Friday, 30 November 2007
Nov 30 2007 by Our Correspondent, Western Mail
Plaid is the reason for spending review
SIR – In her recent letter (November 27), the Conservative’s Shadow Finance Minister Angela Burns AM is highly critical of the Assembly’s draft Budget.
Bereft of any constructive contribution on this subject, the newly-elected member is keen to apportion blame for what is admittedly a tight budget. Given her obvious displeasure, no doubt the South Pembrokeshire AM has a raft of alternative proposals to share with us. Perhaps she has written to the UK Government to express her frustration over the iniquitous Assembly block grant.
It was inevitable that the UK Government’s spending review would have implications on public services but, thanks to Plaid Cymru, a review will now be undertaken into the way the Assembly is funded by Westminster.
DAI LLOYD AM
Plaid Cymru – The Party of Wales
No mention of bands
SIR – The letter from Angela Burns AM “Budget is a bad deal” (November 27) is yet another decrying the draft Budget.
While I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments that funds are not being expended or allocated adequately to achieve value for money, I must make the observation that in this and previous published letters from others, no mention has been made regarding the permanent annual financial increase to all local authority incomes in Wales brought about by the Assembly’s re-banding of properties. This additional cash does not appear to have resulted in any increased benefit to service provision by those authorities.
Efailwen, Clunderwen, Carmarthenshire
No beef with Brazil
SIR – Dai Davis’s support for Welsh farmers is commendable (“We can all do our bit to ensure a future for Welsh beef and lamb”, November 27) but he is off target in his criticism of Brazilian beef.
Foot-and-mouth disease is certainly not “endemic” in this vast country. On the contrary, it is confined to a few remote areas which are, anyway, not allowed to export to the EU. While issues of traceability are being addressed, it should be pointed out that the problem traceability was designed to thwart, BSE, doesn’t exist in Brazil and never has – it is a disease of UK origin.
And banning Brazilian beef is unlikely to improve the lot of Welsh farmers. Taking good quality, lean and nutritious Brazilian beef out of the market will simply make beef unaffordable for a large number of Welsh consumers.
Britain needs to import beef and Brazil remains keen to supply a value-for-money, quality-assured product.
Director, Brazilian Beef Information Service, Fitzroy Square, London W1
At odds with figures
SIR – The report of the judge’s ex-wife’s dissatisfaction with the police complaints system and the conclusion reached came as no surprise to me.
Six years ago, when I worked with the Audit Commission on Dyfed-Powys Police, I inquired about the performance indicators on complaints against the police. The “substantiation rate” then was only 2%. Naturally I was very surprised to learn this, and even more surprised to learn that the targets for the following year showed an increase in the number of complaints, with a further decrease in the substantiation rates. The target increase in the number of complaints, I was told, was to encourage more people to come forward with their issues. The decrease in the substantiation rate, I argued, showed that even fewer of the complainants would be believed (or rather their complaints substantiated) than previously. I’d be interested to know the up-to-date figures as, if they are comparable to this, it would seem sensible to let prospective complainants know. They probably wouldn’t bother in the light of these odds, and thereby save themselves time, and the public money.
Station Road, Kidwelly, Carms
SIR – Labour MP Ian Lucas has called for Wales to be represented on the Union Flag.
Well, it’s a start I suppose, but it is also true that a dragon inserted into the Union Flag will not make “any difference to the unity of the country”, as Conservative unionists say.
First of all, which “country” are they talking about? Obviously Britain.
Let us not forget that here in Wales it is Wales (or rather Cymru) which is “our country”.
Wales is not represented on the flag because Wales was incorporated into England in 1535. Therefore Wales is not interested in being represented on the Union flag. Wales is interested only in flying its own flag, the flag of the red dragon.
Not to be included is a disgrace, it is true, but Wales has a perfectly good flag of its own which many people in Wales are proud to fly on their cars and in their gardens.
Long may this continue, and may the flag continue to be the only flag of Wales. Wales has no use for the Union Flag because Wales is on the way to independence and the intention is to free Wales from the clutches of the union.
Mansel Street, Porth Tywyn. Dyfed
SIR – Attacking efforts to encourage more women into politics as “press-gang” tactics (“Let women decide if they want to stand”, November 26) is cheap and irresponsible. The national newspaper of Wales would do better to engage with the serious question of why Welsh women are not putting themselves forward for election in the first place.
One cannot underestimate the role that confidence issues, family pressures and a lack of role models play in women’s under-representation in public life. Indeed, we are caught in a catch-22 situation. As long as the political environment remains male dominated women will not come forward in numbers.
And, as long as women fail to come forward, the political environment will remain male dominated.
International experience proves that mechanisms to encourage women into politics work, and are a necessary precursor to men and women competing on an equal basis. Countries that have embraced positive action have reaped the rewards – Sweden now boasts 45.3% female representation, Finland 37.5% and Denmark 36.9%.
I have recently returned from Rwanda where they too are actively compensating for women’s historical exclusion. One Rwandan official put it simply, “If you have a child who has been malnourished, you can’t compare her to your other children. You have to give her special feeding.”
What we are talking about here is not political correctness. Raising women’s participation in politics is crucial to ensuring a healthy and truly representative democracy.
Positive action is not insulting to women. Your editorial’s simplistic conclusion that women are just not interested in the public life of their nation is, however, deeply insulting.
GLENYS KINNOCK MEP
SIR – The concept that nuclear power is safe, peaceful or a solution to global warming (Letters, Jack Harris, November 15) is dangerous, distracting nonsense. Nuclear power generates less than 4% of UK energy (not 7.8% as the Prime Minister stated in a speech last week) and just 3% globally.
Such a limited contribution is simply not worth the international political tensions, the hidden costs and huge subsidies, the uninsurable major terrorism and accident risks, and the intractable long-term wastes generated by this inherently dangerous technology.
All global energy can be provided safely and more cheaply by harnessing Earth’s abundant renewable resources, including wind farms around the UK and solar power schemes in the world’s hot deserts.
The UK and US both have considerable renewable energy resources and should show global leadership to countries like solar-rich Iran by rejecting new nuclear programmes and building safe renewable technologies which can also be exported and speedily built around the world.
Campaigner, Friends of the Earth Cymru
SIR – May I ask your readers to take a few minutes from of their busy Christmas preparations to think about helping a charity?
Here at Marie Curie Cancer Care we are in constant need of funds to extend our free home nursing service for cancer patients. Every £20 raised helps us provide an extra hour of nursing care and brings support and comfort, not only to patients but also to their families.
Raising money at Christmas can be fun and rewarding. There are all sorts of possibilities – carol singing, organising a collection or raffle, holding a coffee morning or bring-and-buy or putting up one of our charity posters where work colleagues can write up their festive greetings and donate the money they would have spent on Christmas cards. I’m sure your readers will be able to come up with other ideas of their own.
If anyone would like to organise a Christmas fund-raising event, we at Marie Curie would be delighted to hear about it and to offer support. I can be contacted on 01792 416435.
West Wales Fundraising Manager, Marie Curie Cancer Care