Debates between Lord Harries of Pentregarth and Baroness Sugg during the 2017-2019 Parliament

Lifeboats: Ceredigion

Debate between Lord Harries of Pentregarth and Baroness Sugg
Monday 4th February 2019

(5 years, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg
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My Lords, the noble and learned Lord is right to point out the change in provision. Three 17-knot Mersey class all-weather lifeboats are being replaced with two Shannon lifeboats at Pwllheli and Barmouth and there will be a smaller but faster lifeboat at New Quay. This was based on a risk-based review that looked at the entire area and the RNLI’s decision to replace the all-weather lifeboat was, as I said, underpinned by extensive research. It is convinced that this is the optimal amount of resource for the area.

Lord Harries of Pentregarth Portrait Lord Harries of Pentregarth (CB)
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I declare a personal interest as someone with long-standing family connections in the area and as a supporter of this campaign. The RNLI of course does wonderful work, but I am afraid that in this instance it has been totally lacking in transparency with the people of New Quay about the reasons for its decision. Despite what the Minister said, independent research shows that in severe weather conditions—force 7 in daylight and force 6 by night—it does increase the risk. There is a 70-mile gap, as I understand it, between the nearest all-weather lifeboats and it simply takes that much longer to get there. Should not an organisation such as the RNLI that depends on trust be more open about its decisions and in this instance look again at the increased risk of this decision?

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg
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I thank the noble and right reverend Lord for his question. I know of his long-standing interest in the area. The RNLI, as I said, has shared a 30-page extract of the report and is working closely with a campaign group. I understand that the campaign group is made up of passionate people who want to ensure that they have the optimal provision in the area. As I said, along with the replacement new boat, the all-weather lifeboats in the surrounding area will be replaced with much faster ones. There is also a new helicopter base in St Athan, and the new boats, the helicopter and the increase in lifeguarding on the coast will not only maintain but improve life-saving provision in the area.