SO the SNP/Green regime is proposing to increase the minimum price of alcohol to 80p per unit ("Scottish Government mull hike in minimum unit price of alcohol", heraldscotland, July 19). Why? Minimum unit pricing has not decreased alcohol-specific deaths.

According to the National Records of Scotland in 2020 alcohol-specific deaths in Scotland were 21.5 per 1000,000 but that increased to 22.3 per 100,000 in 2021, compared with 13.9 in England (and 7.9 in London), the latest figures available. Moreover, if we look at the actual numbers involved, in 2021 there were 1,245 deaths specific to alcohol abuse, but in the first decade of the 21st century, long before minimum unit pricing (MUP) gave retailers a windfall from May 1 2,018, alcohol-specific deaths had tumbled from 1,417 in 2006 to 968 in 2012. In other words, before MUP pricing alcohol-specific deaths in Scotland were 29% less. Clearly there are other issues involved.

Carried to its logical conclusion the SNP Government would close down all our whisky distilleries if, as it claims, whisky is harmful to health.

The fact is that the overwhelming majority of Scots do not have a drink problem, but a small minority are addicted to alcohol, and will get it whatever the cost, even if it were moonshine. What is required is help for those afflicted by this illness, not impoverishing them. And the sensible majority should not be punished yet again because of the behaviour of a small minority. With the current cost of living crisis, even blended Scotch has become a luxury item, never mind single malt.

William Loneskie, Lauder.

The funding of public transport

I NOTE your article in which Paul Sweeney MSP offers his views on Glasgow's transport network, in particular the standard of bus services ("Glasgow being ‘short-changed’ on integrated transport plan", The Herald, July 18).

As the region's transport authority, we wholeheartedly agree with Mr Sweeney that the people of Strathclyde should expect a world-class public transport network. However, it is important to clarify two points: First, as a matter of accuracy, Strathclyde Partnership for Transport does not spend £31 million per annum supporting bus services. Our current budget for bus services is £14m per annum – a significant difference. This budget is under severe pressure as SPT seeks to maintain an increasing number of services being withdrawn by operators.

Secondly, SPT is undertaking work at this very moment to develop a new Regional Bus Strategy which will tackle the root causes of instability in bus services and will specifically explore how we use powers such as franchising. I appreciate many will be anxious for change, but it is our responsibility, especially in our stewardship of public funds, to ensure that future plans are properly investigated and supported by a robust business case.

Making our public transport a world-class service begins with our politicians recognising that funding of public transport is an investment in people – and not a cold cost. We welcome Mr Sweeney's support in making that case to his parliamentary colleagues.

Valerie Davidson, Chief Executive, Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, Glasgow.

Read more: Thank goodness for an enlightened view on the treatment of prisoners

Give Black his due acclaim

IT was interesting to see the portrait of Sir Alexander Fleming being produced ("Portrait of a truly great Scot", The Herald, July 19).

Although his name is, deservedly, well known to generations of Scots, and others, it is unfortunate that the name of another Scots physician and pharmacologist is less well recognised, that of Sir James Black (1924-2010).

Due to his work in the creation of propranolol, the first of the group of drugs known as beta blockers, which revolutionised the prevention and treatment of a number cardiovascular conditions, many people worldwide are alive today who would otherwise have died. Prior to his work they had mainly relied on digitalis and glyceryl trinitrate, which, of course, still have a role to play in medicine.

But his research did not stop there, as Sir James was then credited with his work in the production of cimetidine, the drug used to prevent and treat peptic ulcers, a potentially fatal condition.

The name of Sir James Black deserves much wider recognition and to sit alongside that of Sir Alexander Fleming and others of his ilk.

Malcolm Allan, Bishopbriggs.

A challenge to keep up

I, TOO, found the new University Challenge, under the stewardship of Amol Rajan, a bit of a whirlwind ("Mighty big shoes to fill but Amol Rajan slips into them seamlessly", The Herald, July 18).

The new presenter set a blistering pace which left me with little chance of fully understanding the questions let alone having a clue as to the answers. I didn't think the questioning could get any faster but it did in the closing minutes allowing the Manchester team to come from behind, to equalise, before winning the tie-break. Not even the names of a couple of the Manchester contestants, De Ros Reyes Whyte and Senehedheera, which were ably articulated in the voice-over by veteran Roger Tilling, could slow down proceedings.

Do I favour this new incarnation ? It may be too early to judge, but on this first outing and to quote one of Paxman's laconic put-downs, my answer would be "Nope".

David G Will, Milngavie.

Finding faults in tennis

I UNDERSTAND Alan Fitzpatrick's description of tennis scoring as weird (Letters, July 18). There are, however, points for sets as well as for games in a set. The former follow the pattern 1-2-3, and if game points went in the same way, people of mean intelligence such as yours truly might become confused.

Some believe that 15, 30, and 45, later changed to 40, represented the quadrants of an hour.

Me? I'll stick to golf, or, in my dotage, putting.

David Miller, Milngavie.

Oxford test

MUCH has been written in your newspaper recently on the use and abuse of grammar, punctuation, pronunciation, and language in general.

The apostrophe is regularly misplaced but even when positioned correctly it may produce a mildly unsettling image. When visiting Oxford, for example, I have never felt wholly at ease entering St Helen’s passage.

Keith Swinley, Ayr.