AS I listened to today's Budget speech I was particularly saddened by two items which, to me at any rate, are pointing our Scottish nation totally in the wrong direction.

The first is new visa rules which are aimed at easing the difficulty which the ending of freedom of movement has imposed on recruitment of immigrants to highly-skilled occupations. Low-skilled jobs will, on the other hand, remain reserved for our indigenous labour force. Surely the reverse should be the case, with immigrants being welcomed to fill low-paid, low-skilled, often seasonal needs and employers encouraged to invest in the education and training of our young people to equip them for successful, long term and highly paid careers.

The second jarring announcement was the reduction of air passenger taxes on internal flights within the UK, a measure which is bound to favour air travel rather than the rail alternative. A more ill-timed announcement is hard to imagine in the week before the COP26 event.

Willie Maclean, Milngavie.


WITH COP26 descending on Glasgow, Rishi Sunak had a massive opportunity to showcase the country's green vision in an attempt to play our part in tackling climate change. But was Rishi Sunak aware of that fact? This was a Budget with no home insulation investment, no bold vision of transition from gas and oil to renewables, no investment in green training and skills. So what was its message?

There was no cut in VAT for household fuel bills as families struggle with a serious choice to make: heating or eating. There was no attack on poverty levels, especially child poverty. No pay-back to pensioners for the £6 billion the Chancellor has gained by scrapping a manifesto commitment to keep the triple lock.

However, there was a £2 billion "bonus" for Universal Credit (UC) claimants through work allowance reducing the take-back from 63p in every pound earned to 55p. Contrast that with the £8 billion claw-back from claimants through the scrapping of the £20 per week temporary uplift. Why did the Chancellor not take a lead from the Scottish Government's game-changing introduction of the Child Payment in an effort to tackle child poverty? Why did the Chancellor not do as the Scottish Government has done by giving carers the recognition they deserve by increasing their allowance?

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk.


NEIL Mackay asks whether "the conduct of the UK Government in England over Covid is putting the health of Scottish citizens at risk" ("Is England’s Covid negligence putting Scottish lives at risk?", The Herald, October 27). For some months this year, Scotland had the highest Covid rates in Europe, with one local authority after another listed as the most dangerous place to live anywhere across the Continent, in Covid terms. Case rates soared when Scottish children returned to school in August, when they were low in England. Was Mr Mackay writing articles suggesting Nicola Sturgeon's decisions were potentially endangering English lives? That England felt like "a different country" because it was so much safer than Scotland? Indeed he was not.

Nicola Sturgeon has previously been quick to insist Scots don't travel when there's a spike in a particular English city like Manchester, ignoring that rates were simultaneously higher in parts of Scotland. Both Mr Mackay and Ms Sturgeon are in my opinion using the tragedy of the pandemic to spin a divisive and frankly parochial, nationalist narrative.

Martin Redfern, Melrose.

* AS an Anglo-Scot working in England I point-blank refute Neil Mackay’s assumption of “Anglophobia and anti-Scottish sentiment”. Relative Covid figures have varied for lots of reasons unrelated to Nicola Sturgeon’s “far superior communications”. In fact Scotland’s healthcare outcomes across the board, including infectious diseases, are worse than England’s. Yet if some Union-Jack waistcoated English nationalist were to use this to accuse Scotland of “putting English lives at risk” their claim would be treated with the rich derision it deserved.

Richard Mann, Wilmslow, Cheshire.


AS part of a trial my wife and I received two injections of the as-yet unapproved Novavax vaccine in October 2020. Last Monday we were discharged from the trial with a letter from Glasgow Clinical Research Facility headed “Patient-Specific Direction for Deployed Vaccination” which allowed us to be receive a Pfizer booster vaccination at a pop-up facility yesterday. So far so good, apart from my wife suffering side-effects.

Duncan A McLaren, Glasgow.


THERE may be chaos due to strikes, but whether you agree with these actions which quite rightly are arranged to cause maximum inconvenience, I find that it is astonishing that more than 3,000 delegates have nowhere to stay ("COP26 chaos looms as rail and council staff to strike", The Herald, October 26). Who was responsible for organising the accommodation?

Was it necessary to have so many people attending and why was accommodation not arranged in advance? Zoom meetings could have cut down the numbers who have to attend. How much extra CO2 is added to our atmosphere and how many extra Covid deaths will follow?

Whilst I wholly back this conference and its aims, I feel that a scaled-down event could achieve the same good result.

Malcolm Rankin, Seamill.

* I HOPE I am not alone in condemning the greedy Glasgow landlord in your report this week ("Landlord: Pay $2k extra or I cancel", The Herald, October 26).

Maybe I’m innocent but I was flabbergasted when I read this. Never mind how clean the city is for COP26, what kind of impression does this behaviour give to foreign visitors?

Janice Taylor, Carluke.


MAYBE the senior officials at the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) should look at the seafarers they represent, or claim to, and see what a life of hardship is.

Over the past 18 months, thousands of them have been stuck on ships or rigs, unable to get home. And as many have been stuck at home, on no wages.

If the world's seamen stopped work tomorrow, half the world would starve to death in a month, the other half would freeze to death.

Something for the bold Mick Hogg, the RMT's Scotland organiser, to consider when he’s following the wee Swedish lassie around the streets of Glasgow.

Steven Matthews, Kilsyth.


YOUR article on the debate around heat pumps ("Window rattling air pumps not the answer to net zero", The Herald, October 25) is very revealing as to their practicality as replacements for gas boilers. The other problem which was not addressed is their efficiency.

Heat pumps generate a gentle heat at a temperature of 35C to 40C. This works well in underfloor heating where the heat is provided over a large area. Gas central heating provides a temperature of typically 60C in radiators which are positioned at specific points in a room. If heat pumps were being used to heat radiators there would not be enough surface area to heat to a room temperature of (say) 20C. Increasing the number or size of radiators to accommodate the reduced temperature would lead to almost all the walls being radiators.

Advertisements which promote heat pumps suggest that increasing our house insulation to grade C would solve the problem of low heat output. I doubt that this would suffice, as calculations show that the temperature difference between a radiator at 35C and a comfortable room temperature is too small. There are some high-temperature heat pumps but I suggest that they be approached with caution due to their eye-watering running costs.

It seems however that the public is being conned as to the practicality of air source heat pumps. As well as the noise mentioned in your article, the heat pump when installed to power underfloor heating will only provide heat to the ground floor. Upper floors need to rely on heat convection from the ground floor coupled with barely-warm radiators. The heating system needs to be on 24 hours per day since it takes a complete day to heat the house, so too bad when in spring or autumn a hot day arrives and the house becomes too hot with the sun beating in. If the air source heat pump is turned off, it takes a long time for the temperature to diminish and then another 24 hours for it to heat up again when the weather turns colder. If you like luxury carpets then sorry, underfloor heating won’t work when it is insulated with lovely thick underlay and carpet.

There is a technology, however, which would potentially solve the problem of heating our homes while generating no CO2. This would use hydrogen as a fuel for our central heating boilers. Once the technology is sufficiently developed at a scale which generates enough green hydrogen then we will be able, after a slight tinkering of our boilers, to have warm “green” homes.

So, please do not allow us to be conned by the heat pump lobby that they are a practical way to heat our existing homes.

Colin Gunn, Glasgow.

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