Today, Angus MacNeil, SNP MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, expressed disbelief at the removal of the emergency towing vessel covering the waters around the Hebrides over the weekend.
Mr MacNeil said,
‘I was shocked to learn that the tug left the Hebrides over the weekend.
‘This comes as a surprise to many in our community including the Comhairle and the Stornoway Port Authority who were not contacted by the Scotland Office but, rather contacted by my office or, found out through other methods such as media outlets.
‘As recently as 5 March we were told by Scotland Office Minister David Mundell MP that negotiations were continuing towards a long-term replacement for the emergency towing vessel service. Now we know those words were hollow.
‘I am now receiving reports that the meeting today between the Comhairle and the Scotland Office offered no new solutions to the issue.
‘The UK Government has now left the Hebrides without any emergency tug cover for the foreseeable future as no new arrangements have been announced.
‘How can this be an example of good governance?
‘Therefore, I am calling on the Scotland Office to explain their comprehensive, long-term plan for maritime safety in Scottish waters. For as long as this responsibility is in their hands they must have a plan for safety.
5 March 2012 question from Angus MacNeil MP to Scotland Office asking about the future of the tugs.
Mr MacNeil: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland pursuant to the answer of 19 December 2011, Official Report, column 910W, on tugboats, and the written ministerial statement of 20 December 2011, Official Report, columns 163-4WS, on emergency towing vessels, whether emergency towing vessels will continue to serve in waters around the Western and Northern Isles of Scotland after 31 March 2012. 
David Mundell: Scotland Office Ministers continue to work with local authorities and other interested parties on a long-term replacement for the emergency towing vessels service. We continue to make good progress and we are grateful for the hard work of everyone involved. The oil and gas sector is assisting work to facilitate arrangements for the Northern Isles. There will be a further meeting this month to look at the issue of future arrangements for waters around the Western Isles.