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Coping strategy

As many of your readers will know I oppose the current way in which the House of Lords is constituted, and I believe most Swindon residents would agree with me that the £300 per day tax free allowance is an anachronism which should be dispensed with.

I was therefore a little taken aback by comments from the ‘reluctant’ peer Lord Prescott (formerly known simply as John Prescott who famously proclaimed he would never ever accept a seat in the Lords) that he could “barely cope on £300 per day”.

In attempting to support his contention he outlined how he lived in the North and travelled to London and that part of his allowance was used to cover such expense. That was of course a ‘lie’ as the Peer well knows. All Peers living outside of Greater London are entitled to recover transport costs for themselves and their spouse/partner.

It would be true to say that the tax free £300 per day is ‘cash in hand’ and supplements his Parliamentary pension of approximately £50,000 per year and his State Pension. The reality is that Lord Prescott was paid in excess of £100,000 last year, which hardly suggest he is “barely coping”.

DES MORGAN, Caraway Drive, Swindon

Not much support

Your article on Robert Buckland supporting British farming made very interesting reading indeed, particularly when one takes a good look at his voting record.

Just like his colleague Justin Tomlinson he has voted for and supports practices that are bad news for the countryside and the farming industry’s best interests.

Firstly, he voted for fracking which has been proven to cause widespread damage to the countryside and environment not only spoiling the appearance and wildlife of the countryside but also serious contamination of land that is needed to grow crops and for livestock to feed on, contamination of water supplies like reservoirs and rivers, the same water that people need to drink and wash in and that livestock need to drink.

How can that be conducive to a farmer’s best interests? In Lancashire fracking is being forced on the local population completely against the wishes of local people worried about their health and wellbeing.

Secondly, he supports badger culls that have been proven to be ineffective, cruel, and totally unnecessary. The spread of TB has been down to bad farming practices and bad husbandry of livestock.

Badgers are supposed to be a protected species and are an iconic symbol of our countryside.

If Mr. Buckland is serious about support for British farming he would do well to abort supporting the campaigns against fracking and badger culls and admit the government got it wrong on both these issues.

PETER BATES, Address supplied

Disgraceful situation

Regarding the recent Panorama Investigation into the abuse of detainees at the immigration removal centres Brook House and Tinsley House, Rev Nathan Ward who worked at Brook House said he wasn’t surprised but was shocked at the level of abuse that was going on there.

Anybody who knows anything about these removal centres are neither surprised or shocked.

An instance of abuse that I know about happened at Heathrow Airport several years ago. A black, female South African friend of mine with her young daughter had to fly home to South Africa to apply for UK citizenship (which she eventually got).

On arriving at Heathrow Airport, they were met by immigration officials who promptly marched them off to a holding room where they were mocked, vilified and racially abused. Her daughter was refused permission to use the toilet and not allowed to eat food or have a drink.

Informing the then South Swindon MP about the abuse they had been subjected to, I was told that the security companies who work for the government are ‘out of control’ and ‘are a law to themselves.’

These immigration centres and holding rooms are an utter disgrace where abuse of all sorts is both accepted and tolerated by senior managers.

Sadly, the abuse suffered by my friend and her daughter at Heathrow by immigration officials is not the only abuse she has been subjected to at UK airports. Her response to these racists is ‘if these people have a problem with my skin colour then it’s a problem they have to live and deal with.’

MARTIN WEBB, Swindon Road, Old Town

Open your eyes

It does seem to me that many cyclists have an exaggerated sense of entitlement and their reaction to a proposed new law regarding dangerous cycling is an example of this.

Incidentally, I write as one who has cycled all over the British Isles as well as on the continent. In addition I have a certificate recognising 25 years of teaching cycling proficiency to children.

When cyclist Kelli Salone (SA Sept 22) says that ‘around 99.9 per cent of cyclists do behave themselves on the road’ and ‘I rarely see any cyclist riding dangerously or doing anything dangerous’, I cannot help thinking of a current TV advertisement which says ‘Should have gone to Specsavers.’

MALCOLM EMERY, Roselea, Marlborough

EU is not all bad

I LIKE Bill Williams, and remarkably agree with a lot of his political criticism of the EU. However characterising me as an international jet setter is way off beam. My sole argument which I repeat, is that I and no UK exporter as ever been stopped from exporting by the EU. Putting all our ills at Europe’s door, then pretending in one bound we can be free and a brave new world full of buyers just waiting for our return will emerge, is increasingly seen for the nonsense it is.

Bill and I could trade pro-and anti-businessmen all day long (Sugar, Branson et al) but let’s just look more closely at who he relies on. Baron Bamford of Daylesford, clever and successful yes. However in 2000 the European Commission fined JCB 40 million Euros for anti-trust breaches. Bamford had sought to prevent citizens of one EU country buying machinery from another and Commissioner Marco Monti said it was a “shocking breach” of single market rules. Bamford threw millions at legals but in the end lost the six-year battle.

Dyson, brilliant yes, but quickly moved his production out of the UK so of course resents import tariff barriers back into Europe as well as being told what to do about motors, having had several legal challenges to the EU rejected over the suitability of test methods. And yes, this was the same James Dyson who said in 2000 it would be “suicidal not to join the euro!”

And kindly old Tim… well not really an exporter, unless you count exporting headaches as the holiday flights land in Ibiza!

What unites this powerful trio is a dislike of anyone that stands up to them overlaid with personal grudges against the EU - and why not?

The EU has consistently stood up for us citizens against big business, halting the Beyer/Monsanto tie up, anti-trust actions against Microsoft, Google etc, forcing mobile operators to drop hated roaming charges, promoting citizens’ long term health (hands up who wants even more Nox emissions) and consistently defending the planet’s ecology.

In short, yes, I can understand why some business moguls detest the EU.

JOHN STOOKE, Haydon End, Swindon