HOW much longer do we have to wait?

THIS week the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) presented her findings regarding the injustice served out to women born in the 1950s by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and consecutive Westminster governments regarding their state pensions ("SNP urge 'immediate' compensation following WASPI report, heraldscotland, March 21). Women born in the early 1950s had their state pension age increased without any notice from the DWP and the government of the day, plunging many into poverty and hardship. The findings have indicated a clear case of maladministration by the DWP, yet the DWP is refusing to recognise the finding. How dare they?

We are talking in excess of three million women across the UK, many of whom are now in their seventies. With the DWP not prepared to recognise and accept the findings, the PHSO has asked Parliament to intervene. So what can we Waspi (Women Against State Pension Inequality) women expect from politicians?

Even laying aside the looming Westminster election, MPs have a responsibility to the women who in many cases have lost thousands from their state pension pot due to the wait for what was rightly theirs. MPs and the Government must recognise this long-awaited report and support the Waspi women's call for compensation and justice.

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk.

Scotland's poverty fight

ACCORDING to the Child Poverty Action Group, child poverty is stable in Scotland but rising in the rest of the UK. It expects to see child poverty rates in Scotland falling as the latest data does not “yet include the full impact of the roll-out of the Scottish Child Payment and its increase to £25 per week in November 2022”.

Under successive Westminster governments, child poverty in the UK is much worse than in Denmark, Finland, Ireland or Norway and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation report in late January highlighted that "child poverty rates in Scotland (24%) remain much lower than those in England (31%) and Wales (28%)”.

At the same time as the Scottish Child Payment was doubled the Tory Government cut Universal Credit by the same amount while, in keeping with its new-found Thatcherite policies, Labour says it will maintain the two-child benefit cap.

Before the SNP came to power, the 10 poorest areas in the UK were all in Scotland. Now the 20 poorest areas in the UK are in England. Also, under the SNP, Scotland has continued the trend of outperforming the rest of the UK in delivering affordable housing by building 13.9 homes per 10,000 population last year, compared with only 8.0 in Wales and 9.7 in England.

Fuel poverty is not helped by the fact that, despite Scotland having vast surplus energy resources, our consumers continue to pay the highest daily energy standing charges in the UK while our renewable industries pay the highest grid connection charges in Europe, all thanks to Westminster’s failed energy polices.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh.

Voting with my conscience

I FIND it somewhat ironic that the Scottish Government, which continually pontificates and preaches about its belief in tolerance and in "One Scotland" where everyone's views and beliefs are respected, is determined to support a bill to introduce buffer zones around abortion clinics, which will result in individuals reciting the Rosary, one of the most important prayers for Roman Catholics, either silently or overtly within a distance dictated by the Scottish Government, being subject to criminal charges (“New law will ban praying near Scots abortion clinics”, The Herald, March 18, and Letters, March 19, 20, 21 & 22). For me and many like me this appears to be a classic case of discrimination against my beliefs. Who is the Scottish Government to tell me and others where they can or cannot pray?

As a male I will admit that I cannot fully understand the trauma women who feel they have to seek an abortion are going through but from what I have heard Police Scotland say, there appears to be enough legislation currently available to cover any illegal acts by individuals at abortion clinics. So why do Gillian Mackay and the Scottish Government deem it necessary to introduce further legislation? Ms Mackay was asked this question on Scotland Tonight a couple of weeks ago and failed to answer.

How does the Scottish Government plan to implement this bill if and when it is passed? Most people are already aware that police numbers are low so are the police going to be able to charge individuals on every occasion? Even if individuals are charged, will the prosecutioon be successful? I am aware of several instances in England where charges have been dropped, as there has not been enough evidence for the charge to stand up in court.

This bill seems ill thought-out and open to claims of discrimination on the grounds of personal and religious beliefs. Perhaps those MSPs of all parties who seem determined to support this bill should remember that as well as voters who support the bill there are voters who are totally against it. I will not vote for a candidate of any party who supports this bill either in the forthcoming Westminster Election nor in the 2026 Holyrood election. I am sure there are will be others who will vote according to their conscience.

Joe MacEachen, Coatbridge.

• PICKET lines outside clinics and they call it prayer?

Jesus said people who pray in order to be seen praying are damnable hypocrites. They are not praying but acting on a stage.

The Word of God is mighty among people who don’t ever read it. It’s like fine legal discussion among non-lawyer guests in the pub.

