Letters: Scots’ pensions will be safe after independence

Steve Webb MP, Minister of State for Pensions. Pic: Comp
Steve Webb MP, Minister of State for Pensions. Pic: Comp
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Stuart Smith (Letters, May 10) has missed the recent admission from the UK Pensions Minister Steve Webb (to the Scottish Affairs Committee) that people could be “assured” that following a Yes vote their pensions would be secure and has undermined the scaremongering by Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling.

He also confirmed what the DWP has been telling enquirers that if you’ve paid into the system you don’t have to be a UK citizen to get a UK pension.

This follows Professor Michael Keating telling the BBC Sunday Politics show that we can’t be kicked out of Europe as there is no mechanism for doing so and that smaller EU states are better able to adapt to changing circumstances than larger states.

Scotland will keep the pound as a UK Government minister at the heart of the pro-union campaign privately told a national newspaper (the Guardian) that “Of course there will be a currency union.” And as a member of the EU there will be an £85,000 savings guarantee in an independent Scotland.

With three of the main “uncertainties” blown away, there can’t be many red herrings left as Better Together scrapes the bottom of the Project Fear barrel.

One thing is certain if we vote ‘No’ in September, we will face another ten years of austerity with half of the UK Government’s cuts still to come, and remain part of the fourth most unequal country in the developed world.

Mary Thomas, Watson Crescent, Edinburgh

Cut VAT on building repair and maintenance

Research published by price comparison website Confused.com shows more than half of Scottish homeowners have paid tradesmen cash-in-hand and see nothing wrong with doing so.

Almost half of these payments are made to builders and associated trades. In reality, the practice means millions in lost tax revenue to the Treasury and many legitimate VAT-registered companies losing business to less reputable cash-in-hand traders.

The best way of tackling this problem would be to cut VAT on building repairs and maintenance to five per cent. It would erode the cash-in-hand traders’ competitive advantage, boost the construction industry and Treasury coffers at the same time and reduce consumers’ exposure to shoddy or unsafe work carried out by tax-evading rogue traders.

Vaughan Hart, managing director, Scottish Building Federation, Crichton’s Close, Edinburgh

Now Souter owes us another apology

I welcome Brian Souter’s generosity after apologising for upsetting anyone by joking about mental illness.

After 15 years of research, listening and reading testimonies of those who were directly harmed by his Keep the Clause campaign for my book, Religious Fascism: The Repeal of Section 28, I would also like to ask him to apologise to victims of his campaign that saw Keep the Clause become a playground catchphrase after billboards vilifying gay people were displayed across Scotland.

This notoriously vitriolic campaign, supported by the Catholic Church, leading tabloids and a string of wealthy social conservatives, fostered a climate of fear which quickly spread across the nation and paved the way for beatings, suicides and murders against gay people in a way that similar religious-based laws in Uganda, Nigeria and Russia are doing now.

Garry Otton, secretary, Scottish Secular Society, Broughton Street, Edinburgh

Reliving the golden age of cinema in Tranent

Your article (News, May 9) on reviving the former Winton Cinema in Tranent revives nostalgic memories of the pre-telly golden age of ‘going to the picture’ for entertainment.

There was choice aplenty in the local area, with other cinemas in Prestonpans, Ormiston and Haddington, along with four more in Musselburgh. One was locally (and somewhat ominously) known as “The Scratcher”. The Saturday matinee in Tranent had a unique feature in the form of a troop of boys from the nearby St Joseph’s Home near Meadowmill, who marched smartly up Church Street brae for their weekly treat. The senior boy carried the entrance money in a locked belt pouch, the key being kept in the kiosk.

Some readers will be puzzled by the cinema’s nickname, “The Cuds”. This derives from the name of the owners, the Codonas, who were prominent in the fairground industry (“The Shows”).

The local pronunciation of the name was Cudownie, so the picture house was referred to as Cudownie’s and shortened to Cud’s – hence “gaun tae the Cuds”.

Happy days – only 7d for the wooden seats at the front!

Robert Do, Ormiston Road, Tranent

People’s energy needs come before profits

Our fuel bills are rising fast, and politicians seem to have little idea what to do about it or little will to bother.

Climate change demands that we refuse to go on polluting and destroying our natural environment – the only real wealth for sustaining a future.

Tackling the profit-hungry energy companies has to be part of the answer. But the banks, too, must be made to change their ways. In years to come, coal, oil and gas prices are certain to carry on rising, while the cost of renewable energy will fall as long as we invest in infrastructure. Despite this, the big banks put billions into dirty fossil fuel projects – many of which pollute and destroy people’s rivers and forests in developing countries – while their investments in renewables remain tiny.

We need ways of financing, producing and distributing energy that are good for people and the natural world everywhere, and not geared solely towards maximising corporate profit.

Patricia Bryden, Dunrobin Place, Edinburgh