Agreements required before withdrawal

Part of Nuclear Safeguards Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:00 pm on 8th May 2018.

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Photo of Richard Harrington Richard Harrington Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) 7:00 pm, 8th May 2018

I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman: Dounreay has one of the finest reputations. I have not yet had the pleasure and honour of visiting it—although if I were able to visit it, I should be pleased to do so—but I have visited Sellafield, and have discussed matters extensively with all the nuclear decommissioning authorities there. Dounreay is thought of very highly, and I assure the hon. Gentleman that nothing will be done to denude it of its reputation or lower the current non-proliferation standard. I was delighted to hear that the skills to which he has referred are being exported all over the world. The last thing that this or, I hope, any Government would want to do is bring about a reduction from the gold standard that is led by his constituency. [Interruption.] I am sorry if I am nit-picking again. The hon. Member for Barrow and Furness is very alert to nit-picking, and I shall try not to do so.

I hope Members will agree that the Government have proceeded with the Bill on a consensual basis. As I have said, we have made several important concessions in both Houses. Although we have not been able to agree to Lords amendment 3, I have listened to the arguments advanced today, and I believe that the compromise amendment goes a long way to achieving what the Opposition want. It preserves the key features of their amendment by requiring the Government to write to the EU seeking support if certain agreements or alternative arrangements are not in place. I therefore hope that Members will join me in agreeing to amendments that provide important reassurance for Members of both Houses.