Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 30 October 2014

An independent Scotland must still pay debt

Alex Salmond claims that, if the UK would not allow an independent Scotland to share sterling, this would mean Scotland would not be liable for its share of the national debt. No, it would not.

A Yes vote in the referendum would authorise the Scottish government to negotiate terms for independence, but the terms would have to be agreed by both sides. It may well be that, no matter what currency Scotland might use, the creditors of the UK would not be willing to have Scotland take on its share of the debt on the current terms enjoyed by the UK, because independent Scotland – a new nation without an established credit rating – could not expect such good terms.

If a newly independent Scotland cannot persuade international markets to give it the same credit rating as the UK, there is no reason why the UK should ignore the risk factor and grant favourable terms to Scotland.

I find it interesting that Salmond thinks it reasonable to suggest that Scotland can leave with the lion's share of North Sea oil and leave the national debt behind. It is a bit like a party to a divorce keeping the house, but leaving the mortgage. The North Sea oilfields were developed by the UK and became assets belonging to all UK taxpayers – including English, Welsh and, yes, Northern Irish.

If independence happens, it would be reasonable to agree that assets and liabilities should be apportioned by population.

DONALD MacCALLUM

By email

Attacks on Israel by 'children' are a serious threat

The response of Patrick Corrigan of Amnesty International (Write Back, March 26) is typical of the sort of treatment Israel receives in international forums.

His admission that "youngsters in the West Bank regularly throw stones at heavily-armed Israeli soldiers" is... minimised by: "this rarely represents a serious threat".

The implication is that they are merely naughty boys. But these 'children' throw stones (large rocks in reality) at civilian cars with the objective of causing them to crash. It is in this context the Israeli Defence Forces resort, in the first instance, to non-lethal crowd-control techniques, but are forced, if these are do not work, to use live fire, which can lead to fatalities.

MARTIN D STERN

Salford, Greater Manchester

Is Marie Stopes abortion clinic actually legal?

When is Justice Minister David Ford, going to declare his findings regarding the legality of the Marie Stopes abortion clinic in Belfast?

It is almost a year-and-a-half since this clinic opened and the public are none the wiser regarding the legal status of this clinic.

There were grave doubts whether this clinic was legal when it first opened at the end of 2012 and nothing has been done to clarify this situation since.

Abortion is deemed illegal in Northern Ireland, except in cases where the mother's life is at risk, or there is a serious threat to her mental, or physical, health.

How can a private organisation like Marie Stopes open their own private clinic here?

Is the Marie Stopes abortion clinic in Belfast legal, or is it not?

BRIAN RITCHIE

Lisburn, Co Antrim

'Wheelchair kids' is an unfair term

I was surprised and disappointed to see the reference to 'wheelchair kids' on the front page of the Belfast Telegraph (March 25).

I do not believe that the Belfast Telegraph would refer to adult wheelchair users as 'wheelchair adults'.

A wheelchair is a device used to aid mobility; it is not a descriptive term for children with limited mobility.

READER

Belfast

Lottery supports our local athletes

Congratulations to Kelly Gallagher for winning a Gold medal in the Super-G women's skiing event at the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi. Her performance did Northern Ireland proud and she is an inspirational role model for young people.

Everyone who plays the National Lottery helps to fund athletes like Kelly. Their funding means athletes can train full-time and access world-class coaching and facilities, such as the Sports Institute Northern Ireland, which, in turn, increases their chances of winning medals.

In addition to funding Olympic and Paralympic athletes, National Lottery funding is improving facilities and providing a welcome boost to sports clubs throughout Northern Ireland, so everyone has the chance to enjoy sport.

National Lottery players should feel proud of the difference their contribution is making.

VICKI KENNEDY

Director, National Lottery Good Causes

PPI costly and it takes too long

As a former NHS manager, who was involved in examining the merits of PPI for a hospital development, I am amazed that concern about the value of related schemes is only emerging now.

The process for developing a PPI/PPP scheme was time-consuming and expensive; specifications/risk assessments for the bid had to be absurdly detailed, with costly penalties for any subsequent amendments, and it appeared to me the financial benefits were always doubtful.

In my opinion, it was merely a question of 'buy now and worry about how to pay later', because the capital wasn't available.

BARBARA REID

Belfast

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