MSPs urge Sturgeon to tell the truth about nuclear safety at the Base
Labour MSP Jackie Baillie and Conservative Maurice Corry asked SNP spin doctors to back off on Base safety issues.
By Bill Heaney
In an exchange at First Minister’s Questions in the Scottish Parliament, constituency MSP Jackie Baillie urged Nicola Sturgeon not to mislead Parliament about safety at HM Naval Base Clyde.
The Ministry of Defence released information about such events at Faslane earlier this month in response to a question from Westminster Labour MP Deidre Brock MP.
This showed that there had been more than 500 safety incidents at Faslane since 2006.
And in response to a question from SNP MSP Bill Kidd, Ms Sturgeon told parliament that each of the 500 safety incidents that had taken place could have had “potentially disastrous consequences”.
In a point of order, Baillie urged the First Minister not to mislead the parliament.
Baillie stressed that safety incidents at Faslane are categorised A to D, with A being the most serious and C and D being the least serious, with no exposure to risk.
Of the more than 500 incidents at the Base between 2006 and 2017 just two of them were category A and these incidents occurred in 2006 and 2007.
Neither of these incidents showed evidence of radiological contamination.
The Dumbarton and Lomond constituency MSP praised the staff and trade unions at Faslane for constantly improving the culture of safety at the base.
Jackie Baillie said: “The staff and trade unions at the base constantly strive to improve the culture of safety. “Just two of the more than 500 safety incidents recorded in those 11 years were of the most serious and these took place more than 10 years ago.
“It is right that safety at Faslane, and all Naval bases, is monitored and this is welcome to ensure the safety of everyone in the UK.
“But it would be wrong for the SNP to deliberately mislead the Parliament and the people of Scotland.”
First Minister Sturgeon had told the Holyrood parliament: “I am very concerned to hear reports of a significant number of nuclear safety events at Faslane, which are a stark reminder of the potentially disastrous consequence of having weapons of mass destruction stationed in Scotland.
“Matters regarding the reporting of safety events remain reserved. However, I fully expect the Ministry of Defence to investigate any such incident, no matter how minor, and to take forward any lessons learned following all those incidents. The Scottish Government also expects the Ministry of Defence and the regulators to work together to keep safety standards to the highest level possible.”
The Conservative list MSP Maurice Corry (West Scotland) tried and failed to raise a point of order when he told parliament that a Scottish National Party member [Bill Kidd] caused unnecessary concern about nuclear safety events at Faslane.
This was in relation to the United Kingdom submarine fleet “by placing a political spin on the facts, which produced an inaccurate picture of the situation”.
He added: “That has caused alarm for our armed forces servicemen and women who serve in the UK submarine fleet and keep the UK safe
“As the fleet moves in total to Faslane, we hope that the families of servicemen and women will join them to live in Scotland.
“We must support our UK submarine fleet crews and families, and we must not make inaccurate statements in the chamber.
However, Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh told MSPs: “Mr Corry’s point is similar to the point that Ms Baillie raised. It is a political point in response to a political opinion. All members are allowed to make such a point, but it is not a point of order.”
Jackie Baillie said: “I asked the Frist Minister to welcome the efforts of the staff and trade unions in improving safety at the base but she declined to do so.
“I am grateful to Maurice Corry for repeating my point again this week. Faslane is a major employer in my constituency and it is crucial that service men and women from across the UK are not unnecessarily alarmed as the UK submarine fleet moves to the Clyde base.”