MO Maclean clarifying the official status of the State Retirement Pension (SRP) as a contributory benefit raises some points (Letters, The National, April 28).

I was already aware that SRPs are paid by existing taxpayers. It is perhaps the single biggest failure of the welfare system that no investment aspect was designed into the system at the outset, because this places the burden firmly on those working and paying taxes. Perhaps Scotland’s oil could latterly have been used to mitigate this.

Given the baby boom generation coming to retirement age, and the bulge in the demographic they created, this is precisely why the anti-immigration fervour demonstrated in the Brexit vote is so illogical, financially hazardous and downright stupid. We need to replace retired workers with others who will pay the taxes necessary to fund SRPs and other benefits like social care, etc. Theresa May’s outrageous Brexit proposition will assuredly place the living standards of all retired people in some peril, and in so many ways.

However, and this may seem semantic, I still take some issue, however officialdom deigns to refer to it, that SRP is in anyway a “benefit” rather than a fundamental right of taxpayers under the contract they entered into with the government at the outset of employed life. The clue is in the term State Retirement “pension”, it didn’t say “benefit” when I started work. I believed I was paying for a pension of right, not a benefit. Were this any other product being sold nowadays such mis-selling would subject to scrutiny under trades description legislation and the Financial Conduct Authority.

Government may refer to SRP as a benefit, allowing it to exert autocratic control over and play fast and loose with it, however I believe that most would see it as a basic pension and not a benefit.

It’s interesting that Mo mentions Job Seeker’s Allowance, the rump of diminished support that successive governments have inflicted on those for whom unemployment is forced on them. When I became unemployed, despite my contract with the government where I had paid everything into the system I was required to, I received no support whatsoever. JSA allowance didn’t help me back into work.

Successive governments, through the need to absolve their own financial mismanagement, have broken just about every part of the contract between me and them. Perhaps the NHS is the last bastion to fall? Scotland will do better on its own.
Jim Taylor

I HAVE been perplexed as to why the Prime Minister Theresa May did not answer Angus Robertson’s questions on the triple lock on pensions at Prime Minister’s Questions this week. I have three thoughts: one, she feels she cannot tell a lie – a weak one for any Unionist politician; two, she genuinely does not know the answer – it cannot be readily covered by “Brexit is Brexit”; and three, what does it matter anyway?

Her government has moved against the sick and disabled, it has moved against people on any benefits including child allowance, so why not just screw the pensioners and have three in a row? One thing May has not taken into account is that pensioners vote – heavily. In Westminster’s chaotic situation it may well be left to the SNP to emphasise this aspect.
Jim Lynch

I HOPE the pensioners realise the risk the Tories pose to the triple lock on pensions. Theresa May dodged, as to be expected, the question about abolishing the triple lock. They have also gone very quiet on the cost of leaving the EU.
Gordon Walker


The cost of leaving the EU should be printed on a bus

THE statements of Ms Merkel should be digested by the Brexiteers very carefully (Merkel: UK is ‘deluded’ over future Brexit negotiations, The National, April 28). Did no one really look into the repercussions that a UK exit would have before going ahead with this lunatic course of action?

When Britain entered the EU the country was almost on its knees economically and the resulting chapter in its history should have been looked on with relief rather than with the carping attitude that prevailed throughout the period of our membership.

It is unfortunate that many in government never really embraced being “European” and still clung to the idea of a Britain with the prefix “Great” and of our days of glory (in their minds) which, with one great leap would return.

In her statement, Angela was vehement that we would have to pay the reckoning and we are told that the price could be £50 billion. For a Scotland that voted to remain, a Scotland with a long history of trading with Europe it would seem unfortunate to say the least that we will have to contribute to this cost. It might have been more salutary if this figure had been printed on the side of the bus!

A bigger worry for us might be, just who will be doing the negotiations; if the quote from Boris that ended the article is anything to go by we are in deep ordure already.

In a game of one team against twenty seven I think we will be very lucky to get out with our shirts!
Jim Gibson

I WAS delighted to read Shona Craven’s article a while ago, in which she pointed out that the cap on tax credits for families with more than two children was by far the worst part of the new ruling (Shona Craven: No baby should be declared undeserving of support, The National, April 7).

The so-called “rape clause” may seldom, if ever, be invoked. But the punishment of the poor for having more than two children smacks of the ideologies of China, or of Aldous Huxley’s book Brave New World. That title was intended to be a sarcastic one, and not to be taken as an ideal.

It would be a work of mercy if the Scottish Government were to rescind the cap ruling, but their hands are tied by Westminster’s grip on reserved financial matters. Only true independence can steer us away from such legislation. Otherwise we have to let the matter pass.

However not even journalists can be right every week! I was disappointed in Ms Craven’s article last week calling for the LGBTI agenda of sex education to be enforced on all schools (Shona Craven: Can schools really be LGBT-inclusive without sex education? The National, April 21).

This ostensibly is to prevent bullying and derision so that children may become “sincerely inclusive”.

Gone are the days when bullying and derision could be called sins. Children can no longer be called upon to be patient, charitable, and understanding because it is what their Creator asks of them. But there is a difference between this tradition and the LGBTI agenda which is an ideology. Christian morality stems from the idea of God as justice, truth, and goodness. Whether you can suppose selected pieces of Christian ethics to remain suspended in mid-air when their original basis is taken away from them, is questionable.

So we are left with the imposition of ideologies as the only means of keeping control and maintaining order. Oh brave new world.
LJ Findlay
Fort Augustus

THE UK Government has pledged to spend 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income (GNI) on international aid. But as we have a deficit every year, and borrow to finance that, it follows that our aid money is also borrowed. So we do not actually have any money of our own to give to anybody. Imagine a private individual asking a bank for money, in order to give that money to charities of his or her own choice. That is the lunacy of foreign aid.
Malcolm Parkin

SHOULD there be a review of the pricing by pharmaceutical companies of the medications they supply? Medication is one of the biggest outlays of the NHS.