Recycling Nuclear Submarines

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – in the House of Commons on 16th July 2019.

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Photo of Luke Pollard Luke Pollard Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Fisheries, Flooding and Water)

What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Defence on extending the provisions of the Energy Act 2004 to include recycling nuclear submarines.

Photo of Andrew Stephenson Andrew Stephenson Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

Officials in my Department have had several discussions with their counterparts in the Ministry of Defence on how the expertise and resources of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority can best assist the submarine dismantling programme. However, we do not believe that extending the provisions of the Energy Act 2004 would provide an appropriate addition to that support.

Photo of Luke Pollard Luke Pollard Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Fisheries, Flooding and Water)

I thank the Minister for his reply, but it is disappointing that that is the first time a Minister has said no to the cross-party request to extend the civil clean-up of nuclear sites to include old nuclear submarines, of which there are 13 in Devonport and six in Rosyth. Will the Minister lend the same support as his predecessor did and agree to meet the cross-party campaign? We have to find a way to safely recycle the submarines.

Photo of Andrew Stephenson Andrew Stephenson Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

The disposal of nuclear submarines is a complex and challenging undertaking that I last discussed with the Minister for defence procurement, the Under-Secretary of State for Defence, my hon. Friend Stuart Andrew, yesterday. As the hon. Gentleman will know from the meeting he had earlier this year, the Government have an established programme of work in place and are committed to the safe, secure and cost-effective defuelling and dismantling of all decommissioned nuclear submarines as soon as practically possible. I am more than happy to meet the hon. Gentleman to discuss the matter further.