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Alistair Carmichael updates Parliament on the latest situation in Glasgow and pays tribute to 'outstanding work' of the emergency services.
With permission, Mr Speaker, I should like to make a statement to update the House on the crash of the helicopter that happened in Glasgow on the evening of Friday 29 November.
As the House will be aware, at approximately 10.25 pm on Friday evening, a helicopter, operated on behalf of Police Scotland crashed onto the roof of the Clutha bar in Stockwell Street, Glasgow. It was reported that there were around 120 people in the bar at the time of the accident.
Police Scotland has overnight confirmed nine fatalities. This includes the pilot of the helicopter and two police officers on board. A further 32 people were injured in the crash and 12 remain in hospital. Three of these casualties are being treated in intensive care, where their conditions are described as serious but stable. The search of the building continues and it remains possible that more casualties may be found.
I am sure that the House will also wish to recognise the outstanding work of the emergency services for the speed, professionalism and courage of their response on Friday night and into the early hours of Saturday morning. Police, Fire and Ambulance all responded magnificently, working in difficult and dangerous circumstances. In particular we should recognise that Police Officers had to respond in circumstances where they were dealing not just with the death of members of the public but with two of their own colleagues PC Kirsty Nellis and PC Tony Collins.
Mr Speaker, some of the most remarkable stories of courage and selflessness from Friday night and Saturday morning have come from staff and customers.
Of the Clutha bar and passers-by who came to their assistance in the immediate aftermath of the accident. They responded with no thought for their own personal safety. The Members will know that among them there was the Rt Hon Member for East Renfrewshire who happened to be one of the first to arrive on the scene. The Rt Hon gentleman is not in the House today as he is in the Philippines in the course of his duties as shadow Secretary for International Development. He has characteristically understated in describing his role, but I am sure I speak for the whole house when I say that his response which was instinctive did him credit.
In meeting with members of all three emergency services in the contact centre I was also asked to meet with Cllr Gordon Matheson, leader of Glasgow City Council, which will now take up much of the burden of caring for and comforting those affected by this incident.
My Rt Hon friend the Secretary of State for Transport has also been in regular contact and his department, through the Air Accident Investigation Branch now has the duty to investigate and report on the causes of the accident. Investigations of this sort are inevitably complex and can be lengthy. I know that all those affected will be looking for answers but the gathering of evidence, especially at this early stage will be vital to that investigation. I hope that the police and other investigatory agencies will be given the time and space to do that
The House will also wish the know that there has been close contact between Her Majesty’s Government and the Scottish Government since the incident. The Prime Minister spoke to the First Minister on Saturday and offered any assistance from the emergency services or agency south of the border that were required.
I myself made the same offer to Councillor Gordon Matheson, the Leader of Glasgow City Council, when I was at the City Chambers this morning. My Rt Hon friend, the Secretary of State for Transport, has been in close contact since Saturday and his department through the Air Accident Investigation Branch will be at the heart of the investigation.
Mr Speaker, I wear today a badge given to me this morning by Cllr Gordon Matheson. It reads quite simply “people make Glasgow”. The response of the people who make Glasgow has demonstrated all the courage and character that has made the City famous throughout the world. We in this House and the people we represent in communities throughout the UK stand in solidarity today with the people of Glasgow as they mourn their loss and start to come to terms with their grief.
“People make Glasgow” Mr Speaker. Today I wear this badge with pride.