Chair asks for Government Minister assurances on Coastguard intimidation

16 May 2011

The Transport Committee Chair, Louise Ellman MP sends a letter to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport.

The Committee takes oral evidence from serving coastguards representing their local PCS union branches in Stornoway on 19 May and Westminster on 24 May. In Falmouth on 18 May the Committee will be meeting local coastguards informally, and many other coastguards have submitted written evidence to the inquiry.

Louise Ellman, chair of the Transport Committee has written to Mike Penning MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport asking for assurances that coastguards will not be subject to intimidation as a result of contributing to the Committee's inquiry.

On 10 May the Minister for Shipping Mike Penning MP announced that he was instructing regular coastguards not to give formal oral evidence to the Committee. It has since emerged that serving coastguards who are also union representatives can give oral evidence to the Committee as a representative of the local union branch, but not in an individual capacity.

Chair's comments

Speaking about the letter, the chair of the committee Louise Ellman MP said:

"I am concerned that the Minister's instructions to coastguards not to give oral evidence—contrary to his previous statements in the House of Commons—are creating an atmosphere of fear amongst the coastguard community. It is imperative that no intimidation takes place in relation to coastguards who have either submitted written evidence or express a critical opinion about the proposed re-organisation.

I seek assurances from both the Minister and the MCA that no-one will be subject to such action as a consequence of giving evidence to the Committee or speaking to the Committee informally.

I will be raising this issue with the Minister when he appears before the Committee on May 24."

Further information

Image: Parliamentary copyright

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