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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

Business news

Workplace Pension Schemes and the Regulator

January 19 2015

Henderson Loggie held a series of seminars in early November and invited the Pensions Regulator to speak. The Regulator is the appointed guardian of ensuring employers meet the legislative requirements set out in the Pensions Act 2008, and has been given powers to enforce the legislation. This can be via monetary penalties, and some well-known employers have already been issued with such penalty notices. However, the Regulator is also aware that new legislation means employers have to get to grips with the complexities of the rules, and is keen to get the message across to them about how to comply. At the end of each seminar we encouraged questions. Here are some of the most common ones asked. Q I have zero-hour contract workers. Should they be enrolled into a pension scheme? A In simple terms, if the worker in question has a contract of employment and is paid a wage or salary in the UK, then yes, provided they earn more than £192 per week (£833 per month) in any pay reference period. A pay reference period is the payroll period: for example, weekly, fortnightly, monthly. Even if there is no ‘basic’ salary, when a worker earns a wage, depending on whether it meets the minimum earnings threshold, they should be enrolled into a workplace pension scheme. Q A similar question related to whether the employer is responsible for all of their workers: that is, are all employees workers? A To answer this, there are several questions employers need to ask and identify within their workforce. This will show if the employer judges whether an individual has a contract to perform work or services personally, or is undertaking the work as part of the individual’s own business. * Does the employer have control over an individual’s method of work; for example, hours worked? * Does the employer provide any other employee benefits, and who bears any financial risk of the individual carrying out the work? * Are any ‘tools’ provided for that worker to carry out their duties? Q What will employers have to pay for workers enrolled into a workplace pension scheme? A There are minimum contribution requirements based on a percentage of earnings. These earnings can be qualifying (total earnings less the lower level of earnings), basic, total or gross. Employers can elect to phase contributions in between their staging date and October 2018, thus gradually increasing the payments made. Q Are there ways of budgeting for the contributions to be paid for workers enrolled into a workplace pension scheme? A During our seminars we touched on a facility called salary exchange. This is a contractual agreement between employer and employee whereby the employee gives up a specific amount of salary in exchange for a non-cash benefit provided by the employer. Using this in conjunction with pension contributions, this could provide National Insurance savings and help meet the cost of auto enrolment. Q What about my business? A Each employer knows their own business and how to run it. Therefore, an additional layer of legislation that they have to comply with means, in the case of auto enrolment, that they also have to understand payroll, human resources and pension issues. In our experience, no matter what size the business is, employers should look at the headline requirements and start to make plans. Identify when your staging date is (you need your PAYE reference number, and then enter the Pension Regulator site to find this) and work back from there. Identify if all your workers qualify to be automatically enrolled into a workplace pension scheme; that is, are they an eligible jobholder? Are they over age 22 and under state pension age? Do they earn more than £10,000 per annum and work in the UK? Will any worker fall into the non-eligible jobholder category? They can ask to join the workplace pension scheme and you must make a pension contribution for them. Do you have entitled workers? Your payroll will hold the information you need to identify your workers, and indeed, may already have the software installed to provide you with category reports. Consideration of which pension scheme to use is also important, as this should tie in with the payroll functionality. Do you want the pension scheme to be used as a tool to gain and keep employees, or simply to be the means to an end? We invited some clients who had already enrolled to attend our seminars. This gave them the opportunity to check that what they had in place was correct, and to share their experiences with others. Without exception, each employer confirmed that a plan was essential, and that this gave them time to make decisions and provide them with the best outcome. With a large number of businesses due to stage in the next three years, our auto enrolment team believes that information is key for employers, and preparation is everything. * Any references to tax and legislation are based on our understanding of law and HM Revenue & Customs practice at the date of publication. Tax and legislation are liable to change. Tax relief may be altered, and the value to the investor depends on their financial circumstances. The purpose of this article is to provide technical and generic guidance and should not be interpreted as a personal recommendation or advice. Investment entails risk, which means the asset values can increase or decrease and you may not get back what you put in.

