British Energy

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Industry – in the House of Commons at 1:45 pm on 19th June 1996.

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Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

Good progress continues to me made on the sale of British Energy. As my right hon. Friend the Minister for Industry and Energy announced last week, the final date for registration is 24 June and the UK public offer opens on 26 June.

Photo of Mr Llew Smith Mr Llew Smith , Blaenau Gwent

The Minister for Industry and Energy recently dismissed the independent report produced by Dr. Sadniki on the liabilities associated with the sale of the nuclear power industry as absolute garbage. As the Minister failed to justify that assertion in yesterday evening's debate, would the President of the Board of Trade attempt to do so today?

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

The report is so full of misconceptions and inaccuracies that it would be impossible to do so in an answer to an oral question. There are a number of misconceptions and the figures do not relate the accurate position. I refer the hon. Gentleman to the prospectus.

Photo of Mr Ian Bruce Mr Ian Bruce , South Dorset

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the success of the nuclear industry in being able, in effect, to return most of the non-fossil fuel levy to consumers means that people's bills will rapidly become smaller? Is it not a complete con on the public for Opposition Members to suggest that they could raise £3 billion out of utilities such as electricity without once more increasing energy prices?

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The fall in the levy from 10 to 3.7 per cent. will be worth about £15 to £20 off the average household bill. He is also right to draw attention to the wide difference in approach between the two parties. Our view is that the benefits that come from privatisation should continue to go to the consumer, as they are doing; whereas the Labour party wants to impose windfall taxes, which would penalise consumers, impose a new tax burden and strongly discourage precisely the competitive approach that is so improving the service of utilities in this country.