The SNP Government, unfortunately, increasingly in hock to the Green Party, has decided to ensure that the bill of Green MSP John Finnie, to ban smacking, is passed (Smacking ban MSP: 'I was beaten at school – that's why I want the law changed', News, October 22).

Those who wish to ban smacking, predictably equate smacking with striking or assault and then argue against those emotive terms. The problem with that disingenuous argument is that parents know full well how to differentiate smacking from assault. They know that if they use an implement (belt or cane) or shake a child or strike their head, they will be arrested (section 51 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003).

Mr Finnie refers to getting the belt at school as a beating. He regards the demise of the belt in 1987 as a good thing, yet we now have a generation of feral children who drink, take drugs, smoke, swear, vandalise property, urinate in public, have underage sex, truant, intimidate younger kids, carry weapons, disrupt lessons daily, ignore school sanctions, and show no respect for their peers or teachers, throw missiles at the emergency services, and regard the police as paper tigers.

Worst of all, Mr Finnie is unconcerned that decent parents will be criminalised. Some Swedish parents now have a criminal record. He has pointed out that Sweden abolished smacking in 1979. Yet there, too much leniency has raised a nation of ill-mannered young people, seen an increase in truancy, rising cases of young people with anxiety disorders, and a slump in the international school league tables. (The nations which are rocketing up those same tables are the ones in southeast Asia which have corporal punishment at home and in school.)

Val Burns refers to smacking as physical assault (Smacks or slaps can never be lovingly administered with a parent's light touch, Comment, October 22). Really? As you tap an infant on the hand as they head towards the boiling chip pan/main road/fireplace, is that assault?

I must express disappointment that the leading Scottish Sunday quality paper then falls into the same trap. Your editorial refers to children growing up without the threat of violence (Laurels for smacking ban campaigmers, Editorial, October 29). You also use emotive language: "Parents allowed to beat their children."

The first opinion polls to emerge since the Scottish Government announcement are showing almost three-quarters opposed to the ban and even those aged 18-24 against.

In your editorial you state that those who believe beating a child is justifiable should consider their mental health. That is true of beating, but you have already equated beating with smacking. The Children's and Young Persons (Scotland) Act 1937 made cruelty and neglect of a child a criminal offence. The law is perfectly adequate. Whatever happens now, one wonders why pass a law which will be almost impossible to implement?

John V Lloyd



Visit Scotland and bring your gun (Under fire: anger as VisitScotland promotes shooting of hares for sport, News, October 22). A foreign gentleman poses beside a heap of white hare; lunch for the party is served from the mandatory Land Rover. A goose trailing its wing flaps down the mud; its carcass will float with the tide; the brave sportsman lies behind the bank, waiting for a better shot.

For the sporting “toff”, wounding a stag in its guts to my days poaching a hind for the salt barrel, I’ve seen it all. Elitism is a pernicious condition: it turns cruelty into cash and jobs, while the shooters call themselves conservationists.

Iain R Thomson


Shooting, preparing and eating a legal quarry species surely has at least as much merit as buying factory-farmed, pre-prepared parts of animals which have never experienced the wild and probably contain antibiotics.

John Robins of Animal Concern calls for a total ban on fox hunting (Let’s end fox hunting for good, Letters, October 29). He obviously feels it is acceptable for groups to drive around the country dressed in combat gear with their faces masked when they are hunt saboteurs. He calls for “no more than two muzzled hounds to be used to flush out foxes to be shot”. But two hounds would have virtually zero chance of flushing a fox. The fox is not torn to bits but legally shot by the rifleman.

Mr Robins represents Animal Concern yet shows no concern for the species upon which foxes not predate. Ask anyone who has found all their chickens slaughtered when a fox gains access to the hen house.

This camouflaged class warfare displays a total lack of understanding of the countryside

David Stubley



The Scottish Council of Independent Schools' main defence of private schools' charitable status is that they pass the current charitable status test (Charitable status for schools is not a 'swindle', Letters, October 29). This conveniently ignores the strong arguments that the test is being appallingly applied in respect of private schools by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR); an issue taken up in the 2014 public petition referred to in the letter. For example, what reasonable person could conclude that access to private schools is not "unduly restrictive" for the vast majority of children (bursary provision regardless)? Or that the "benefit" provided by private schools outweighs their "disbenefit", ie perpetuating profound inequalities. As it stands, OSCR finds that access to private schools is not unduly restrictive, and that their benefits outweigh any disbenefit. I'm sure that I am not alone in finding these conclusions as ludicrous as they are indefensible. If the current charitable status test, or at least its current implementation, allows for elite, fee-paying bastions of privilege to be classified as "charities" and receive public subsidy, then it's clear to me that the test is part of the issue – and not a defence of the status quo.

Ashley Douglas



The Times columnist Janice Turner is quoted [in a round-up of views on the proposed Gender Recognition Act] as suggesting that the proposed changes will mean men are able to use women-only spaces simply by declaring themselves women (Voices on ... gender change, October 22).

The vast majority of women’s services in Scotland are already inclusive of transgender women, regardless of whether they have had their gender legally recognised. This includes being inclusive of trans women who may still be legally labelled as male. In 10 years of this approach, the women’s sector has never encountered a man attempting to access these services by masquerading as a woman.

Changes to the Gender Recognition Act will simply ensure that transgender people are recognised legally as who they are by a simple process of self-declaration. This is exactly the approach to trans equality that the women’s sector is already taking in Scotland.

Ms Turner also claims that women have not been able to express concerns about these changes. Discussions around improving the rights of transgender people have been prominent amongst women since the 1970s – rather than not being allowed to voice concerns, it is simply the case that fewer and fewer women agree that there is any contention between rights for women and rights for trans people.

Vic Valentine

Equality Network


If the Titan crane is such an imposing landmark, it's a pity your photographer never made it to Clydebank to take a photograph, deciding instead to submit one of the James Watt Dock and Greenock container terminal 15 miles downriver (Hitting the high notes, News, October 22).

David Fyfe


Interesting article on turning the Clydebank Titan crane into a huge Theremin. Sadly the accompanying picture is of a crane in Greenock. Close but no cigar.

Ian McNair