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Offshore Safety Inspections (North Sea)

Volume 563: debated on Monday 20 May 2013

I meet the chairman and chief executive of the Health and Safety Executive regularly to discuss health and safety matters, including those relating to the offshore sector, as appropriate. The departmental Select Committee and the Maitland review, which was commissioned after the Deepwater Horizon episode, both concluded that we had a strong offshore regulatory system.

The Minister will be aware—or at least he should be—that next month will be the 25th anniversary of the Piper Alpha disaster, which precipitated the present health and safety approach taken in the North sea. Does he share the concern expressed by the trade unions operating in the North sea that the Health and Safety Executive’s energy division was set up without any consultation with the unions, and that the division undertakes not only offshore inspections but others as well? Will he guarantee that neither the number of inspectors available to conduct offshore inspections nor the number of such inspections will change as a result of this?

We have brought together various aspects of the energy sector in a single department. That bringing together of complementary skills is a sensible response to the increased diversification of the energy sector. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that there is no slackening of focus on the offshore sector; indeed, we are recruiting more offshore inspectors.