The Telegraph

Letters: The public has been bamboozled by the blurring of guidance and law

SIR – Your recent leader and letters (May 25) drew attention to the multiple nonsenses emanating from Whitehall – particularly the ruling on amateur choirs. Yesterday there was also further confusion over travel rules. What the public needs is a guide on which of the Government’s pronouncements are merely advice and which have the force of law. I fear that we have become so supine during the pandemic and the lockdowns that we are losing the confidence to trust our own judgment. Edward Sharp Wareham, Dorset SIR – The suggestion that our freedoms will be curtailed beyond June 21 (“Vaccine not enough to avoid self-isolating”, report, May 25) has nothing to do with protection from the virus and everything to do with extending control over us. Jane Ward Northampton SIR – In your report on the potential extension of quarantine rules, you quote a government source as saying that the contact-tracing system should remain in place because it is possible to catch and pass on Covid even if one has been vaccinated. It seems more likely that the system needs to remain in place because so much money has already been spent on it, and the Government needs to show that it is still being used. Julian Gall Godalming, Surrey SIR – In one way or another herd immunity has always been the goal in this crisis: that is, after all, what universal vaccination provides. Controlled exposure of the population to the virus, at a time before vaccines were on stream, for the purposes of keeping NHS systems within capacity and making a start on the long-term protection of the nation, would have been an entirely reasonable and practical policy option to discuss – even if nothing further came of it. Dominic Cummings’s negative, throwaway use of the term, with its implication of “letting the weak go to the wall” (report, May 24), is as irresponsibly dangerous as repeated headlines terrifying people about the vanishingly small danger of post-vaccination blood clots. It adds nothing to public understanding, to the defeat of the virus, or to the lessons to be learnt. Victor Launert Matlock Bath, Derbyshire SIR – Normally, by this time of year, I have been taking hay-fever medication for about four weeks to prevent sneezing, a runny nose and irritable eyes. This year, however, I am fully vaccinated against Covid but have taken no hay-fever medication – and do not display any symptoms. Is this a beneficial side effect of the vaccination – or just a reflection of the lousy weather we have had in the Manchester area? David S Ainsworth Manchester GPs’ gatekeepers SIR – The problem with GPs (Letters, May 24) lies with receptionists, who have become the gatekeepers deciding who is worthy of an appointment. Recently my daughter needed her one-year jabs. When I phoned the GP receptionists I was told that all of their nurses had been block-booked for Covid jabs and, because they didn’t know when the vaccine deliveries would be, they couldn’t tell me when any nurse appointments would be available. I was advised to try ringing at random times each day to see if any appointments had been released. After doing what I had been advised to do several times, I turned to my health visitor. After a firmly worded reminder to my GP of their duties to carry out childhood immunisations, my daughter was miraculously offered an appointment with a nurse for the jabs within a few days. GPs need to be aware that often the way receptionists treat patients reflects badly on them as doctors. Anne Thompson Sheffield, South Yorkshire SIR – Dr James Le Fanu’s column (May 24) rather skates over a major factor in the medical manpower issue. While a class of, say, 100 male students could reasonably be expected to provide 90 or more “whole-working life equivalents”, a class of 100 females might provide only a third of that. Most of the reasons for this are entirely understandable. Marriage, childbirth and childcare, as well as the care of elderly parents later on, will compromise the ability of a female medic (or any female professional) to work full-time – but it reduces the lifetime availability of half or more of an expensively trained workforce. The only non-sexist solution, of creating far more medical school places, is a very expensive way of running to stand still. Neither of us has an answer to this, but the problem will get worse as some of the male graduates emulate their female counterparts and opt for a different work-life balance, worsening the vicious circle for those left. Dr Mary E Nesbitt Dr K Nesbitt Ramsey, Isle of Man University free speech SIR – We are pleased that the University of Cambridge has removed a website that defines racism as something only ever perpetrated by white people against non-white people, and that insinuates that students and staff are liable to