The market value of the electricity supply industry will depend on a number of factors such as market conditions at the time of the sale, the profitability of the companies and their prospects. It is premature to speculate on the likely level of proceeds.
Will the Minister kindly explain to my constituents who work at the coal-fired power station at Aberthaw how they can be expected to compete equally and fairly with nuclear power stations when so much has to be written off from the value of power stations when they are transferred and sold off to the private sector? Surely my constituents at Aberthaw will be competing with one hand tied behind their backs?
The hon. Gentleman prejudges how the balance sheet will be structured for the privatised companies. We have not said how we shall restructure them. We do not know yet what the state of the market will be when we come to privatise the companies. I can tell the hon. Gentleman in direct answer to his supplementary question, which related to the protection of the coal industry as against the nuclear industry, that we spend £2 million every working day on investment—a large chunk of that is from the public sector in the form of taxpayers' money—on the coal industry. If that is not a protected industry, I do not know what is. We are getting slowly to a position where it will be able to stand on its own feet.