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Nuclear Power

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:16 pm on 22nd October 2002.

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Photo of Mr Brian Wilson Mr Brian Wilson Minister of State (Industry and Energy), Department of Trade and Industry 8:16 pm, 22nd October 2002

I beg to move, To leave out from XHouse" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:

Xwelcomes the publication earlier this year of the Performance and Innovation Unit's review of the strategic issues surrounding energy policy for Great Britain up to 2050;
welcomes the Government's commitment to publish an Energy White Paper in the New Year setting out a long-term framework for energy policy following its recent extensive and innovative public consultation on energy issues;
understands that British Energy's problems, and those of certain other players, are about companies rather than a way of generating electricity and welcomes the speed with which the market can respond to protect the interests of consumers;
recognizes that the future of nuclear power in the UK is a question that has to be addressed on its own merits, not in the light of a particular set of circumstances surrounding a particular private sector company;
further recognizes that it is not the responsibility of Government to bail out electricity suppliers unless it threatens safety or security of electricity supplies;
and welcomes the work Government has done to promote sustainable energy use in terms of energy use reductions and to promote the development of renewable energy."

What we heard from Dr. Cable was mainly a restatement of anti-nuclear arguments dressed up in a slightly different context. The thrust of his argument is that the Government have acted wrongly in relation to British Energy by giving the loan. After he had said that, I sensed some confusion in his argument. I believe that the Government have acted absolutely properly in relation to British Energy because we are motivated by two overriding imperatives: the absolutely safe operation of nuclear power stations and the maintenance of security of supply. According to those criteria, what the Government have done is both proper and absolutely necessary.