disciplinary action for “microaggressions” (such as criticising religion, using unapproved pronouns, or raising an eyebrow). It also encourages, and gives anyone the means to make, anonymous accusations in connection with these offences. We are pleased to learn from the vice-chancellor that this material was put up in error. We trust that whatever replaces the documentation will be fully compatible with the right to unfettered freedom of speech and expression within the law, as well as with the university’s core commitment to the free and fearless discussion of ideas as enshrined in its Statement on Freedom of Speech, which was approved by university staff last December and to which the vice-chancellor gave his immediate and unequivocal support at the time. Arif Ahmed Gonville & Caius College James Orr Faculty of Divinity Timothy Less Darwin College Sylvana Tomaselli St John’s College John Ellis Gonville & Caius College Anna Nickerson Girton College Julius Grower Jesus College David Abulafia Gonville & Caius College Robert Tombs St John’s College David Ibbetson Faculty of Law Simon Gathercole Faculty of Divinity David Feldman Faculty of Law Geoffrey Grimmett Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics Michael D Hurley Faculty of English Simon Conway Morris St John’s College John Marenbon Trinity College Partha Dasgupta St John’s College Rachel Polonsky Murray Edwards College George Reid St John’s College Howard Hughes St John’s College Malcolm Smith Gonville & Caius College Béla Bollobás Trinity College David Yates Robinson College Alexander Marr Trinity Hall Imre Leader Trinity College In the event of a fire SIR – New fire regulations say that the management of a building is responsible for the evacuation of disabled residents. I live in a block of 54 flats in Cowes which is owned by the residents. About half are in permanent occupation, mainly by people like myself who are retired. There is only one other similar block on the Isle of Wight, 15 miles away in Shanklin. I would be glad to know where we are going to get at least four able-bodied men, per disabled resident, at short notice to evacuate the building – even supposing that we could pay to have these men permanently on call. Christopher Stannard Cowes, Isle of Wight Is the BBC establishment capable of change? SIR – Can anyone have confidence that the BBC’s culture has changed? Asked on the Today programme why Martin Bashir’s resignation was accepted just days before Lord Dyson’s damning verdict on his conduct, Tim Davie claimed that complex medical needs and the desire to save licence fee payers’ money were factors – Mr Bashir was given a “short” notice period. Pressed by Justin Webb, Mr Davie admitted that Mr Bashir had been given three months’ salary. This is not “short” notice, and “complex medical needs” is an expression open to limitless interpretation. Mr Davie has been with the BBC since 2005. He was former director-general Mark Thompson’s first senior external appointment. He has held many senior roles and is part of the BBC establishment. The culture of the BBC remains the same, as do the faces. David Lane Ludlow, Shropshire SIR – If I want to switch on my TV to watch any channel, I have to have paid the licence fee to the BBC. Increasingly, I am turning to other channels for news and entertainment. I realise that the TV licence pays for radio – for instance, Radio 3’s Composer of the Week, which I value – and for the orchestras and the Proms. I hope that in any review of the BBC’s editorial policy and its financing these elements can be unbundled, so that licence fee payers know exactly what they are paying for. Elizabeth Balsom London SW15 Policing for everyone SIR – Nick Timothy (Comment, May 24) discusses “selective law enforcement”. I joined the police in 1964. My father, an officer from 1930 to 1945, told me: “Your uniform means that you represent the law and must enforce compliance whenever and wherever you encounter criminal acts. You must always prevail and you must never walk away.” I lived by that during my 30 years’ service, and passed it on to my son. Now my grandson is a PC. Weakness encourages offenders. Disciplined enforcement prevails. Brian Roebuck Alveston, Gloucestershire Vintage prizes SIR – Greig Bannerman (Letters, May 25), who returns “unpalatable” bottles of wine to guests, has got it wrong. The correct protocol is to donate them to a tombola stall at your local fundraising event. They will then develop a personality of their own for years as they circulate around the various good causes. With luck (or misfortune) you may even end up winning one back again. Wendy Strathdee Burnham, Buckinghamshire SIR – I am amazed that Mr Bannerman continues to be invited to parties. Joyce Nicholson Teignmouth, Devon A day in the life of a multi-tasking milkman

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