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Nuclear Power

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:42 pm on 22nd October 2002.

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Photo of Tim Yeo Tim Yeo Shadow Secretary of State (Trade and Industry) 8:42 pm, 22nd October 2002

I thank the Minister for that clarification. The Minister was also unclear in his answer to the question posed by my hon. Friend Mr. Osborne. Indeed, the Government's amendment is ambiguous on the subject of nuclear power generally. At least the Liberal Democrats are clear—if wrong on the issue—that they rule out new nuclear power stations. They appear to rule new stations out even if they would deliver cheaper electricity to consumers and might be the best way for Britain to meet its climate change obligations, however important those obligations become in the future. We still do not know the Government's position on the issue; perhaps that is because they do not yet know it.

Every day the Government delay making their position clear—and the decision is left in the in-tray—adds to the costs that taxpayers and, eventually, consumers may have to pay. The Minister made some reference to 29 November, when the issue will have to be resolved, but it is not clear what Ministers will know then that they do not know now. Why do we need to wait another five and a half weeks for the Government's position to be unveiled?

The costs of keeping British Energy afloat mounted rapidly, from #410 million on 9 September to #650 million on 26 September. To put the latter figure in context, it should be compared with the annual budgets of #22 million for the Energy Saving Trust, #26 million for the Carbon Trust and #17 million for the energy efficiency best practice programme. It should also be compared with the #55 million spent on research into renewables.