Farming news

Aberdeen-Angus DNA test hailed by Victor Wallace

February 13 2015

The adoption of a new DNA test to authenticate the pedigree of all Aberdeen-Angus calves will put the breed in the vanguard of genomic technology, retiring Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society president, Victor Wallace, told a packed annual at Stirling. The society has decided to collect blood samples using special ear tags which incorporate a small uniquely identified receptacle. As the tag is inserted soon after birth the small amount of displaced tissue and blood is captured ready for future DNA testing. Responding to criticism of the society’s decision to use only one company, Caisley, for the collection of samples, Mr Wallace insisted Caisley was the only ear tag company which had the technology to meet the society’s required specification. “We invited a number of ear tag companies to tender and some didn’t bother to reply while others couldn’t meet the spec,” said Mr Wallace. “It is a simple and inexpensive system which most breeders are finding easy to use.” The aim is to collect blood samples from all bull calves to enable the sire of all calves to be verified in the case of any uncertainty or dispute and to authenticate beef being sold as Aberdeen-Angus.” The move by the society has been welcomed by major supermarkets selling Aberdeen-Angus beef. Mr Wallace added: “This process was extensively and rigorously tested with management and council visits to the manufacturers in Germany and the completion of field trials. After this process it was brought back to council and unanimously approved. “Like all changes, there has been some resistance but I am convinced that putting the society in a position to be leading in genomic testing can only be a good one. “We should be leaders, not followers.” Mr Wallace admitted that a £34,000 re-branding exercise carried out over the past year, which included the dropping of the society’s long-established black, green and yellow colours, left room for “significant improvement”. The issue, particularly improvement to the website, would, he said, be addressed in the coming year. The decision to prop up the pension fund of chief executive, Ron McHattie, by £120,000 in four tranches was defended by new president, David Evans, who explained that it was a “catching up” operation as the funding of the pension had not been addressed for 11 years and annuity rates had halved in that time. Mr Evans, who works as a financial adviser, runs a 60-cow pedigree herd in Cleveland with his wife, Penny, and has been chairman of the society’s breed promotion committee. He is planning a series of open days throughout the country this year to promote the commercial attributes of the Aberdeen-Angus breed. “There is a huge and growing demand for certified Aberdeen-Angus beef with the active involvement of most of the leading supermarkets in the UK and registrations in the Herd Book are at a record level and continuing to increase,” said Mr Evans. “But we can’t stand still and it is important that the breed adopts all the latest technology to take the breed forward in the future.” New senior vice-president is Tom Arnott, Haymount, Kelso, while Alex Sanger, Prettycur, Montrose, was appointed junior vice-president.

