Does my hon. Friend agree that, after Sizewell, there does not appear to be a programme? Will he bear in mind the needs of the nuclear industry? Furthermore, will he take into account the fact that while 17 per cent. of total electricity is produced by nuclear means in the United Kingdom, the French, who are much more competitive, produce more than 50 per cent. of their total electricity from that source?
My hon. Friend is correct in what he says about France. The Government consider that a prudent energy policy requires the country to have available a range of supply options, including an appropriate nuclear component. As my hon. Friend says, in 1983 nuclear power contributed 17 per cent. of the United Kingdom's electricity supply. When the three AGRs currently being commissioned are fully operational, nuclear power could be contributing as much as a quarter of our electricity requirements. Our nuclear generating capacity will then have risen from 6·5 to 9·5 GW.
The Government expect that nuclear power will form an increasing component of our electricity supply in the longer term, provided that nuclear stations can be built to time and cost. The number of new nuclear stations will depend on several factors, including the level of electricity demand.
Is not the future of the nuclear power industry very much dependent on its competitive position as against coal? Do the Government take note of the way in which the accounts of companies and organisations involved in the nuclear industry are drawn up? If they do, how do they take note of those accounts? Do they take similar note of the National Coal Board accounts, with which the nuclear industry has to compete? Will the Minister ensure that the accounting procedures of both organisations are published openly so that we can all study them?