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SIR – James Cleverly, the Foreign Secretary, has repeatedly blamed the “evil traffickers” for illegal Channel crossings (Letters, March 12), and all efforts and resources seem to be aimed at shutting them down.
The traffickers are not the cause of this problem – they are the effect. In terms of supply and demand, the “services” they supply have arisen from the enormous demand from people to get into Britain.
If we want to control that demand, the question we should be asking is: what is it about this country that makes it so uniquely attractive to migrants that they are prepared to risk their lives travelling from perfectly safe countries in Europe to get here?
Until we address that question, any plans to stop the small boats crossing the Channel are likely to be futile.
SIR – Housing people seeking asylum in hotels is a waste of taxpayers’ money (report, March 10), but it also causes significant and unnecessary suffering.
We know from our work supporting men, women and children who have been living in hotels how unsuitable these places are for people to spend several weeks in, let alone more than a year. People are forced to live in one room, with no kitchen facilities, while receiving only £6 a day.
People who have been forced to flee their homes need stability, security and to feel safe. Being housed in a hotel is not only costly but also has a devastating impact on people’s mental and physical health.
Over 160,000 people are waiting for a decision on their asylum case, with tens of thousands in hotels due to slow decision-making and inefficiencies. Urgent steps are needed to address the backlog and get vulnerable people out of hotels and into safe accommodation where they can live in dignity.
Executive Director, British Red Cross
SIR – I was looking forward to a holiday in May with 40 members of a walking group. We were booked at a hotel which the Home Office has since closed in order to house migrants.
Our holiday has been cancelled and we are very disappointed. The area would have benefited economically from our visit. How many more people are being seriously inconvenienced by having holidays ruined?
SIR – Almost inevitably there will be a Labour government within 18 months or so. Does Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor, expect highly paid people to take a short-term view and come out of retirement, or defer retirement for such a short period knowing that Labour will cancel his pension changes immediately (report, March 16)?
Short-term thinking is for politicians; normal people take a longer-term view of lifestyle decisions.
J R Ball
SIR – The Tories need to understand that the outcome of the next general election will be decided not by the number of votes cast for opposition parties but by the number of votes that will simply not be cast for a tax-and-spend Conservative Party.
SIR – You report that pineapples were sent from Canada for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation banquet (“Traditional Commonwealth banquet cut from Coronation plans”, report, March 12).
Where in Canada are pineapples grown? Bison, yes; pineapples, no.
West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
SIR – Why are councils refusing to close roads for Coronation parties (“Road can be shut for race but not Coronation”, report, March 14), claiming they are too busy, while letting so-called activists glue themselves to roads (the M25 is hardly quiet) and permitting slow walking along them to cause disruption?
Robin N Pierrepoint Sykes
Eastbourne, East Sussex
SIR – As we approach the momentous day in our history when King Charles III will be crowned, would this not be an appropriate occasion for our often divided nation to be brought together by the sharing of a loyal oath?
This could be declared in the days leading up to the event in schools, places of worship and town halls throughout the land, and, dare I suggest, on the day itself at a set hour in public houses. Drinking a toast to the monarch has been an ancient tradition in our United Kingdom, and one that deserves to be revived.
SIR – We are all looking forward to the reduction in the price of a pint, especially when King Charles is crowned on Coronation day.
Rotherham, South Yorkshire
SIR – Jeremy Warner (Business, March 12) refers to research that shows the Climate Change Committee’s (CCC) estimate of a mere 50 per cent rise in electricity demand by 2035 is totally unrealistic in a scenario where there is no gas or oil, and transport is all electric. A fivefold increase in demand by 2050 is a better estimate.
The best solution to this problem is a major expansion of the nuclear sector – at least double the 24GW by 2050 currently targeted – using small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs).
The CCC is under the mistaken impression that nuclear power is inflexible. We wish to state that this may have been true in the past but it is certainly no longer true. Many SMRs will be load-following, and Poland has signed memoranda of understanding for the supply of over 80 such reactors.