Readers' letters

Some nerve lecturing on value of pensions

February 21 2014

Sir, I was interested to hear Gordon Brown join in the latest of many unionist scare stories. This time it was on pensions with Mr Brown implying that independence will mean Scots pensioners will be worse off. Mr Brown has some nerve lecturing anyone on the value of pensions. His decision in 1997 to impose a stealth tax on private pensions led to them being devalued anywhere between £100 - £150 billion. This tax led to a massive shortfall in many pension schemes and saw most companies close their final salary schemes. In his 1999 budget Mr Brown raised the state pension by a derisory 75p. These two policies forced many pensioners into poverty and robbed them of their savings. It is hard to think of anyone other than, say, Robert Maxwell who is less qualified to speak on pensions than Mr Brown. The fact is the UK Government is increasing the state pension age at a time when Scots’ life expectancy is going backwards in many working class areas. They are doing this because the south of England has seen life expectancy rise. Under independence the state pension would be higher and the retirement age lower. Alan Hinnrichs. 2 Gillespie Terrace, Dundee. Views weren’t ‘preposterous’ Sir, Rarely have I heard such arrogant comments as those made by John Swinney at the weekend, when he decided to publicly rubbish the views of the head of the European Commission on the subject of Scotland’s possibilities to join the EU as an independent nation state. According to Mr Swinney, the views of the head of the EC are “preposterous” and irrelevant since he will reach the end of his appointed term prior to the referendum vote. Instead, Mr Swinney focuses on the view of an academic most people have probably never heard of, and who has no influence and no responsibility for any mechanism that could impede or assist Scotland in the event of a “Yes” vote, simply because this person’s view supports the SNP dream. Mr Barroso gave his views from his position as head of the European Commission, not as a private unenfranchised EU citizen. Formerly, he was also Prime Minister of Portugal, a country not dissimilar in size and economic profile to Scotland. The one person coming out of this war of words looking as though he holds “preposterous” views is Mr Swinney himself. Derek Farmer. Knightsward Farm, Anstruther. They didn’t disagree Sir Dr Cameron (Letters, February 18) is mistaken in claiming that climate scientist Professor Mat Collins has disagreed with Met Office chief scientist Julia Slingo about whether climate change led to recent storms. This claim was made by a tabloid newspaper, and prompted Prof Collins and Dame Julia to issue a joint statement. They are in full agreement: the storms were caused by the shifting jet stream, which cannot be linked to climate change on the basis of current knowledge, but the massive rainfall accompanying the storms is entirely consistent with predictions that climate change will mean storms produce more rain. The newspaper linked separate statements about different phenomena and pretended they contradicted each other. Dr Cameron is also being unfair in saying Dame Julia predicted dryer than usual conditions. The Met Office actually stated a 25% probability of very dry conditions and a 15% probability that it would be very wet. There is a difference between a statement of probability and a forecast that a certain outcome will happen. James Christie. 2 Dryburgh Crescent, Perth. Is it a slightly blurred vision? Sir, We appear to be getting a lot of mixed messages regarding the effectiveness of the new single police force. On the one hand there are articles about the lack of interaction between the new force and elected representatives with a lack of public consultation, yet in today’s (February 17) Courier there is an article regarding the success of Police Scotland and how its formation is allowing officers to target local concerns more effectively. It seems like only yesterday that we were reading how Tayside Police were consulting with the public in the formation of the policing plan to ensure service was tailored to local needs. Then there were all the articles detailing how officers had been very successful in one operation or another as they pursued those matters of public concern. The senior officers quoted in the articles did not appear to harbour any concerns regarding Tayside Police’s ability to react to public concerns and deal with those matters. Was the information we were given regarding the success and effectiveness of Tayside Police over the years somewhat overstated given the improvements Police Scotland has, apparently, been able to make in so short a time? Of course Police Scotland will be a roaring success, its political architects will ensure that it is. Tayside Police used to use the slogan “Tayside Police policing with vision”. Perhaps our vision of Police Scotland is being slightly blurred by the amount of wool being pulled over our eyes? Jim Fraser. Elm Street, Errol.


Advertising feature: Taking control of your pension fund

March 27 2013

It’s a question many of us might ask ourselves. “If I want to take control of my pension fund, how do I go about doing it?” If you haven’t yet asked yourself that question, have you thought long and hard about your pension options or are you simply happy to persist with your existing pension? The problem that many people are having is that their existing pension fund is underperforming and has been doing so for a while. According to research 14 of the 20 largest pension funds have been underperforming over the last 10 years[1]. This could easily apply to you. If your pension fund is underperforming, it could be time for a change. So, what is the solution? This could lie with self-invested personal pensions.What is a self invested personal pension?A self invested personal pension or SIPP is a “do it yourself pension scheme” where you make all the decisions in relation to how and where your pension fund is invested.How does it work?Once you open a SIPP you have the complete freedom to decide exactly where your pension pot is invested. One of the big advantages is the range of SIPP pension investments, which with the top providers can be in the 1,000s if you therefore choose your investments wisely there is the potential to make a lot of money.Will I be charged?When investing in a SIPP, it’s likely that you’ll encounter a number of different charges. For example with some SIPPs you’ll be required to pay a fee when you open the pension, annual charges and then a fee each time you buy or sell investments. At one time this list of charges made SIPPs a pension scheme reserved for the super rich. However, there are now many low cost alternatives on the market which still offer a wide range of potential investments, but which don’t charge fees for establishing the pension or any annual charges you’ll also secure a low charge the more deals you do. This low cost alternative has opened up the market to make SIPPs accessible to the majority of people in the UK.Where can I invest?The following are examples of the kind of options for investment provided by leading SIPP providers:Stocks and shares Unit trusts and OEICs Government bonds Corporate bonds Permanent interest bearing shares Warrants Investment trusts Exchange traded funds and commodities What tax will I pay?The tax relief for a SIPP follows the same lines as tax benefits for any kind of personal pension, i.e. any contribution you make into the pension will be done so “net” of basic rate tax, which basically means the tax man will give you 20%. Higher rate tax payers are able to claim even more tax relief through self-assessment.Is it the right choice for me?The first question to ask yourself is whether or not you are satisfied with your existing pension. Is it performing as you’d expect? Do you feel it’s underperforming? If the answer is yes you may want to consider switching the funds to a SIPP. If you feel confident in making the decisions yourself (you can always seek the help of a financial advisor) then a SIPP may be the ideal choice for you. It could well be time for a change. [1] http://www.employeebenefits.co.uk/benefits/pensions/over-60-billion-invested-in-underperforming-pension-funds/100625.article

