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NICK Clegg may have done well in the first television debate but, on defence, he made a glib claim that there are two admirals for every ship in the Royal Navy.

He is way off track with his figures and slurring the Royal Navy is unwise and unfair as the service is unable to respond during election purdah.

There are 36 two-star officers in the naval service - 30 are admirals and six are Royal Marines major-generals. Of these 20 admirals and two generals are in dedicated naval or marine posts and only two hold the four-star rank of a full admiral. Ten admirals and generals are in tri-service defence posts, most of which are open to army generals and air marshals by competition, and another four are in NATO posts.

Of the eight vice-admirals on the active list, half are in NATO or tri-service appointments.

As well as the Fleet Air Arm, there are some 80 ships and submarines - some of which are in refit or reserve - so nothing like the 150 or so admirals that Nick Clegg claims.

The real question is not about the number of admirals but why the Royal Navy is now 77% of its size in 1997? The world's seas are no smaller, 92% of our trade still goes by sea and the UK still has the same 14 overseas territories.

Ten admirals and four Royal Marines generals in tri-service or NATO appointments says a lot about the high calibre of these officers and it is clear that the Royal Marines, in particular, punch way above their weight.

LESTER MAY, Lieutenant-Commander RN, retired THOSE people who think that 1% increase in National Insurance contributions only affects the private sector are in for a rude awakening. This increase affects almost every employer and worker.

It is estimated that the cost to the public sector - NHS, council, police, etc - is around pounds 6bn. This money will have to found by taxpayers including public sector workers who have been squeezed dry by ever increasing taxes.

MR K JACKSON, Guisborough THESE are possibly the five best sentences you''ll ever read: You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity; what one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving; the Government cannot give to anybody anything that the Government does not first take from somebody else; when half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation; you cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.

IAN McNAUGHTON, Hilton I WAS pleased to read that a fine candidate was selected for the late Dr Kumar''s seat (Tom Selected To Fight Seat, 05.04.10).

I have known Tom Blenkinsop since 2007 and believe he will do his best to attract investment and jobs to the town. More importantly, when he gives his word, he means it.

SAJAAD KHAN, Gresham ward, Middlesbrough
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Apr 27, 2010
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