It has become a cliche that we never learn the lessons of history.

I recently attended a seminar at Glasgow University on hospitality and care for the poor in mediaeval Scotland. The speaker instanced how tests were carried out to determine which of the poor had sufficient disability to receive help and how the "able-bodied poor were criminalised".

He spoke also of the then current phrase of "false beggars and vagabonds" and how King James IV turned people out of their homes so that the land could be more productively used for royal purposes.

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I wonder if Iain Duncan Smith and his colleagues in their ill-named plans for welfare reform have learned from history, this time the wrong lessons (Letters, February 20).

Rev Dr Iain Whyte,

President, Scottish Church History Society,

14 Carlingnose Point,

North Queensferry.