Minister in an impossible situation
SIR – Rhodri Morgan's decision to appoint Carwyn Jones as Minister for Assembly Business and Counsel General flies in the face of the Government of Wales Act 2006. Section 49(9) of that Act states that holders of Welsh Ministerial or Deputy Welsh Ministerial posts may not also be appointed as Counsel General and vice-versa.
At a time when the role of legal officers in Government is in the spotlight, it is crucial that the Counsel General be able to discharge his duties impartially. How can the Assembly’s business manager successfully wear two very different hats? Mr. Morgan has not only breached the Act but has placed his Minister in an impossible position.
Mawsons Mead, St Nicholas, Cardiff
SIR – While I wholeheartedly support anything that helps to promote Welsh produce, I was struck by the fact that the Welsh Food feature (Western Mail, August 16) highlighted five products – four of which I’d associate with as non-essential or luxury eating at a minimum and possibly in the junk food category if you wanted to be more pedantic – and one of which (processed white bread) I’d say is of doubtful benefit in a well balanced diet.
Surely Wales produces a more balanced range of goods than just luxury and/or junk food?
The Western Mail has a long-running theme on obesity, weight and poor diet being a real issue in Wales – why not use these sorts of articles to at least give a more balanced view and promote healthy eating based on Welsh produce…?
Welsh music on radio
SIR – The reassurance given by Sali Collins editor of BBC Radio Wales to Mr Clive Paul (“Missing the Music”, July 27) missed the point.
I too have often wondered why proper, good Welsh music is rarely heard on Radio Wales. I refer to the music of Meic Stevens, Dafydd Iwan, Richard Evans and a galaxy of other Welsh pop singers and choirs.
Such is the quality of the music programmes on Radio Cymru, I sometimes think it would be the standard heard in heaven itself.
There's Grav, Dai Jones, and the programmes late at night, particularly on the weekend that make a welcome break from the excessively self-promoting, boring, repetitive phone numbers that are constantly heard on Radio Wales, and all the other stations.
Radio Cymru 92 FM is one of my favourite programmes and like Mr Paul, I don’t speak a word of Welsh and am not a nationalist.
Radio Cymru is an excellent reason for newcomers to Wales, especially the young, to learn the language so that they will have another culture to enjoy.
Gomer Road, Swansea
In defence of 4x4s
SIR – Esyllt Lord's “4x4 goes way too far” (Letters, August 13) goes a long way to prove that all blanket statements concerning 4x4s are nothing short of absolute biased nonsense.
I appreciate that everybody has the right to their opinion, but having said that, I don’t think that 4x4s are any more guilty of polluting the atmosphere than all the other vehicles, including aeroplanes.
With regard to the drivers of 4x4s who it is claimed are inconsiderate and ill-mannered, I think you will find that these traits are pretty well spread across all types of vehicles.
In that statement, “What hope has an eight-year-old got against a Cherokee going at 45 mph?" What hope has this child got against a transit van going at 45 mph?
Yes there are some large 4x4s, but not as big as is claimed, if you want to see really big 4x4s go to the US or Australia. 4X4s in this country come in all sizes, some smaller than most cars. Some people call them gas-guzzlers, but nobody mentions big cars like Rolls-Royce and Bentleys etc, which would be lucky to do 15mpg.
Yes I drive a 4x4, it is a 2-litre Rav4. It is actually smaller than my previous estate car, and uses less petrol. If you want to talk about gas-guzzlers and size, what about the massive increase in commercial vehicles on our roads today?
Maes yr Haf, Penclawdd, Swansea
Saving post offices
SIR – Despite the promises and assurances made in Westminster, Welsh post offices are still under threat. Post offices and postal services and their regulation should be devolved to the National Assembly, because the New Labour Westminster Government is incapable or unwilling to protect our post offices.
Many of our communities in Wales depend heavily on the post office network to provide vital lifeline services to older people and other vulnerable members of the community. Devolution of responsibility in this area could allow more flexible support and maintain the post office network in Wales.
The Welsh Assembly Government and the National Assembly are better placed to understand the pressing need for supporting the rural and urban post office network against other priorities in Westminster government spending. Post office regulations and subsidies directly affect the operating framework for business in rural areas; this is something that should be decided upon directly within Wales.
JONATHAN T CLARK
Lambert Street, Casnewydd, Gwent
Patients as humans
SIR – Mike Ponton , the director of the Welsh NHS Confederation, argued in your paper last Monday that thinking about patients as customers is a good start. May I present an alternative perspective?
In this global environment people are driven by two sets of values. For the sake of simplicity they can be described as “Human” values and “Market” values. They do not necessarily conflict although each of us can have different views about their relative importance in our everyday life. Human values arise because all human beings relate to each other in myriad ways during their relatively short lives upon this earth. Words such as patient, student and passenger, imply a caring, that is, a human attitude and value. Words like customer, shareholder, venture capitalist, profit, business, money, imply a market attitude and value. Both kinds of values are, of course, necessary as we live our lives: we want the commodities that the market provides and, if we have the money, we can buy them – yet even more than wants there are needs we have because of our very humanity. There is a great difference between wants and needs. People are wanting faster cars, bigger boats, bigger homes, even space travel as a holiday – human wants expand to infinity. But human needs are finite – education, health service, clean water, food, caring and love.
The market will provide to those who can afford whatever it is that they want. It is the task of politics in the interests of social justice to meet the needs of human beings.
Mr Ponton is keen to get these two sets of values mixed up because he wants people who need medical care to be treated as customers. He proposes to infiltrate human values with market values. This has been the tragedy of the Blair years: they are now behind us.
For the sake of our humanity we must not let Mr Ponton beguile us in this way.
South Rise, Cardiff
University for Wales
SIR – I read with more than a tinge of regret yet no little surprise of the impending demise of the University of Wales as a federal institution(Western Mail, August 9).
The writing has been on the wall for some time as the whole concept of a federal university which has served Wales for so long and with great distinction has struggled to keep up with the times in the face of the current harsh market-driven world of higher education and a university that has failed to do as much as it could to provide initiatives to keep alive the concept of federalism in higher education. In only some instances has the University of Wales truly functioned in a positively federal way with collaborations between departments and groups in its constituent colleges.
There are also too few people who work in the University with any historical appreciation at all of its contributions and achievements over more than a century as of one of the few all-Wales institutions which drew people together from all corners of the nation.
Constituent colleges have therefore seen little option other than to go it alone. At the same time perhaps the stage has been reached when federalism in higher education has served its finite purpose and it is now the turn of individualism to carry the banner.
Whether the current evolutionary changes will improve academe in Wales remains to be seen and it will be interesting to see how the University of Wales adapts itself to its new role, whatever this might be. Indeed would it be asking too much for the university to take a stronger lead than it has done to promote the Welsh language as a medium for academic instruction and research?
I am confused also about the new status of University of Wales, Swansea, which you report (Western Mail, August 9) is to become a university in its own right on September 1st., ceasing to be a constituent of the University of Wales.
Since 2005 Swansea has had its own degree-awarding powers yet the new Swansea University will continue to award University of Wales degrees for the foreseeable future.
Is not this muddled academic thinking? What does this mean? Will future graduates be of the University of Wales or of Swansea University?
Some explanation would be appreciated.
D P DAVIES
Plas Treoda, Yr Eglwys Newydd, Caerdydd