While watching the STV News this evening, I saw the Anglian Sovereign sailing into Aberdeen Harbour for refit, and out of service with the coastguard.
This has now left us without an emergency towing vessel for the first time in many years, despite high profile petitions, protests and lobbying.
Mike Penning, the so-called “shipping minister”, has consistently said that it is not the responsibility of the government to provide such vessels and that the oil and shipping industries should pay their way and fund them. This despite his colleague George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, levying an additional £2 billion of taxation on the oil industry this year alone.
The yearly cost of the four tugs was only 0.4 per cent of this additional taxation, let alone what they were paying beforehand. If that isn’t paying your way then I must be as stupid as Mr Penning!
It completely beggars belief that people like him can continue to serve in any meaningful position an any establishment, let alone the government of the land.
I’m not exactly sure how many men are aboard those ships, but I would guess 15 or so. That means that for £8 million per annum, the government was able to create approximately 120 good quality jobs and protect the coastline at the same time.
There’s many a job creation scheme in the past that cost an awful lot more, for lesser results, and when you consider the other work that the four ships would have helped support in the service sector, dry-docks, fuel supply etc, the cost is even more reasonable.
I know that the last Labour government left office, leaving as big a financial black hole behind them as has been seen in living memory, and that we are all going to have to do our bit to help fill it. But surely it is better that those 120 men were out working, paying taxes and doing their bit to fill it, rather than just sitting home on the dole helping to empty it again.