AMID the correspondence about future pension funding for Scottish pensioners (Letters, June 15, 16 & 17), one of your readers compared current arrangements to a "Ponzi scheme". In fact, I would agree with that description, but only to a very limited extent.

The "Ponzi" element of the state pension is that it is payments by new "investors", by way of National Insurance and other taxes, which fund pensions for old guys like me. The difference is that, in a Ponzi scheme, these later payments are used to give early investors flashy gains, thus sucking in more and more new money, until the whole thing collapses. The current pension system is more like a luggage carousel, where there is a constant flow of luggage or payments in and out (and, of course, the returns can't be described as flashy).

There is an evident lack of understanding of how the whole system works in terms of funding, and the label of National "Insurance" may be partly to blame for the persistent belief in a pot of money, invested for pensioners in the manner of an endowment policy. An NI contribution record acts as a necessary gateway to eligibility but at no time have NI contributions been hypothecated to providing pensions, just as road tax and other motoring duties are not hypothecated to road building or maintenance. The essential thing is to ensure that the economy (UK or Scottish) works at such a level that the inflow is maintained and pensions can be set at a decent level for all.

Any suggestion that a future Scottish government might move to an investment pot model should raise real concerns: perhaps it could set up an investment bank and put the money into offshore fabrication, steelworks or even ship-building. What could possibly go wrong?

Brian Chrystal, Edinburgh.


MY brother, still a UK citizen, has lived, worked and paid his taxes in Canada for more than 50 years. He receives a UK pension, like many thousands of other expats. What would prevent Scots, after independence, from retaining their UK citizenship and receiving the pension they have paid for (as happened in Ireland)?

The UK insisted in 2014 that, after Scottish independence, it would be the “continuator” state with all existing rights and obligations of the previous UK. This, as I understand international legal precedence, would include debt. If I’m wrong, then we will assume a fair share of debt, but also accrue a share of UK assets (which are vast and international). Shining a light on UK “assets” would be embarrassing to the UK, so I suspect will not happen.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.


ALISTAIR Easton (Letters, June 17) is mistaken on pensions after independence. In February, the leading UK pensions expert Baroness Altmann, a former Tory pensions minister, said she was baffled by comments on state pensions and independence as state pensions are built up by your National Insurance payments and paid to you whether or not you live in this country. This applies to those who have emigrated to Australia or retired to Spain, so why not Scotland?

Also, we can afford to better the UK state pension as the 2020-21 GERS figures show that Scottish taxpayers paid £11.5 billion in National Insurance contributions and the UK paid out £8.5bn for state pensions in Scotland.

In response to John Shanks’s letter (June 17) on open borders, there will be no border with England immediately after independence. As Scotland is one of England’s largest export markets and the rest of the UK is reliant on Scotland’s energy exports, it makes no economic sense for England to be difficult over any border negotiations.

With both Labour and the LibDems giving up on returning to the EU, an independent Scotland would appear to be the only way forward if we want to grow our economy rather than face years of UK low growth and austerity.

Fraser Grant, Edinburgh.


IN a very short space of time this UK Government has gone from being a bunch of inept and largely harmless Hooray-Henrys to a group of dangerous mavericks with no respect for democracy or the rule of law.

We did get some sense of it with the illegal proroguing of Parliament but now it has suddenly got much worse and much more sinister.

Throughout the free world, the United Kingdom’s word no longer counts for anything after the abominable way the Government has acted over the Northern Ireland Protocol. All member states within the EU are incensed by their behaviour. Not only has the Government torn up legal agreements arrived at in good faith after months and years of negotiation but it has now jeopardised the Good Friday Agreement.

We are about to witness the same thing over the appalling decision to send refugees to Rwanda. The Government does not like being told what to do by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) so it is now likely going to enact legislation which will effectively ensure that it can in future ride a coach and horses through ECHR rulings. This is despite the ECHR being intrinsically linked to the legislation governing the devolved administrations.

This is an unprecedented shocking state of affairs and fortunately for the people of Scotland, there is now a clear way out of this.

Stewart Falconer, Alyth.


BORIS Johnson's difficulties as a consequence of losing two ethics advisers in quick succession ("Ethics adviser quit after Johnson put him in an ‘odious situation’", The Herald, June 17) deserve greater understanding from the general public. As has been highlighted by recent events, Johnsonian ethics are a particularly niche area of the discipline, and a scarcity of suitable candidates for the post is only to be expected.

