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Nuclear Power

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:28 pm on 4th June 2018.

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Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy 6:28 pm, 4th June 2018

I am disappointed that the hon. Lady did not continue in the spirit in which she opened her contribution. This is an important moment, and we are beginning a negotiation on a project that will supply energy to this country for the next 60 years, until towards the end of the century, which will create jobs and reduce our carbon emissions. She said that her party supported the proposal and that there was cross-party consensus—one could be forgiven for missing that in her tone—and it is important to establish that, because it is evident that any 60-year project will take place over the life of successive Governments. This country has given nuclear investors confidence over time that there is a strong commitment to such major infrastructure projects, so I hope that she will back the commitments that she and her party made in their manifesto last year to support new nuclear and recognise the considerable opportunities, as she put it, for nuclear power internationally and domestically.

The hon. Lady asked about the financing model. She urged me in a letter to reflect on the recommendations of the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee to explore alternative financing models that can reduce the price of the electricity that is generated. That is exactly what I have set out—I have followed the recommendations of the NAO and the PAC. We are entering a negotiation—I think somewhere in her remarks there was a welcome for that—but the essence of doing so is that a deal has not been agreed. We need to explore that, and it is subject to the very tests that she set out and that the NAO and the PAC observed are required, including value for money.

On safety, the hon. Lady should be reassured—there are many hon. Members who are familiar with the nuclear industry in this country—that the safety standards operated through our independent nuclear inspectorate are the highest in the world, and that the generic design assessment is the most exacting in the world. We always abide by the rulings and requirements of the independent regulators, so that we can have full confidence in the safety of this important industry.

Finally, the hon. Lady mentioned other potential investments, including the proposal for renewable power in Swansea. She knows—we have had exchanges about it across the Dispatch Boxes—that I believe in a diversity of energy supply, but we need to make sure that value for money is offered for taxpayers and bill payers. A rigorous assessment is required and, as I have done today, I will update the House when the process is concluded.