SIR – A vaccine protects the recipient, so why should anyone who has received one worry about being near someone who hasn’t? Vaccine “certificates” to enter shops and pubs are therefore a ridiculous idea.
SIR – Allowing unvaccinated staff to work in care homes puts at risk the lives of residents, workers and visitors.
For care workers, vaccination should be as much a condition of employment as turning up for work on time. We don’t permit airline pilots to fly while drunk on the grounds that demanding sobriety would infringe their liberties.
SIR – Are consumers allowed to ask that anyone coming to their house (emergency plumbers, for example, or taxi drivers who take disabled people like me to get to medical and jab appointments) be vaccinated? Or is concern for our own health and welfare considered discriminatory?
SIR – Travellers are far more likely to acquire mutant Covid in a quarantine hotel than abroad, especially with shared ventilation systems.
Returning travellers would have grounds to refuse to put themselves in harm’s way in one of these facilities, and to go home instead and request GPS tracking anklets.
Vaccinating returning travellers before entry into a quarantine hotel would also make good empirical sense.
Dr Alexander Barber
SIR – It is reasonable for measures be put in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19, in particular of new variants that might enter the country. However, a cost of £1,750 might mean that many will be unable to afford to travel to attend a funeral or say a final goodbye to loved ones. New Zealand has a process by which these fees can be waived on compassionate grounds.
SIR – The Covid-19 virus spreads best in closed, unventilated spaces. So why do buses run without all of their windows open? It should be mandatory.
SIR – On our daily walk, I remarked to my wife that a sad aspect of our current existence was that I had become used to the closure of pubs, restaurants and “non-essential” shops.
Back home, I read this in The Sunday Telegraph: “A senior government source confirmed that from March 8 people in England would be allowed to drink coffee on a park bench, or have a picnic with anyone from their own household.” What on earth has become of us in one short year?
SIR – We speak not only for ourselves and for Anita Lasker Wallfisch (Comment, February 6), a survivor of Auschwitz and Belsen, but also for the many people in politics, the arts and other walks of life, who, fearful perhaps of accusations of anti-Semitism or of fostering disharmony in their community, feel uncomfortable speaking out against the proposed location of the Holocaust Memorial (Letters, February 13).
It is in no way anti-Semitic to have objections to locating this memorial in Victoria Tower Gardens. Indeed, endorsement of such grandiose projects can often provide convenient cover for those with a range of intolerant views.
If there is to be a symbolic national education centre focusing on Britain’s role in the history and future of the Jewish people, it absolutely must convey that history truthfully and impartially. Otherwise, it will add nothing to the educational landscape, while draining resources away from our existing world-class institutions and the work of reforming Holocaust teaching.
The proposed site is simply too small and too politically charged to do this properly, and it is sadly untrue to say that there was comprehensive consultation before the planning application.
Many Jews were completely unaware of the project until very recently, while some who took part in regional consultations have subsequently discovered that the information they were given was misleading and incomplete.
By all means have a fitting memorial, but not in this precious space (the Imperial War Museum has excellent Holocaust galleries about to reopen), and not without listening and consulting much more widely.
Baroness Deech (Crossbench)
Dr Geoffrey Alderman
Sir Peter Bottomley MP (Con)
Lord Carlile of Berriew (Crossbench)
Rt Rev Edward Condry
Dame Vivien Duffield
Lord Williams of Oystermouth
Baroness Eaton (Con)
Dr Vicki Harris
Lord Strathclyde (Con)
Lord Grade of Yarmouth (Con)
Lord Wasserman (Con)
Dr Irene Lancaster
Dr Michael Pinto-Duschinsky
Bowled over by a baby
SIR – I am the sixth daughter of the 9th Lord Hawke (Letters, February 15).
My father, the nephew of Martin, 7th Lord Hawke, who captained the Yorkshire cricket team, remarked that my birth was a maiden over.
The Hague, The Netherlands
The BBC in China
SIR – In 1976 I was appointed to my first command, a rather elderly British freighter, and in the winter we loaded a cargo of Queensland raw sugar for discharge in Dalian, China.
