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Nuclear Power

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:50 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 9:50 pm, 22nd October 2002

The hon. Gentleman makes his own point, which is a perfectly reasonable one.

What is undoubtedly true is that even given the slight swing that has occurred because of the market difficulties with electricity, the wholesale price has risen to a point at which British Energy is presumably operating profitably. I agree with much of what has been said on both sides: decisions that are fundamental to security of supply, and the economic interests of the country cannot be left entirely to the vagaries of a marketplace that can produce such a swing. [Hon. Members: XYour marketplace."] That sounds like an allegation, but my hon. Friend Mr. Robinson has been entirely open. He gave a frank and analytical explanation of why the changes were made. They were made for good reasons, and they have produced many benefits. What we must recognise, however, is that they have not been an unqualified good; they have had other effects, which we must now examine in the spirit of wanting not only a competitive market but of wanting to be sure that the objective of that market—driving down the price of electricity—is not achieved at the cost of security of supply or our environmental obligations. That strikes me as a straightforward proposition, but a complex one to deliver in practice, especially in a liberalised market.