I READ your article concerning ageism and the intended Bill presented by Labour MP Lawrie Quinn (Echo, July 12). My only problem was the reference to "the elderly".

Many people reading that would recognise the unfairness, injustice, disappointment and depression attached to the consequences of ageism and many will be as young as 50.

By all means bring in legislation as companies both large and small are ignoring the code of practice. Why should they follow a code when they can do what they want with their staff? Why show any sign of humanity when you can strive for a bigger profit? Why should they pay older members a salary that had been settled on years previously by negotiation when you can get rid of them, employ part-time and younger staff on cheaper contracts?

The balance is too far towards the employer and it should be brought back somewhere into the middle of the equation. Older people have a wealth of knowledge to impart and for companies to rid their ranks of them is myopic.

How much is it costing the country in benefits? What health toll does it have on the individual who is discarded as inadequate, unqualified and unwanted? - CJ Blair, Darlington.


THERE is a growing number of foreign lorries on Britain's roads and motorways. There has been a huge increase in these visitors because diesel fuel is now so much cheaper in Europe that they can come here, undercut British companies and return back to their home country without paying one penny to the upkeep of our roads.

Not only do these vehicles take work from British drivers and pay nothing for the privilege, they also burn "dirty" diesel, high sulphur fuel which is no longer sold in this country.

Yet our Government, by its own actions, is positively encouraging this invasion by hiking the price of diesel in this country to such a level that it is less than two thirds the price on the other side of the Channel.

The Road Haulage Association has commissioned independent research which predicts that over 50,000 jobs will be lost in the UK in both road haulage and industry generally unless action is taken to reduce the gap in the price of diesel on either side of the Channel.

The RHA has proposed an Essential User Rebate which will cost the Chancellor nothing but will help UK plc in general and the road haulage industry in particular. - David Allinson, Director, George Allinson (Transport) Limited, Darlington.


TO take Martin Ball's 'logic' (HAS, July 15) to the extreme, surely the Government should inform people about any drug, hard or otherwise, and then leave them to get on with killing themselves if they wish to. What bunkum!

Nobody wants to see anyone harm themselves through drug misuse, and that is why the Government should step in to try to prevent it. This should apply to tobacco as well as to other drugs. One is as dangerous as the other. - K Orton, Ferryhill Station.


WHAT nonsense from Andrew Lightfoot (HAS, July 17). He refers to the unemployed as "all indigenous whites".

It is well documented that unemployment among black British people is generally higher than among whites because opportunities in education and work are limited by racism .

There is no 'indigenous' English race. English culture is unique and has much to commend it, but has nonetheless evolved over many centuries as people of many different cultures have come and gone.

Most immigrants have been white and most blacks living in England are British.

Multi-culturalism is a fact, not a policy. The typical Englishman, enjoying a nice cup of tea after church, may pause to reflect that the church was built by Norman invaders, the religion practised within was founded by a Palestinian Jew and the tea came from India. - Pete Winstanley, Chester-le-Street.


YOU got it wrong in relation to the European Employment Directive on Discrimination (Echo, June 30).

The directive will not force Christian charities and schools to employ homosexuals or non-believers, in fact, there is a derogation proposed within the directive titled "genuine occupational qualifications".

Essentially, this means that if a particular religious affiliation is necessary for a job, the employer will be able to maintain a difference of treatment (ie to discriminate).The same derogation applies to sexual orientation.

Most people would agree that discrimination in the workplace on the basis of race, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief is wrong.

This European directive is attempting to establish a level playing field throughout the EU in this important area while permitting justified differences of treatment when a characteristic constitutes a genuine occupational qualification for the job. _ Stephen Hughes MEP, Socialist Employment Co-ordinator


MY late father was a pitman, like many others in this area.

So when I was talking to one of his old friends recently I asked him what was the difference between a pitman and a miner.

"Pitmen", he said, "worked in atrocious conditions often hewing coal by hand. Miners stood up to work."

But what he said next was rather apt. "Those who did not like hard work became union men and those who detested any kind of work became Labour councillors. Labour because they would always get elected and councillors because they never went anywhere near work." Nothing's changed then. - R P Bainbridge, Crook.