Mao had just died and the Gang of Four, among others, were scrabbling over his succession. Politics was in turmoil and the loudspeakers positioned prominently above the wharf where we berthed – normally the source of news and pronouncements – were silent.
I carried with me a Pye Cambridge valve radio that was permanently tuned to the BBC World Service. Word of this got out and at noon my cabin and the corridor outside were filled with local people listening to the news to ascertain what was happening in their country. Those who understood English translated for the others.
That is the World Service that China is now banning.
Stillington, North Yorkshire
No delivery to Europe
SIR – Our company has been trading successfully for more than 30 years. We design and import seasonal decorations for Christmas and Easter. Our customers include some of the most prestigious retailers in this country and several in Europe.
We have always relied on international carriers to deliver orders from European retailers. But since January no carrier will agree to pick up to transport across the Channel, not even the biggest, such as Kuehne + Nagel or DHL.
Now there is a new twist. It has been reported that Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs is short of staff to cope with the new situation since Brexit. However, last Friday, staff shortage or not, HMRC called in a consignment of Easter decorations for special inspection, with no indication as to when it will be released.
What is going on?
Director, Gisela Graham Ltd
Sex and gender
SIR – Ideology now trumps science at a legislative level, with the Maternity Bill referring to a “person” rather than a “woman”.
Sex is biologically determined at the chromosomal level and cannot be altered. Gender, until recently, was always a synonym for sex.
The theory arose that gender roles are socially constructed, so these roles can be altered (for example, who takes out the dustbins). Activists now assert that, instead of altering gender roles, gender itself can be altered.
Such irrationality has resulted in the present ludicrous situation whereby so-called males may give birth in maternity wards and take maternity leave. This absurdity is the result of arguing from false premises.
SIR – Do the Duke and Duchess of Sussex seek privacy or publicity?
Their antics are tiresome.
Dr Richard A E Grove
Isle of Whithorn, Wigtownshire
Life imitating Lent
SIR – I’ve abstained for the past 11 months from most of the things I love. What can I possibly give up for Lent?
Collecting frogs as greenhouse pest controllers
SIR – My great grandfather and grandfather ran a large nursery with heated greenhouses in which slug and snail control was achieved by introducing frogs via central tanks that were fed by roof gutters and fitted with frog ramps.
My father and his siblings were encouraged to collect frogs from the surrounding reens, river banks and canals.
They were paid sixpence each. When my father first started to earn this pocket money he thought it was money for old rope and collected frogs in the greenhouses with the bucket he’d been given, then proudly presented them to his dad for payment.
Dr Peter Sander
SIR – The children who were offered sixpence a dozen for picking caterpillars off cabbages (Letters, February 12) should consider themselves lucky.
The logbook for Beckbury National School in rural Shropshire notes that on June 2 1916: “The children have collected 510 queen wasps”, presumably from the vicarage orchard, and that “the rector gave them each a halfpenny.”
Spend on construction to recover from Covid
SIR – There is speculation about how to pay for the crippling costs of Covid and it is good to know that Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Secretary, has a doctorate in economic history.
This has no doubt informed him that every £1 spent on construction generates about three times this amount for the wider economy, and also stimulates employment.
We should therefore have additional public funding for new schools, hospitals, housing and infrastructure while at the same time promoting the green agenda. The money invested will be returned with added benefits and value in time. There’s no need to panic and increase taxation at a moment when most people need a break.
SIR – Jeremy Warner calls for honesty about the need for tax rises. Significant revenue can be raised without breaching the Tories’ manifesto commitment not to raise the headline rates of income tax, national insurance and VAT.
Over 50 per cent of the annual £40 billion cost to the Treasury of income tax relief on pension contributions is provided to higher rate taxpayers, who make up 11 per cent of workers. The restriction of this relief to the basic rate and abolishing other exemptions exploited by those with the means to do so are long overdue.
Moreover, the exemption from national insurance contributions for workers in receipt of state pensions and setting lower rates for the self-employed are sacred cows that should have been scrapped years ago, like the long and arbitrary list of VAT-exempt and zero-rated goods and services.
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