THE decision by the UK Government to reject the call by its own House of Commons Transport Committee for an inquiry North Sea helicopter safety, supported by National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) and the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa), who directly represent many of those working in the offshore oil industry, raises many questions ("Helicopter crash widow hits out as inquiry call is rejected", The Herald, October 28).

First, what is the role of the committee if the Government ignores its carefully researched recommendations?

Secondly, a major reason for wanting an inquiry was to investigate the potential impact of commercial pressure on helicopter safety in the industry. The Government dismisses such a reason because it argues there is no evidence to support the impact but it appears to us that such a Govern­ment stance is unsustainable. What the Government needs is evidence to show that there is no such conflict that may have potentially very serious adverse health and safety consequences for the workers.

The absence of evidence is entirely different to the evidence of absence. Only a public inquiry can properly scrutinise this matter: UK Government assertions simply fail to do so.

Thirdly, UK onshore health and safety regulation and enforcement are in meltdown, as the Health and Safety Executive is moving to commercialise some of its activities when it cannot carry out basic functions. This runs parallel with the reluctance of the UK Government to investigate potential commercial conflicts in setting North Sea offshore safety standards. In the post-referendum world, the Westminster helicopter decision could be seen to provide a powerful case for devolving not only regulation of occupational health and safety, the offshore and onshore oil industry around Scotland but also all transport matters to the Scottish Government.

This is an outstanding example of the need for decisions which significantly affect the health, safety and environmental wellbeing and access to social justice of workers and communities who live and work in Scotland to be taken by MSPs, who are better placed to understand the concerns of those most affected.

Professor Andrew Watterson, Tommy Gorman, Jim McCourt,

Occupational and Environmental Health Research Group, School of Health Sciences, RG Bomont Building R3T11, University of Stirling, Stirling.