DAVID Pratt is right when he says “the moment is right now” (Scotland must not be blindsided on independence during pandemic, October 22) . Yes, we urgently need independence, which is not just about the SNP, and we need it by the end of this year in order to give us the power to counter current proposals which signal the end of public accountability.

The situation is very serious and it is crucially important to focus on the fact that, between them, the Internal Market Bill and the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill effectively spell the end of human rights in the whole of the UK, of Scottish law as we know it, and crucially the end of the principle of the rule of law itself.

The House of Lords is unhappy, but shouldn’t we all be jumping up and down about this? But not so: “You are exaggerating. It can’t happen here, Valerie, not nowadays. Everything will be alright.” It is not just the evidence of history that contradicts such gainsaying optimists, but also what is happening in many contemporary settings, the UK included.

I used to wonder how the Scottish postal vote could be made tamper-proof. Now it seems the Home Office itself is one of the bodies that will be enabled to act illegally, not just in the interest of national security, but as Andrew Tickell pointed out on Sunday, even in the interest of the economy – and with no redress and with no restrictions on the kind of criminal offence authorised. Murder has not yet been ruled out by the Government.

Looking up the bill online, I myself could scarcely believe it when I read that it is not just the public bodies to do with security whose agents will be officially allowed to break the law with impunity – and that is bad enough – but even the tax office. Moreover, even the Department of Health and Social Care. What on earth does this imply? I laughed allowed when I read that the Ministry of Justice will no longer be required to feel itself restrained by the law! It was not a happy laugh! As for those working for the Food Standards Agency not just being given permission to withhold the truth, but being allowed to use unspecified force, where does that leave us?

My point is that surely opposition to these oppressive measures could – and should – serve as a unifying factor, bringing together the people of Scotland of whatever political allegiance. Fortunately, we know that independence parties already have a majority in the Scottish Parliament, surely rendering further confirmation by referendum unnecessary?

There is still time, as these bills are still going through the Houses of Parliament and there is some opposition. It gives one a little hope. However, I suggest that if these bills are not withdrawn – and I sincerely hope they will be – or at the very least, significantly amended, their alarming clauses withdrawn and the recognition of human rights and the rule of law reinstated, then surely the Treaty of Union is irretrievably broken?

I propose that, if not satisfactorily rewritten, the very day these bills gain royal assent – should they do so – every Scot that can hold his or her head high must declare with one voice: “Not in our name! Scotland upholds human rights and the rule of law! We the sovereign people of Scotland hereby solemnly declare ourselves independent of the UK.”

Valerie Waters

East Lothian

IT was reassuring to read the House of Lords’ condemnation of the Internal Market Bill, recognising that it enables ministers to break international law and is a power grab against the devolved nations. The select committee goes further and says parliament should listen to the devolved nations, amend the bill, or remove the offending parts altogether.

Maybe it’s moments like this that have allowed this ancient elite cosy club to survive untouched for so long. There are clearly some able people there and they do a valuable job. But it’s also become a private member’s club for the Prime Minister’s pals, brother, advisers and donors. And as we all know in Scotland and the north of England, the world revolves around London and the south-east, with 55% of the peers coming from that area.

Criticism of the House of Lords is not a new phenomenon. In 1909, Lloyd George asked why “500 (now 800!) chosen from the unemployed” should “override the judgement of the people”. It does of course have a vital and important role. The second chamber examines bills and questions governments actions. But not all peers take their important role seriously. Peers can make thousands without speaking or even voting. Their average income is £26,000!

As the government is limiting and cancelling the current nationwide furlough scheme, some peers – the chosen ones – are experiencing the best furlough scheme ever and until they die. All democratic countries’ second chambers have 200 to 300 members. We have 800 and growing. All are elected chambers. Ours is not!

Clearly a smaller, elected, more representative chamber is long overdue. The bloated House of Lords is urgent need of reform and yet it never happens and is not likely to happen under the present regime. So once again, we have another reason for independence. Starting from scratch we could establish a fairer, more representative second chamber. The UK’s faith in democracy is crumbling but we in Scotland have a solution. Let’s make it happen and be a beacon of light to all UK citizens. It’s the only feasible route. Independence!

Robin MacLean

Fort Augustus

I WAS interested to read the letter from John Hamilton (October 22) regarding Paul Scully’s comments on free school meals. It reminds me of all the other quotes from Conservative politicians in the same vein on all sorts of topics, too numerous to mention. I hate to be negative, and I hate to judge, but it seems that compassion doesn’t exist in the Conservative lexicon.

Margaret Forbes