LETTERS: Quota system is not the right route for Parliament

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The principle of equal pay for equal work rests on cast-iron logic. The new Women’s Equality Party’s case for equal parliamentary representation, however, is the flimsiest of fallacies. It is also self-defeating, introducing a limit on their presence which does not currently exist.

A healthy democracy demands universal right to seek election, along with the right of electors to the widest possible choice of candidates. Limiting either men or women to 50% is pure nonsense.

Presumably the 50-50 arrangement would apply also to internal subdivisions, such as the cabinet and all parliamentary committees. Would the Speaker be obliged to call male and female members to speak in sequence?

Organising this system would be a logistical nightmare: the first requirement would be an equal number of constituencies, followed by the not insignificant question of who decides - and on what basis - which of these would be reserved for each to contest.

Women already have parliamentary equality at the only point where it is relevant - in seeking selection as candidates. Any unfairness at that level would be properly taken up with the party involved.

It is also worth pointing out that male/female is not the only subdivision in our multicultural society. Asians, for instance, might feel neglected if representation is to be regarded from the point of view of societal grouping.

I have no objection in principle to either all-male or all-female parliaments, the important factor is that the make-up of our parliament must result from freedom, not restriction.

Robert Dow, Ormiston Road, Tranent

Hannan’s party line is not working

Am I the only one who, when he reads SNP apologist Martin Hannan writing the word ‘Unionist’, is left with a really bad taste?

In his usual biased piece (News, October 20) he informs us that contrary to what Unionists state, the SNP do not dragoon people “into toeing the party line” and goes on to state that he himself had “witnessed delegates voting for more radical land reform” among other things, opposing SNP proposals.

Nice try Mr Hannan, but I believe you’ll find that when Unionists talk of ‘toeing the party line’ they are not talking about delegates at an SNP love-in, but pointing out the fact that every SNP MP has to sign a document, in which they pledge not to in any way, undermine or disagree with “toeing the party line as laid down by the high heid yins”, to quote Mr Hannan.

Real democracy at work there, don’t you agree Mr H?

Jim Taylor, Essendean Place, Edinburgh

UK should have power to decide on VAT

To tax tampons or not to tax tampons, that should have been the question. Instead the House of Commons merely voted that David Cameron should raise the issue of their VAT status in negotiations with the European Commission.

If the parliament of a country of over 60 million people does not have the power to exempt female hygiene products from a tax, then there is a problem.

Only by leaving the European Union will we return power to our parliaments in London and Edinburgh and regain the ability to make decisions that benefit real people.

Otto Inglis, Inveralmond Grove, Edinburgh

Halloween is not a great time for pets

A good scare on Halloween can be fun, but no one wants to be haunted because their beloved animal companion was sickened, injured or even killed during the festivities.

We can ensure that Halloween is a treat, not a trick, for our cats and dogs by taking a few simple precautions. Many animals can’t resist sampling treats – wrappers and all – that contain toxic ingredients such as chocolate and xylitol. Keep all candies and other treats out of reach of animals, and do the same for candles and jack-o-lanterns, which can cause burns and fires if knocked over.

Dressing up isn’t always fun for animals, because costumes can impair their ability to see, move and breathe – and some are simply just uncomfortable. Animals can also choke or strangle if they chew small parts from their costumes or become entangled. Leave dress-up to the kids and let animals be their naturally adorable selves.

Costumed visitors at the door can make even the friendliest animals skittish and prone to bolting or biting. Try to stay with your animals in a quiet room, away from the door, and make sure that they’re microchipped and wearing collars with current ID tags, just in case.

Jennifer White, PETA UK

All Saints Street, London

We should shrink the House of Lords to size

The House of Lords is forever in the news these days but none of the reports are complimentary.

At this rate calls for it to be abolished will become irresistible. This is not the answer as a second tier is needed to force the lower house to consider carefully the legislation it proposes.

The solution is surely to have fewer peers. This can easily be done. If the members of the House of Lords, excluding the hereditary peers, elected 150 of their colleagues to sit in the House, that would bring the total, including the hereditary ones, down to 248. Politicians could still appoint peers but they would not be a drain on the public purse.

William W Scott, St Baldred’s Road, North Berwick