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Nuclear Power

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:47 pm on 22nd October 2002.

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Photo of Vincent Cable Vincent Cable Shadow Spokesperson (Trade and Industry), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Trade and Industry) 7:47 pm, 22nd October 2002

That is absolutely right and it is one very good reason why any attempt to introduce such exemption from the levy would not be plausible. Of course, the sums involved are also much smaller than the losses that are being incurred, so the problem would not be solved.

The second mechanism—the one that I think the Government are taking seriously—relates to a technically complicated area. We must closely watch what the Government are doing. They are discussing offloading British Energy's obligation to reprocess waste through Sellafield and BNFL. There is a perfectly good environmental reason for questioning that process. I do not know whether any hon. Members representing the Sellafield region are present, but there are all sorts of worries about Sellafield and sea pollution. I can understand the environmental factors that are involved, but using such issues as a financial mechanism will simply shift the losses upfront from British Energy shareholders and on to the taxpayer through a publicly owned entity. It is a subsidy by the back door.