ALAN Simpson talks about a "war on motorists" yet this is far from the case ("Motorists should not be punished further", The Herald, June 24). Our society today, to a large part, revolves around the motorist.

A huge amount of space is given over to vehicle parking, our atmosphere is polluted and our population is in the middle of an obesity crisis. The tax on petrol has not increased in the last 10 years, making it relatively cheaper now than it was in the 1970s before the oil-producing countries got together to control the oil price. The current fashion for SUVs means that the average car is bigger and heavier than it has ever been, negating all the efficiency gains in petrol engines in recent times.

I see people jumping in their cars to drive 500 yards to the shops, children being driven less than a mile to school. The roads today are hostile to active travel, with a significant number of drivers seemingly oblivious to speed limits. We have, in the UK, in excess of 1,500 road deaths a year and thousands of serious injuries caused by motorists.

For many people living outside urban areas, there’s no doubt a car is a necessity. However, a high percentage of car journeys are less than two miles and could easily be completed by walking, cycling or public transport.

We should be discouraging car use with higher taxes and ploughing the extra money into improved public transport and facilities for active travel. Free bus travel for all would be a good start.

Boyd Johnston, Paisley.


I NOTE your report on the findings of Scotland's Climate Assembly ("Road tax rise could pay for free public transport", The Herald, June 24). When will you, and others including Michael Matheson, stop referring to “road tax”? There was a tax of this name that raised money from motor vehicle owners to pay for road construction but it stopped in 1937. Since then road construction has been funded from general taxation, just like so many other things, whether we use them or not.

The Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), which motor vehicle owners do pay, is a tax based on engine size and fuel type used, and from which electric vehicles are exempt. That is, it’s effectively a pollution tax. Thus to use the term “road tax” is wrong and gives motorists a sense of ownership of, and entitlement to, our publicly owned roads.

A rise in VED to fund free public transport is to be welcomed as it will reduce the number of motor vehicles, particularly the heavily polluting ones, on our roads, increase the use of public transport and make our roads quieter and safer for us all.

Patricia Fort, Glasgow.


PROFESSOR Donald Gillies (Letters, June 25) asks: "If you can find information on the internet why should you be asked to produce the same thing in an examination hall?" The internet as a fount of all knowledge is very useful but, as the misinformation surrounding the Covid vaccines shows, not always accurate.

Unless the teaching of history has changed fundamentally since my time in education, essay writing in examination conditions (albeit at senior level) was not just about regurgitation of fact but also about the ability to weigh evidence and consider differing points of view and opinion. Without background knowledge of the subject, how is a school student to make these judgements? How can young people separate the wheat from the chaff of the internet without some information on which to judge?

Internal assessment of students' work has been tried in the past. The Assignment element of the long-gone Standard Grade History attempted to deal with that. Students were asked to plan, research and report on a particular topic. Each element was worth one-third of the overall grade. Most of the work was done in the classroom.

One student did no planning or research but produced an excellent report, clearly not his own work. His grade on the first two elements was zero but for the report he had to be given the top grade. I later asked one of HM Inspectors what I should have done. He replied that until the Exam Board, as it then was, was willing to go to court on the issue, there was nothing to be done.

Any internal assessment system comes up against this problem: students with parents who can assist them by cheating, will always exist and dealing with this is very difficult. Perhaps there may also be some teachers who "help" their students too much.

Olive Spicer, Glasgow.


IN her article about flags and patriotism, Rebecca McQuillan ("Spare us all the flags and anthems of One Britain. Patriotism is deeply unBritish", The Herald, June 25) refers to the waving of "Union Jacks" which is impossible, since a flag only becomes a "jack" when it is flown from the jackstaff of a ship and hence impossible to wave. This applies to all ships anywhere which fly a flag from a jackstaff.

The Union Flag can only be waved when it is held by people and hence is waved as the Union Flag. I have a long association with masts and flagpoles and have pointed out this error several times.

Richard A McKenzie, Giffnock.


READING Maureen Sudgen's Issue of the day article ("These pacific words will probly irk", The Herald, June 25) I was surprised by the omission of "nother".

Many people have taken to using the phrase "a whole nother" instead of another.

That must surely be the most irksome of all mispronunciations. As well as changing the word "another" they have to add "a whole" to complete the phrase.

David Clark, Tarbolton.