Bank the other night in the Echo I remember a small episode in my life during the war.

 Having just returned from evacuation at Northallerton and having attained quite a good “school certificate” from the Bede/Northallerton Grammar School, I was interviewed by an official at Martin’s Bank for employment in Sunderland.

 I was told that my qualifications were good, and I was just the type of young man they were looking for and after the normal questions about hobbies etc, I was asked: “Ronald, where does your father work?” I replied: “Doxford’s Shipyard”.

 “Is that in the office?” I was asked. “No” I said. “He is a caulker” and I explained dad’s work.

 “Well, Ronald,” said the interviewer, “we will write to you shortly”.

 I am now 86 years of age and Martin’s Bank no longer exists, but I am still waiting to hear if I have got the job.

Ron Winter,

Belmont

Support little cafe

THERE is an excellent cafe in Aberdeen Tower, Gilley Law, called Linda’s Lunchbox.

 It is open to all, providing freshly cooked good with a five-star hygiene rating and a take away service, all at reasonable prices.

 However, due to lack of support it has had to close on Sundays and may have to close altogether, which means as an elderly person in poor health, I shall have to go to town to eat.

 Come on people, show some support, otherwise a valuable service will be lost.

D Letsby,

Aberdeen Tower