It’s encouraging to see the prominence given to this issue in the Sunday Herald. When I was head of public affairs at the RSSPCC (which became Children 1st), we were well acquainted with situations where punishment had gone beyond “reasonable chastisement”, resulting in injury to children. However, personally I had more sympathy for parents under stress who lost control than for those who man the barricades for the right to hit children (Smacking is not assault and parents know it, Letters, October 29). Smacking is assault, and would not be tolerated if inflicted on another adult. The proposed law removes the defence of “justifiable assault”, giving children the same protection as the rest of us.

Physical punishment is not an effective long-term method of discipline and can lead to aggressive adults. What it says about parental love must be very difficult to fathom for children. John V Lloyd suggests giving a tap on the hand of a child who is heading for a boiling chip pan. Why not pick the child up and remove him or her from danger?

I recently read an account from a man who wrote he had been smacked “countless times as a child and it never did me any harm”. I have my doubts, but far worse are the “spare the rod” brigade of intolerant Christian fundamentalists. It made my blood run cold to read the comments by Lowri Turner of the campaign group Be Reasonable, as she debates within herself as to when it would be appropriate to start smacking her child (Bible thumpers: The Christian fundamentalists behind the fight to protect Scotland’s ban on smacking, Inside story, October 29).

Our first child was born prematurely. She was very small and fragile and though in time she flourished, there just was never a time when it seemed rational to start using physical punishment. Thus the pattern was set for our other children who, in turn have never hit their children and we hope that our grandchildren will not hit their children. Right now they find the idea of being hit or hitting slightly bizarre. I hope it will stay that way. My advice to Ms Turner would be, don’t start hitting your children because if you do, and you don’t feel bad about yourself afterwards, there’s something wrong.

Douglas Turner


John V Lloyd’s blanket description of “a generation of feral children” is a gross insult to the vast majority of young people who act responsibly and are a credit to their parents and their schools. There are better ways of protecting children from the “boiling chip pan/main road/fireplace” than “a tap on the hand”; and parents who hit their children, whether by smacking or any other form of assault, are teaching their children that violence is acceptable behaviour. As parents, we should set an example of responsibility, not an abuse of power.

Ruth Marr



While Iain Macwhirter's assessment of the counterproductive manner of the Spanish government's reaction to what some Catalonians feel was spot on, what an irony that his article was published on the same day that hundreds of thousands of Catalonians demonstrated support for remaining part of Spain (The Catalans united can never be defeated, Comment, October 29).

There was no reference either to the fact that one facet of the Catalan independence movement is the wealthiest part of Spain wishing to hive itself off from the poorer regions, to let them go hang. Disappointing.

Bruce Ferguson


Commenting on developments in Catalonia, Iain Macwhirter says he is inspired by those celebrating the declaration of independence. He appears rather envious of the apparent disregard of the Catalan independence movement for the economic and other consequences of its actions.

Nearly 1,700 companies moved their HQs out of Catalonia into other parts of Spain before the UDI announcement, and hundreds of thousands of Catalans, perhaps as many as a million, demonstrated in Barcelona last Sunday in favour of Catalonia and Spain remaining together.

Those in Scotland claiming the moral high ground for the Catalan independence movement, perhaps imagine they can somehow project from experiences there to our own situation. Yet surely for all the many clear differences, the stand-out similarity is in the way those who support separation casually dismiss the majority who do not agree with them?

Wishful thinking is likely to be as unsuccessful in winning over the majority in Catalonia as it was here in Scotland in 2014. Some might like to demonise the Spanish government, but if it can bring a sense of calm and an end to uncertainty in Catalonia, the majority of Catalans, as well as people across the rest of Spain, will likely be very appreciative.

Keith Howell

West Linton

The US and UK government positions on Catalonia and Spain are clear, respectively – “the United States supports the Spanish government’s constitutional measures to keep Spain strong and united”, and “It is based on a vote that was declared illegal by the Spanish courts. We continue to want to see the rule of law upheld, the Spanish constitution respected and Spanish unity preserved.”

How are these statements in support of Spanish unity compatible with the current status of Gibraltar not being part of a united Spain? Do we support a united Spain, or the right of self-determination of both Gibraltar and Catalonia?

Alan Ritchie



David Stubley wrongly states I find it acceptable for hunt sabs to drive around the countryside wearing combat gear and masks (Rights & wrongs of sport shooting, Letters, October 29). In my experience it was hunt heavies and terrier men who drove around in camouflage gear. I was present when one combat-clad clown clobbered a young hunt sab with his spade. On another occasion a hunter struck me across the face with his riding crop. My crime? I’d told him one wee girl out to be blooded with her pony club didn’t have her saddle strapped on properly and risked falling off.

Mr Stubley writes I should care more about chickens killed by foxes. I do care about that and would ask that the poultry keeper concerned be prosecuted for failing to properly secure his stock in a fox-proof hen house. He adds that “two hounds would have virtually zero chance of flushing a fox”. Yet the two-hounds rule has been the law in England for 13 years.

He suggests I lack understanding of the countryside. As a child I could leave my back garden and walk over 10 miles without crossing a metalled road. I once witnessed a pack of fox hounds, followed by a hollering mounted hunt, rip apart an otter. Those mounted morons had no understanding of the countryside.

John F Robins,

Animal Concern


I am surprised that people are surprised at the planning mess at Coul Links in Sutherland (Plan for Scots golf resort descends into farce, News, October 29). Scottish planning authorities are now all too often bypassing proper Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) – as required for major developments under EU Directive 85/337/EEC – for many major new housing schemes. Typically there is no consideration as to how say, the mining history impacts on water table or flooding, or how chemical treatment of non-native species (such as Japanese Knotweed) impacts on water pollution. Key sections are often redacted.

Last year the Scottish Government promised it would abide by European environmental law protecting wildlife and preventing pollution. Yet the Scottish Government has regularly ignored concerns raised by community councils – who are strangely barred from making a maladministration complaint to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.

When problems of flooding, pollution and settlement arise in 20 to 30 years time, the poor house-purchasers will face the problems. Surely we need to have proper EIAs and stop these problems arising in the first case?

As the farce at Coul Links indicates, this is undermining the credibility of the planning system. But will the promised planning changes address this? I'm not holding my breath.

Dave Sutton