SIR – The Archbishop of Canterbury would be well advised to spend his time sorting out the problems of the Church instead of getting involved in politics (“Braverman refuses talks with Welby over migration”, report, September 30). There are many parishes throughout the country with no parish priest, for instance.
Archbishop Welby is responsible for the well-being of this nation’s Christian heritage. He needs to put that at the forefront of his activities.
Beverley, East Yorkshire
SIR – If I were Suella Braverman I would not want to speak to the Archbishop of Canterbury.
He has a very poor record and has damaged the Church of England for those of us who are regular worshippers.
SIR – Instead of asking to meet the Home Secretary, Archbishop Welby should ask himself a few questions, such as: why do large numbers of people want to come to Britain and not remain in one of the safe countries that they pass through en route? How does he expect Britain to cope with this pressure when its limited resources – including the NHS, housing and education – are already stretched to the limit?
Kirk Ella, East Yorkshire
SIR – Your report (September 30) carries the headline: “Net migration to surpass 1m for the first time”.
It’s comforting to know that the Conservatives have taken back control of our borders as they promised, otherwise this figure could have been much greater.
Driffield, East Yorkshire
SIR – The current spat between the Church of England and the Government over the question of immigration highlights the need to reconsider the constitutional position of the Church.
The impending general election provides the major political parties with an opportunity to include in their manifestos a commitment to formally review the situation during the next parliament.
Our state-sponsored Church has a General Synod with the power to propose law; it also has 26 reserved seats in the House of Lords, and its head takes precedence over the Prime Minister. Few countries in the developed world retain such a system.
A disestablished Church of England would be more inclined to focus on its core role of supporting parishes, rather than meddling in politics. It could, however, retain a leading role in state ceremonial events, if this was the wish of the Sovereign.
SIR – During a long career in the NHS, I have served in many clinical and management roles, in addition to running a modest private practice.
Your thought-provoking article on Britain’s trajectory towards an unsustainable tax burden (News Focus, September 30) merely confirms my conviction that a move to a subsidised, personal insurance-based health system – of the kind found in many other countries – should be considered.
Individual choices to do with lifestyle, such as fitness, smoking and weight, can be factored in while retaining the premise of free access to basic healthcare. Providers would be funded largely by their clientele, subjected to the disciplines of the market and taken over should they fail.
While governments pump more and more of our money into an inefficient, failing system, the danger is that those who can afford to go private will do so, NHS professionals will gradually move into the independent sector, and many patients will be left scrabbling for access to a dwindling stock of NHS providers. We need look no further than Britain’s dental services to see how this can happen.
Denis Wilkins FRCS
SIR – We are being sent numerous emails and letters by the NHS reminding us to book seasonal vaccinations.
These have, in fact, been booked for some time. All the unnecessary communication must be using up valuable resources. What are managers doing to curb such waste?
SIR – Amid the criticism of general practice in this country, I must speak up for my own in a south London neighbourhood.
I always receive prompt and courteous attention from all the doctors and staff, and have no difficulty in arranging an appointment when occasionally required.
While this may be unusual, it proves that a good service can be delivered. My sympathy goes to those who are not so fortunate.
National Trust vote
SIR – Dr Michael Fopp (Letters, September 30) is mistaken: not all National Trust members have received their AGM voting papers. We have yet to receive ours, for example.
I’m not sure of the reason, though we voted against every one of the committee’s recommendations last year.
Dr Keith Collard
SIR – Over 42 years of marriage, my husband and I have always shared our bathwater (Features, September 29).
In the summer we save the water overnight and then siphon it on to the vegetables.
SIR – As a widow, one of the things I really miss is having a deep bubble-filled bath, surrounded by candles, with my husband at the tap end and a glass of fizz for each of us.
When my granddaughters were younger and came to stay, after we’d all eaten supper together, they would happily play in the bath together, while I put my feet up and enjoyed a glass of wine before I saw them to bed.
Schools during Covid
SIR – I was bemused by Victoria Hawkins’s letter (September 30) stating that schools closed during lockdown because “the adults in them had to be protected”.
The country’s supermarkets managed to stay open throughout this period.
SIR – I must take issue with Victoria Hawkins.
My experience was that, in general, the staff at our excellent local schools spent a considerable amount of time preparing the premises to protect both staff and pupils from Covid – only to be told by the union to stay away.
Midhurst, West Sussex
SIR – Any council considering putting its employees on a four-day week (report, September 30) must have too little work to do.
A better solution might be to reduce the workforce – including management – by 20 per cent and keep the remainder on a five-day week, thus avoiding boredom and benefiting taxpayers.
Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Gambon at audition
SIR – Your excellent obituary (October 29) of Sir Michael Gambon missed one minor but potentially important stepping stone in his amazing career.
When he was apprenticed at Vickers Armstrong in Crayford in 1960, he attended an audition at the nearby Geoffrey Whitworth Theatre. Being unfamiliar with the script, he did not impress with his reading of the part. Luckily, one of the panel thought to ask if he could offer something from a part he had already played.
He did so and the difference was incredible. He was immediately cast in H C Branner’s play The Judge, to be staged the following year.
He was, of course, a great success, but, sadly, was soon lured away by the professional stage.
The Geoffrey Whitworth Theatre thus came close to having the dubious distinction of being the amateur theatre that turned him down. In the event, however, we were proud to claim him as our president for several decades.
He was a great actor and will be much missed.
Horton Kirby, Kent
Tools of the trade on the farms of days past
SIR – I grew up on a farm during the days when shire horses worked the land, and remember being asked to fetch the muck fork (Letters, September 30).
This fork had four equally spaced tines and was also called a four-tine fork. The other kind of fork was referred to in Gloucestershire as a shupick; it was a two-tine fork used for picking up sheaves of cereals. I believe its name was a derivation of sheave pick; it was sometimes described as a pitchfork, too. I don’t, however, recall the word prong ever being used.
SIR – On our farm all the men had their own individual prongs – a long-handled, two-grained prong (two-grainer) for pitching straw, and a short-handled, four-grained prong (four-grainer) for digging dung. Now one man with a JCB does the lot.
What HS2’s planners got wrong at the outset
SIR – Our rugby club – land and clubhouse – was subject to a compulsory purchase order to make way for HS2 (Letters, October 1).
We now have a replacement clubhouse that is twice the size of our original building, with double the amount of land for pitches. As we make up a tiny fraction of the land purchased across the country to enable this project to go ahead, I am not surprised that the cost has kept escalating.
At the outset, any fool could have seen that the work should have started in the North, where it was most needed (and east to west). The focus on cutting the journey time from London to Birmingham was ridiculous when there are two perfectly good train services already in existence.
Ironically, following the pandemic, there is probably less need for high-speed trains, as many people now work from home. This project began with a Labour government, and subsequent governments should have had the courage to stop it.
SIR – Having been a senior project manager for King’s Cross station, I can explain why HS2 is massively over-budget. The clue is the 2.
The successful HS1 route across Kent was designed to the European rail industry standard speed of 180mph. However, HS2 was designed for an excessively high top speed of 225-250mph. That required an environmentally destructive, very straight-and-level alignment; excessively long tunnels; and also for the trains to reach extremely high speeds within those tunnels.
Any future sections of the high-speed rail network built in Britain should simply repeat HS1’s design.
Addingham, West Yorkshire
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