Magnox: Early Contract Terminations

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:41 pm on 27th March 2017.

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Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy 3:41 pm, 27th March 2017

The hon. Lady is quite right to ask her questions, and I hope she will agree that the written ministerial statement I have made today is thorough and comprehensive. I am very happy to have conversations with her and the Select Committee over the weeks and months ahead.

The hon. Lady asked some specific questions about the termination of the contract and the litigation. On the latter, there was indeed a Court hearing and judgment in July last year, and there was another one in December on which the NDA has reflected. On 1 March this year—a few weeks ago—a new chief executive and chair of the NDA took office. It seemed to me appropriate that a new set of eyes should consider these matters and the course of action, rather than those people who were responsible for and involved in the procurement exercise looking into it. In answer to her question, it was a decision for the NDA board—that is how it is constitutionally established—but its decision required ratification by me, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and the accounting officer in my Department.

The hon. Lady asked some very important questions about the conduct of the original procurement process and its management. That is exactly why we need to have an independent figure—independent of Government and of the NDA—to make a report available to the House, to me and to the Cabinet Secretary, not only so that we can learn the lessons and ensure that things cannot happen again, but so that, if there is fault and an error has been made, the recommendation of disciplinary action can follow.

The hon. Lady rightly asked about the Magnox workforce, for whom this will be a difficult day. I am happy to confirm to the House that there is no question about the operational good performance of the contract; it was a question of the terms of the letting of the contract. Good progress has been made, and the workforce employed on the decommissioning contract will continue as planned. When the report is made available, lessons will be learned about the NDA’s structure, as well as any particular procedural aspects.