Nuclear Power

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:28 pm on 11th May 1987.

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Photo of Mr Peter Hardy Mr Peter Hardy , Wentworth 9:28 pm, 11th May 1987

The Secretary of State is invariably robust when he has a bad case, and he made a very robust speech today. I think that he was uncertain not because of his future political prospects—although I gather that those are limited—but because he ignored three issues. First, he ignored the fact that the costs of the Government's nuclear waste policy have suddenly been transformed in recent weeks. He knows that, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Orme) said, there is already an overrun on the PWR programme. Secondly, he ignored the requests of several Labour Members, made when we last debated PWRs. We pointed out that the House was considering documents relating to health near nuclear power stations, and that, in case after case, the authors of those documents had suggested that further research was needed. We asked the Government for an assurance that that medical research would be continued, and we still await a serious commitment from them on this very important matter.

Another aspect of the Secretary of State's speech that concerned me was that he told us how rapidly the whole world was moving towards a dependency upon nuclear energy. Yet the world lacks adequate capacity to deal with the waste that it is increasingly producing. The Secretary of State should have commented more fully on that aspect.

Since I wish to be brief, I shall conclude by saying that I agreed with one part of the speech of the Secretary of State, when he reminded the House that SDP Members were absent. They were absent throughout the last debate on PWR. They have been absent throughout this one. All three of the SDP's local election candidates were absent from the count last week in my constituency and so far the party has forgotten to appoint an SDP candidate in my constituency—perhaps it will not bother. If it does, it will be reminded of the irresponsibility of its absence, just as I remind the Secretary of State that a great deal of his speech was irresponsible. Perhaps the greatest irresponsibility was the fact that he overlooked referring to health, to cost and to the fact that, since the last Sizewell debate, he has received submissions from senior scientists of professorial rank who have asked him to think again. It is time that he did.