Although the vacancy has not yet been advertised, we can make an informed guess that the successful candidate will be one who can state categorically: "Yes, Prime Minister I have principles, but I can change them".

Ian Hutcheson, Glasgow.

* WITH apologies to Oscar Wilde: to lose one ethics advisor, Mr Johnson, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness. But the PM couldn’t care less.

Tom Rodger, Glasgow.


A TORY MP, Neil Parish, was stripped of the whip and virtually hung out to dry by his party for watching porn on his mobile while in the chamber. The matter was dealt with quickly and efficiently and fairly. Many considered the "crime" minor but most accepted that higher moral standards are expected from our elected representatives who have to make very important decisions that affect all of us.

An SNP MP, Patrick Grady, was found guilty of making unwanted sexual advances towards a teenager who worked for the SNP. Mr Grady is a prominent nationalist MP and at first the SNP tried to keep it all quiet and handle it itself. Eventually, after years and much behind-the-scenes manoeuvring, the story came out as it always seems to do. Mr Grady was given a slap on the wrist with a two-day suspension and his victim has stated he feels he is being ostracised for complaining in the first place ("Grady’s victim urges MP to resign", The Herald, June 16). Mr Grady remains an SNP MP.

Compare and contrast. The SNP tries to take a morally superior attitude to Tories and everyone else. A long, hard look in the hypocrite mirror is urgently required.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.


IN February we put in a new electrical supply to fuel the new equipment required for us to satisfy our orders for this summer at our brewery in the West Highlands.

The power supplier we already used then told us that it would take six months for them to wire in a meter and switch it on. Last week they confirmed that it would take a further seven months for a task any electrician could undertake.

Is this failure because we live in the West Highlands or because the process is flawed? The cost is enormous. We cannot deliver the sales that are asked of us, we cannot expand our team and we will not be able to afford the investments we are keen to make to sustain our exciting and rapidly growing enterprise.

Ian Peter MacDonald, Glen Spean Brewing Co, Spean Bridge.


I HAVE been reading with interest on the business pages about the Clyde region green freeport bid ("Heavyweights add real firepower to Clyde region’s green freeport bid", The Herald, June 16). With Clydeport being one of the consortium, it is apt that this company is part of this ambitious bid. The architect of this company's head office (which is on Robertson Street in Glasgow and originally home to Clyde Navigation Trust) was an ambitious man too and it is a great shame that he is not better known in his home city, indeed country.

John James Burnet was one of the most influential and respected architects of the late Victorian and Edwardian times. Apart from the sublime Clydeport building, Glasgow boasts a number of his remaining structures – the wonderful Athenaeum and New Athenaeum buildings, the iconic Charing Cross Mansions, the incredible Barony Church and the fabulous Royal Faculty of Surgeons and Physicians amongst others.

Further afield he was responsible for the King Edward VII gallery at the British Museum (which helped him gain his knighthood) and Selfridges department store, both in London.

Perhaps his most recognisable structure, though, is Sydney Harbour Bridge, which he helped design for the Middleborough company Dorman Long.

Of course it would be fantastic to look forward to the west coast being given an economic boost by the new green freeport, but I would urge readers to look backwards and upwards, wander around our city and wonder at the beautiful buildings created by the great Sir John James Burnet.

Gordon Fisher, Stewarton.

Glasgow’s Charing Cross Mansions are a fine example of the work of John James Burnet

Glasgow’s Charing Cross Mansions are a fine example of the work of John James Burnet


ALAN Simpson ("The last thing sport needs is an army of diversity officers", The Herald, June 17) begins his piece on diversity in sport with a famous quote, source unknown. Another version is that football is a game for gentlemen played by thugs, rugby union is a game for thugs played by gentlemen, and rugby league is a game for thugs played by thugs.

I can think of a few exceptions.

David Miller, Milngavie.

I WRITE anent Alan Simpson's article on diversity in sport, although I am certain that I will not be the only reader to comment.

I thought that the definition of rugby was a game played by men with oddly-shaped balls.

Neil Scott, Edinburgh.

Read more: I support independence, but it is too soon for a vote