THE Government argues that there is a need to strike a balance between upholding the human rights of terrorist suspects and protecting citizens from terrorist attacks.

There is no such dilemma - adhering to the basic principles of human rights can only enhance our security.

There can be no doubt that the vengeful and ill-considered attacks on Iraq, Afghanistan and Chechnya, which left tens of thousand of innocent civilians dead, the prolonged detention of suspects on the flimsiest of evidence, and the torture and humiliation of prisoners in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and Bagram, have all contributed to the perception that this is not war on terror, but war on Islam.

Whether this is a false perception or not is beside the point - the injustice has created a fertile breeding ground for terrorism.

We cannot fight terrorism with injustice. Blair and Bush have said they will defeat terrorism and make the world a safer place, but everything they have done so far has served only to make matters worse for everyone. - Pete Winstanley, Durham.


WE are told, by some in authority, that the present disturbances in France are due to discrimination, subjecting the rioters to being disadvantaged when compared to more fortunate French citizens.

Added to this, French rioters complain that they are not listened to by their politicians. They must feel a little like English citizens who are disadvantaged by MPs voted into power by Scottish residents.

In the face of such blatant discrimination English people do not riot. However, it would appear that a growing number have stopped buying goods from Scotland in retaliation.

Is this fair and reasonable? Maybe not, but nor is the present devolution framework. Perhaps when English malcontent affects Scottish businesses they may lean on our politicians.

Toothless regional assemblies will not remove this discrimination, but an English Parliament will. - Stephen Gash, Carlisle.


THIS week sees the start of the Warm Homes Campaign, the annual winter campaign organised by energy efficiency charity, National Energy Action, in association with Powergen.

The Warm Homes Campaign aims to highlight the fact that 161,850 households in the North-East - mostly vulnerable groups like the elderly, families with young children and people with disabilities or chronic illnesses - cannot afford to heat their homes to adequate levels. For them winter brings poor health, anxiety, debt and isolation.

Excess winter deaths in the UK are among the highest in northern Europe. Last winter there were 1,500 excess deaths in the North-East. Higher fuel prices and the prediction of the coldest winter for eight years could push this year's figure much higher.

But there is help available this winter. Energy efficiency measures can reduce fuel bills and make homes warmer and more comfortable. There are grants available to help with the cost of energy saving measures and many people are entitled to these measures for free.

We would urge anyone who is worried about heating their home this winter to call the Keep Warm Keep Well helpline on 0800 085 7000 for information and advice on keeping warm in winter, how to claim benefits and to find out about energy efficiency grants.

Don't become a statistic this winter. - William Gillis, chief executive National Energy Action.


AFTER twice resigning from Tony Blair's Cabinet there can be little sympathy for the discredited David Blunkett.

With all of his experience of parliamentary procedure, Mr Blunkett should not have acted in the way that he did.

Seeking the advice of the parliamentary advisory committee seems a reasonable thing to do but Mr Blunkett, it appears, thought otherwise.

He also, of course, named the Conservative supporting national Press as being the source of his troubles, but the newspapers kept their readers informed and the print media in particular did a fine job.

Taken overall, David Blunkett's departure is unlikely to damage the Government. - LD Wilson, Guisborough.


THE Covered Market in Darlington that I have so enjoyed over the years is in trouble. Long established businesses are closing, trading is down 20 per cent overall and the outside market is reduced to selling prams and luggage.

The farmers' market is completely dying on its feet through lack of support.

This very special building is supposed to be a food hall selling the very best of local produce at attractive prices. Therefore, let us give the Covered Market some financial support, possibly through the Pedestrian Heart funding, which has initiated the downturn in business in the first place. Cut the rents and rates of the long established stallholders, promote all the long term individual businesses on a rotation basis, and promote at every opportunity the attractions of the Covered Market.

Make sure the markets survive or we are in danger of losing our treasured town centre attraction. - Councillor Jim Ruck, Darlington.


THE Prime Minister deserves our support for his project to reform a welfare system that undermines many people's willingness to work. There are those who appear not to care about this problem because they can always bring in more willing workers from abroad.

But this still leaves the question of what to do with the unwilling ones. If they can be restored to work it would be as well to find this out before the jobs have all been given away to newcomers.

If they can't, we need to consider the risk that many of the new workers may defect to the ranks of the unwilling as soon as they have acquired the same welfare entitlements.

In the worst case we might find ourselves needing a dumping ground for the unwilling. This, again, we ought to know before admitting further migrants, because then we may still be able to negotiate a swap. - John Riseley, Harrogate.


AS I drove to work this morning, Sunday, November 6, at 7.30am, I saw a dead dog on the road. A strong possibility is that it was a victim of bonfire night.

This unfortunate creature was likely running to escape the horror and mayhem of fireworks.

Fireworks are lethal weapons in untrained hands, and mankind itself pays the price of these weapons, sometimes the highest possible price, life itself.

Hospitals are overrun with firework victims. Firecrews battle to attend extra fires created by fireworks, and cases are reported of firecrews being attacked for their valiant efforts.

Ban private use of these fireworks and only allow organised events to take place each year on one night only. - Patricia Margaret Wade, Hurworth.


INTERESTING to read in The Northern Echo (Nov 5) about Michael Owen's reasons for leaving Real Madrid.

He could not learn or understand the language - so he goes to Newcastle? - John Carter, Darlington.