MPs hail Scott in bill to protect Antarctic
POLITICIANS at Westminster paid tribute to the enduring legacy of Plymouth-born explorer Captain Scott as they backed moves to strengthen environmental protection for the Antarctic.
MPs also heard the measures going through Parliament would help preserve the historic huts used by Robert Falcon Scott and his fellow polar adventurer Sir Ernest Shackleton, which were used as bases for the men's attempts to reach the south pole.
The contribution made by Scott was highlighted throughout a Commons debate on the Antarctic Bill, where he was hailed as "one of Plymouth's most famous sons".
The proposed legislation will enshrine in domestic law international agreements on a "polluter pays" system for dealing with an environmental disaster on the continent.
The Bill, which was given an unopposed third reading by MPs, also strengthens protection for plants and wildlife in Antarctica and puts in place measures to preserve historic monuments and sites on the continent.
Foreign Office Minister Mark Simmonds said the country had taken a significant interest in the Antarctic since Captain Scott, who perished on the ill-fated Antarctic Terra Nova expedition just over a century ago.
"It is important on this day to recognise the bravery and commitment of those early explorers," he said.
Mr Simmonds added: "I am sure that all Members of the House share the national pride in the historic discovery, exploration and scientific pioneering legacy of the UK in Antarctica.
"The scientific legacy of Captain Scott's expedition permeated many of the studies undertaken in subsequent years."
Tory MP Neil Carmichael, who is proposing the Bill, spoke of the need to 'salute' Captain Scott, highlighting his commitment to scientific research.
"It is not often remembered, but it should be noted that temperature changes and other data were being collected right up to the end," he said.
Fellow Conservative MP Jake Berry said: "We were the first nation really to take an interest in the continent of the Antarctic. From Captain Scott to the British Antarctic Survey today, we have a hugely important role to play, and we have a legacy and a future that we shall be rightly proud of."
Oliver Colvile, Tory MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, credited his interest in Antarctica to Captain Scott, who was born in 1868 and lived in Stoke Damerel.
Mr Colvile said: "He is, without a shadow of a doubt, a greatest son of Plymouth, along with Sir Francis Drake and other great, wonderful naval sailors."
He added: "Captain Scott's legacy is highly commendable, and it is a very big legacy as well. Should the Bill become law, I shall be proud to be able to play a small role in the safeguarding of our environment in one of the most important parts of the world."
The Bill now goes to the Lords, and the Minister hoped it would proceed "expeditiously to the statute book".
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