Jesus also said those who elect themselves judge invite harsh judgment on themselves. A girl’s conscience is hers, and I don't believe abortion is an easy decision to take. Using the girl as a theatre prop in the street is prurient, vulgar hypocrisy at the expense of someone in a difficult time.

Those people should pray in secret as Jesus commanded. If these unco-guid believed in the Living God, the Word of Life, the infinite universal truth, they would know that prayer is heard without an earthly audience.

There isn’t an offence in law called blasphemous assembly, but there should be.

Tim Cox, Bern, Switzerland.

READ MORE: Let's follow SNP's beloved Ireland and have hate crime vote

READ MORE: What have we come to if we praying is to be made illegal?

READ MORE: How can Police Scotland be trusted on hate crime laws?

A measured critique

WERE the plethora of correspondents who created strawmen galore in order to trash the Hate Crime Act (Letters, March 21) not even slightly embarrassed when they turned the page and read Adam Tomkins' much more measured critique of it ("Could this Hate Crime Act work?", The Herald, March 21)?

Obviously not, as they've continued on the same theme today (Letters, March 22).

Iain Cope, Glasgow.

• PROFESSOR Adam Tomkins infers that the interpretation as to whether the Hate Crime Act has been breached will revolve around the opinion of "a reasonable person".

Just how can such a "reasonable person" be defined? The lawyers and judges shall have a field day with such a woolly definition and the act will fail at the first test in a Scottish court, as have so many produced by this incompetent Scottish Parliament.

Peter Wright, West Kilbride.

Clubs can improve fan behaviour

I AGREE with John Lloyd’s concerns (Letters, March 21) about inappropriate behaviour in football grounds around Scotland and I have, for several years now, exchanged many communications with the football authorities and Police Scotland regarding unacceptable behaviour, such as use of pyrotechnics, sectarian chanting and items being thrown onto pitches.

In common with Mr Lloyd, I thought that Strict Liability could be the answer as it seemed to me to have worked alright in England since it was introduced in 2014. However, I have recently been informed by a reliable professional source that the reason we don’t have strict liability here in Scotland is because there has to be a vote in favour of it by the member clubs of the SPFL and most clubs won’t vote for it. Their view seems to be that as long as they are doing all they feasibly can to stop such behaviour, they shouldn’t be punished for the actions of a small proportion of their fans who are likely anyway to continue behaving in an unacceptable manner, no matter what the repercussions are for their clubs.

On a positive note, I recall back in 2018 there were numerous well-publicised incidents involving items (from coins to seats) being thrown on to the pitch or towards opposition fans; it seemed to be a fad at the time. In March of that year, we had the shocking incident when a supporter at Easter Road confronted James Tavernier of Rangers. That individual was arrested and ended up being jailed for 100 days and banned from football for 10 years. So that was an example of what the clubs and the authorities can do, even without Strict Liability; if only the will was there.

During the years since, this aspect of moronic behaviour seemed to reduce dramatically, however it was disappointingly evident once again at Tynecastle Park during a recent derby match when many away fans felt a “mass desire” to throw things at Lawrence Shankland when taking a penalty.

Brian Watt, Edinburgh.

The Herald: Hearts striker Lawrence Shankland with a lighter thrown onto the pitch at a recent Edinburgh derby Hearts striker Lawrence Shankland with a lighter thrown onto the pitch at a recent Edinburgh derby (Image: SNS)

Where are the nurses?

I WAS interested to read that you are hosting your first-ever health summit in Edinburgh on April 5 ("The Herald’s inaugural Health Summit will shine light on the NHS’s challenges", The Herald, March 13). The eminent panellists have been well chosen, but why is there no nurse on the panel?

Surely as nurses make up the the majority of the NHS workforce there can be no useful debate without their presence? The issues to be discussed are around recruitment, retention and work/life balance. These are clearly issues for nurses as well as doctors.

Professor Elizabeth Wilson, retired executive Director of Nursing, Dundee.

Focus on ability, not disability

HOW wonderful and refreshing to read Jamie McCallum's article concerning his experience with his daughter Rosie, who has Down's syndrome ("Learning how lucky our family is", The Herald, March 22). After a life in social work I can confirm how young people with Down's can make such a positive contribution to our common life. Yes, like any other young person they can present challenges at times but for the most part they are very loving and caring, and their very presence can lighten up the bleakest of days.

In all areas of life, we should focus on ability not disability in all that we think, say and do.

Ron Lavalette, Ardrossan.