We must be alarmed by echoes of 1930s

Your correspondent, SH of Forest Hall is uncomfortable with Philip Warren's comparison of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill with Hitler's Enabling Act (Voice of the North, March 13).

Your correspondent, SH of Forest Hall is uncomfortable with Philip Warren's comparison of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill with Hitler's Enabling Act (Voice of the North, March 13). Why?

This Bill means that ministers could tear up or alter legislation or pass new laws at whim. Tony Blair could postpone the General Election and stay on in power indefinitely; ministers could curtail or abolish jury trial; permit the Home Secretary to place citizens under house arrest; allow the Prime Minister to sack judges; rewrite the law on nationality and immigration, and abolish what remains of Magna Carta . . . all without the scrutiny of Parliament.

On March 23, 1933, the Reichstag passed the Enabling Act, which "enabled" Hitler's government to issue decrees independently of the German parliament and the presidency. Hitler then, in effect, assumed dictatorial powers. So what's the difference?

We've already seen in the North-East from the regional assembly referendum that the Government doesn't listen to voters. Imagine what it will be like when they don't need to listen to Parliament either.

JOHN S PEARSON, Adderstone Mains, Northumberland

Policy must alienate parents from children

SHOULD parents really be reassured by the knowledge that their under-age daughters are given access to the morning-after pill in school without parental consent, as your Leader seems to imply (The Journal, March 11)?

Most parents, I would hope, might be perturbed by the revelation. Indeed, the headline "12-year-olds given pill" and the front page prominence given to the article would suggest that your newspaper aimed to shock, not to reassure.

The news is disturbing for several reasons:

* It is misleading to label the morning-after pill as "emergency contraception". The long-term consequences of its use by young girls are still unknown. The pill is not simply a contraceptive: it is a powerful drug which can act as an anti-abortificient.

* The policy, with its emphasis on confidentiality, will have a destructive effect on the family, further alienating children from their parents. The secrecy surrounding the service is harmful and represents a breakdown of trust intrinsic to the parent-child relationship.

* It is ironic and inconsistent that parental consent is still required for administration of drugs such as paracetamol to under-16s.

* Is this really a caring service provided by professionals who "know best" or is it simply a further erosion of parental responsibilities?

* Teenage girls will become the victims, with even more pressure to begin sexual relationships before they are physically and emotionally ready.

Morpeth parents may be more reassured by the news that Professor David Paton of Nottingham Business School will be speaking at the Queen's Head Hotel, Bridge Street, at 7.30pm on Thursday April 27.

He will illustrate how the provision of abortion and contraception to minors has failed to tackle spiraling teenage pregnancy rates and indeed, has damaging long-term effects. He will also perhaps offer parents some substantial advice about how best to protect and care for their children, in defiance of the "experts".

Mrs CLARE GOSLING, Morpeth, Northumberland

Are you related to Nellie Halford?

I'M looking for any relatives of Nellie Halford (neé Barker) who moved to Newcastle from Birkenhead around the 1920s or 1930s.

Her father's name was John Barker and the mother's maiden name was Curruthers.

She had five brothers - Jack, William, Gardiner (my father), Thomas and Albert - plus one sister, Ada, whose married name was Parsons. She moved to Newcastle when her husband David died.

KEN BARKER, 80 Argyll Avenue, Eastham, Wirral CH62 8ED. Email bark-kp@tiscali.co.uk

Why we really aren't in the running yet

I WAS very disappointed with the new indoor athletics facilities and opening meeting at Gateshead Stadium.

And I speak as a 75-year-old who has participated in and supported North-East and British athletics for more than 60 years.

In this year of "let's win at the Olympics" and emphasising the importance of getting value for money, I find it hard to believe that the North-East is still without a suitable indoor athletics stadium with the necessary warm-up and race preparation areas for the athletes, volunteer trainers and officials.

This region continues to be the poor relation when compared with the athletic facilities elsewhere in Britain.

What we have got are weatherproof tracks which are suitable only for training over short distances. The athletes and volunteer trainers need more than this if we are to produce winners.

I am so old that I still remember when, despite the shortage of facilities, experienced trainers could have produced a sprint relay team from a five-mile radius of Blyth and Ashington which was equal to the best in Britain.

