Magazine article The Spectator


Magazine article The Spectator


Article excerpt

Pension scheming Sir: As a pensions professional who has witnessed his once-mighty industry's sustaining of blow after blow, I was heartened to read The Spectator's call for Conservatives to resist the temptation to make 'yet another raid on pension funds' (Leading article, 25 February).

The government's lack of understanding of pensions tax relief was revealed in the Chief Secretary to the Treasury's reported comment on how much 'we spend' on higher-rate relief on pension contributions.

The government is not 'spending' at all;

the contributor is simply being allowed to retain more of his own money, as a reward for putting some away for exposure to future taxation.

Zachary Gallagher Leicester Sir: Your leading article was spot on. Let's raise the tax allowance to £10,000 but not by mounting yet another damaging raid on pensions. There are cuts that can easily be implemented with the grain of existing policies: drive government cuts over three not four years; force half of councils to outsource basic services long outsourced by the sensible half; don't offer final salary pensions for anyone new joining the public sector. The 'top 1 per cent' within the public sector should accept a 5 per cent pay cut as an incentive to drive deficit reduction.

Tony Devenish Superannuation Committee Westminster City Council, London SW1 Impending divorce Sir: Unless Conservatives risk imminent coalition break-up ('Irreconcilable differences', 25 February) by adopting necessary economic growth policies, they risk electoral suicide. Growth requires global competitiveness. It necessitates first lowering the top tax rate to 40 per cent immediately and capital gains taxes commensurately, to encourage entrepreneurs to invest in Britain (and substantially increase tax revenues).

Second, the repeal of excessive and ill-founded regulations, including all restrictive EU regulations, even if it means leaving the EU. These measures should be vigorously defended as overwhelmingly in the public interest and the best way to create viable, sustainable jobs.

The risk of coalition break-up must be accepted since the Conservatives cannot win an election on current policies alone.

So what is there to lose?

Allen Sykes Surrey Simple error Sir: Charles Moore (Notes, 25 February) says that Colin Welch invented the Daily Telegraph's Peter Simple column, but I don't think that is correct. Cyril Herbert Bretherton, a journalist on the old Morning Post, wrote a 'Way of the World' column for many years in that paper, signing himself 'Peter Simple', until the Post was taken over by the Daily Telegraph in 1937. He was also a columnist on Punch, where he wrote under the pen name 'Algol'.

C.H. Bretherton was the Morning Post's correspondent in Ireland during the original 'Troubles', and a reporter for the Irish Times. His contemporaneous reports in both papers make vivid and exciting reading. An English Catholic Unionist, he had some narrow escapes from the IRA and drunken Black and Tans (whom he generally admired). He had, to put it mildly, no sympathy with Irish nationalism, and wrote a scathing account of the Troubles in his book The Real Ireland, published in 1925.

LETTERS In a letter to the Sunday Telegraph (11 November 1984), Bretherton's son, J.C. Bretherton (himself an accomplished writer), tried to put the record straight.

He thought that Colin Welch himself acknowledged that he was the second Peter Simple by signing his first few Telegraph columns 'Peter Simple II'.

Paul Rowlandson Londonderry Cool aid Sir: I absolutely agree with Ian Birrell ('Big Charity', 18 February) that 'Some charitable organisations are good, some bad - but none sacred'. And he is right to point to the proliferation of small NGOs as a problem that has hampered relief efforts in Haiti and elsewhere.

But it is unfortunate that in calling for a light to be shone on the working of the 'aid industry' and NGOs, he conflates the two and chooses to highlight only the negative - relying heavily on uncorroborated stories. …

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