Electricity Generation (East Lothian)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:45 pm on 4th December 1996.

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Photo of Mr George Kynoch Mr George Kynoch , Kincardine and Deeside 1:45 pm, 4th December 1996

No, I must press on, because of the time.

The hon. Gentleman also raised concerns about nuclear privatisation. I would say that the new arrangements are settling down well. I remain confident that Scottish Nuclear will continue to be an important part of the Scottish economy, and that nuclear power remains safe.

The hon. Gentleman talked about Torness and safety. That, of course, is a matter for the company, within the rigorous safety standards policed by the nuclear installations inspectorate. I know that the matter is paramount for the company.

Scottish Power and Scottish Hydro-Electric are, of course, bound to take Scottish Nuclear's output until 2005 under the nuclear energy agreement. That gives substantial certainty to Scottish Nuclear, enabling it to plan for the future. I am confident that it will rise to the challenge of competition with other generators.

Both in his letter to the Secretary of State and in his speech this morning, the hon. Gentleman referred to opencast mining. I shall look forward to seeing him when he visits me, but I must point out that responsibility for dealing with planning applications and local planning matters rests in the first instance with the local council concerned.

The Government have put in place a firm regulatory and legislative regime to encourage competition and innovation in the energy industries. I am surprised at the defeatist attitude that Opposition Members have taken towards the ability of Scottish Power and Scottish Hydro-Electric, together with the Scottish mining industry, to deal with competition.

Let me remind the House that, since privatisation, the two Scottish electricity companies have not only participated in the competitive market that the Government created in 1990 but have done so successfully. They have competed fiercely with each other in Scotland—