Power to amend legislation relating to nuclear safeguards

Part of Nuclear Safeguards Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:58 pm on 23rd January 2018.

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Photo of Stephen Kerr Stephen Kerr Conservative, Stirling 5:58 pm, 23rd January 2018

I shall make just a few brief comments. I paid my compliments earlier to Dr Whitehead, and I also want to pay tribute to the Minister, who has conducted the passage of this Bill with great aplomb, dignity and good humour. That has been much appreciated. Like Layla Moran, I have attended all the debates on the Bill in the Chamber and in Committee. As a member of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, under the very able chairmanship of Rachel Reeves, I have also had the benefit of attending several hearings at which we received evidence on this subject.

Leaving Euratom is actually a matter of some regret for me and probably for many Members on both sides of the House. I am not one of those people who supports the Government’s programme of leaving the European Union without appreciating that some aspects of being part of the EU have been intensely beneficial to the United Kingdom, and nuclear safeguarding is without question one of those areas. I therefore hope that Members will recognise that the Bill is a plan B in case we are unable to remain in some way associated with Euratom.

Euratom is at the heart of our nuclear industry and has not only the skills and expertise but the experience to be of service to our nuclear industry, which is a complex field. Nuclear energy is a vital part of our energy mix, offering baseload capacity for the energy market. As such, the Bill is vital to ensure that we meet our international obligations as we leave the EU. Although such things form a vital part of the reasoning behind safeguarding in this industry, it is not a luxury; nor is it simply a health and safety matter. Our international obligations under non-proliferation treaties make our leadership in this area as a world power a significant issue, and as a leader, the UK must meet its obligations. We secure the moral authority to stand up to rogue states and to nations that have a different view of non-proliferation through our safeguarding regime. We must not forget just how much safety concerns matter in this sector. The consequences of getting something wrong would have ramifications not only for us, but perhaps for generations to come. Having a strong safeguarding regime in place, which is what the Bill provides, is absolutely vital for the health and prosperity of the industry and of our economy. I therefore unreservedly support the Bill on Third Reading.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.