Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Westminster coastguard station debate postponed

A key Westminster debate on the future of the coastguard service has been postponed until March 24th - the very last day for the consultation on the closure of nine stations around the UK shoreline.

Government cutbacks to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency would leave Scotland with one 24 coastguard station in Aberdeen and one daylight station in Stornoway or Lerwick, causing predictable outrage in coastal communities.

The Westminster debate had been scheduled for this Thursday afternoon but the Commons Backbench Business Committee decided it could be moved to make way for an all-day debate on International Women’s Day (which is today).

Angus MacNeil, MP for the Western Isles, is “livid” that the debate had been postponed until the day after the budget when it will be completely knocked off the news agenda.

He said: “The future of coastguard services is a matter of life and death and it is disgraceful that this debate has been ditched at just forty-eight hours notice. It must be unprecedented for a debate to be erased from the order paper."

MacNeil pointed out that none of the committee members represent coastal constituencies, so would care little for the postponement until the last day of the coastguard consultation.

The SNP Transport spokesman added: "We needed the debate now as promised, to vent and exchange views to inform the final consultation.”

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