SIR – Hats off to Rishi Sunak: a serious politician who tells it straight and seems on top of his brief.
He has the opportunity to become the most reforming chancellor in years. He should simplify the tax system, lose stamp duty forever, encourage the green agenda with tax incentives, take away the pensions triple lock and encourage saving for long-term social and health care.
It’s time to let individuals keep more of their hard-earned income – and watch the country prosper.
SIR – According to your front page (July 9), Mr Sunak will “pay half the cost of a meal out for everyone”.
It is not, of course, the Chancellor but the taxpayer who will pick up the tab. But, strangely, this temporary, gimmicky, bribe to persuade us to go out is comforting, replacing the horrible “stay at home” mantra of previous months. The pictures of Mr Sunak serving meals in a restaurant are powerfully symbolic of his views about lockdown – and, together with his hopefully permanent stamp duty cut, give hope that he will never allow such damage to be voluntarily wrought on our economy again.
SIR – All credit to Mr Sunak in his attempt to lure customers back into restaurants. But then he ruins it all by serving a meal sans mask, sans gloves – sans common sense.
Beedon Hill, Berkshire
SIR – It is nice that the Chancellor wants to buy me dinner. But I worry about what he might be expecting from me afterwards.
Wickham Bishops, Essex
SIR – Until all restrictions are done away with in pubs and restaurants, many of their regular customers, no matter what incentives the Chancellor comes up with, will not frequent them - for the simple reason that there is no atmosphere whatsoever.
Midhurst, West Sussex
SIR – The Chancellor has done little to encourage the public to visit town centres. Businesses need customers.
A simple way of attracting people would be for parking in, and public transport to, towns and cities to be made free at weekends.
SIR – It is an indication of the poor state of the British economy that the Government has decided to support the hospitality industry in preference to the manufacturing sector.
Beverley, East Yorkshire
SIR – Could someone please remind me how to spend cash?
Less reliance on China
SIR – Your readers are right to be concerned about China’s involvement in British infrastructure, from nuclear technology to mobile phone networks (Letters, July 9).
We should now be concentrating on doing these things ourselves: it has been reported, for instance, that Rolls-Royce could provide mini nuclear reactors to generate “local” electricity. These would be less wasteful – and, with homegrown technology, any technical problems are easier to account for.
East Bergholt, Suffolk
SIR – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard (Business, July 9) argues that the expansion of China’s economy has “peaked”, in part due to the straitjackets imposed by Xi Jinping, and also because the regime underestimated the intrinsic strength of the US. He suggests that China “will eventually settle down”.
However, there is a plausible alternative scenario. President Xi may well decide to seize as much territorial, economic and geopolitical advantage as he can before the window of opportunity shuts. When absolute rulers have behaved like this in the past, the consequences for everyone have usually been dire.
SIR – When my testing kit (Charles Moore, Comment, July 7) arrived, it did not look promising.
There was a piece of paper telling me to check that I had received everything, including the instruction booklet. I looked at the items spread on the table before me but could not see it. Then, several panicky minutes later, I realised that the piece of paper was the instruction booklet.
As for the returns box, the one I constructed ended up being not very rectangular, and was held together with quite a lot of Sellotape.
However, the postman took it away and I received a negative result two days later.
SIR – I was impressed by my local hair salon, where each client, having been given a plastic apron (Letters, July 8), was then given a plastic sandwich bag to keep it in for next time.
Unfair licence fee
SIR – The BBC has confirmed that it will start charging over-75s the full licence fee from next month.
This is despite the fact that its output now openly targets the 16-24 age group. No normal company would survive with such a policy.
Dr Brian Wareing
SIR – Rather than extending the licence fee to include the elderly, the BBC should become a subscription service, like Netflix or Amazon Prime. Then only those wishing to receive its transmissions would pay for them.
SIR – Over- 75s should continue to receive a free TV licence unless there is a wage earner in the same household.
Means testing is unfair to those who have been careful and saved throughout their working lives.
Haywards Heath, West Sussex
SIR – You report (July 6) that passengers on the recent repatriation flight from Saudi Arabia included government officials and their families.
My wife was in Kyrgyzstan when lockdown was imposed, as a consequence of which I haven’t seen her for the past four months. As the airport and borders in Kyrgyzstan remain closed, we have no idea when we will be together again.
Like many British citizens stuck abroad, it seems that we have been forgotten, despite the Foreign Secretary’s promises to help. Presumably he had only government officials and their families in mind.
Dipton, County Durham
SIR – Boris Johnson has said that he wants driverless trains to be a condition for bailing out Transport for London (report, July 7).
In 1989, while the second managing director of Docklands Light Railway, I commissioned a comparison with other “automatic” services. I found that DLR was the only “driverless” railway that did not have at least one of three safety precautions: a man at the front in the cab who could, if necessary, take emergency action; platform doors, so that passengers could not disembark until the train had stopped at the right spot; a pressure sensor at the platforms, to cut the power and emergency-stop a train if anything fell on the track.
The Victoria Line was the first automatically driven service in London, but had all trains have a man in the cab. The New Tokaido Line (Shinkansen) in Japan was automatic, but also had a man in the cab.
Others, better informed than me, will know whether the DLR still lacks any of these safety features. In any case, it would be a mistake to think that any further implementation of “driverless” in London should entail no one in the cab. It is too crucial to safety to be influenced by politicians trying to clip the wings of unions.
A broad church
SIR – St Margaret’s is indeed known as the Speaker’s church (Letters, July 9).
It was, however, also the parish church of many more humble local inhabitants, such as my great-grandparents. They lived in the slums nearby in the 1850s and signed the register with a cross.
One love that blossomed during lockdown
SIR – As we come to a possible end of the lockdown, I have been reflecting on whether it has permanently changed my life in any significant way – and I find that it has.
When I entered lockdown, I despised Marmite. Now I adore it, and even think about it during work hours – just as it is becoming impossible to buy in local shops.
Patients are feeling cut off from their GPs
SIR – It is disingenuous of Professor Michael Marshall, of the Royal College of General Practitioners, to say that it has been business as usual (Letters, July 8). Thousands of patients have struggled to access primary care.
Redirection from a practice website, with an instruction to call NHS 111, submit symptoms for a 48-hour response or consult an online information leaflet, is not an acceptable standard of doctoring. It also means that elderly patients without computer skills cannot access the medical attention they need.
Hospital doctors have soldiered on magnificently – along with my vet, the dustmen and supermarket staff. Where have the GPs gone?
Dr A C E Stacey
Rustington, West Sussex
SIR – I take issue with Allison Pearson’s implication that GPs have had it easy over this Covid-19 period (Comment, July 7).
While some practices have had and continue to have restricted access, my surgery has been very much open. Yes,, we it was quiet during the early stages of early in lockdown;, and yes, we have moved to phone triage, but this is so that patients are seen by the appropriate clinician in the most appropriate time frame. All staff are seeing patients face-to-face – after which, personal protective equipment PPE has to be changed and the consulting room has to be cleaned, usually by the doctor – and making home visits.
The biggest challenge now is persuading patients that the surgery is a safe place to visit.
Dr Richard Loach
Ryde, Isle of Wight
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