Letters: The taxpayer is charged to reduce carbon dioxide and now to produce it

·12-min read
An empty supermarket shelf, usually stocked with bottles of carbonated water - PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images
An empty supermarket shelf, usually stocked with bottles of carbonated water - PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

SIR – The abuse of the British taxpayer continues in increasingly comic fashion. We pay huge green taxes to subsidise the renewable energy sector and, through a series of interlinked policy disasters, there is a shortage of carbon dioxide. The taxpayer now has to bail out a private American company to maintain vital supplies.

Andrew Holgate
Etwall, Derbyshire

SIR – Since 2004 Britain has been a net importer of natural gas. In 2013 there was significant pressure on gas supplies, and industry members raised concern about reserves and future planning for increasing storage capacity. The Government declined to make any investment in new facilities, stating that there was “no requirement”.

The Energy Secretary at the time was one Ed Davey, now Sir Ed and the leader of the Liberal Democrats.

Ian Robertson
Hook, Hampshire

SIR – Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Secretary, assures consumers that their energy bills will not rise as a result of the gas crisis, since the price cap remains in place.

This is only true for those already paying over the odds on variable tariffs. For anyone like me who took advantage of a cheaper fixed-term tariff, prices will rise considerably.

My current tariff, which ends in November, costs me £705 a year. The cheapest renewal rate I can find is £1,178 a year on a variable tariff (or £1,286 a year for a three-year fixed deal with a penalty fee should I exit early).

Peter Harper
Lover, Wiltshire

SIR – We seem near to a crisis on energy security and pricing. This largely self-inflicted wound was entirely foreseeable.

Successive governments have inflated energy prices with “green taxes” to subsidise intermittent energy from windmills and solar farms. Energy storage has been sold to off-shore buyers. Without reliable replacements, fossil fuel and nuclear plants have been decommissioned.

Opportunities for more self-sufficiency, such as fracking for gas, have been passed up as sops to the green lobby. We have become more and more reliant on European (and by extension, Russian) energy sources.

All this is for the unattainable goal of “zero carbon”. Even if we could achieve this, it might reduce the global carbon dioxide emitted by about 1 per cent.

Continuing blindly down this road can only lead to a shipwreck of the UK economy. It plays into the hands of totalitarian regimes pursuing policies contrary to our culture and ethic.

If the Government does not wake up, it will get a jolt from the ballot box when the lights go out and voters are huddled round lukewarm radiators that they cannot afford to turn up, while being prosecuted for buying fuel for their wood burners. Remember Edward Heath.

Peter Baker
Crediton, Devon

Still at home

SIR – The Government is being too optimistic in expecting the economy to revert to pre-Covid levels. Many closed businesses will be hard to replace.

However, the greatest change has been in the attitudes of those who think the commute is no longer worth it. Lockdown was a serious mistake.

John Kirby
Yealmpton, Devon

SIR – I have just renewed my house and contents policy. One question asked if the home was used for business purposes. An untruthful answer would apparently vitiate the cover.

Does this apply to people working from home? Will their cover be vitiated or should they inform their insurer and pay a revised premium? And, by a similar token, why does working from home not attract business rates?

Graham Saunders

What schools need

SIR – There is much to applaud in Nick Timothy’s encomium to the departed schools minister Nick Gibb. For 10 years he fought to raise academic standards for all, and for rigour in numeracy and literacy across schools.

Yet he also became a growing block to reform and creative thinking. Social mobility is in decline; employers are increasingly frustrated by the lack of broad skills among school leavers; the neglect of technology has come home to roost during the pandemic; and the failure to comprehend what the best school systems abroad are doing, not least in artificial intelligence, is no longer tenable.

So let’s celebrate a great warrior in education, but let’s also grasp exactly how quickly education policy now needs to evolve.

Sir Anthony Seldon
Bray, Berkshire

Roadworthy system

SIR – The sizes of car tyres are always given in a mixture of imperial and metric units (Letters, September 21). For example, a tyre described as 175/15 will have a width of 175mm, and will fit a wheel with a diameter of 15 inches.

Tony Young
Egerton, Lancashire

Nelson stands tall

SIR – Martin Davies (Letters, September 11) will be glad to hear that, in the centre of Chichester, there are new, life-size bronze statues of Admiral Lord Nelson and Admiral Murray (Nelson’s right-hand man).

It is refreshing to see that Britain still honours its heroes, and even more refreshing that the statues slipped under the radar of the woke brigade.

Frank Pearce
Worthing, West Sussex

Aisles full of noises

SIR – I recently visited Marks & Spencer in Ipswich, where music was being played throughout the store. I asked a sales assistant whether this was a new policy, as I used to hear it only in the ladies’ fashion department.

She replied: “Don’t you like music?” I said that I did when I had the choice. She then said she thought that its purpose was to “lighten the mood during Covid”.