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km

Readers' letters

April 17: When the dust finally settles where will all this money have come from?

April 17 2012

Today's letters to The Courier. Sir, - The current SNP-run Dundee council cannot but help remind me of a young lady who has just received a new suite and now needs a new carpet, new curtains, or whatever the latest suitable matching accessory would be. The V&A is the suite and a new station building the latest 'whatever'. All very nice, very nice indeed, but where is all this money coming from? As cutbacks wound deep into the heart of our community, is this the best way to spend what little there is? Yet, upon reflection, it is not that little, is it? Buildings falling with buildings rising is the dynamic, ever-changing landscape Dundee has presented for some decades, but now it has shifted up a gear, almost challenging the film Dark City in this regard. Time-lapse photography with a decade beat from across the Tay would present a bewildering view of this dithering plan. When the dust settles, if the plan holds, we will, at last, behold a river front of which we will be very proud. Proud, that is, in the light of a shooting star that may chance upon a moonbeam, while we clutch the few pennies we may have left, if any. And, this new station building is it not like something seen in Dubai? Leslie Milligan.18b Myrtlehall Gardens,Dundee. Must taxpayer pay for pension generosity? Sir, - A study by Taxpayer Scotland has highlighted a £4 billion black hole in Scotland's local authorities pension schemes. The 32 councils have pension assets of £18 billion but liabilities of £22 billion. It is not just the stock market but the gold-plated pensions lavished on public sector staff, and in particular the better paid, which has resulted in this mess. Senior staff have been allowed to "retire" early with generous severance packages and many were then re-employed as consultants. In the private sector final salary schemes are now rarer than hens' teeth. Already 20% of the money that the public pay in council tax goes to this pension fund. Do the councils expect the taxpayer to pick up more of the bill for their pension generosity? Changes must be made and they could start with substantially increasing the pension contributions of those earning over £40,000. After all, they receive huge pensions compared with those who undertake the demanding front-line services. All new public sector employees should be given a less costly (to the taxpayer) pension scheme as is now the norm in the private sector. Clark Cross.138 Springfield Road,Linlithgow. No lack of laws, just police Sir, - Most people, including police officers, can spot the difference between folk happily enjoying a pint in the sunshine and youngsters getting tanked up and causing mayhem. Do we really need contentious bylaws from our over-protective councillors to get rid of anti-social drinking? If Councillor Peter Grant thinks a blanket alcohol ban (Courier, April 13) will make even a small dent in youth behaviour, cloud cuckoo land springs to mind. There are, and have been for years, laws to combat this type of behaviour, breach of the peace, vandalism, malicious mischief to name but a few. The big problem is that there isn't anything like enough police officers in the area to enforce them, so we have to wonder who will police the bylaws brought in by our wise councillors. John Strachan.23 Beechwood Avenue,Glenrothes. "Great to see you back" Sir, - On behalf of Angus and Perthshire Area of the Royal British Legion Scotland, may we express our pleasure and relief that The Black Watch, 3 SCOTS, have returned home to UK from Afghanistan safe and sound? We'd also like to endorse Major Ronnie Proctor's remarks in The Courier (April 10) that the battalion's soldiers deserve our support but we in the Legion go further. Major Proctor belongs to The Black Watch Association, and, entirely rightly, champions their own veterans and serving personnel; the Legion, however, offers help and support to servicemen and servicewomen of any cap badge and of all three services. Our 16 branches in Angus and Perthshire all have welfare officers who are there to help the ex-service community, and if the Legion can't, we're almost sure to know someone who can so if you are ex-service and have a problem, bear us in mind. But for the meantime, we are with Major Proctor, and say equally proudly to The Black Watch: "Welcome home: it's great to see you back." Alasdair Maclean.Press Officer,Angus and Perthshire Area, Royal British LegionScotland. A fine recruiting sergeant... Sir, - I would like to thank the Economist magazine, which mocked-up a map of Scotland as "Skintland" on its front cover, as this has proven a magnificent recruiting sergeant for the independence campaign. The cover also goes against the article itself, which admits that Scotland is not subsidised from Westminster and that the Scottish economy performs better than any other nation or region in the UK outside South-East England. Thanks again. Alex Orr.77 Leamington Terrace,Edinburgh. Get involved: to have your say on these or any other topics, email your letter to letters@thecourier.co.uk or send to Letters Editor, The Courier, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL. Letters should be accompanied by an address and a daytime telephone number.

