THE First Minister says people want to see the legal profession "appropriately regulated" ("FM rejects criticism of legal reforms", The Herald, August 29).

I agree. It’s why the Law Society has argued for almost a decade for changes to modernise the regulatory framework. However, the unprecedented reaction to the Government’s Regulation of Legal Services Bill ("Scottish judges warn SNP reforms could lead to ‘political abuse’ of courts", The Herald, August 26)is precisely because of how inappropriate it would be for ministers to control the very people who so often challenge government and protect citizens from the excessive use of power by the state. It is why the independence of the legal sector is a respected and cherished principle across the world.

Mr Yousaf also said the reforms came “on the back of a consultation”. However, the Government’s 2021 consultation made no mention of Scottish ministers intervening directly in regulating lawyers or being given the power to decide for themselves who can and cannot be a solicitor. If they had, Scottish ministers would have experienced the same backlash they are witnessing now.

The fact our most senior judiciary as well as respected major international legal organisations have felt it necessary to speak out on a Scottish Government Bill speaks volumes. These warnings need heeded.

Sheila Webster, President, The Law Society of Scotland, Edinburgh.

An Orwelllian power grab

SHOULD the Scottish public (and I include independence supporters) still have any doubt as to how this discredited SNP administration wants to control all aspects of public life, then the proposals to oversee and regulate the independent judiciary should dispel that doubt.

The SNP proposals to give ministers far-reaching powers to regulate the legal profession are Orwellian in nature and should cause huge concern to all. Humza Yousaf simply chooses to ignore the real concerns expressed by judges in the High Court of Justiciary, judges in the Court of Session and the Law Society of Scotland. I know whose views I respect.

Treating these views with disdain as Mr Yousaf has done demonstrates his craving for control and in so doing, destroying the independence of the judiciary. The SNP has demonstrated its total inability to run any aspect of public services, but perhaps this proposed legislation should be the most concerning and every effort should be made to stop it becoming law.

Richard Allison, Edinburgh.

Read more: Humza Yousaf 'fundamentally disagrees' with legal reforms criticism

This bill must be passed

THE legal establishment's hysterical reaction to the Regulation of Legal Services Scotland Bill is boringly predictable. A tempest of hostility is the standard tactic every time government proposals to improve the quality of Scotland's legal services are made.

In particular, proposals to remove the power to regulate lawyers from the exclusive control of lawyers induced a fit of threatening pique in the legal establishment. The existing regulatory framework is so biased in favour of lawyers it is safe to say that the organising principle of the regulators (the Law Society of Scotland and the Faculty of Advocates) is, in the context of complaints against lawyers, tantamount to this: total exoneration for those lawyers whose conduct generated the complaints.

Many clients remain convinced that during their involvement with what Scotland's lawyers have to offer, they were represented by masters of ineptitude, incompetence, mediocrity routine negligence and appalling misconduct.

Subsequent to their complaints to the regulators, they soon discovered how the organising principle works by witnessing the total exoneration of those lawyers who ruined their cases, depleted their resources and blighted their lives.

The Senators of the College of Justice opined: "An independent judiciary is central to the rule of law. The protection of the public from the arbitrary abuse of power by the state depends upon it. These proposals are a threat to the independence of the judiciary."

If the legal establishment succeeds in blocking the bill, the lack of protection of the laity against the arbitrary abuse of power by lawyers and their regulators means that lawyers will continue to bask in the comforting embrace of their of their regulators - thereby liberating them from the distasteful prospect of effective accountability.

The Scottish Government must therefore repel the legal establishment's hostility and pass this bill into law.

Thomas Crooks, Edinburgh.

Most Indians are blind to poverty

JAMES Hardy's response (Letters, August 29) to Sir Tom Clarke's plea (Letters, August 28) not to abandon the blameless poor people of India strikes a chord as we witness an ever-growing problem of poverty in Scotland.

I gather Sir Tom has only visited India "on a number of occasions". If he had lived and worked in the sub-continent he might have realised that the vast majority of the inhabitants are totally indifferent to the plight of those in need.

I recall remonstrating with a member of a very rich Parsee family over the cost of feeding her boxer dog with imported Jacob biscuits. She simply said: "If we give all our wealth to the poor, then we are poor and it will make no difference."

Of course the sight of children who have been deliberatelym physically disfigured by their parents in order to become professional beggars literally beggars belief, but it does happen. In public when confronted by the beggars, all too often one would hear the abrupt comment and note the dismissive hand gesture from individuals, the translation of which was simply "Go and work".

The grinding poverty to be witnessed in India especially by those visitors and tourists regretfully fade into the background when they realise the population is well over 1.4 billion.

Perhaps William Penn summed it up with his comment: "It is a reproach to religion and government to suffer so much poverty and excess."

Robin Johnston, Newton Mearns.

Aid money is being misused

IN his reply (August 28) to my letter of August 25 Sir Tom Clarke asks me to submit any evidence I had of British aid being abused in India. I would like to point out that I never used the term "abused”. Rather, I was suggesting incompetence and referring to a review by the Independent Commission for Aid Impact which stated that the Government-run British International Investment (a body set up to invest in developing economies) was investing in projects which were providing benefits to middle-class consumers rather than the poor.

Elsewhere in his letter Sir Tom makes reference to funding being “only a fraction of 1% of our GDP”. Referring to percentages is a common ploy by those who have been used to bandying around large numbers without an appreciation of what they really mean. In this case “only a fraction” means billions of pounds of UK taxpayers’ money - hardly the trivial amount that the former politician is trying to suggest.

Like Sir Tom I am impressed by the work carried out by Médecins Sans Frontières. Perhaps the reason that it is so impressive is because it is a non-governmental organisation. It is a charity reliant on donations and therefore appreciative of the value of every penny it receives.

Alan McGibbon, Paisley.

Read more: We must not abandon the blameless poor people of India

The facts about student visas

ALAN Fitzpatrick’s letter on immigration (August 28) could have been cut in half if he had consulted the UK Government’s advice on which students are entitled to bring relatives to the UK with them.

As of January 2024, only students studying for a higher degree such as a PhD or a master’s degree will be able to bring their partner and dependent children under 18. The implication of the letter that students can bring in “their sisters, their cousins and their aunts” is incorrect.

Sam Craig, Glasgow.

A severe case of cold feet

LAST week, Alex Salmond was all for standing in the upcoming Westminster by-election, and challenging Humza Yousaf to agree a common pro-independence candidate.

This week, his party is not standing, and giving the SNP a free run ("Salmond says Alba will not contest Rutherglen by-election", heraldscotland, August 26). What has changed? Has he gained new respect for the current First Minister, or has he worked out that if his Alba Party can avoid humiliation by not standing this autumn, he can have another year of pretending to be important by not giving the public a chance to really say what they think about him?

Another showing of one per cent or less would not have been good for his image.

Victor Clements, Aberfeldy.