I wrote to the M&S customer relations department about this. The anodyne reply discussed “inclusion” and made use of the word “diverse”, as well as “diversity”. No mention was made of the in-store audio policy.

John Brackenbury
Felixstowe, Suffolk

Children and vaccines

SIR – The announcement that children aged between 12 and 15 are to receive a single dose of the Covid vaccine has given rise to heated debate about what is in their “best interests”. There has been no attempt, however, to consult children and young people, or to invite their participation in policymaking.

We are particularly concerned that the Government has no plan for allowing children to speak directly to health leaders and policymakers. Since they are being asked to provide their informed consent for the vaccine, it is vital that they are directly and explicitly engaged in the decisions affecting their lives.

Furthermore, with a great deal of misinformation and disinformation being disseminated about the vaccines online, we need to ensure that children have access to clear scientific and medical advice.

For example, schools could provide lessons on the vaccine in which different sources of information are identified, verified and deliberated. This could be facilitated through “town hall” meetings online or in schools, as well as press conferences directed at children and young people. Parents, carers and teachers must also be involved.

We need to move beyond the emotive tenor of the media debate around children’s vaccines, which has polarised perspectives. The best way to do this is to prioritise the voices and perspectives of children and young people, support their engagement with these debates and actively involve them in key decisions relating to the vaccine.

Dr Liam Berriman
University of Sussex

Dr Sevasti-Melissa Nolas
Goldsmiths, University of London

Professor Michelle Lefevre
University of Sussex

Dr Rebecca Webb
University of Sussex

Professor Janet Boddy
University of Sussex

Professor Emeritus Nigel Patrick Thomas
University of Central Lancashire

Professor Eva Lloyd
University of East London

Dr John Parry
University of Sussex

Professor Andy Field
University of Sussex

Professor Ann Phoenix
University College London

Professor Priscilla Alderson
University College London

Professor Rosalind Edwards
University of Southampton

Profesor Kay Tisdall
University of Edinburgh

Professor Corinne May-Chahal
Lancaster University

Dr Utsa Mukherjee
Brunel University London

Dr Benjamin Bowman
Manchester Metropolitan University

Dr Mel Hall
Manchester Metropolitan University

Dr Kirrily Pells
University College London

Dr Harriet Rowley
Manchester Metropolitan University

Annabel Goddard

Dr Donald Simpson
Teesside University

Dr Victoria Cann
University of East Anglia

Professor Claire Cameron
University College London

Dr Diane Levine
University of Leicester

Fiona Corby
Teesside University

Dr Siân Lucas
University of Stirling

Dena Arya
Nottingham Trent University

Professor Helen Lomax
University of Huddersfield

Charlie Owen
University College London

Professor Wendy Wills
University of Hertfordshire

Dr Louca-Mai Brady
University of Hertfordshire

Professor Juia Hirst
Sheffield Hallam University

Sadiq Bhanbhro
Sheffield Hallam University

Professor Shane Blackman
Canterbury Christ Church University

Dr Humera Iqbal
University College London

Dr Veena Meetoo
University College London

Katie Hollingworth
University College London

Dr Grace Spencer
Anglia Ruskin University

Dr Paul Shuttleworth
University of Sussex

Dr Kathryn Lester
University of Sussex

Dr Kate Howland
University of Sussex

Dr Helen Drew
University of Sussex

Professor Elaine Sharland
University of Sussex

Dr Dorte Thorsen
Institute of Development Studies

Hanan Hauari
University College London

Professor Judy Sebba
University of Oxford

Professor Rachel Fyson
University of Nottingham

Professor Jo Bridgeman
University of Sussex

Dr Rebecca O’Connell
University College London

Dr Lisa Warwick
University of Nottingham

Rachael Clawson
University of Nottingham

Dr. Pamela Kea
University of Sussex

Liz Ackerley
University of Manchester

Professor Nuno Ferreira
University of Sussex

Dr Perpetua Kirby
University of Sussex

Dr Penny Furness
Sheffield Hallam University

Petra Vackova
The Open University

Professor Hugh McLaughlin
Manchester Metropolitan University

Dr Dirk Schubotz
Queen’s University Belfast

Dr Mimi Tatlow-Golden
The Open University

Professor Natalia Kucirkova
The Open University

Dr Gavin Williams
The Open University

Dr Catherine Walker
University of Manchester

Dr Gina Crivello
University of Oxford

Dr Amber Fensham-Smith
The Open University

Dr Anna Strhan
University of York

Dr Tom Disney
Northumbria University

Dr Kristine Hickle
University of Sussex

Dr Mandi MacDonald
Queen’s University Belfast

Dr Kate Smith
University of Huddersfield

Dr Carlie Goldsmith
University of Sussex

Dr Linzi Ladlow
University of Lincoln

Dr Elsie Whittington
University of Bedfordshire

Professor Nicola Ansell
Brunel University London

Rana Khazbak
London School of Economics

Dr Siobhan McAlister
Queen’s University Belfast

Dr Amy Hanna
Queen’s University Belfast

Dr Matthew Benwell
Newcastle University

Rosalind Willi
Institute of Development Studies

Professor John Devaney
University of Edinburgh

Professor Emeritus Peter Marsh
University of Sheffield

Julia Winstone
University of Sussex

Professor Hannah Smithson
Manchester Metropolitan University

Evie Heard
Queen’s University Belfast

Emerita Professor Julia Brannen
University College London

Dr Karenza Moore
Newcastle University

Dr Aoife Daly
Honorary Researcher, European Children’s Rights Unit, University of Liverpool