Dr Paul Norman
Professor of Nuclear Physics and Nuclear Energy
University of Birmingham
Crime and punishment in the dentist’s chair
SIR – Harry Sales’s letter (March 12) chimed with me. In the 1960s, as a 10-year-old, I had to visit a dentist who could administer gas to take a tooth out. I was scared and fidgeted – and got a whack to the head.
Another time, aged five, I was offered a liquorice sweet while waiting for my sister to be released from the chair. To my mother’s shock and dismay I presented black, sugary teeth to the dentist. I’m still nervous of the dentist 60 years later.
Eastbourne, East Sussex
SIR – I was subjected to dental treatment with a pedal-powered drill (Letters, March 12) in the 1950s.
After suffering the initial drilling, a temporary filling was put in, only to be drilled out on the next visit and replaced with a permanent one.
What a joy when Novocaine was introduced.
North Ferriby, East Yorkshire
SIR – I, too, fell foul of the pedal-powered dentist’s drill in Sheffield in the 1950s. I started crying as soon as I knew the appointment was made.
SIR – My mother and I were both regularly on the receiving end of dental treatment with a pedal-powered drill in the late 1970s. I am not sure if it really counts, though, as it was from my father – a retired dentist turned vicar – in the kitchen.
I used to love chasing the little balls of mercury around the kitchen table.
SIR – Our dentist in Blackley, Lancashire in the 1950s did not believe in providing any pain relief while he drilled, as in his opinion it was only given by unskilled dentists to cover up their lack of skill.
SIR – Having received my AA subscription renewal letter for £295, I decided to cancel. I found that the only way to contact it is by telephone (“Contempt for callers”, Letters, March 5), but as the lines are always “extremely busy” I simply stopped my direct debit with the bank.
I was not surprised that the AA was not too busy to call me back in an attempt to persuade me to stay with it. The revised offer was down to £118. I declined.
West Mersea, Essex
PC Bank of England
SIR – In her letter (March 12), the CEO of the Independent Schools Council expresses her concern over the Bank of England’s decision to exclude independent school children from its educational presentations.
That decision brought a wry smile to my face. As my employer, the Bank financed our children’s private education in the 1980s and 1990s under its educational loans scheme, which offered the staff rates of 2 per cent. That was a very generous rate in those days.
I imagine the scheme has long since been wound up: it would hardly be consistent with the discriminatory policy that has been introduced – nor politically correct.
SIR – I have to concur with Andrew Doughty (Letters, March 12) regarding the decline of table manners.
I also enjoy eating out in the company of my family or friends, both to sample the delights of the food and partake in interesting conversation. What I don’t understand, while observing other diners generally in the same age group, is their apparent lack of interest in the food or indeed their company, betrayed by looking at and using their mobile phones throughout the meal.
Eastbourne, East Sussex
SIR – I find it quite entertaining while in restaurants to look around in between courses to see how cutlery is being manoeuvred. Forks as harpoons, knives as weapons, spoons as shovels. Long may the entertainment continue.
Dr Paul Veale
SIR – As an officer cadet in the 1960s, the chief instructor was so appalled at cadets’ table manners that all attended the unit theatre, where an instructor, seated at a table on stage, was served dinner by a steward, while another instructor pointed out the finer points of table etiquette.
One never forgot that the napkin (not serviette) was placed in the lap (not tucked anywhere), the soup spoon was pushed forwards and the dessert spoon pulled towards. One never charged a fork until the previous mouthful had been consumed, and heaven forbid that anybody would either touch the table silver or drink the port before the loyal toast.
Turnip for the books
SIR – The subject of turnips (Letters, March 12) brings to mind my mother-in-law – renowned for not labelling freezer contents – producing an “apple” pie and custard having used turnips by mistake. Not recommended.
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