Farming news

SNP handling of new beef scheme attacked

November 10 2016

The Scottish Government's own efficiency has been called into question over the handling of the new £45million Beef Efficiency Scheme (BES). An estimated 180,000 beef cows from 2000 Scottish farmers have been enrolled in the new five-year  scheme which aims to improve the efficiency and quality of the beef herd and help producers increase the genetic value of their stock. But months after signing up for the scheme, farmers are still waiting to be supplied with special tags to meet the rules which call for 'tissue tagging' of 20% of cattle. And now NFU Scotland's livestock chairman Charlie Adam says farmers' confidence in the scheme is being affected and has called for the rules to be adjusted. The union has also urged the Scottish Government to update all scheme applicants on progress with BES and let them know when the necessary tags will arrive. “If tag delays cannot be resolved in the immediate future, then the Scottish Government should recognise the problem and make the tissue tagging element voluntary for 2016. This will allow those who can take samples from the animals that they still own to do so,"  said Mr Adam. “Applicants to this important scheme, worth £45 million to the industry, have every right to know now, and in detail, what they are expected to do to fulfil their BES obligations and Scottish Government must get back on the front foot in delivering the scheme.” Mr Adam added that it was frustrating for the farmers who have already housed and handled their cattle for the winter as many of those animals were by now located in overwintering accommodation that can be some distance from home farms. Shadow Rural Economy secretary, Peter Chapman MSP claimed it was impossible for farmers to sell store cattle in the autumn sales until they were told which animals need tagged and were sent  the tags to do the job. He added: "This will create huge cash flow and logistic problems for farmers who normally sell calves at this time – this is the SNP letting farmers down yet again.” A Scottish Government spokesman said work was under way to rectify the problem and a timetable was expected by the end of the week. He added: "It is not necessary for farmers to hold off from selling their animals. "We will ensure that the sampling regime accommodates those farmers who have sold their calves and there will be no penalties for those whoo have. It may mean that some farmers will have a higher rate of sampling next year." nnicolson@thecourier.co.uk      

UK & World

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.

