MARY McCabe and David Crawford (Letters, January 16) fervently believe that the prevalence of poverty in Scotland would be greatly reduced if we were released from the shackles chaining us to Westminster. What they and others who advocate the elimination of this perceived scourge fail to clearly explain is what they mean by poverty.

Sixty years ago, working-class priorities were food on the table, a roof over your head, a holiday at the coast and one or two luxuries such as a radio and a vacuum cleaner. This was not regarded as poverty. Previous generations, however, with large families to support, endured living conditions which undoubtedly merited the description.

The questions which then arise are what criteria should be cited to justify the use of the term today and should personal responsibility be a factor? As your two correspondents point out, higher taxes and expenditure deemed unnecessary would boost the funds available to address their concerns, but at what point would the strategy be regarded as a success?

Duncan Macintyre,

2 Fort Matilda Terrace, Greenock.