Dr Mary-Louise Corr
Queen’s University Belfast

Emeritus Professor John Pryor
University of Sussex

Professor Joanne Westwood
University of Central Lancashire

Dr Ester McGeeney
University of Sussex

Dr Fiona Morrison
University of Stirling

Dr Christos Varvantakis
Goldsmiths, University of London

Claire Durrant
University of Sussex

Dr Louise Forde
Brunel University London

Professor Andy Bilson
University of Central Lancashire

Simeon Shtebunaev
Senior Lecturer, Birmingham City University

Professor Roger Smith
Durham University

Dr Deniz Arzuk
University College London

Professor Timothy B Kelly
University of Dundee

Professor Divya Jindal-Snape
University of Dundee

Dr. Angel Urbina-Garcia
University of Hull

Katie Parsons
University of Hull

Dr. Maria Rashid
University College London

Dr Alison MacKenzie
Queen’s University, Belfast.

Professor Laura Lundy
Queen’s University, Belfast

Dr Leah Gilman
University of Liverpool

Dr Robert Porter
University of Strathclyde

Dr Nimi Hoffmann
University of Sussex

Dr Catherine McNamee
Queen’s University Belfast

Dr Kumara Ward
University of Dundee

Professor Claudia Bernard
Goldsmiths, University of London

Dr Maria Federica Moscati
University of Sussex

Professor Rachel Thomson
University of Sussex

Gallic gall

SIR – I now see why there will be a shortage of toys at Christmas this year (report, September 22).

France has thrown them all out of the pram.

Robin Eatwell
Uckfield, East Sussex

Cold comfort

SIR – My house is insulated, but I am unable to use the M25.

Deirdre Lay
Cranleigh, Surrey

Exit Bond, enter Modesty in a Blaise of glory

Monica Vitti in a ‘camp’ Modesty Blaise (1966), with Dirk Bogarde and Terence Stamp - alamy
Monica Vitti in a ‘camp’ Modesty Blaise (1966), with Dirk Bogarde and Terence Stamp - alamy

SIR – There is no need to look far for a suitable female alternative to James Bond. Peter O’Donnell’s Modesty Blaise series features a tough, resourceful and sophisticated heroine, exotic locations, a rich assortment of supporting characters and some memorable villains.

The stories themselves are ingenious and tightly plotted, featuring across a prolific comic strip, 11 novels and a number of short stories. Unfortunately many potential readers were probably put off by trashy book covers, and a 1966 film was a camp parody that did them no justice.

Quentin Tarantino was so taken with the character that he sought the movie rights, though sadly took them no further than a single low-budget adaptation. Perhaps now is the time for the full treatment.

Charles Smith-Jones
Landrake, Cornwall

Pharmacies and GPs good and bad at flu jabs

SIR – Hearing from friends that they had appointments for flu jabs, I rang our GP practice in Salisbury to book appointments for my husband and me.

I was told that they were not making appointments as they had no doses and did not know when they would receive any.

I went on to the Tesco pharmacy website and have made appointments for us tomorrow. What’s going on?

Valerie Keeling
Salisbury, Wiltshire

SIR – Not all Essex medical centres share the problems experienced by Chris Saltmarsh (Letters, September 21). Our local facility rang yesterday offering Covid boosters for my wife and me in three days.

When we pointed out that our flu jabs were arranged for October 2, the lady rearranged them to be concurrent with the booster.

Barry Bond
Leigh-on-Sea, Essex

SIR – At our supermarket pharmacy there was no waiting at the appointed time, but privacy and a friendly service. Though my wife and I are pensioners I somehow expected to pay the advertised £8 fee, but there was no charge.

Our pharmacist clinician made light of our thanks, noting only that they had been offering similar personal service throughout the pandemic.

Brigadier John Wardle
Ripon, North Yorkshire

SIR – My wife and I booked a flu jab at a Boots in Bath, as our local pharmacy had run out of the vaccine. At the shop we were told the delivery driver had not arrived, but an assistant collected two doses from another branch.

We were both vaccinated within 30 minutes of our appointment time and have no complaints about the excellent service.

Chris Yates
Peasedown St John, Somerset

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