Dear Editor, The Government's announcement that it will delay introducing legal protection for couples who live together means continued distress and financial hardship for separating couples who mistakenly believe they have rights as 'common law' husbands and wives.
According to a recent British Social Attitudes Survey, 51 per cent of people still believe that cohabitating couples have 'common law' rights if their relationship ends, when in fact no such rights exist, not even if they have had children together.
The same survey revealed that nine out of ten people think that a cohabiting partner should have a right to financial provision if their relationship is a long-term one, includes children and has involved prioritising one partner's career over the other's.
The Government is seriously out of step with public opinion on this issue if it does not act now. The
present law creates real injustice for many people. Family lawyers frequently see people who face financial hardship and even homelessness as a result of the current law. Any further delay will inevitably mean further injustice for some people.
In the alternative if current law is not to change there must be a concerted effort by government to displace the myth of common law marriage in order that people do not continue to believe they will be treated in the same way as a married couple by the law upon relationship breakdown.
Members of Resolution, an association of 5000 family lawyers that campaigns for fair family law, have been calling for a new law to protect cohabitating couples since 2000. The Government's lack of commitment today does nothing to offer such couples - and their children - the legal protection they need.
KATHERINE KENNEDY, Mills & Reeve, Birmingham and Resolution member
* Memories of working on The Post
Dear Editor, On the occasion of The Post's 150th Anniversary, I hope the time is right to tell my memories of working as a proofreader on The Birmingham Post and Mail until June, 1957, when I emigrated to the United States with my family.
My career in the newspaper business started when I went to work at 17 on the old Birmingham Gazette, Evening Dispatch, and Sunday Mercury, as a copy-holder in the reading room. Present-day newspaper employees will not know what a copyholder's job was or indeed that there ever was such a position.
Briefly, we read from original copy, often written in longhand by a reporter and more often than not well nigh unreadable, to the reader, who made corrections on a galley proof.
How things have changed. No more proofreaders, (more's the pity I sometimes think as I read today's newspapers), and no more linotype machines spitting out those slugs of hot lead for assembling in the pages. I recall many times, both as a proofreader and as a copyholder, rushing out with a correction just before the made-up pages were locked up. Now writers have only themselves to blame if a mistake creeps into their copy.
As an old chap who was dragged kicking and screaming into the computer age, and as a writer, I have to acknowledge that that is progress indeed.
My desk in the Post and Mail reading room overlooked the Old Priory, that narrow lane where the paper was located in the old days. Somewhat different from the magnificent building I have seen on my computer that houses today's newspapers. How I hated reading the racing form for the old Sports Argus and all those classified adverts. We all liked to get the leading articles (editorials) and news stories to work on, anything that was not as boring.
Incidentally, I did not find work in the newspaper industry here in Florida, I retired as a district sales manager in the ready-mix concrete business.
KENNETH TIPPER, Florida
* Optimism for the CBSO
Dear Editor, Hearing Andris Nelsons conduct his first scheduled concert with the CBSO in Birmingham, to a rapturous and excited reception, gives me real optimism for his time ahead with the orchestra, particularly as he now teams up with the leadership of Stephen Maddock, one of the region's true unsung leaders.
One of my prime reasons for choosing to study in Birmingham in the early 1990s was because of a young, exciting conductor called Simon Rattle - look at the profile and change he brought to the city by creating a world-class orchestra which bore the name of Birmingham all around the world.
Hearing the quality and bite of the orchestra this week, and seeing the smiles on the players' faces at the end, gives me great hope that Andris Nelsons may just be the man now to take us on to another level and add to the Brum story.
CLIVE BAWDEN, Birmingham
* We need an underground
Dear Editor, When are those in power going to get it right?
We got rid of trams and trolley buses because they got stuck when the road closed. Buses and heavy rail together do not provide a service.
What the West Midlands needs is an underground, clean, quiet and not affected by the weather and other traffic. An efficient underground could connect the major centres of population together and provide quick transportation for the masses, hopefully reducing the need for car and bus travel.
Yes, the initial capital cost is high, but properly planned and with properly priced fares it would pay dividends.
We could connect Coventry via the NEC/airport, along the A45 corridor to city centre out via West Brom to Wolverhampton, with the line making loops and connections.
Metro stations could be sited in playing fields to reduce the disruption.
The Government would need to get its act together; the West Midlands is the second largest conurbation outside the capital - when are those in Westminster going to realise that there is a world north of Watford?
We need Government, business and local authority support and finance.
I wait in anticipation.
S JACKSON, By email
* Breaking an election pledge
Dear Editor, I was very disappointed to learn that the MP for Solihull joined her Liberal Democrat colleagues in abstaining from the vote in Parliament for a referendum on the EU Treaty.
How can she be trusted at the next General Election when she has broken her very solid promise in the 2005 election manifesto for a referendum?
At the next General Election how will we be able to believe any promises she makes? She has badly let down the people of Solihull.
PETER MORRIS, Solihull -----------
* No reasons to feel any patriotism
Dear Editor, I really enjoyed reading Chris Allen's article on Thursday (British and Muslim? Maybe the twain shall meet, Post Agenda March 6).
The idea that we have to be told what our cultural icons are by a Government which seems hell-bent on robbing us of our national identity would be laughable if it wasn't so disturbing.
It's encouraging to know that Muslims, especially the 20,000 new converts, believe that it's possible to be British while worshipping in a different faith.
I'm sure that many of these would agree that there are more important things in life than big red buses and a sing-song in a good old pub.
With our public transport system in tatters after years of under-investment and small pubs closing at the rate of four a day, these tenets of Britannia will soon be as real as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
What I'd like to know is why we suddenly have to define ourselves at all? We are many things to many people.
As Britain's churches become emptier, it seems obvious that religion is of little interest to most of us.
Yet it seems that religious belief is the thing that scares us most.
Any study of the Muslim faith reveals that it is a caring religion, not some rabble-rousing call to arms. There is more violence in the Bible than in the Koran.
I'm not saying that there aren't dangerous people who mean us harm, but I'm pretty sure that their grudges are more political than religious. It's easy to hide behind holy words and that's the danger with fundamentalism.
Chris Allen doesn't ask whether Christians and Muslims can live together. The answer to that question is an obvious "yes".
I believe that we live in a time when our accelerated culture is changing so rapidly that society hasn't yet caught up.
We have not assimilated the lessons of terrorist outrages in America, London and Bali. We are waking up to the fact that this is a global problem and not just the actions of misguided fanatics spoon-fed propaganda in mosques.
To be talking about icons of Britishness in such a time seems a retrograde step to me. It's an unwillingness to see the world as it really is.
Military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan has had the opposite effect of its intentions. Rather than spreading democracy, it has increased the anger of nations who were already distrustful of Western super powers.
I'm actually surprised that the Ministry of Culture should try to tell us what our culture is.
I'm as fond of a nice cup of tea as the next man, but Winston Churchill really means nothing to me.
If you really want to know what's iconic in the 21st century, I'd suggest the iPod, statues of Nelson Mandela, Birmingham's Bullring and the balti.
There's nothing there to make us feel remotely patriotic and that's my point.
Britain lost its 'greatness' a long time before September 11 2001 and nobody seems to know how to get it back.
Hanging on to a bygone era of Sunday roasts and FA Cup finals won't do it. Maybe it's time to hear what other cultures have to say.
ALEX ACHURCH, Handsworth