LAST week there was a most interesting report on the demographic challenges facing Scotland with a declining birth rate and an ageing population. Already we can see the consequences with the Scottish labour market experiencing serious shortages with the drop in births and the draconian immigration policy of the UK government.

There is absolutely no doubt that the Tory Government’s new immigration laws are designed to discourage would-be applicants – unless of course they are highly qualified and well-off financially. For those not so favoured the difficulties are considerable. The problems currently being encountered by a young French acquaintance have genuinely shocked me.

Our friend from Bordeaux has a university degree and is fluent in both spoken and written English. She is an artist and a musician. She came to Scotland to be with her partner, a qualified gardener with a long-established Edinburgh firm. Our friend made her visa application some weeks ago in good faith, imagining that it would be a straightforward and speedy process. Having spent more than £3,000 working her way through the requirements, including the English test, she was told that the last stage was a face-to-face interview with a member of staff from the Home Office. For this she had to go to Manchester at her own expense. You can imagine her dismay to learn that her application has now been refused.

There are 12 pages in the refusal letter which lists 13 separate criteria for possible rejection. The letter is confusing and contradictory. Regular references are made to clauses in the Regulations (not provided). Three reasons for rejection really struck me. Because her partner has worked for his present employer for less than six months then his income cannot be taken into consideration. Clearly our friend cannot produce evidence of the required £18,600 income because she is not allowed paid work without a visa. Finally for some bizarre reason her application was rejected because she “had not held a minimum of £62,500 for six months prior to the date of your application”. The letter concludes with the suggestion that she should return to France and that “it is reasonable to suggest your partner would be able … to find gainful employment in France”. So she can’t work here but apparently it’s OK for her partner to move to France to work.

Surely if there was a flaw in her application then this should have been pointed out at the start of the process, not at the end when so much time, emotion and money has been used up. With such harsh, complicated and costly regulations in place it is little wonder that the country has so many illegal immigrants.

I feel utterly ashamed that the UK, once respected for its humanitarian actions, should be treating people in this way. The sooner Scotland gets control of our own borders the better.

Eric Melvin, Edinburgh.

* I NOTE the Russians have sentenced to death two British men fighting for the Ukrainians. Their intention is to set an example and so send a message to all that they will not accept non-Ukrainians in the war. It is, of course, inhumane and quite horrific, and we are all astounded.

Yet it is no more inhumane or astounding than the British Government wishing to send refugees to Rwanda: “We don’t want you here and your lives are meaningless”.

This plan must be dropped.

Ken Mackay, Glasgow.


KEVIN McKenna ("Scotland: The most non-independent country on Earth", The Herald, June 13) mentions "Nato aggression" as a contributing factor in the war in Ukraine. I assume he means by this the fact that a number of ex-Soviet satellite nations have joined Nato, to the displeasure of Russia. These are free, sovereign, independent nations which have a perfect right to do so if they feel it is in their interest. Russia has no right to a say in the matter.

Mr McKenna, in replying to this, might well parrot the Russian claim that it feels threatened by being “encircled" by Nato countries. This has to be dismissed as the complete nonsense that it is. Russia is the largest country in the world. Yes, it is true that a number of countries along its European borders are indeed members of Nato, but this hardly qualifies as encirclement. Russia has borders with a number of Central Asian nations and in the Far East with China and North Korea. None of these, at least as far as I am aware, is either a member of Nato or seeking to join.

Alan Jenkins, Glasgow.


HOW many more people have to die or be injured, some seriously, before this Government realises that e-scooters are extremely dangerous to the rider and to the public?

A woman, 71, has died after being hit by a 14-year-old illegally riding an e-scooter. His parents should be charged by the police.

At present e-scooter riders prefer the pavements and enjoy scattering pedestrians aside and yet the police do nothing. With 18 deaths since 2019 and an estimated 2,000 injuries the Government should abandon the Transport Bill which will allow e-scooters on public roads. Politicians' obsession with climate change and the notion that e-scooters will replace cars and save the planet will certainly result in further deaths and injuries.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow.


ON the TV weather forecast we are warned of "extreme heat" to come. They mean a summer temperature of 20C. On motorway overhead signs there are Yellow Warnings of rain.

Very soon there will be signs to tell us when it is getting dark.

Malcolm Parkin, Kinross.


I GUESS William Topaz McGonagall, candidate for the world’s best worst poet, featured in recent letters (June 10, 11, 14 & 15), would not have missed the opportunity to immortalise the momentous visit of a young cow to one of our prestigious railway stations ("Young bull joins train passengers at station", The Herald, June 15).

The Visit of a Young Cow to Pollokshaws West Railway Station:

“Beautiful railway station of Pollokshaws West, Known to many as one of the best.

Now in the news for just a wee coo

Paid a visit when nothing to do.

Which will be remember’d for a very long time”.

Come back. All is forgiven.

R Russell Smith, Largs.