Dear Sir,
Not only has the Government in Majorca decided to reduce tourism by a pre-visit tax instead of cleverly taking money from us once we are in the resort, I note that meddling officials have prevented large supermarkets from providing a service by stopping them from opening on Sundays and certain holidays.

So, for instance, where once in Son Caliu I could get fresh bread and a Sunday newspaper, now I cannot. The small shops which supposedly are protected by this law (for instance, the newsagent's shop near Mercadona) won't open if the business is not brought to the vicinity by the draw of the larger supermarket.

I also find that many of the smaller shops elsewhere who in theory stand to gain from this harebrained idea can't be bothered to be open at such times anyway.

Shall we next expect a law to close all larger hotels once a week so that smaller bed-and-breakfast establishments get extra custom?

Yours faithfully

S. K. Riches. Northampton. (by e-mail)

Tourists and pollution

Dear Sir,
A recent major article and a letter from a lady visiting Santa Ponsa have yet again pointed “the pollution” finger at yachtsmen.
From my experience, and to put it bluntly, very, very few pleasure yachtsmen “dirty their own doorstep” and are very aware, appreciative and protective of the environment (the sea) that they derive their pleasure from.

If one takes a look at the outskirts of Magalluf you will find all sorts of trash - washing machines, three piece suites, sinks, toilets etc etc.
Look at the rubbish lining the roads, chucked out of car, van and truck windows! Are we to believe that it's the tourist that causes this pollution?
No, face facts; the locals themselves are the major culprits for polluting their own environment! I once put a sign up in a bar I was involved in which read, “When the floor's full please use the ashtrays”. Most people scratched their heads they didn't understand; well they wouldn't would they?

John Rule. Sol de Mallorca. (by e-mail)

Acting together

Two million people have been killed there and eight million others displaced from their homes. Two-thirds of this country's territory is occupied by the forces of its neighbours. And we think Afghanistan has problems! The country in question is the so-called Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a vast territory in the centre of the African continent, once known as Zaire, which has suffered from war and economic blight ever since it had independence thrust on it by the Belgian colonial power in 1960.

Jack Straw and Hubert Vedrine, the foreign ministers of Britain and France, have just returned from a joint three-day visit to the DRC during which they made tentative moves to see whether an Anglo-French initiative could help to bring some degree of normalcy to the country. On his return Mr Straw acknowledged that little could be achieved by so short a visit but emphasized the importance of this joint approach by Britain and France.

Although both nations shed their colonial role in Africa many years ago they retain their interests France especially and their former dependent territories have been known to play one off against the other when it suited them to do so.

Africa needs all the constructive help it can get and since the United States now shows little interest in the continent there is an opportunity and need for Britain and France to play a bigger role jointly and in the context also of the European Union.

Ray Fleming

Regulating the regulators

Ian Duncan Smith's suggestion the other day that the new breed of regulators and quango bosses should submit themselves to parliamentary approval before taking up their appointments was one of his better ideas. A surprising number of unaccountable people now run or oversee major segments of Britain's public services; they are appointed by ministers to do the jobs that ministers once did themselves. They may be better at it than politicians and they certainly have the advantage that they don't have to face questions and debates in Parliament all the time.

But who regulates the regulators? Mr Duncan Smith thinks that proposed appointments by the responsible minister should be subject to examination and approval by the appropriate Select Committee of the House of Commons or another appropriate body. This would inevitably lead to delays but it would make the process of appointment more transparent than it is at the moment. The bosses of Oftel, Ofwat and Ofcom, the regulators of Railtrack and the Postal Service Commission, and all the others, seem to come from nowhere and disappear there at the end of their terms of office.

The obvious difficulty in the idea is to know which jobs should be subject to this kind of scrutiny. The chairman of the BBC's Board of Governors? The Archbishop of Canterbury?



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