Does the Minister agree that extending the life of Hinkley Point by five years and reducing the price of electricity by 15 per cent. is strange? Does he also agree that, in doing so, the CEGB is moving the goal posts once again because of the pressure that is now being brought to bear on nuclear power?
No, I do not agree that it is strange. An initial assumption must be made about the economic life, for planning purposes. There is no reason why that should not be revised in the light of changed commercial considerations, as long as the plant meets all the safety conditions laid down by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate.
Does my hon. Friend agree that the history of Magnox stations, whose lives have been usefully extended even though the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate has increased safety standards time and again, is indicative of the life that one can get from nuclear power and of the good economic argument for continuing nuclear power in this country?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The economic life of Magnox stations has been increased from 20 to 25 and then to 30 years. That was done with increased safety standards. The Government's main concern is to ensure that commercial judgment is allowed to the operator, but, above all, that the plants are safe.