Readers' letters

July 4: Howff gravestone appeal fell on deaf ears

July 4 2011

Today's letters to The Courier. Howff gravestone appeal fell on deaf earsSir,-One could almost feel the pride throughout J.J. Marshall's column about Morgan Academy, Dundee. What a pity he, and all the other former pupils, are not prepared to do something about the Morgan gravestone in the Howff. Some nine years ago The Nine Trades found it in a disgraceful state. They spent a great deal of money having new pillars cut and the stone repaired and replaced. The stone, however, needs the inscription re-cut. We obtained a quote of some £1300 for the work and committed the sum of £300 to start things off. Despite repeated pleas, often in your paper, for money to make up the balance, we have only had one response, a cheque from one grateful past pupil for £40. So much for the great pride Morgan pupils have in their old school. Work that out at a cost per proud pupil and it is less than a loaf of bread. Some pride. Innes A. Duffus.Dundee.Law Society stayed quietSir,-It must be really demoralising for law students, especially graduates trying to complete their articles and many still seeking employment, to see their profession being further denigrated. I would have thought that, even with its blemishes, the Scottish Law Society would be more than capable of dealing with any criminal case or human rights issue without any outside intervention. Whether politics were involved or not, I remember in 2009 the lord chancellor was one of the main instigators of the Supreme Court. At that time only three High Court judges from Scotland were appointed. With an issue proving so important to our nation, was there even a murmur at any level from the Scottish Law Society? In a constantly changing world perhaps now is the time for a re-appraisal of the Law Society and its role. James M. Fraser.39 High Street,Leven.Pension grumbles overstatedSir,-This morning's editorial (June 29) was spot on when it claimed the public-sector pension issue should have been addressed by the Labour government in 2005 when they memorably funked it. Increased longevity makes impossible continuance of an unreformed system. A 3% increase in contributions and a retirement age of 66 is not the end of the world. The professions tend to overestimate the income they will need in retirement and my kirk pension of £12,000 after 35 years, plus my state pension, has proved fine. My medical brothers received over four times that amount and retirement at 60 but I found the closing years before retirement at just past 65 the most rewarding of my entire career. As long as the poorer-paid public sector workers are protected, I think the better-off professionals with school fees and mortgages long past should keep a grip on reality. (Dr) John Cameron.10 Howard Place,St Andrews. Not the saviours they pretendSir,-The SNP's Alex Orr (June 27) is right to highlight Scotland's marginally better public spending deficit as compared to the UK generally, but at least the Westminster government has acknowledged the need to get it under control. However, the SNP wants to see a Scotland with fiscal policies like slashed corporation tax, significantly reduced fuel duty and tax breaks for favoured sectors such as computer games. The SNP is clearly reluctant to raise income tax or council taxes, or to impose a windfall tax on oil companies. But it makes lavish spending commitments. It surely ill behoves the Nationalists to favourably compare Scotland's deficit to that of the UK. No wonder the SNP is so keen for Scotland to have borrowing powers. Mr Orr highlights the role of oil revenues in an independent Scotland. But this merely underlines yet another future drain on Scotland's public purse, namely the subsidy-hungry renewables industry. There would also be a stealth tax in the form of rocketing energy bills. The SNP's attempts to depict themselves as the planet's environmental saviours, while at the same time portraying oil as the key to Scotland's future, shows that the party wants to have its renewables cake and eat it. Stuart Winton.Hilltown,Dundee. Fairtrade status undermined Sir,-I note with interest your article (June 28) about Scotland being on course to become the world's second Fair Trade nation. Having been on the original working group which helped set up the Scottish Fair Trade Forum back in 2006, I think it would be wonderful to see this goal being achieved. Dundee became a Fairtrade City in March 2004, the first in Scotland, but this status needs to be renewed. That is currently under threat because, unlike other local authorities, Dundee City Council does not automatically provide Fairtrade catering for meetings. It would be a great shame if Scotland's Fair Trade nation accolade were denied because its first Fairtrade city lost its status. Sally Romilly.4 Westwood Terrace,Newport-on-Tay. Leuchars still at riskSir,-The fact that the MoD has spent millions on RAF Leuchars is no guarantee of saviour. Remember that a new hangar complex was built for rescue helicopters of 22 Squadron, only for the RAF to disband the flight. Stephen Pickering.19 Abbey Court,St Andrews.