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Coastal Safety

Volume 565: debated on Thursday 27 June 2013

The Department works closely with many organisations to promote safety around our coast.

Last year we saw an increase in accidents around this time of year, and while I want to encourage everyone to enjoy our beautiful coast this summer, I want them to stay safe and to follow the advice of organisations such as the coastguard, the RNLI, the National Water Safety Forum and the Royal Yachting Association so that they enjoy their time around the coastline.

Over the summer months, millions of tourists will flock to tourist resorts such as Lytham St. Annes and the Fylde coast. Will my right hon. Friend assure the House that all will be done to keep our inshore waters as safe as possible to encourage more people to holiday here in the UK?

My hon. Friend is right that many constituents will flock to the coast, including the coastline in his constituency and many others around the UK. Our coastline is fantastic, attractive and beautiful, but it is also dangerous and people should not take risks or underestimate it.

Amphibious vessels such as the Duckmarine that recently sank in Liverpool appear to have at least three regulators: VOSA and the traffic commissioners; the Maritime and Coastguard Agency; and the Driving Standards Agency. Will the Secretary of State ask the accident investigators to consider whether this split regulation and split responsibility is the best way to guarantee public safety?

Of course we are all very concerned about the incident that happened in Liverpool and I will talk to the inspectorate about it. A report is being prepared by the marine accident investigation branch. I will want to see what it says, and I shall take the point made by the hon. Lady as Chair of the Select Committee.

It has been revealed that the maritime rescue co-ordination centre in Belfast has been staffed below risk level on 191 shifts this year alone. Does the Minister find that acceptable, and, if he does not, what is he doing about it?

It is vital that we have cover, and that if there is low availability pairing arrangements ensure that others take over that cover. We will not demur from our responsibility.