Lift gagging demands MacNeil

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Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP, Angus MacNeil has reacted angrily to reports that coastguards have been banned from speaking to the House of Commons Transport Select Committee when they visit Stornoway next week.

According to advice sent from Maritime and Coastguard Agency chief executive, Sir Alan Massey and Government Ministers, all MCA staff and officers have been instructed to reject any invitations to give formal advice to the Transport Select Committee when they visit Falmouth and Stornoway.

The advice states, “It is a long standing principle that Civil Servants appear before a Parliamentary Select Committee on behalf of their Ministers and the Government. Against that background, Ministers have said that it would be inappropriate for Coastguard colleagues to represent them at these sessions, and colleagues should be told to DECLINE any invitation they may have had.”

Commenting Angus MacNeil said: “This is a ridiculous situation more akin to the former Soviet Union than a modern democracy. Whatever credibility the MCA had is blown to bits. If a Commons committee want to speak to staff they should be allowed to do so. End of story.

“Keeping witnesses from the committee makes the Marine and Coastguard Agency look as if it has something to hide.

“I have written to the Transport Minister Mike Penning over the latest absurd twist to the MCA consultation and have questioned the rationale behind this decision.”