I FOUND Andy Maciver’s article highlighting the differences between Scotland and Ireland to be very interesting ("Sorry, Sir Tom, but Scotland is nothing like Ireland", The Herald,August 25).

I am married into an extended family in Ireland and have noted some obvious differences other than the ones he mentions.

Let me clearly state that I voted to remain in Europe and acknowledge that Scotland clearly voted to remain. However, I am of the belief that we never truly embraced Europe like Ireland did and this is not because of the sly, cunning, imperialistic “English Parliament”. I think it is simply that we were emotionally happy to take but not give.

To support that theory, when Ireland joined Europe, I was really impressed with the number of my younger new relations who took modern European languages at school and as additional university subjects. Some went on to work in good jobs in Italy, Switzerland, Holland and France due to their fluency in languages. In contrast, it appears that Scotland has experienced a staggering drop in the number of modern language teachers over the past 10 years or so.

Surely a government that was really pro-European would not only have prevented this cut in resource but would have positively promoted an increase? It was in the gift of the Scottish Government to do this. Why did it not?

Duncan Sooman, Milngavie.

Why do we still teach religion?

CASTLETON Primary School in Glasgow has become the first in Scotland to fully embed the 2019 Government-launched LGBT-inclusive education across its curriculum ("Glasgow school first in Scotland to implement LGBT-inclusive education", The Herald, August 24). I wonder if this is not an opportune moment to consider the teaching of religion, in particular Christianity, in our schools. As a moral textbook for children the Bible has three major drawbacks: its atrocities, its self-contradictions and its obscenities.

Biblical morals begin with God stigmatising all of innocent mankind with "original sin". Thereafter, His atrocities crowd one another with sickening regularity (for a list, google "Bible atrocities").

Concerning God's solution to original sin - vicarious atonement - one can but ask, if the concept of a father who plots to have his own son put to death by crucifixion is presented to children as beautiful and as worthy of society's admiration, what types of human behaviour can be presented to them as reprehensible?

With over 600 Biblical contradictions (google "Bible contradictions") one must ask: would a Being who is absolutely Perfect - the Almighty Father of mankind - use an imperfect instrument to convey and impart His commands and instructions to His children, whose temporal and eternal welfare depends entirely on the right comprehension of the information given?

Concerning the obscenities, even by the standards of current "adult" fiction, the Bible contains an unconscionable number (google "Bible obscenities").

Finally, as Ludovic Kennedy says in his book All In The Mind, ‘‘my quarrel with some books of the Old Testament is less with their brutalities than their irrelevance. I and many of my generation were taught that these books were history - or to be fair we were not taught that they were not history. If by history is meant accurate accounts of past events supported by evidence, they are certainly not that.’’

Doug Clark, Currie.

Read more: Don't let Lucy Letby be an excuse to bring back capital punishment

The cult of management

THE letters from Gavin Tait and Hazel Archibald (August 24) offer serious criticisms of "management" in two different areas, the NHS and schools, but these represent only two examples of a much wider problem.

At one time, management meant the application of the administration to ensure the successful operation of a particular enterprise but it has become an independent and effectively dictatorial industry that has the power to even arrange its own terms and remuneration. The word "earnings" has now been cynically adopted as a euphemism for any payment, however unjustified The corrosive effect of the cult of management has infected the NHS, universities, schools, political parties and many industries. Management no longer exists to assist the the productive functions of an organisation but to manipulate it in such a way as to perpetuate its own existence.

Peter Dryburgh, Edinburgh.

Government greed on fuel prices

TERESA McNally makes a valid point at the end of her letter (August 24) about the 20% VAT on fuel. However, many people forget to recognise that Fuel Duty inflicted by the various governments of the day, which according to the Office for Budget Responsibility currently amounts to 52.95p per litre, approximately 30%, attracts VAT at 20% (a tax on a tax). A litre of petrol/diesel before taxes is around 70p per litre, so the Government is raking in over double the actual cost (plus the companies' profit margin). I think that the greed lies with the Government as well as with then energy companies.

In addition, no-one I know can explain where the added value is on an imposed tax such as Fuel Duty, nor if this anomaly is something unique to good old UK.

B Bennie, Renfrew.

Second-class customers

SOME three months ago I had occasion to return a bar of chocolate to the manufacturer. I received a courteous reply to the effect that the bar plus the "foreign body" would be tested and I would be advised within four to six weeks. Almost 12 weeks on I am still waiting despite polite phone inquiry by myself. It does seem persons still using letter and phone as communication are relocated to the back of the queue or in some instances totally ignored.

It has reduced my partiality to the said chocolate product.

Allan C Steele, Giffnock.

Alcohol and relativity

THE recent correspondence about Robert Burns and James Clerk Maxwell brings to mind the tale of the speaker proposing the toast of the Immortal Memory at a Burns Supper, marvelling that we had a poet as our national hero; this despite other world- renowned Scots such as Clerk Maxwell on whose work Einstein said that his Theory of Relativity was founded.

“Now I wonder,” continued the speaker, “if any of you have ever been fu’ and unco happy on the birthday of James Clerk Maxwell?”

Voice from the back: “Very probably.”

John Moreland, Killearn.