I have won gold medals, of which I am very proud, albeit as a professional sprinter (I competed as F Loss of Ashington winning the Powder Hall sprint in 1959 and the half-mile in 1962).

There is no real secret to it: a lot of hard work and deduction using the cumulative experience and knowledge of ex-runners working together to ensure that the runner peaks at a specific date and time, and avoids injury and unknown substances.

The other major problem which needs to be resolved is how can we attract the public and get their support?

The new facilities at Gateshead failed miserably on this and although the meeting was for the North-East Indoor Championships, there were no seats for the public who had to stand all day and bring their own refreshments.

In order to get a sit-down, I had to resort to sitting in the athletes's dressing room and in the very limited car park. Enough said.

EDDY POXON, Stakeford, Northumberland

I will not be silent on the subject of diabetes

I ATTENDED a meeting organised by the Strategic Health Authority about the merging of SHAs and primary care trusts in the region.

At this meeting in the Stadium of Light in Sunderland, I was asking for reassurances that I would still be able to get my medication, which keeps me alive, after the merger goes ahead, when I was interrupted. The silly ass who did so criticised me for explaining why I was so concerned.

I have been crossed off the lists of three GPs. I don't have any guilty conscience over this. I now get my medication from a source other than a GP and other than in Sunderland. I was relieved I could stay alive without any more bother.

Although I was told at the meeting that I would still get my medication, I fear the Forum for Primary Care may have washed its hands of diabetes care in Sunderland, even though there are more than 10,000 people in our city who have it. I will not stop writing my letters about diabetes. It's called freedom of speech.

JOAN CARNEY, Barnes Wood, Sunderland

New Zealand awaits the charity trekkers

I AM delighted to support The Children's Society's forthcoming Trek New Zealand and invite your readers to experience the challenge of a lifetime in my homeland.

I have no doubt that every trekker will fall in love with the rare natural beauty of New Zealand, as they take on this amazing sea-to-summits challenge.

Our country is a land of snow-capped mountains, golden beaches, beautiful lakes and ancient rainforests: it really is just like the postcards!

The trek is sure to make a lasting impact on each and every one of your lives, and more importantly will make a real difference to the most marginalised children in England today.

The 11-day trek during November 2006 is open to everyone with an average level of fitness and a commitment to raise the minimum sponsorship amount.

If you're interested and want to find out more, then please contact the Supporter Relations team at The Children's Society on 0845 300 1128 or visit the www.childrenssociety.org.uk

New Zealand and its people are waiting to welcome you.

Rt Hon JONATHAN HUNT ONZ, High Commissioner

Public not convinced about crime-fighters

I WAS flabbergasted at the comments reported in the article headlined "Fury over new police number" which claim that the proposed 101-999 two-tier police call system will only lead to confusion (Journal, March 8).

In the last decade alone, the public have been directed to a menagerie of low-level, anti-social-behaviour helplines, from council housing offices, community safety units and anti-social behaviour units through to community wardens, community beat officers (there are more) and police community liaison officers.

Even local police inspectors have dished out their direct telephone number, yet the public overwhelmingly remain less than convinced that partnership working agencies are genuinely and meaningfully getting to grips with the underlying causes of crime.

That said, the Home Office plan to ask the public to call 101 to report nuisances in conjunction with 999 and existing 11 digit regional, local and rural police offices is a positively brilliant one. 101; what could be simpler?

ALAN SAVAGE, Cramlington, Northumberland

England expects so much better than this

YOU couldn't make this up, unless you were a Scot: English votes for English issues would wreck the union, according to Lord Falconer, the non-elected Lord Chancellor.

No wonder that since 1997, England has been chipped away and left with nothing. `Scottish' New Labour and its cronies have systematically stripped England of its valuable and historic assets.

How come Scottish and Welsh MPs can have a say on issues affecting England only and yet English MPs can't have on theirs ? We are still the United Kingdom. Last year, 41 of Labour's 59 Scottish MPs voted to impose £3,000 tuition fees on university students in England, but not in Scotland. They voted in favour of foundation hospitals in England but not in Scotland.

England, wake up before it's too late.

BRYAN J ALLEN, Newcastle


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