LETTERS: Smart meters are not so bright for consumers

Have your say

My energy supplier offered to install a free ‘smart meter’ saying “New smart meters are part of Government plans to make it easier than ever for you to understand and control your energy use.”

It is not compulsory, so I refused and others should do so or face a Big Brother scenario. A new report shows my fears were justified.

Britain’s leading power firms are expected to introduce tariffs that charge more for gas and electricity at peak times when they roll out new smart meters to monitor how much energy you use.

A Government document has already stated that should there be a danger of blackouts, then smart meters would be used to cut off supplies to those with high usage.

Already 1.3 million smart meters have been installed ahead of a national rollout next year which aims to put these in every home by 2020 and of course the costs will be added to our bills. Still think smart meters are a good idea?

Clark Cross, Springfield Road, Linlithgow

Increased tax powers poser for Scots parties

FRASER GRANT (Letters, November 21), claims that it is undesirable to be dependent on the block grant.

It should be noted that the block grant helps to protect us from unpredictable financial challenges. Given the negative contribution that North Sea oil is currently making to Scottish finances, we should all be most grateful that, as part of the UK, we are in receipt of the block grant.

Clearly since certain taxes such as income tax, are being devolved to Scotland, there will need to be a corresponding decrease in the block grant.

This decrease is necessary in order to provide the Scottish Government with an income similar to that at present. There is an understanding in the Commons and also in the Lords that Scotland will not be allowed to be worse off.

Despite assertions to the contrary, the Scottish Labour Party does have a credible plan to finance not only a compensation for welfare cuts but also an increase in the education budget. The compensation for welfare cuts is to be financed as follows:

The Scottish Government not reducing air passenger duty, thus giving about £190 million per year.

The Scottish Government not increasing the higher rate tax threshold from £43,000 to £50,000 for those on the 40p rate.

On the other hand, the increase in the education budget is to be financed by increasing the highest rate tax band from 45p to 50p for those earning over £150,000 a year.

It would be interesting to learn what the other political parties are proposing to do with the increased powers that we are being given.

John Higinbotham, Bruntsfield Gardens, Edinburgh

Drugs Bill failure was a wasted opportunity

the rejection of the Off-patent Drugs Bill at the UK Parliament last month is a missed opportunity to improve care for Scots.

The Bill sought to make cheap off-patent drugs more easily available for new innovative uses by putting into UK law a duty on the Government to step in where there is no incentive for a pharmaceutical company to act.

Some existing, ‘off-patent’ drugs have been shown to be effective for different purposes to the one they were originally intended for. But, although they could benefit hundreds of thousands of people in the UK, some of these drugs are not made routinely available. This is because they are not approved in the UK for the new use.

While decisions on drug licensing are made by the UK Government, charity Breast Cancer Now has appealed to the Scottish Government to “leave no stone unturned” in efforts to make sure that such off-patent drugs can be made more easily available through the NHS in Scotland.

By making cheap off-patent drugs more easily available, this Bill could have helped save lives.

There is a strong coalition in favour of unlocking these drugs. We would like to thank everyone who supported the Bill, including the medical community, health charities and the Scottish MPs who turned up. We will continue to try to turn that strength of support into action.

Susannah Nichol, Breast Cancer Now, Scotland

One bus shelter for the rich, another for poor!

Those of us who are users of public transport continue to suffer in the new inadequate bus shelters in parts of the city. Meanwhile, the French company installing the shelters is a part sponsor of the UN climate change talks and has provided free advertising space on its Paris shelters for use by the demonstrators against pollution. This while they provide us with open-fronted shelters exposing us to extensive exhaust pollution.

The council maintain that the reason for replacing the original shelters, which had a rear to the road and two full size sides, with new shelters which are open to the road and have only one full size side, is to provide better access for the disabled.

However, the new shelters in Princes Street have their rear to the road and two full-size sides. Is this because the disabled are not welcome in Princes Street or is it because these shelters are more visible and present a better image of the city?

Of course, the new shelters are not being financed by the council, but are provided and maintained by the French company installing them. So they choose to install substantial state-of-the-art shelters in Princes Street, while those of us outwith the centre have to suffer wind, rain and pollution in inferior shelters.

John Fyfe, Redford Terrace, Edinburgh